Post by The Mad Plumber on Jan 26, 2010 13:32:27 GMT -5
Music from video games is something of an interest of mine and I wanted to start up this thread where folks can write their thoughts, likes, dislikes, and reviews. I myself am looking to add the occasional soundtrack review and even take advantage of the forum's new attachment system to share files that I prepared. I hope to others post their own reviews as well. My first review will be Mega Man which I will post later.
Video game music had been a helpful means of helping me get through the long hours of the office jobs I had. I have to admit it is a little embarrassing; a student assistant would come up to my office, hear the music playing on the computer, and ask, "Is that Super Mario Bros.?" "Yes, yes, yes, get out of my office."
I'm not so much a fan of remixes. It's not to say that I haven't heard some good ones, but I suppose I just tend to be more in the mood for the original sound. I'm also probably put off that I've heard a lot made in bad taste.
Post by The Mad Plumber on Jan 27, 2010 5:53:54 GMT -5
Here is the first soundtrack review that I have prepared for this forum. To complement my review, I also prepared an NSFe file as an attachment, allowing users to listen to the soundtrack I’m reviewing. For those of you who do not know what an NSFe file is, I recommend that you read up on the subject of video game music emulation. An NSFe file is an enhanced variation of the NSF file, allowing the storage of data such as track names and custom play lengths into the file. I personally invested in the Pro version of Winamp and had researched available plug-ins to listen to various video game soundtrack files. What you wish to use to listen to my NSFe file is up to you.
Also, you might have an issue in regards to the naming of tracks in these soundtracks. Often lacking an official source in regards to what the working titles or official titles of these game tracks are, I take the liberty to create my own titles that best suit my purpose. Sometimes the title might be very straightforward, and at other times the title might be kind of abstract. If you are not fond of the titles I invented, you are always free to rename them to your own liking.
Furthermore, looping tracks in these files had been programmed by me to play from lengths ranging from one minute to ten minutes, based on my personal preference. Feel free to edit these play lengths to your personal preference as well.
I suppose I would consider myself something of a fan of Capcom’s Mega Man series. I believe I was first introduced to the blue bomber when I watched my cousins playing Mega Man 3 during a Christmas vacation. I believe I noted that critics lambasted the series as being repetitive, which I find ironic now that critics praise Capcom’s efforts to emulate its 8-bit roots.
For this entry, we have the soundtrack to Mega Man, the humble (and, to be frank, flawed) origins of this favorite series of mine. Mega Man’s soundtrack helps establish many of the staples of the series: music for the stage select, fanfare introduction preceding each stage, separate themes for each Robot Master’s stage, a boss theme, and a victory fanfare. Mega Man’s soundtrack is interesting and has a certain appeal that grows as I get older, but, as you will note from the custom track lengths that I have already set up for the NSFe file, this is far from my favorite soundtrack.
Now, you will note that there is no title theme, nor a demo mode for that matter; I consider that a very notable flaw in this game. “Stage Selection Screen” for Mega Man sets the precedent for short-looped themes during this mode in gameplay. Mega Man’s theme, though, is not particularly great to listen to. I have to say, though, that I once heard a very interesting and thoughtful MIDI variation of it that helps vindicate the theme.
Mega Man’s “You Have Selected a Stage” is frequently reused throughout the series; it is even featured in Mega Man X. However, there are soundtracks within the series (notably Mega Man 3, 5, and 6 off the top of my head) that feature their own theme for this particular event.
Now, let’s get down to what is, in my opinion, the real meat of the soundtrack worth discussing: the Robot Masters’ stage themes. Right off the bat, I’m going to dare say that Mega Man’s themes are not highly memorable. They don’t quite have the punch or express a level of emergency or action that later soundtracks would achieve. This is not to dismiss them completely, though.
When I typically start a game of Mega Man, I usually choose Bomb Man’s stage to begin my adventure. Now, “Bomb Man Stage” is somewhat symptomatic of this overall issue that I have with the soundtrack. Nevertheless, I still rather find that this particular theme is very enjoyable and clever, making it one of Mega Man’s better tracks.
