Everybody loves music. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that doesn't. (There was a brief period in my life when I didn't, but I was ten years old.) There's something magical about music, something amaranthine and intangible. It's a universally relatable experience to hear a piece of music and immediately be transported to a different place and a different time, with memories dancing vividly in our mind's eye. Science even proved that it's a real thing.
But how many people share the same song with a similar emotional state or memory? I'd say that in the geek culture it's a prevalent occurrence, which just adds to the list of what makes our community so amazing.
Take the original Mario theme, for example. We will collectively remember happy times, frustrating times. I'm willing to bet that the majority of us will see World 1-1, with that first Goomba just waiting to trip us up. I can't help but smile and feel that all of life is simple and good. My mind quickly jumps to Super Mario Bros. 3 to World 1-2, where I was unable to successfully pass that level until I was in my teens. I remember the first time I crouched down in 1-3 on the white platform and ran behind the scenery to triumphantly obtain the warp whistle. Now I can hear the flying ship music and the cannons blasting.
Those two Goombas got me every time. Image via nesmaps.
I would love to conduct an experiment that contains two strangers who have both played the original Mario: place them in a room together, play the music and see how quickly they are able to bond and have a conversation. Music in gaming is so valuable! Who else out there feels the need to dance and throw their arms up and down when they hear this?
The importance of orchestral music in gaming is becoming more prevalent along with realistic graphics. Many people feel that it should be a necessity with all new Zelda titles, and I respect their opinions. Personally I have no problem with computer, 8-bit, midi sounds. If it comes together beautifully and compliments the game then I am happy. However I can also absolutely appreciate the heightened value of an orchestra.
My favorite orchestra soundtrack in gaming has to be Shadow of the Colossus. It is beautiful, so so beautiful. Have you heard it? Here's the opening song.
Excuse me for a moment, I'm watching the opening scene in my mind's eye.
I just adore this soundtrack. To me it's the perfect example of complimentary, magical music. The entirety of Shadow of the Colossus is silent aside from ambient sounds. The only time the player hears music is during cut-scenes and battles. This is my all time favorite track from the game:
I literally, no joke, get goosebumps when I hear this song. That first striking note about seven seconds in is so powerful. But more than that? It's the emotions, thoughts and memories that come flooding into my mind, nearly knocking me over. I played this game hard for months on end. It consumed me and presented an unusual change to my regular gaming repertoire. It called to a part of me that had only been touched by ICO before it.
Sometimes in the middle of other intensive tasks I hear this song in my head. It's a power boost. I hear this song and I am immediately clinging for dear life on the furry back of a Colossus, my sword swinging wildly as I keep my eyes trained on its magical blue weak point. And now I want to play. I've got the shivers.
This would be a good time to talk about a different gaming soundtrack before I lose interest in this article and wander to my PS2. *ahem*
Don't you just want to jump on it? Image via wallpapervortex.
How do you feel about orchestrated versus computer made soundtracks? Do you feel that with available technology all games should strive to have a fully orchestrated soundtrack? Does anyone feel that a game with a phenomenal story and graphics is brought down by a computer based soundtrack? Can I end a fourth sentence in a row with the word 'soundtrack'? Oh look at that!
It's not something I've ever really bothered myself with. If the music is good then I'm not concerned about how it came into existence. Of course, orchestra music is very classy to listen to, so there IS that.
Who out there has a favorite track? I mean, hands down, best in your opinion? I've been pondering mine, and I don't think I can come up with one. Here's a list for you.
-I'm drawing a blank... but really any song from Ocarina of Time.
If that list demonstrates anything, it's that I love Zelda. But more than that it shows that I am in desperate need of a video gaming soundtrack expansion! Please, give me your suggestions! I want them!
Also, does anyone have any stories about gaming music and strong memories? Any songs that you just love, that take you to a special place? I would love to hear them!