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Geek Time | October 25, 2014

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The Memory in the Music

The Memory in the Music
Sam Wright

Everyone has a song they listen to that reminds them of times past. Music is something that permeates almost every experience. Video games especially use music to help them weave their interactive tales. Even a terrible video game can have great music. That’s why I’m going to list some of my favorite video game songs. This list will be far from comprehensive, to the point where certain people might feel “slighted” that I didn’t include their favorite song. For this, I’m sorry. I wish I could post links to every song ever made…but I can’t.

Some of these will be boss themes. Some of these will be regular tracks. They’re all great, so I’m not even going to number them. I’ll list them as I think of them. But here goes it anyway.

(I’m trying to avoid being obvious here, so you’re not going to see the Mario theme song or something everyone resonates with. Just a note)

I could probably dedicate an entire article to the purely amazing music in the Metal Gear Solid series, so I’m just going to pick one…and why not The Best is Yet To Come from Metal Gear Solid? After traversing the menus and beginning your game, this song is the first you hear…and it’s beautiful. You only hear the first (maybe) 30 seconds of it, but you hear the entirety of it during the game’s ending credits. It’s chilling and absolutely wonderful to listen to.

 

Shadow of the Colossus was truly an amazing game. Your only enemies were the 16 imposing Colossi and each battle felt like an epic encounter. None fit this bill better than Malus, the 16th and final Colossus, however. The fight against Malus was the best in the game and this song, entitled Demise of the Ritual, added so much to it. The scene and the imposing nature of the creature were only accentuated by this orchestral accomplishment. A lot of it is relatively understated and quiet, however the impending sense of dread you feel just listening to it, knowing exactly what you’re facing…it’s unbeatable.

 

Like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy is one of those series that could (and probably should) take up an entire article about game music by itself. With this, however, I find myself needing to pick a few different songs (though I’ll only embed one). The one I choose just so happens to be Liberi Fatali, the main theme of Final Fantasy VIII. While it’s no secret I wasn’t overly fond of FF8 (battle system being the heart of the issue), that doesn’t take away from the amazing music. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started this game “back in the day,” but this made me feel epic in every way.

 

Of course, Final Fantasy has many fantastic main themes. Final Fantasy VII (on piano being my preferred method of listening) and X are great. I’ve also got to hand it to Dancing Mad and One Winged Angel (the final battle themes of Kefka Palazzo and Sephiroth, repsectively). Dark Messenger is also probably one of FF’s coolest songs. And of course…this beauty. There are many many many (many many many) more songs, and I don’t want to get yelled at for leaving them out. I love them all.

Banjo-Tooie was one of my favorite games on the N64. Despite all of the music being super awesome, the music that plays while you run around the Witchyworld level has a special place in my heart. It creeped me out when I was younger, but the level itself was really fun and the music added to its atmosphere. Also, the Mr. Patch boss battle? Yikes.

 

I’m now going to jump into The Legend of Zelda and upset more people who don’t agree with my song choices. The one I’m choosing for this article is the music that plays during the Blizetta boss battle in Twilight Princess. It’s a good song and it’s something that seemingly comes out of your worst Tim Burton-y nightmare. But also while we’re on the subject of Twilight Princess…ugh. This being said, Koji Kondo’s music endures throughout the series in every way, and all of it is fantastic. But yes. Blizetta.

 

Pokemon has some wonderful music in it, but I chose Ho-Oh’s battle theme from Pokemon Heart Gold. Despite Lugia being my preferred legendary choice, Ho-Oh’s theme demolished Lugia’s no problem. Such a fantastic song. The Asian influence in it sounds great and matches up with the locale and the Pokemon fantastically.

 

People can say whatever they want about Asura’s Wrath (interesting being one of the words I’d use), but its music was great. Specifically the use of Dvorak’s Symphony No 9: From the New World, 4th Movement during the battle with Augus. An epic battle accentuated by a truly epic song.

I love the Phoenix Wright games. They’re great for many reasons, and the music is one of them. The song Objection! resonates with me because it usually plays when there’s a break in the case. When the work I’ve done pays off and Phoenix finally makes some incredible headway, I shout “OBJECTION!” and this song plays. It’s a gratifying feeling because I know that I was successful with my choices at that moment.
Have you ever heard Journey‘s soundtrack? Why not? I honestly have no words beyond this for how beautiful the game is, but the soundtrack leaves me similarly speechless. The soundtrack is the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy award (to be determined at the 55th edition of the show this coming Sunday). I chose the song I Was Born for This, a truly moving piece of music…but the whole soundtrack deserves to be consumed wholly.

 

You didn’t actually think we were going to get away with something from Kingdom Hearts, did you? Of course, I love the music of these games, but only being able to pick one…I chose the music that plays while fighting Terranort in Birth By Sleep. It’s such an epic song, but given what just happened in the story at that point, it reflects the sadness and urgency of the situation perfectly.

 

I was going to stop with ten songs, but I couldn’t in good conscience…so you get three bonus songs. That’s thirteen for the price of ten! Boy howdy!

(If we’re being real here…there are way more than thirteen selections in this article, but who’s counting? Not me, obviously.)

Devil May Cry has always had crazy intense music, and it’s hard to pick one song. This is why I’m going into my recent memory to pull out the boss music for Bob Barbas in DmC: Devil May CryThe fight with Bob is one of my favorite boss battles in recent memory. The obvious parody of extreme right wing news organizations (Bill O’Reilly most prominently) is great and the music adds to the atmosphere, especially the beginning as if you’re about to tune into one of Bob’s news broadcasts. It’s a classic fight with some great music behind it.

At the beginning of Assassin’s Creed II, you race Ezio’s brother Frederico to the top of the church. It is at this point that you hear Venice Rooftops for the first time. This is the song that plays during race sequences during the game. The song is perfect for race sequences. The heart pounding drums and guitar add a sense of urgency to complete the race on time, but the lighter tones of the song (through certain wind instruments and choral singing) add a sort of free feel to the equation. Assassin’s Creed II (and the series) have fantastic music, but this is one of my favorite for the energy it conveys. (Special mention to the heart wrenching Ezio’s Family, which is a tonal flip in the other direction)

 

Last, but not least, I give you a Mass Effect song. This song, called The End Run, plays as part of the suicide mission during Mass Effect 2. There’s not a whole lot to say about it, because it says a lot for itself. The suicide mission was a very intense way to end the game. This really adds to that. The beginning really makes you feel like you’re about to attack something monumentus and the ending/last half is really ambiguous. The suicide mission could go either way and the ending kind of feels like a triumph and a failure, adjusting itself to the situation you’re in. I don’t know how it does it…but it just does.

Hm. I guess there was some stuff to say about it.

 

That is the end of my list, but not the end of my favorite gaming music. The songs in video games trigger memories. Good, bad, or otherwise…the music of games is truly key to bringing the most out of them. There’s music in every game and more often than not, it’s fantastic. I regret that I could not include more (for space’s sake) and I encourage suggestions to add to this list. They are always welcome.

Though I do still anticipate a few “how could you forget ___’s soundtrack?” type dealies, I’ll counter with an all encompassing “I like the soundtrack and all the songs from [insert your favorite game here].”

Good day.

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