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Music To Live By: Heroism Edition


At the risk of getting artsy early on in this blog entry, a lot of games I've been playing recently have reminded me of the great capacity the medium has to convey a whole range of emotions, not just the common ones. It seems more and more true that you can find the whole of life in games, just like you can in other forms of expression.

The music has always been a big part of that for me and so what I would like to do is share my favourites in a recurring feature. However, I want to do it in a little different way to how most people would - according to which particular mood, emotion or concept they convey to me.

I'll start easy this time by looking at a concept you do find in games a lot: Heroism. If you have a suggestion for what I ought to tackle next, drop me a comment! Without further ado, then, I present my personal top five heroic themes in gaming.

5. Katamari Darmacy - Katamari on the Rocks Yu Miyake

It's difficult to identify exactly how rolling up plants, animals, birds, people, houses, hills, etc. is precisely heroic but it's difficult to worry about that when this music is playing in the background. Frankly the game could be asking me to shoot innocent children in the face with this music in the background and it would seem heroic, wouldn't it?

It's no wonder that Destructoid's very own league of superheroes, that lovable Retroforce, choose it as their intro music. Now when I listen to it, I'm always surprised when the dolphins, slurpees and chocobos are missing.

4. Halo - Theme Marty O'Donnell

Once again this is a theme tune and there are several variants but all are instantly recognisable and carries all the hallmarks of an excellent heroic theme, from the driving rhythm to the gradually escalating melody.

I have a sort of funny relationship with Halo. I have had fun with all of the games but they have never captured my imagination in the same way they have its many big fans. That said, when I hear this music swell up, I'm filled with the feeling that I can do anything and that's why it makes it onto the list.

3. The Legend of Zelda - Theme Koji Kondo

This tune has been rearranged so many times that it's impossible for me to pick a definitive one. Whether you're listening to the NES original or the later orchestral variations, though, that sense of heroism pervades in the iconic melody... whatever it's played on:

There's a great sense of movement in this piece, you can't help but get into the spirit of this lone adventurer setting out on a grand journey to do great things and if that doesn't qualify it for a place in this list, I don't know what does.

2. Chrono Trigger - Theme Yasunori Mitsuda

Another theme tune, although it's not surprising there are a few in this list - the theme tune is a chance to condense the whole game into one piece of music and if there's one thing that many games share it's heroic stuff happening. Chrono Trigger is certainly no slouch there.

This music often plays at the moment when all is almost lost but the hero steps up and resolves to put it right - and there couldn't be more fitting music to convey these moments. If only this music would suddenly appear at crisis moments in our everyday lives, perhaps more of us would choose to take the braver path!

1. Shadow of the Colossus - Revived Power K tani

I'm currently playing through this game for the first time and one thing I hadn't known about is just how excellent the soundtrack is - it's what gave me the idea for this feature.

This particular piece is something of an oddity. Even when intense, going about the business of slaying those giants is something of a grim business, tinted with sadness and fraught with doubt. Here, though, this music that occasionally plays at the moment during the task of scaling particular colossi and there's a kind of release. I feel all the desperate joy of performing a quite literally monumental task in the name of love.

Then, when the music is abrubtly silenced upon the landing of the final blow, it is all the more more striking for it. The words of GlaDOS resound in my head, as I question my purpose: "This isn't brave; it's murder."

Still, for that moment, I was a hero.
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About KestrelPione of us since 4:37 AM on 07.16.2008

Age: 30
Location: S.E. London, UK
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