Man. It's getting harder and harder to fit in these titles.
Drop the bass!
Welcome to a third edition of this series of blogs, which have consistently remained some of my most-loved works. I'm glad somebody around this foul meat closet called Destructoid is able to successfully school you chumps in bloody awesome video game music! Life simply does not exist without the sounds that it makes. Unless you're deaf.
For this iteration, I tried to be as varied and far-reaching as I possibly could be while not going overboard and without doing extensive research on the many MANY games I have yet to play. As a result, I feel this has been my best music blog yet and I haven't even begun to write the captions! I won't put a dollar amount on the chance as I do not wish to sink into a crippling gambling addiction, but I predict you will also love it.
If only because I promise to send you cookies if you do.
Armed and Dangerous - Bagpipe Theme
Probably half the reason this is on here is because I feel dreadfully sorry for Armed and Dangerous. It wasn't a game that I loved, I haven't even played it since the early 00's, but I did really like it. Though, not many have even so much as played the thing as evidenced by it's lack of relevance in my many Interwebz searches.
It's soundtrack has almost no pressence on YouTube, making it even hard to feature here. But, of the three songs I could find, this one's my favorite. In the context of the game's lackluster legacy, it's like an uplifting though somber eulogy. Slow and echoing percussion, bagpipes ringing out, flutes and bells providing the backup, it's all very pretty and... so sad. These are the feelings that I feel when I think about Armed and Dangerous. It's like I am the only one who still utters that name and even I don't have an Xbox that will play the copy that I still own after all these years.
May the world be forgiven for giving you so little in return for your unique, Monty Python-esque take on the third-person shooter genre. You had all the makings of a cult classic, but I suppose only so many can be salvaged from falling into a deep obscurity. RIP, you poor, poor bastard.
Super Smash Bros 3DS/Wii U - "Airman Stage"
You can tell just from the soundtrack that whoever is involved with these games must really care about what they're doing. Fanservice doesn't get much better than Super Smash Bros.
I have no trouble just using the 3DS version of the latest iteration as a Nintendo music compilation CD of sorts. Heck, it was even intended to work as such (granted, amidst it's many other features). Just go to the music player, accumulate a few favorites if you want, flip a switch or two, go into Sleep Mode, enjoy. It's so wonderful. Adding to it is that most, if not all, the tracks are faithfully recreated using modern tech and instruments while still being given a fresh spin.
I can no longer go back to many of the original recordings without feeling just a tad underwhelmed now. Just listen to that righteous guitar and mighty synth on Airman Stage! It's a goshdanged masterpiece. One of those songs that is just as good on it's second loop as it was on it's first.
Nintendo has been really knocking it out of the park with their music lately. Between Smash Bros, Super Mario 3D World, and Mario Kart 8, my anticipation for what they have in store next is higher than mine for how the next Persona soundtrack ends up and that means a lot coming from me.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - "Hell Frozen Rain"
A franchise laden with more ambience and noise than conventional music, Silent Hill does boast it's share of vocal tracks as well. Probably most famously is Silent Hill 4's Room Of Angel, a brilliant song that I.. am not featuring. Too easy! Instead, here's something from an even more underrated Silent Hill game: Shattered Memories.
Same composer, same vocalist, entirely different sound. One of those songs I'd describe as "drifting". Everything plays so firmly entwined with one another, there's hardly ever a break, and the beat is both steady and easy. It doesn't change much, but it's varied enough and solid as hell nonetheless. Something that I could relax to while still taking note of some standout elements throughout.
From what I've heard from her, I also really enjoy the vocalist. A lovely, soulful voice that does a lot to make the songs she's featured in more than they are.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle - "N.M.H. Outer Rim Remix"
Originally, I had chosen to use the music from the Man the Meat mini-game. It was the one I was most familiar with and I love both the mini-game and manning meat, but it felt just a tad silly singling out that one considering the dozens of other more interesting tracks that likely don't get quite as much attention.
Some artists manage it flawlessly and with little trouble, but let's not understate the talent required to successfully blend multiple genres within a single song (let alone across multiple songs). In what reminds me of something heard from the band Phish, not only do we have elements of blues and psychedelic rock, but heavy metal as well. The technicality on display is confident and impressive, yet often subtle. Crazy solos and chuggy note rhythms seemlessly bleed from light chords and saxes, making this a deliciously well-rounded track.
GTAIII - "See Through You"
Near the cusp of a new millenium, GTAIII made a canonball splash and changed literally everything about everything. Black became white, planes drove and cars flew, your grandparents retroactively did not exist, and video games finally became fun!
