Lately, I’ve been chatting a lot with folks about music, especially given how often it plays a beneficial role in our lives. I love music. I played clarinet in school for years before realizing that I enjoyed singing and moving over to that. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to classical compositions alongside top 40 pop and rock and enjoying different styles of independent music through various means and recommendations from friends. My past addictions to rhythm video games and studying up on different styles of dance music are also known to folks I talk with.
Of course, I’ve also listened to plenty of video game music. Like- a lot of it.
Now more than ever, I feel like I need to outline that this Top 5 is not what I think is the best or most well-composed video game soundtracks. There are a ton of great soundtracks out there that didn’t get attention here for the sake of brevity and because of criteria I set for myself to actually pare the list down enough for a post. I’d love to hear your own contributions and feelings on what your top soundtracks are, of course, but so that you have any idea of what went through my head while I was putting this together:
The soundtracks below are pieces that I’ve gone back to a number of times. When I open my audio files, I find myself gravitating toward them for whatever reason- memories, nostalgia, inspiration; these mean something to me and have followed me for years. They are soundtracks that I can listen through from one end to another nearly every time I engage with them and stylistically, they just hit all of the right spots for me.
Ready to dive into my little corner of the video game aural skies? Then let’s go!
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble
Genre: Action Platformer
Growing up on the Sonic games and as an only child, I’m shocked that I didn’t push harder to try to get a Game Gear into my greedy little hands. I do have memories of playing the Game Gear rendition of Sonic the Hedgehog on a friend’s handheld, though- until the battery died. I never saw that Game Gear or game again until years later once I started collecting.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble falls into a strange era of the Sonic franchise. Dropping right into the same timeframe as Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, the game released in the midst of a time when the flourishing series was expanding its roster and digging its heels into the same league as Mario popularity-wise.
Given that the Game Gear seems to have a fairly limited library and objectively paled in comparison to the Nintendo Game Boy in units sold, it’s sometimes easy to forget how much Sega invested in its potential. Not only is Triple Trouble the third “mainline” Sonic game to be released on the system- it does act as the sequel to equally known Sonic Chaos– but it’s one of nine Sonic related games to be released on it (including games that only released in Japan).
While Super Mario Land and its sequel commonly receive mixed reviews from folks in the current day, I couldn’t help but want to take a step back in time to see if Triple Trouble could stir up those old feelings I got from my original adventures with the spiky blue hedgehog. Given that I haven’t dug into the annals of the Game Gear library yet here on the blog and that this title interested me more than many, this seemed like a suitable place to break ground. Continue reading
Remedy Entertainment/Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: Action Horror
Writers are a very special brand of people. They dream up amazing worlds and characters making their way through gripping situations that resonate with their readers and leave a bit of their own creative blood on the page. The written word has shaped many people in the way they think and what they enjoy thematically among other influences.
Alan Wake is a game that sparked my interest from the get-go. The advertisements touted the main character as a troubled author. Doubled with my love of horror- both in video games and in literature- and I kept an eye on this until it came out. Like most games at the time, however, I had waited until it dropped in price a bit before actually diving in and purchasing.
Growing up reading the likes of Stephen King, John Saul, and Agatha Christie among a number of others, mystery and horror have permeated my media tastes for as long as I can remember. Despite having played through Alan Wake in the past, I found myself drawn to playing it again with a more critical eye. Much like re-reading one of your favorite novels from the past, having a host of life experiences between playthroughs can alter your perceptions and opinions of a game. With nearly ten years having passed since Alan Wake’s release, I was definitely intrigued about whether my views on it would change with another round in the author’s shoes. Continue reading
Genre: Horror Adventure
Games can pull you in for a number of reasons. The obvious ones involve an ongoing series and brand familiarity. Other can be promotional art and media buzz. Sometimes, it can be just as simple as a name and brief description. I can’t remember where or how exactly, but I do remember hearing about an indie horror game and aside from the title, I had no idea what it was about. That title?
Now, something you should know about me is that if you name anything something that appeals to my inner psyche, I’ll probably attempt to partake in it; cocktails, books, and obviously video games all fall under this umbrella. Speaking of Umbrella, Resident Evil is a big reason why the name Claire has cemented as a favorite of mine. I even named my second car “Claire”. It may sound oddly philosophical, but when you use a name in your title, you make a lot of mental connections for your potential audience.
For me, the combination of the title and the genre were enough to garner my attention. Looking into it, it seemed right up my alley and most likely, as with most of the games I buy on Steam, it was on sale. There was only so much to potentially lose so I took the plunge and decided to give it a whirl.
Back to the Future
Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre: Run-and-Gun Action
Here we are again. Another film adaptation game on the NES, another trial I have wittingly thrown myself into. I’ve made no secret of my love for the somewhat broken Friday the 13th and my enjoyment of the slightly-more-broken Nightmare on Elm Street. That said, those games are also based off of films that I love. Is it biased to give games leeway because we love the source material? Kind of. I still stand by the idea that Friday the 13th has more to offer than it gets credit for, at the very least.
That said, what happens when a game comes up for a property that you’re ambivalent about? Don’t get me wrong- I really enjoy the Back to the Future films. I didn’t grow up watching them every day or anything, though. In fact, I didn’t watch the entirety of the first film until sometime in my late high school career. I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t have the nostalgia factor that some of my favorites have.
I did, however, have vague memories of playing the game on Nintendo a while ago. My childhood mind had some recollections of near-impossible minigames and something about running down a street. For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to try to fill in those gaps and go back to play Back to the Future now that I’ve grown a bit and found an appreciation for particular game design choices and gained more of a critical eye for ways older games could be improved on.
I’m sure you can already tell how this went, but let’s push forward and maybe we’ll learn a thing or two along the journey!