Inspired by this post about the music throughout the Mass Effect series, I started thinking about all of the excellent soundtracks that I’ve enjoyed while playing games. This is by no means an exhaustive list; please comment and share some of your favorite video game soundtracks too! I’d love to listen to more.
Mass Effect 3 – It was highlighted in the article I linked to above, but it does make my personal list of favorite soundtracks. The compilation overall takes you through a range of emotions, but there are some individual tracks that can take you from elation to heartbreak to resolve within a four minute space of time. Definitely worth a listen through, if you’re looking for a well-rounded, very orchestral driven experience. Not to mention, it makes you feel like whatever you’re doing within your cubicle is contributing to saving the galaxy!
Red Dead Redemption – The soundtrack of RDR made a huge chunk of the atmosphere of this game. When the genre “western” enters most people’s heads, they think of hackneyed banjo music with a clanky washboard accompaniment. How refreshing then that the music used to great the bring depth to the western theme in RDR wasn’t twangy or cliche at all. Some of these tracks are unnerving, most are energizing, and a few (particularly the song through the credits “Deadman’s Gun” by Ashtar Command) can bring you to tears. Although the songs with lyrics are closer to the end of the game, the three of them are my favorites on the album. Do yourself a favor, get lost in the old west by listening to this soundtrack.
Splice – You can read in the game title link that I’ve already highlighted this incredible soundtrack. Ethereal and stirring, it brings you along a ride you didn’t think possible with a protagonist-less puzzler. The movement that takes the audience on a journey is the incredible strength in every song on this soundtrack. You’ll be doing a disservice to yourself if you don’t check out this soundtrack (free to preview in its entirety on bandcamp).
Bastion – This . . . this soundtrack is perfection. I saved the best for last. I’ve heard this soundtrack be compared to the Firefly soundtrack, which I thought was fitting. It gives off a non-western (hemisphere) vibe, mixed with a few, very subtle western (cowboy) themes. A diverse range of instruments orchestrate every track, and the songs with vocalists are . . . haunting, but in the best most moving way possible. I realize all of these descriptions sound very hyperbolic, but seriously, this one . . . the money soundtrack, undoubtedly.
Like I said, there are lots of other game soundtracks I love (Catch-22, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong, etc.) but these are really some of the cream of the crop. I’ll also take this chance to give a shoutout to a YouTube artist who does incredible acapella covers of video game songs. He hits some of the most popular jams (e.g. Guile’s Theme from Super Street Fighter 2) as well as a few more obscure hits that are just great songs (e.g. DuckTales’ Moon Theme). His username is Smooth McGroove and if you love raw talent recreating your favorite video game tracks, you have to go and subscribe!
I just had to google spelunking because I was unconvinced that it could really just mean exploring caves (which my prior knowledge was trying to tell me was true). It’s true – spelunking is just looking around caves.
Anyway, I’ve purchased the last 3 Humble Indie Bundles (I should’ve posted about 5 because it was so amazing, but hopefully you owned all the games already) and have played . . . an embarrassingly low number of those games. Additional sadness came today when I realized I haven’t listened to the soundtracks from those games or those from my GOG.com games. The other day I received a recommendation to try out Cave Story for it’s awesome Metroidvania style of gameplay so I downloaded it and gave it a whirl.
First thing I noticed was the music. The music behind the opening menu is fantastic! And as I’ve kept playing through the game, the music stays great, but I think my favorite thus far is still the opening theme (to be fair, I’m not really that far). The second thing that I had to notice was the old school art style. Gotta love the classics.
The story took me a minute to get into, I didn’t find myself really caring about Sue or any of these Mimigas for awhile. I was surprised, but maybe shouldn’t have been, by the freedom the game offers. I suppose I associate that art style with older games that stereotypically didn’t give much freedom. Someone was in trouble, you agreed to help them, if you don’t, they kept asking until you said yes, they were grateful. Bad guy asked are you ready to rumble, you said no, and he attacked anyway. Those types of situations. The first “mini boss” you run into asks if you want to fight, so just to try it out, I said no, and he left. Again, that kind of player-driven plot is really the norm in gaming now, right? But it pleasantly surprised me in Cave Story all the same.
My beef? The controls. I like the simplicity, but something about the jump took me longer than it should have to master. And while I love self-deprecation and admitting my own ridiculousness, I felt like I was pressing that damn key just like I should have and the jump wasn’t going as far as it was supposed to. Having said that, every game has a learning curve of varying gradations to get comfortable with the controls, so now I’m a jumping master.
I’m getting more and more invested in this game. I realized I needed to take a break to write this and get started on Rayman (GOG.com weekend sale on the first 3 Rayman games, if you’re interested, and other really great games actually. This a good weekend sale on the site).
If you tried Cave Story in the past and didn’t get hooked, maybe give it a little more time to whet your whistle. If you tried Cave Story in the past and played for a long time and hated it, leave a comment because I’d love to hear your critiques. If you tried Cave Story in the past and loved it, then good on ya. If you tried – nah, I’m just kidding, I’ll stop doing that repetition-in-the-beginning-of-the-sentence thing. But seriously, give Cave Story a first or maybe second chance, and be sure to leave a comment about what you think!