Now they all suck again and I eat myself to sleep in a dark room, playing old vinyls of Otis Redding.
In GTAIII, like every other GTA, were these really nice radio stations that spanned from electronica to pop to reggae and also some people that talked a lot (Fernando was my favorite). But, unlike most GTA's, a lot of GTAIII's radio music was actually completely original. Including "See Through You" by phony band Frankie Fame. They certainly had me fooled! Almost this entire time, I thought this "Frankie Fame" was a real band that faded into obscurity, somehow, shortly after being featured in one of the most popular video games of all time.
That's how legit this sounds. A standout and catchy guitar riff, the bubbly yet sexy vocals, the bass, the overall production value, every little touch suits 90's alternative rock perfectly. Nothing about it screams satirical or fake, it sounds astoundingly genuine. I mean, 2000/2001 wasn't too far off from the 90's so I suppose that made it easier to get into that zone, but it's still impressive that something which could've easily been a classic for it's time was simply made to fill slots within some fake radio station.
Destiny - "Cabal Stomp"
Oh, boy. Destiny is in your 'toid feed again and we're gonna talk about it!
You wanna talk about why it was so tremendously disappointing? I bet you do, but no. You wanna talk about Destructoid's unending coverage of a game literally nobody cares about? I bet you fucking do, but it's not that either. Instead, can we just talk about something happy for once in regards to Destiny? Like, let's at least admit the game has one hell of a soundtrack.
No particular track stands out, for me, on said soundtrack quite like Cabal Stomp. The slow, heavy, menacing rhythm capsulizing the Cabal's intimidating visage, it served as a perfect companion piece to the gameplay during that first fight on Mars.
It takes a lot for me to play in awe of the synergy of combat, music, challenge, visuals, everything. Everything was aligned perfectly during this moment and it's one of the many reasons I actually look back on Destiny's campaign with fondness, some formulaic elements and terribly lacking story aside.
VVVVVV - "Presenting VVVVVV"
Whenever I have to say "VVVVVV" in real-life conversation, I clinch my cheeks just a bit. Sometimes, I end up saying something like "VVVv-.. vfvvffFUCK..." because I'm not only having to repeat "V" quickly in succession, but I'm simultaneously having to keep track of how many V's I'm blurting out.
Frustrating. Am I the only one? Or do I need some speech classes?
No. You're weird.
Anyway. Writing at such a slow tempo and with such simplistic instrumentation, it's easy for a track like this to end up sounding boring. Thankfully, through to it's very end, new elements, lines, and melodies are introduced to keep things interesting and those "V" whispers make for some... stimulating percussion. Soft stimulation, though. I don't have a boner or anything. But, now that I've thought about having a boner, I have one.
Dammit. Where's the ice water?
Final Fantasy IX - "Ice Cavern"
Maybe we can find some here!
Casual Status Confirmed: Of the many FF's out there, I have only played the numbered sequels since first playing X around when that came out. And I haven't finished a single one. Want to, but haven't.
That I just barely missed Final Fantasy IX is tragic. I can't tell you how many times I've read or have been directly told that it was easily the best of the bunch. I have it on my Vita to play soon enough as I've been trying to delve into my backlog of JRPG's lately, but, until then, I wanted to at least give it's soundtrack some credit. I just knew I'd find some really awesome stuff within it's whopping 4+ hours of music. I've always held Final Fantasy in high regards when it came to it's soundtracks and art direction, even when the games themselves were piss poor.
Going through it's soundtrack, I was pretty consistently impressed, but it was so hard to nail down a favorite. While that is a sign of a great soundtrack, naturally, I couldn't pick all of them. So, I finally decided to go with one that seemed to stand out from the rest. The most interesting one. That one is Ice Cavern.
Within seconds, the marimba began tingling the pleasure sector of my brain. Then jutting chords happen for some reason and there's now a flute. Then back to the marimba. Triangle solos? This is too good. Now we have cymbals that come in for a few measures, to just suddenly stop. I was smiling almost the entire way through.
Thinking about it, the marimba is such an underrated instrument. Much like a piano, amazing things can be done with it given the right talent and lots of sticks with big balls on the end of them. A quick search of "marimba" on YouTube will bring up some awesome results. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Of course, Ice Cavern isn't quite beautiful. It's just really interesting.
Syndicate - "Syndicate (Skrillex)"
EA's Syndicate reboot and dubstep, all in one post?!
As far as I'm concerned, there can exist good dubstep. As long as the track doesn't rely too heavily on predictable patterns and goes easy enough on the warped drops and simply uses them to mix up the composition here or there, I think the genre has it's merits. Some artists can do some really neat, catchy things with sampling.
