Sunday, August 16, 2009

Songs of the Moment 8/17/09 - Video Game Music

I'll be completely honest, video games have ruled my summer. I got 5-10 hours in almost every day, and while they've make it harder for me to do the other things I wanted to work on this summer, I don't regret how I've spent my time. I don't enjoy many things more than I enjoy sitting on the couch with a blanket and a controller. Good music in a game usually attracts me to it and, in many cases, continually brings me back. These are the songs that I've made an effort to go back and listen to, which either requires replaying the game, watching the credits, or simply starting up the game. I've restrained myself from include Rock Band and Guitar Hero songs, because although they are great music video games, the music isn't original. I've also decided to include more songs than usual because I don't think I'll ever come back to this subject, but I will try to be brief. (If anything, check out the ones with *'s) Enjoy, and remember: video games are not only a hobby and an experience, they are art, and they wouldn't be much without music.

1. First is A Fight of Light and Darkness from Prince of Persia, the game I've been playing most lately. With the Middle Eastern setting, the game's need for suitable Middle Eastern music is fixed with a wonderful blend of traditional instruments from the area. I'm glad this music plays often in the background throughout the game, because I can't get enough of it.

*2. Next is Baba Yetu, which plays in the main menu of Civilization IV. I would seriously just leave this game on in my computer so I could listen to this song over and over while doing homework and other things. With Civilization IV being a game that involves civilizations from all around the world, I'm thrilled that they chose a Christian African(Swahili) tune to represent the world. In fact, a zoomed out view of a rotating Earth is the image that accompanies this song and all in all, its a really neat mix.

3. The Battlefield Theme is from a game I bought fairly recently called Battlefield: Bad Company. It's short, but powerful with the strong cello and drum beats, and it sets a very good tone for the warfare setting of the game. This is probably my favorite string quartet piece ever, and I'm not just talking video games.

"Just so I can be with you, and I'll know how it feels for me to live like you do, and to die like you too"
*4. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is one of the coolest games I've ever played. It has one of the best stories I've seen in a video game. In fact, the whole game is about the story, there is hardly any action, no racing, nothing but a bit of puzzle-solving and anticipation for what will happen next. It's almost like you just took control over the main character of one big, 3D storybook. Anyway, this game has extremely powerful music, and it's the only game that's contributed two songs to this list. The first is Be With You by Magnet, the alias of a Norwegian singer/songwriter. One of the few here with lyrics, Be With You accurately depicts the feelings of the main character in this game. It caught my attention right away, unlike a lot of these pieces, but it was almost tortuous because of how scarcely it appeared in the actual game. Nevertheless, I've tracked it down for our enjoyment.

"If he shoots ya, it's gonna hurt"
5. Alright this next one in the Donkey Kong Theme Song from the N64 version of the game. At one point my sisters and I had these lyrics memorized and we'd play it over and over and could never stop laughing. This song really is just a big joke with a lot of effort behind it, but it still rules.

6. Never before have I felt so pumped up by the music of a game then with the Dungeon Siege Theme. Unfortunately, it's much too short-lived, by the composition is still one of the most amazing I've heard.

7. Ok this song is crazy. The F-Zero GX Theme is incredibly unique and is perfect for the futuristic setting of the game. Being a racing game(my favorite one, at that), F-Zero does well to have music like this. Traveling at 100's of mph with this kind of music has never felt so awesome.

*8. Not much needs to be said about this next song, the second I've included from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. I honestly hesitated to share this song with you guys because it is so emotionally personal to me. Short and simple: the moment toward the end of the game where this song plays is the only time I've ever cried during a video game. You'd have to play the game to have a shot at the same effect, but here's a taste. It's called Faith, don't miss it. (The track is over nine minutes longs, but the actual song only plays for the first three or so)

"To walk in the dark, carrying the light of tomorrow"
*9. Wow, don't get me started on how fantastic the music in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is. Basically, it's so good that it's the only game soundtrack I've actually purchased. Unfortunately, I got the Japanese version of the soundtrack, which only messes up the two songs that have lyrics. Kaze No Ne plays during the opening credits of the game, another segment I would repeat over and over just for the song. Don't worry, this is the English version.

*10. Never Forget is from a game you might actually recognize: Halo 3. This song is chanced upon in the main menu and I'm always caught hoping it will play. I loved the Halo Theme, with the beautiful string instruments, but then in Halo 2 I really think they messed it up by replacing the violins with an electric guitar for the melody. I'm glad that in Halo, they returned to the softer compositions, and the use of the piano makes this song so much more powerful.

11. Next is from one of the coolest games ever. It's the Oblivion Theme. Unfortunately, it's only the first twenty seconds of this composition that really get to me, but the rest is very good as well. This soundtrack was made available online for free. Once I snagged it from the internet, this short piece got a lot of play time on my i-pod. See what you think.

12. Oh goody, it's World of Warcraft, one of the most amazing, fun, and addictive games on the planet. Listening to this song is extremely hard for me because I have actually stopped myself from playing it for over a year and a half because it took so much time out of my life and it has a monthly cost. Still, it's probably the funnest game of all time, and Seasons of War from the cinematic trailer hardly does justice to the dozens of amazing tracks that play depending on your location in the huge world of the game. This trailer gives me the chills for many reasons.

"I will move fast. I will move slow. Take me where I have to go"
*13. This next song is a big deal, and not just for me (you might notice it's the song I've chosen to play first on this page). This song was sung by a Finnish singer, written for an amazing video game, and has a music video to combine the two. Still Alive plays during the credits of Mirror's Edge, an incredibly unique, yet underrated game. This song works very well when matched with the game, but is still fabulous on its own. Don't miss out.

"Anyway, this cake is great. It's so delicious and moist"
14. Pick #14 was a major hit, I mean huge, like so huge that it was actually released on Rock Band, yes the actual Rock Band. This song from Portal, also named Still Alive, is largely accepted as the best song to ever play during credits of any kind. You absolutely have to play to the game to understand the numerous inside jokes and what's going on with the singing robot. Fortunately, Portal is extremely easy for anyone to pick up and play and you should definitely give it a try when you get the chance.

15. The largest scale game I know of, Supreme Commander knows how to make you feel like a supreme commander. With beautiful landscapes and unbelievable battles and even wars are enhanced by the games soundtrack, and the Supreme Commander Theme gets puts you right in the zone when it plays as soon as you start the game up.

*16. Half-Life 2 has the best story and mood I've ever experienced in a video game. Taking place in City 17 (haha!), the thrill never ends from the moment you enter the city to the end of the game. For some reason, this song, Triage at Dawn never made it into the final released edition of the game. However, I was lucky to find it when searching for the game's soundtrack and I even plan to put it on constant repeat when I play the game again, because I know it fits perfectly.

*17. As a part of my amazing luck, the song that ended up with the spot of my lucky number simply due to my alphabetization of the list also happens to be from my favorite game of all time and the song I've heard more times than any of these others. It's the Unreal Tournament 2004 Main Theme. The person who composed all of these instruments to blend together so well is a musical genius. This song gives me so many good memories of playing with friends and family, and just of playing the game in general, which has so many other good tracks. It seriously makes me want to hurry and finish up this post just so I can play it this instant. I think I'll do just that.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy all of these amazing songs and this lengthy post. I spent a ton of time thinking through all of my games to find every tune I might want to include here, but I'm still sure I missed many. I'm sure this hefty list will keep you busy though. You're welcome!