Video game music: the readers’ favourites
My recent blog post exploring some of the PC Pro team’s favourite retro game themes sparked plenty of debate – and a whole hatful of fantastic suggestions from readers. So here’s a run-down of some of your favourite gaming music:
The first clutch of responses perhaps gave away the age of some readers, with plenty of people citing C64 classics: Ryan Thomas reminisced about the superb music that often accompanied Ocean games, as well as the themes from Shadowfire, Parallax and Zoids, which is featured in this fantastic video, which crams 100 C64 themes in to frenzied, synth-filled 10 minutes and probably took weeks to assemble.
Daverage also added to the C64 adoration, professing so much love forRambo 3’s loading and introductory music that he ‘even learnt it on the guitar’. Now that’s dedication.
Other readers waded in on the other side of the 80’s fence, though, with a clutch of classic Amiga themes. Paul B kicked the debate off with obscure Psygnosis title The Killing Game Show, which featured an ominous, brooding beginning that gave way to some Top Gun-inspired cheese and comedy voice samples.
Real World Computing contributor Paul Ockenden was evidently an Amiga fan, too, mentioning Gold Runner and its electronic voices as well as Bubble Bobble, which was ported to the Amiga after its success in the arcades.
Reader John mentioned the moody beginnings of Amiga classic Obliterator and also admitted that, when he found a way to play it on his PC, he’d load it up ‘to celebrate minor achievements’. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t give a surname.
The last Amiga entry came from Luke, who mentioned the superbly low-budget introduction to Blood Money, which combined a couple of soundbites with as many low-budget sound effects as possible. In fact, it was so extravagant that it takes up a whole floppy disc – you had to slot in a second to play the actual game.
Many more readers mentioned retro titles from other formats. Outrun’s Magical Sound Shower may sound vaguely dirty but got plenty of respect from Mike, and the Dark Haired Lord might have taken inspiration from the animal-inspired Airwolf. It’s also impossible to resist the classic Tetris theme.
Mark brought some respectability back into the topic by mentioned The Blue Danube by Strauss, which was used as the docking theme for Elite, brilliantly likening the merging of spacecraft and space station to elegant ballroom dancing. The Sega Megadrive was represented by SteelyDanDave who waxed lyrical about the regimental tunes of Empire of Steel, a game where you’d save the world by piloting a lethal airship of doom whose bombs caused lightning.
While plenty of readers reminisced about older titles, several mentioned classic soundtracks from more recent games. Homeworld’s ambient soundtrack was so revered that it was bundled with the Game of the Year Edition release and was mentioned by GR138Legend. While retro titles have undoubted nostalgia value and a certain charm, it’s titles like Homeworld, which have budgets large enough to create full orchestral scores, that can prove even more evocative and memorable.
Deus Ex is another relatively recent classic, developed by the sadly defunct Ion Storm, that featured evocative ambient music to really set in the mood – in this case, a claustrophobic, gritty and dystopian vision of the future. And, like Homeworld, the soundtrack found enough fans to be released as a separate disc in the Game of the Year Edition of the title.
Thanks to David Langton for the suggestion, who also mentioned another classic RPG, the fantasy title Morrowind, which also had orchestral music that could have slipped into the Lord of the Rings trilogy and more than held its own.
Philip mentioned Transport Tycoon and its perky, jazzed-up soundtrack, and it’s well worth mentioning alongside Roller Coaster Tycoon, too, which uses traditional theme park sounds to create a tune that’s part unsettling and part entertaining.
David Riley contributed with a trio of fantastic modern tunes: Unreal Tournament’s main theme was precisely what was needed to gear the player up for a hectic, gib-filled deathmatch, and the Hell’s March music from Red Alert 1 and 2 was similarly aggressive, sampling sounds of soldiers trooping off to war.
Other modern games have similarly epic scores: Civilisation 4, as mentioned by Theben, hints at the game’s globe-spanning scale, and Baldur’s Gate II had a fantasy soundtrack of similar quality to that of Morrowind.
On a completely different note, the theme tune from Words 3D is sickeningly sweet but also surprisingly violent, featuring lyrics like “we arm worms, we’re the bes
t and we’ve come to win the war” and “we’ll strike with all our might and fight for what is right”. Presumably, the “right” they’re fighting for is the permission to use banana bombs, holy hand grenades and old women as deadly weapons.
On that squeaky-voiced note, we’ve reached the end of some of our reader’s favourite gaming theme tunes – but don’t let that stop you. What do you think of these classic tunes and have we missed out any stone cold classics? As usual, let us know in the comments below.