Don't get me wrong. There's a lot of crappy dubstep (or "brostep", as some may refer to this stuff as not real "dubstep") that people somehow find totally awesome which makes me feel like an old guy telling this generation of teens and young adults to get off his proverbial lawn, but I do find some of it worthwhile. In fact, I think Skrillex's Bangarang EP is, for the most part, pretty damn awesome and his rendition of this track from Syndicate is all-around nice as well. Those bass rides in-between the wubs in that first chorus... you know like 'em.
Well, maybe you don't. So, if you're not into this sort of thing, check out the other remixes and see about those. They're much more in line with conventional electronica and are just as good.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - "I Am The One"
For a while, I was so obsessed with this song that I attempted to tab it out myself and cover it. That is something I don't even normally have the patience for with songs that most beginners could figure out within minutes. But, I loved the song so much and I wanted to feel every one of those beautiful notes and chords ring through the callouses on my fingers as I quietly butchered it with my terrible singing voice.
Origins has it's own version of this wonderful song and it's definitely great in it's own right, but acoustics (and clear English) speak to me so much more. The soft guitar harmonizing with the vocals every step of the way is precious and the reverb implies the performer's (as a character) importance in not just the present but future. Forgotten tales brought to us through the words and music of a bard which bring hope, inspire others to take up the responsibility of protecting their family and home, spread messages, or provide harmless entertainment.
This track encompasses that classic role with style and grace, as well as concision.
Killer7 - "(｀曲´)"
Apparently, "(｀曲´)" means "song" or "tune" in Japanese. Well, heh, it ain't wrong. That is exactly what we got here. Probably the least offensive track name of all time. It also looks like an angry man with his hands clawed to hs sides.
A couple or so months ago, I had been exposed to Shadows of the Damned. Missteps aside, that was such a fun game that I needed to complete my Suda collection which had, before then, consisted of just Lollipop Chainsaw and Black Knight Sword. I bought not only both NMH's, but Killer Is Dead and Killer7. I had to actually hunt down both NMH's between a couple GameStops and Killer7 took me to my local antique gaming shop. That, in hindsight, meager work paid off and they are now all mine!
I still have not played Killer7, but I absolutely cannot wait. Until then, I'm gonna keep bouncing between several choice songs off it's soundtrack. Mostly this one and "Russian Roulette". I'm always tickled to hear any use of a theremin (one of the music world's most unconventional, yet super neat, music devices) and "(｀曲´)" uses one for it's entire fronting melody! Such a unique sound. Satisfyingly gloomy, with some backing ambience, rounded out with a simple, slow drum beat. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus - "Main Theme (8-bit)"
Tell me that isn't one of the most intense, awesome bit tracks you've ever heard.
Not only did Into the Nexus succeed as a proper return to form after several ho-hum experiments, but it graced you with this amazing piece upon completing it. You wanna talk about ending on a high note, this had me at the edge of my chair and clamoring for a YT rip. I even had to put a request out to someone who had already ripped the original theme. I needed it. Thankfully, they obliged and I was able to quickly enjoy this through the convenience of my personal computer.
This song is concerned with one thing only: pumping you the fuck up! Even the breakdown is poppy as hell and loaded with crazy vibrato. Those wacked out scales and sweeps, the tension-building lick rides, it's all so overwhelming and I love it.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth - "Light the Fire Up in the Night (P3)"
You know I had to include a Persona track. I will keep including them until everyone here loves what I loves! I even almost included a track from Catherine just to show off even more of that based Meguro, but it barely missed the cut.
In my almost 20 hours with Shadow of the Labyrinth, this song has not gotten old. Not in the slightest. It's literally the only battle theme you hear outside the POE's or boss fights (at least so far), yet I'm always excited to hear it. I swear I'm not just a raving Meguro fanboy, I just happen to think his battle themes lend so well to the action!
Ah! Nevermind. I have to fangasm just a tad. Lotus Juice is such an excellent rapper. That subtle drum fill harmonizing his ".. next corner posin' for reporters." line gets me everytime. Also, "I keep it dazzle!" is just *muah* beautiful! *muah* *muah* Perfect! I assure you nothing was lost in translation there. Not one bit!
What a high-energy track. May very well be my favorite Persona battle theme.
Dark Souls - "Seath the Scaleless"
I wish I could play with you, Dark Souls. But, I really can't. I just can't. I can appreciate your splendid game design, your storytelling, and music, but I refuse to put myself through another death. You have taken my confidence, had it for a snack, and told me to "Fuck off, boy!" one too many times. So much abuse from a single video game.
And here's where all the jerks start clamoring that it's not that hard.