“Elec Man Stage” would rather be my favorite theme of the six Robot Master themes. In fact, I look at “Elec Man Stage” as being the great reward of engaging what is a rather difficult level in the game. I find it to be a very fun and fantastic theme, and perhaps even the best theme of this soundtrack.
Each game in the Mega Man series would feature their own unique theme for battles with the Robot Masters. “Robot Master” from Mega Man is not the worst of the series’ battle themes, but it is pretty close. I just find it too eclectic and random-sounding. “Big Boss” is a far better battle theme and successfully communicates the dire danger of the battle; “Big Boss” also appears in Mega Man X5.
A final redeeming track from this game is “Dr. Wily’s Stage (Part I)”, which impresses the seriousness of the final boss’ lair.
Overall, Mega Man is a dated, but still very competent, soundtrack. Soundtracks to future Mega Man games would be more creative and employ better instruments, but this soundtrack can still be enjoyed for its nostalgic value and for the couple of excellent tracks that did come from it.
Post by Captain Hygiene on Jan 27, 2010 9:45:49 GMT -5
Oddly enough, I just got back into listening to some game music yesterday - I've refallen in love with the Curse of Monkey Island soundtrack. It's the best music I can think of on the PC, and could easily take the prize for any system.
It's a pretty relaxed, jazz and Caribbean-influenced score, and it excels at both general mood pieces and well-developed character themes. The great thing about it is that it comes from the third game in the series, so it drew upon established themes, but technology had advanced enough that the score was able to be recorded primarily with real instruments rather than the MIDI versions in the previous games.
Even though it works as pure music, there's also a sense of fun throughout a lot of the tracks. My favorite is the reworking of the villain's theme (present throughout the previous two games and the beginning of this one, as a bit more traditional "evil" theme) as a goofy Dixieland jam. It fits perfectly with the surreally hilarious game, and it's the catchiest song ever. Great stuff, and most of the soundtrack is easily available online, along with the other games in the series: www.scummbar.com/tx/games/music/
I remember thinking, in 1995, that the music from the game Sword of Vermillion for the Sega Genesis was the best I had heard in a video game. It's still pretty good today. If you get an emulator, you can access a sound test by pressing ABC and Start on the second controller and listen to all the music.
Post by Continuing Legend on Feb 10, 2010 16:24:19 GMT -5
I know EVERYONE loves it, but "Still Alive" from Portal is one of the best things ever.
I know most Star Wars games are not very good, but I'm a huge nerd and I play them. They all tend to use John Williams' SW soundtrack instead of an original score and if you play for too long, stuff like the Imperial March will NEVER LEAVE YOUR HEAD. It's currently driving me insane.
Left 4 Dead's use of music to tell you what zombies are coming is one of the best uses of music in a game I've ever heard. I usually play video games with the music off and run iTunes in the back, playing something else, but Left 4 Dead makes the music essential to the gaming experience. Hearing the music signalling a Tank arrival (for the non-L4D players, Tanks are big "boss" zombies)... oh man. And Left 4 Dead 2 has a level featuring a rock concert, and the Tank music in that level has been HEAVY METAL-IFIED. Oh yeah.
GTA Vice City was well known for the 80s music on the radio stations. Good stuff.
The Ace Combat series had original songs for each mission. Nicely done. The last mission of AC Zero featured a Flamenco-sounding acoustic guitar, which fit perfectly with the one-on-one Duel nature of that mission.
1. Joel- Do you (or a fellow CT writer) really listen to Howard 100? If so, the next movie that CT riffs on, AND features a little person, please throw out an "Eric The Midget" reference...
Bix Dugan-- Yes, actually I do, and in “The Oozing Skull” there is a reference to “Eric the Midget”, but I guess you didn’t catch it. I sort of got my Dorro voice from listening to Fred Norris
OverClocked ReMix can be an interesting site and has some interesting media to it, but there's also a lot of media that can really irritate you. The artists on this board do some very interesting and creative mixes of game themes, but at times the mixes can be in really bad taste. A salsa version of Needle Man's theme? Bleh. I still prefer the original soundtracks to the mixes, but they are interesting renditions worth a listen.