One component of video games that really stand out to me is their music. From Nobuo Uematsu to Koji Kondo, the composition and soundtracks of video games help immerse the player into the created worlds and helps set the mood for certain stages. These are the top 5 old school video game soundtracks.
#5 Duck Tales (1989)
Life is like a hurricane, here in Duckburg…
I am, personally, partial to all things Duck Tales, including the main theme, but how about the other songs. From the nearly metal-midi “Transylvania” to the fantastic, in every sense, “Moon”, the player gets a different genre of music with each different stage. It’s hard to believe 8-bit music could be so varied, but Duck tales (woo ooh) proves that you don’t need a five piece band, nor a member orchestra to enhance the experience of a game.
#4 Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
The first in the juggernaut series known as Halo, also had some of the best music. Halo’s main theme is one of those songs that when a player hears it out of context, they know someone is firing up the old XBOX and getting ready to take on the covenant. Songs like “Rock Anthem for Saving the World” which sounds like a Tenacious D title, but in fact is a song that ties into the game sequence of a lone Master Chief vs. impending doom. Each song ties into the single player experience of the game perfectly, as Martin O’Donnell intended.
#3 Chrono Trigger (1995)
I didn’t play Chrono Trigger until fifteen years after it’s release, and I seriously love everything about the game, but the music, the music really sells the experience. The music is hypnotic and in essence a love letter to the player. It’s hard to believe Chrono Trigger spans sixty five million years, but it’s haunting “The Brink of Time” always had a sense of chaos to me, am I in Heaven, Hell, Purgatory? What is this place? Without the music, it was just another stage for Chrono and his crew to be on.
#2 Indigo Prophecy/ Fahrenheit (2005)
I liked the music more than I liked the game on this one. At least at the time, I’ve since grown fond of the Telltale style of Visual Novel and QuickTime events. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the plot, without looking it up, but the soundtrack is another story. This game introduced me to Theory of a Deadman with songs like “No Surprise” and “Santa Monica”. Throw in some Teddy Pendergrass and Nina Simone, and you have a soundtrack, you can jam out to in the car on the way to work.
I’m cheating on this last one because I couldn’t choose, and it wouldn’t have been fair to make every soundtrack come from one series of titles.
#1 Final Fantasy Series (1987 – ongoing)
Much like the Never-ending story having an end, the Final Fantasy series just keeps on going. Why? Great stories (usually), excellent characters (mostly), and fantastic music (always). The music of the series is so popular there is a tour known as Distant Worlds, a concert devoted to just Final Fantasy’s everlasting music, which is an amazing thing to think about when it comes to the “are video games art?” debate.