Naturally, I never made it to Seath the Scaleless. Whoever he is. Apparently, he's a dragon. That sounds nice. His music is pretty frightening, though. Like a real dragon would be.
Souls' soundtracks seem to have this reoccurring theme of really intimidating chorus liners. I thought the intro track to Demon's Souls sounded so odd, but somehow alluring. I don't know how they write that stuff, but they do it well. Seath the Scaleless' track is just as strangely quality. Borderline wankery, but there's still this cohesiveness that keeps it from feeling nothing but strange. There's a lot going on with it, but that only serves to make it more varied and interesting.
Guacamelee - "Forest Del Chivo (Living)"
Guacamelee's soundtrack definitely has it's own thing going. I think mixing Spanish instrumentation with electronica elements sounds so goddamned cool. I could listen to it all day, but the more I do, the more I wanna stop writing this blog and just play the game (I was so close to finishing it on my first few sessions)! If I wanna keep nursing through this damned backlog the way I need to be doing or even finish this here thing up, though, discipline is in order.
But, man. I really do wanna be playing it right now. One of the gaming market's most treasured titles of this past generation, and for good reason. It is an excellent Metroidvania with gorgeous visuals, lots of luchador spice, as well as a surprising amount of video game and le funneh meme references.
Nintendo 3DS System - "Mii Maker"
I'm not sure why I never thought of including a track from either the actual 3DS or Vita systems before now because I've always been surpremely impressed with how much effort they put into music that had no right to be as good as it was.
Before the Wii Shop Channel, I never thought it'd be possible to find such quality music hidden within a video game platform's settings or it's home screen or anything like that. No. For me, back in the day, it was either nothing, ambience, or just some cute jingles here or there. Now? We have set bars that I never knew needed setting, but here we are.
Makes me wanna customize stupid, ugly Mii's all day long. So pleasant sounding. That it's not only uplifting and, well, there at all, but technically impressive is really something else. I can never stare at a quiet console screen the same way anymore. Either I have to willingly turn off the music or I'm wondering where the heck the music is.
Omikron: The Nomad Soul - "New Angels of Promise"
Alright! I finally get to talk about this one.
If you aren't interested in playing this game after watching that video, sci-fi must not be your thing. Imagine The Fifth Element, but with a stupid plot and as a video game. That's sort of redundant, but that should give you a rough idea of Omikron. Really, the entire game is stupid. But, it's so gloriously stupid. From what I've played, I've had more fun with it than most games I've beaten in the past couple years. Just strolling about the open city is a blast.
If you weren't already aware, this was actually David Cage's first foray into video games. All the way from 1999. And, believe it or not, it's a video game! In fact, maybe too much video game. 3D exploration sections, 2D fighting sections, and first-person shooting somehow all mix, conexist, and make... this. Omikron, ladies and gentlemen.
Oh yeah. You can also watch David Bowie concerts. In the game. Like, honest-to-goodness David Bowie. He did some music for the game, including this theme track which I can't get enough of. The percussion is so damn good, Bowie's vocals are so infectious, the way the guitar and bass mesh during that verse hook warms my heart, etc. I have zero complaints.
Bowie actually rerecorded the song for his Hours album, which I can't say I prefer. Generally, it sounds a bit too cleaned up from the original cut and a lot of the awesome percussion has been downgraded. But, I could still take either one and be happy.
Jumping Flash! - "World 4-3"
This is another one of the games on this list I've yet to play, but someone had suggested I look it up when I was asking around for some swell video game music from the 80's-90's (I mostly stick to the easy pickins of that era like anything Rare or Nintendo).
I love how in literally every note of that melody, what sounds like a queefy little laser blast can be heard. It's cute, yet everything else about the track sounds so powerful. It's a nice contrast which keeps me replaying it over and over.
DmC: Devil May Cry - "Never Surrender"
Fuck. Here comes yet another can of worms I probably don't want being opened.
I'm ready to admit the original release of DmC had a lot of underwhelming elements when it came to it's mechanics, but it was still a very fun spectacle fighter and with amazing level design throughout most of the experience. Seriously. It's difficult to think back to the last time when a developer, making a game like DmC, had put this much care into just how you moved about the world and how lovely it all looked.
The soundtrack may also not be everyone's cup of tea, but I personally enjoyed that as well. "Never Surrender" being the first track you hear just before the gameplay begins, it was very effective at hyping me up to finally start some demon-killing. I'm not too sure about those depressive lyrics, but that pulsing bass is heavy as fuck. I could replay just that first part again and again, reminiscing the sync with that gnarly little scene where New Dante is flying through his trailer butt-naked trying to dress himself. That was great.
