I am a big fan of game music, specifically old chip tunes. Anyone who only hears bleeps and bloops is willfully ignoring melody, harmony and rhythm and stupidly focusing only on timbre. Games with “real” soundtracks don’t excite me the same way old game tunes do. I already have access to real music.
More importantly, I have this theory that old game music is very close to metal (the music, not material that readily loses electrons in order to form positive ions). Game music was predominately a force compelling you onward and thus was often fast, driving and even possibly relentless. And like my favorite metal, my favorite game tunes are often display virtuosity (check out Medusa’s Phantasy Star track).
As games became more complicated and technology improved, we were offered scores with wider variety and this led to less metal influence as well as a loss off something intangible. I may be the only one to think so, but there is no way in hell the overproduced Symphony of the Night soundtrack stands up to 8 bit Castlevania tunes. perhaps the je ne sais quoi is not so mysterious – just as access to ever expanding technology can cloud a game designers head, there is often a lack of focus when the sky is the limit. Working with 64 virtual tracks that can be mixed down indefinitely doesn’t force a composer to focus as tightly as when working with three channels and a noise generator. Plus bleeps and bloops just sound cool.
To celebrate some of my favorites I decided to share the small library I have posted. There are a lot of SMS and Genesis tracks (with a few C64) because that’s what I grew up with. If you haven’t heard the SMS versions of the Ys tracks, please check them out. To my nostalgic ears they beat the originals.
If there’s a positive response maybe I’ll post more – I realize anyone can download all of these and a million more for free at Zophar or what have you. The idea is we can trade hand selected songs here, so please tell me about some awesome game music I’ve never heard.