Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5 (More) Great Video Game Songs

I'm calling this five more songs because Shane already outlined five of his favourite NES era songs back at the start of February. This list is a little different, however. This isn't just NES songs, and has no specific era or system. These are just five tunes that I think everyone should check out. This also isn't just five of my favourite video game songs, although some of them would land on my favourite video game songs list, were I to make one.

Anyway, as Mr. T would say, enough jibba-jabberin'! On with the list!

5. Chrono Cross (PSX) - "Scars Left By Time"
Listen. This is a game I wish to god that I still had my hands on. I rented it when it first debuted in America, back in 2000. Hoping for a sequel in every way to Chrono Trigger, I was met with a sequel that didn't really clone its predecessor, but was still a solid game in its own right.

One of the main things I took away from it, though, was its introduction and theme music. The song that played in this intro was "Scars Left By Time". It opens with a beautiful, heart-felt bit, and then strikes up, but not too much. It has a nice beat, and fits perfectly with the look of the game. It may not be as heart-pounding as some of the other songs on this list, but it's still a very good song.

4. F-Zero X (N64) - "Port Town"
Listen. When everyone thinks of the music of F-Zero, the one tune that instantly comes to mind is, of course, "Big Blue". That's understandable because it's an awesome tune, and probably the best from the game, but another song that was pretty awesome was "Port Town".

It starts off sort of erratic and then works its way into a cool guitar-driven riff that continuously becomes more and more rocking as the track winds on.

Although there is a version of the song in F-Zero for the SNES, the music on the 64 version both stands out, to me, because it was a much better mix, due of course to the technology, and because F-Zero X is easily the one I've played most out of the series, and I believe it was also the first.

3. Ys II (TG 16)- "To Make The End of Battle"
Listen. Although I can't say that I've ever played any of the Ys games (which, from what I hear, is very unfortunate) in searching for cool video game tunes, I eventually came across this one. I believe the arrangement I've been listening to is produced by Sound Team JDK, and although it has an almost "too metal" intro that seems like it could come off the tracks at any point, eventually you'll hit the main riff of the song, which is very amped and gets you in the mood to kick some ass.

One of my favourite parts about this song is that it comes down around the middle into this light synth and drums, which just sounds cool. Soon the bass strikes up and you start to start to wonder if you're listening to a completely different song. It then introduces the electric guitar again, with a smattering of acoustic, and then back into that great backbone riff. The original version of the song is also good, but I just love this arrangement. Here's the original.

2. Castlevania: Syphony of the Night (Sega Saturn) - "Bloody Tears"
Listen. This song has appeared in just about every Castlevania video game, in one form or another, since it debuted in Haunted Castle, an arcade version of Castlevania released in 1988. The song first hit consoles in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the NES.

It has always been a very heart-racing tune, even from its 8-bit beginnings, but the best version, in my opinion, came out only on the Sega Saturn version of Castlevania: SOTN (which I still haven't been able to play!). It wasn't in any of the levels, but could be found in the "Music Hall" option of the opening screen.

There's not much I can say, as just about everyone has heard this tune if they've played any of these games. Symphony of the Night was known for having amazing music, and this was a great remix. It was very heavy in guitars and had a great rock edge to it. I could technically make a whole list based just on SOTN's musical soundtrack, but I talked myself into just mentioning this one, very cool, little gem. Here's the original version.

1. Ninja Warriors (Arcade) - "Daddy Mulk"
Listen. If nothing else it has one of the oddest titles ever. This song was composed by video game music gurus, Zuntata. Yes, there was an actual band, much like JDK. These guys even toured in Japan, that's how awesome their music was.

What I would call their shining achievement was "Daddy Mulk" from the arcade title Ninja Warriors, released by Taito in 1988. The game would eventually be ported to the Commodore Amiga, C64, PC-Engine (TG 16) and the Sega CD (aka Mega CD - considered the best port) and would also spawn a sequel on the SNES. I've really only indicated the arcade as the version for my list because the arcade machine was so cool.

It sported three screens, linked next to each other to make a widescreen arcade game. It would later be used in the Darius games (which Zuntata also scored) as well as the X-Men game that Konami released in arcade.

The tune just has this great riff, with a bit of an 80's edge, and can get you going just as well as any Mega Man tune, really. If you hear it once, you'd probably recognize it, maybe even if you haven't played any of the games. I know that I've only ever played the sequel on the SNES (The Ninja Warriors Again) and I recognized it almost instantly from many different video game music playlists scattered all over the internet.

Heavily synth and effects oriented, the song is a must-listen for any fan of video game music, and a cool tune if you're just a music buff in general. The version I linked above is of Zuntata playing live at a concert in 1990 that is probably my favourite form of the tune. Here, however, is the original.


Cole D'Arc said...

Interesting list. All the songs, obscure or not, are well known to me. Moreso because I am a fan of videogame music than any memories from the games themselves.
Posters on youtube say that version of Bloody Tears is used in the Saturn game - for the fight with the mind-controlled Richter. ive always wanted to play it both for the extra stuff and the well-known fact that no other system did 2d hand-drawn graphics better.
This has got me to thinking of other less known videogame songs.

Shane said...

Nice list. It's my first time to hear the Daddy Mulk song, and it's certainly catchy.

I love the soundtrack to Chrono Cross. So much so that I listened to it to death before ever playing the game. Once I finally did pick up the games, I only got a few hours in before losing interest. But the soundtrack stays on my ipod, cause it's so much fun to listen to.

Besides the awesome "Scars of Time", I love the theme for Termina, "Another World". It's musical joy.

Sam said...

Wild ARMs opening theme. #1 with a magic bullet.