I just started playing Pokémon Crystal on the Nintendo 3DS and I can’t believe how good this chiptune music is. I have always loved video game soundtrack and even have a few sheets of video game music for my violin and saxophone. I am a much better saxophone player than violin, but I try! I also buy a lot of video game soundtracks to listen to. My phone is much too old to actually store any data, but if I could I would fill it with video game soundtracks. Video game music can really make or break a video game, and often a good soundtrack will make the player feel certain emotions along with the characters, thus strengthening the connection you feel with a certain game. Video game music needs to walk a fine line because players often play their favorite games for hundreds of hours. Having music that can be listened to and enjoyed for that amount of time is no small feat, and video game music is often my favorite kind of background music to listen to on repeat.
Mass Effect 3
One of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time, the emotions that this music invokes range from elation to somber sadness. From the opening “Leaving Earth”, the player is invited to fill themselves with resolve after the devastating Reaper attack on their home planet. The thrilling bass notes reflect the devastation that the Reapers have brought and will continue to bring unless they are stopped. The soundtrack continues to swell with emotion until the excellent “I’m Proud of You,” which brings a finality that most soundtracks avoid. The developers and composer know that this is the end of Commander Shepard, and this piece plays as you look back towards your crew for the final time. They are proud of everything you have accomplished over the trilogy of storytelling. The piece invites the listener to reflect and remember all of the great things they have accomplished before heading forward towards the final section of the game. Mass Effect 3 was marred with controversy upon release, but I always loved this game because the music demanded such great praise. As a fan of the series, I always felt that my need for resolution was fulfilled within each game through a combination of music and storytelling. Both of which keep me coming back for more.
Mega Man X
There’s nothing like a rocking chiptune to convey the feeling of playing a Mega Man game. The X series introduced the Blue Bomber to a new era and this needed a new batch of music to go with it. There are some fantastic pieces throughout the game, but “Storm Eagle” stands alone as one of my favorite stages of all time solely based on the music composition. The beat is driving for the entire song and really reflects a sense of epic heroism. I always played Storm Eagle’s stage second during my Mega Man X runs, and this really set the tone for the rest of the game. The song continues to rise and rise until the final boss, which is mostly a pushover, but perhaps that is only because you are so amped up from listening to the awesome beat for a few minutes.
Armored Armadillo is a distant second place for me, but that is still a great accomplishment after the brilliance of Storm Eagle’s theme. Mega Man games all have fantastic music, Snake Man from Mega Man 3 was always one of my favorites. Mega Man 6 also had some of the best music in gaming across all of it’s stages. Someone all of the songs feel unique and portray a distinct feeling for the boss that you are about to encounter.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
There are many Nintendo games that have a more iconic and classic soundtrack than Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, but that doesn’t take away from the greatness of this title’s themes. I expected a fun time when I started playing Mario + Rabbids last week, but after ripping through the games four worlds I can’t get the familiar theme out of my head. Everything about this game advertises a good time, and the music accompanies each world so well. The transitions between areas evoke a sense of wonder as something new and extraordinary comes into view. Each of the four areas all have a diverse arrangement of tunes that fit the location and the situation of the heroes. For example, the Ancient Forest world contains music that is familiar yet exploratory as Mario meets up with Rabbids and explores a semi-remixed arena. It is no doubt that the music is so lovingly familiar to Mario’s roots, yet also so new and exciting. It is also not surprising that Koji Kondo supervised the musical direction, as he is the composer of the music scores from numerous The Legend of Zelda games (including Ocarina of Time) and Super Mario Odyssey. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a game that I had written off as a silly crossover, but the gameplay and especially the music kept me coming back for more.
What is your favorite video game soundtrack or song?
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks