A slightly unusual blog today, on the music in videogames. I love the audio aspect of games, both music and voice acting. Personally, I think the sounds of a game evoke a mood and build an atmosphere more than the graphics.
Voice-acting really took off a generation or two ago, before which RPGs were largely or entirely textual. Generally, this is a good thing, although it is worth pointing out that Vagrant Story (about which I’m going to write a retro-review soonish) was 100% text and is one of my favourite RPGs ever.
Music, however, has been around forever, although the sound quality’s improved dramatically. Likewise, the composition quickly evolved from tinny electronic sounds to some frankly fantastic scores.
I’m a casual gamer, tending to buy a smallish number of games and playing them relatively intensively, rather than buying tons. My first real system was the Megadrive, after which I’ve been in the Playstation camp. [Actually, I did have an Amstrad something or other pre-Megadrive, but cassette games that took 30 minutes to load are not exactly exciting].
I mentioned Vagrant Story above, for good reason. The music is very good throughout, and some of it is excellent. Here’s Lea Monde At Dawn, by Hitoshi Sakimoto:
Metal Gear Solid was and remains one of my favourite games. Along with fantastic voice-acting it featured the brilliant The Best Is Yet To Come, composed by Rika Muranaka and sung by Aoife Ni Fhearraigh.
Final Fantasy is quite often mentioned when people talk about great music. I think it’s usually overrated, but there are some good tracks. My favourite is from the first FF I ever played (VII), which is the boss theme of Sephiroth. One Winged Angel, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has an original electronic version, and an orchestral one, which I prefer and have embedded.
Music, like storylines, is something that doesn’t necessarily get better as technology progresses. Graphics improve as time goes on, but an excellent plot or well-written piece of music is timeless.