I'd love a good pounding from New Dante. Oomph.
Parappa the Rapper - "Instructor Mooselini's Car Rap"
Alright, let's be real here: this song sucks. A lot. Sucks like a vaccuum in the heart of a tornado.
The repetition alone...
... DRIVES me insane!
Ahahahahaha. But, really. This song sucks. But, I do love it. Somehow. It's bumpin', unbearably catchy, and the video above helps a great deal. Actually, if it weren't for Parappa's charming visuals, I probably wouldn't have included this.
Then again... I can't help but dance and sing along. Help me.
Super Crate Box - "Construction Yard"
Ahhhh, yes. No more Parappa. Time for some more genuinely solid jams.
If you own a Vita and don't own Super Crate Box, you are missing out on some of the most fun you can possibly get out of that little port machine. It's like the original Mario Bros arcade game, but with guns! Which is like Woah Dave, but without the hot potato mechanics.
Conveniently, the pause music is featured towards the end of the cut of "Construction Yard" provided by the artist's Bandcamp and I originally was going to feature that! I couldn't find it separately on YouTube or Bandcamp, so we're now here with something maybe even better. Two for the slot of one! It's like the Battletoads pause music, but boopier.
The higher-pitched notes harmonizing with the "bwaaaoooooh" effect of the chords makes for one quirky sound. Almost sort of gives the track a laid back sense of humor, which the game itself certainly does have. The octive bass rides also sound swell along to it all.
Hyrule Warriors - "Psychostorm"
Jesus, what an amazingly fun game. Nevermind Smash Bros, Nintendo in general know how to provide some real top-tier fanservice. I'd like to assume my fondness for Minda hasn't clouded my judgment, but take that for what you will. I think Hyrule Warriors is one of the best games of 2014.
As amazing as some of the soundtrack's remixes are, I don't think that's giving enough credit to the many completely original scores that are almost as (if not as) good. "Psychostorm", not only sporting an awesome name, in particular, brings about images of charging headstrong into a large, epic battle. That is totally Dynasty Warriors/Hyrule Warriors. In fact, that's all they are.
Heavy church organs, heavy bass, heavy percussion, heavy all-around. Much like my cat who's probably nearing a hearty 20 pounds, if not already passed. I do not know how she is still alive.
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System - "Clean Up/Unwelcome Home"
Another one of those games I really wish I were playing right now, listening to the soundtrack. Gah! Must control myself. I'm almost done!
Everything about this track, minus the percussion, suitably, sounds like it's being sampled from some sort of machine. Malfunctioning engies, radars, distorted fax machines... at least that's how my mind imagines this song playing out. I sometimes have fun that way, thinking up music videos for certain songs.
Also, it goes without saying, but this was totally the Podtoid theme for a good while. That simultaneously makes it much worse and much better.
Rayman Legends - "Mariachi Madness"
Everyone always seems to focus on the rhythm stages of Legends, all the while the rest of the soundtrack should be winning awards left and right. But, there is something special about said rhythm stages and their music. They stick out from the rest of the game, so we can't help but talk about them. At least it's not Castle Rock for the upteenth time, eh?
I've never been amibitious enough to tackle a genre-switch with any of my own covers I attempt. It's really hard to nail, let alone flawlessly. You have to have inside and out knowledge of not only the genre of the original, but the genre it's being switched up into. Yet, Rayman Legends does exactly that. Masterful and, honestly, can bring a tear to my eye. It's that good. I can't think of anything I would add to it, they thought of everything. This could be my favorite track off this entire list.
There's nothing much quite as wholesome as a good mariachi band. Perhaps barbershop quartets (hey, also a genre-switch cover!). Or bacon buffets.
Gauntlet III: The Final Quest (Amiga) - (mostly) EVERYTHING!
For the coup de grace, I've decided to do something a little different. I want you to listen to every one of these five tracks because they desperately require your ears!
Considering it's age, this soundtrack is bloody stupendous. Mindblowing, even. When I was frantically trying to search up soundtracks to include from this era, I never thought I'd be finding anything like this. It's technically marvelous, atmospheric, impressively varied, so many great things. This honestly could be reworked today, right down to every last detail and with zero changes, and still work perfectly. Possibly fitted to an Etrian Odyssey or non-Persona SMT soundtrack.
I could go on about each individual track, but that would take up way too much space. The whole thing is just awesome. I had no idea of it's existence until mere days ago and now it's one of my favorites. I only wish we could be graced with the entire ripped soundtrack as well as a proper loop of that last song.
As always, let me see some of your favorite video game tracks!