Original soundtracks in games are some of the most vital contributors to our gaming experiences. When we’re growing up, they can influence and shape our taste in music, and as a mature player they make us emote with cinematics, set our heart rates soaring and lift us up from the darkest of moments of gaming despair to the heghts of gaming bliss, and all this with just a few chords and a whole lot of feels.
But what is it that makes a good soundtrack? Some would argue that a soundtrack should be something entirely composed from scratch and put together specifically for your own personal, tailored experience. Others would say that a few cherry picked songs can act as the perfect accompaniment to a gameplay moment. So here at CalmDownTom we have rattled our collective heads together to bring you a rundown of our favourite sound tracks, and we’ll be bringing you this short series in the upcoming few weeks.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game:
The first time I heard Scott Pilgrim I was faced with heavy pangs of nostalgia. While drawing heavily from the games of my youth, Anamanaguchi kept the music modern and set heartbeats racing. Every track captures the feeling of the level and the loops are melodic and different enough to never become dull.
Highlights: Another Winter, Twin Dragons, Rox 300 – Anamanaguchi
In a world where rap, dance and techno were slowly taking over our racing games, Burnout Revenge fought to keep rock and metal on your playlist while you slammed, shunted and dominated your way to the top. Nothing gets the heart beating like doing 180 MPH with a shredding guitar solo to guide you through turns at breakneck speed.
Highlights: Beast and the Harlot – Avenged Sevenfold; Dance, Dance – Fall Out Boy; Red Flag – Billy Talent; Hand of Blood – Bullet For My Valentine
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
So there’s a lot of debate about whether The King of Pop was actually involved in the making of this soundtrack. Recent detective work and myth-busting of the highest order has revealed that he probably was.
But while Mr Jackson might have added his own little touches to the soundtrack, in truth Sonic 3’s score is an evolution of everything that had come before. Building on the manic, high paced chip tunes of the previous games, Sonic 3’s soundtrack is quite simply BIGGER. The synthy beats fill any room. I mean, just listen to this epic remix of one of the catchiest game tunes of all time.
Highlights: Ice Cap Zone; Azure Lake Zone; Chrome Gadget Zone and Super Sonic Theme
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Continuing the Metal Gear series’ trend of using members of Hollywood for its soundtrack, Metal Gear Rising brings in Jamie Christopherson to help produce the soundtrack, which ultimately results in the objectively best music to come from a game this year.
What makes this soundtrack so fantastic is the sheer intensity that matches the title rather thematically. Beyond that, the soundtrack is just pretty damn rad, and complements the crazy game’s insane moments. It’s also worth noting that the game uses the soundtrack dynamically. It has some crazy impact, and it just helps you relive the awesome rush that you get whenever you listen to it out of the game. To top it off, the lyrics provide back story for the bosses, which is even more cool. It’s integrated into the game well, and it’s just an exceptional soundtrack in general.
Highlights: Rules of Nature, Red Sun, The Stains of Time, A Stranger I Remain, and I’m My Own Master Now all composed by Jamie Christopherson
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Vice City saw Rockstar opt for licensed music for the first time, and the company raided bargain bins for music which would reflect the neon-soaked 1980s setting. Artists like Hall & Oats, Foreigner, Toto and Iron Maiden were elevated from fading obscurity and thrust back into popular mainstream as part of amusing in-car radio stations Flash, V-Rock and Emotion. You could argue that this soundtrack influenced music (Calvin Harris, Sam Sparrow) to cinema (Drive) to advertising campaigns. Forget crime rates, Grand Theft Auto’s real cultural legacy is down to this soundtrack.
Highlights: Atomic – Blondie; I Ran (So Far Away) – Flock of Seagulls; Broken Wings – Mr Mister.
And that’s only part one! Be sure to stay tuned to see the rest of our favourite soundtracks spanning the gaming generations in parts 2 and 3.