Would you even play a video game if you found out there was no soundtrack? Back when I was just a listener, Warren and Terrell did a podcast about video game music, Episode 9 to be exact, and that was the inspiration for this article. This is one of my favorite subjects so it will be rather lengthy but I still hope everyone enjoys this. As a bonus I will be naming the composers and songs in case anybody wants to look them up and inquire about other pieces and games the composer’s have been involved in.
A couple of years ago I experienced my first concert involving video game music. The concert was Final Fantasy Distant Worlds. It was everything I dreamed of and more. And to put the icing on the cake Nobuo Uematsu even showed up and sang One-Winged Angel. It made me really appreciate the time and effort composers put in to make the music for these games and bring it to life. Also I realized how much I really enjoy the music.
Since the dawn of video game history there has always been music to follow. Ranging from classic 8-bit music, The Green Hill Zone from Sonic, to fully orchestrated pieces, Blinded by Light from FFXIII. Over the years I have grown to heavily appreciate the work these composers put in to add music to fit the game. The earliest music I can remember is from a PlayStation classic called Chrono Cross. The composer Yasunori Mitsuda put a lot of time and effort into this. I was young at the time but every time I would play this game I would listen to the opening song Scars of Time. This song would get me excited to play the game and it was one of the few games that I actually replayed more than once as a result.
Scars of Time
Chemical Plant Zone
Nobuo Uemastu well known for his musical contributions to the Final Fantasy World, but did you know he also use to be in a rock band called The Black Mages. This group remixed FF songs ranging from FF to FFXII. A commonly known song is One-Winged Angel which was featured in the movie Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Other songs include Battle Scene from FF, Fight With Seymour (FFX), KURAYAMINOKUMO(FFIII), The Rocking Grounds (FFIII), and Force Your Way (FFVIII). The Black Mages, which began in 2002, released three albums over the course of their career then disbanded in 2010. Nobuo is currently in another band called Earthbound Papas which remixes all his works instead of just Final Fantasy. Speaking of non FF music, Lost Odyssey was composed by Nobuo and the two tracks that stand out to me is the Battle Theme and Howl of the Departed. Actually give Howl a quick listen to and I bet you will recognize the guitar rift. (Hint FFVII) Its also on The Earthbound Papas album as well.
Howl of The Departed
Final Fantasy VII Boss Theme
(39 seconds in)
Fight With Seymour: Black Mages
Do you remember when you first saw the Kingdom Hearts commercial? Remember the song Simple and Clean that gave the game feeling almost like it was a sad story, or an exciting one depending on which commercial was being played? I’m almost certain that many of you know the artist who sang Simple and Clean, Hikaru Utada, but do you know who wrote the soundtrack to the Kingdom Heart series? Its Yoko Shimomura and she is a well renown throughout the video game world for her famous works some of which include some Mario games and Xenoblade Chronicles. Actually she will be responsible for the music in FFXV so expect a musical masterpiece. Dearly Beloved stands out to me with my favorite version hailing from KH: Birth by Sleep game and a close second from KHII. Other songs are A Fight to The Death and Darkness of the Unknown which where the two final boss fights in KHII. Birth by Sleep gave some very good songs like Forze dell’Oscurita, Rage Awakened -The Origin-, and so many more. This would be a very long article if I took the time out to name all the songs. Go look them up if you haven’t already. Wikipedia helps in looking up names for songs if one cannot remember.
Dearly Beloved Birth By Sleep
Darkness of The Unknown
I found out about this composer rather late but Shoji Meguro is the composer for the Persona series which is a subsidiary of the Megami Tensei series. I am a huge fan of a majority of the music made for Persona 4 and its many spin-off games. This is one of the few games that I really enjoy listening to all the music while not playing the game. If you haven’t already listen to the Never More Reincarnation album. Its a jazzy mix of 12 songs from the P4 series and it is beautifully composed at that. The song Heaven is by far one of my personal favorite tracks off the album. It catches the feel of a child that misses her mother very much by taking away most of the instruments and slowing down the tempo. For those that played P4: Golden, If you maxed out Marie’s Social Link you would hear the song I’ll Face Myself from the Never More album. As a result this is why I am pretty excited for P4D because I enjoy Persona music very much and it gives me some kind of outlet to express my enjoyment.
I’ll Face Myself: Reincarnation
In October of 2013, I experienced another concert called Symphony of the Goddess. For those unaware it was a concert involving Legend of Zelda music and it was fantastic to say the least. To hear the songs performed live is a whole new experience than just listening to them on various devices. All concert goers whole-heartily agree too. Since the Legend of Zelda is a game that doesn’t involve much talking much of the entertainment comes from the music. Koji Kondo has been composing The Legend of Zelda music since the original Zelda game. Interesting fact is that he actually wrote the main theme in a single day because the original song of choice, Bolero by Maurice Ravel, was not available in time and by that i mean the license didn’t expire yet and the game was late in development. Koji is an amazing composure to make one of the most iconic themes in video game history in one day. Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword is one of my favorite pieces and if you listen to it backwards you get Zelda’s Lullaby. I was pretty surprised when I found out and applauded the clever use of this song. Also Koji also had been the composer to many Mario games, Star Fox, and Punch Out.
Bolero by Ravel
Ballad of The Goddess
What are some other composers that you know of? What video games have they been in charge of? Does anybody have a favorite western composer? What songs do you like? Has a song ever been a deciding factor when choosing a video game to get? Have you ever been surprised by the music choice? What do you call a video game without music? Post all your comments and questions at the around the geek Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/AroundTheGeek or find us on twitter @atgpodcast. Below I added a few treats for your ears.