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We Honor Great Video Game Soundtracks - part 2

Posted Dec 23rd 2014, 11:22 by Penguin Pete

To continue from part 1, this is a random slap-dash post of great video game soundtrack music. If you don't get every game title you wanted for CDhristmas this year, maybe this post will inspire you with a head full of nostalgia to load up one of your own old favorites. Because you've got time to burn during winter break anyway, right?

And this time we'll clear it up: We're NOT taking songs that originated from outside of a game. Sorry, no GTA DJ picks, no Guitar Hero tracks, no licensed hits. Only original music produced for the games themselves.

Unreal - Nightvision

Just the last word in cyberpunk techno themes, that's all. The music goes perfectly with the mood: first-person-shooter action in a futuristic setting, likely as not taking place in the metal bowels of some spaceship or sewer system.

SimCity 4 - Rush Hour

We couldn't leave out the Broadway theme from SimCity 3000 last time; likewise, this jazzy number with the busy, busy percussion section just works too hard for us to leave out here. Again, we could go on all day about SimCity background music, since it has to work harder, but we'll just select a few tracks.

Sam and Max Hit the Road - main theme

Sam and Max is one of the most legendary cults spawned by the seminal LucasArts studios. The mini-franchise is somewhat a parody of noir detective thrillers, but with the bizarre factor turned up to X-Files levels. Then played for laughs, and thus perfectly suited with this boppy, cheesy, lounge lizard club sandwich of a theme.

Donkey Kong Country - Treetop Town

Another Super Nintendo Classic we could use for examples to fill this whole article. But special mention goes to this infectiously catchy earworm, with a lively xylophone capturing life bouncing from tree to tree in the jungle.

Haunted Castle (Castlevania) - Cross Your Heart

For a video game series centering around romanticized vampires decades before Twilight, birthing the Goth genre when Goths were still Punks, the Castlevania series was a whole generation ahead of its time. We could have picked many themes from the franchise, but the original arcade cabinet first-level theme is the one that gets stuck in your head all day after hearing it once. There's a party at Dracula's crypt, and everybody's dancing 'til dawn!

Meh, we'll randomly stop right there.

No, wait, we have to do this...

Commander Keen 4 - You've Got to Eat Your Vegetables!

We're not including this one just for the music, but for the story behind it. Here's Apogee Games composer Bobby Prince, in a live interview, talking about how he came up with this theme and what went into it:

And now you appreciate just how creative you have to be to squeeze that much expression, not only out of an instrumental track itself, but being played out of a 286'er desktop PC in the 1990s, with maybe a Soundblaster card and Radio Shack speakers if you were flush. This was in the days of pre-Windows, boys and girls! Sure, anybody reading this could probably plunk this tune out on a guitar. They had to code that stuff in assembly!

That's all you get this time folks. Keep listening, keep reading, and merry Christmas!


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