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AT's Hottest Video Game Soundtracks Ever (Part 1)
What makes a good game tick? Well, a lot of things actually - a good premise, decent story, unique art style, a solid gameplay concept and, of course, the music. The soundtrack is an essential layer that's added to every gaming experience. Just look at games like Halo, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Final Fantasy XIII, all of which have iconic soundtracks composed and performed by some of the most talented people in the industry. Of course, these were all massive big-budget projects and that's not how things used to work in the days of old-school gaming. Conversely, there's something mysteriously compelling about the simplistic 4-bit or 8-bit tunes that emerged out of old systems such as the Atari, Commodore 64, NES, GameBoy, Amiga and old PCs. Oddly enough, memorable tunes from gaming classics still sound better than what we can hear in a majority of current console and PC games. Do not misunderstand; there are a lot of games today that have absolutely magnificent soundtracks. Some composers working in the industry today are, thankfully, allowed to think and work out of the box. The indie gaming scene, for instance, is currently thriving with some terrific examples of in-game sound and music.
Now, looking back to my own gaming past, there's simply way too much ground to cover. So, without overdoing it, we'll have five of the best soundtracks for each of the following platforms: NES (and SNES), Commodore 64, Amiga, Sega Genesis (Sega Mega Drive), PC and current-gen consoles. Just to make things clear, this is the first part (the second part of the feature is going to cover Sega, PC and current-gen consoles). Once again, we won't be able to mention every soundtrack that deserves it. If you feel we've missed something out, then, by all means, offer your own examples of kick-ass video game music.
We did not go for the obvious choice here, which, as many of you might acknowledge, is Super Mario. But as we all know, music is an art form and as such is subject to individual opinion and interpretation. Castlevania somehow sparks all that special feeling of nostalgia that strikes the heart of every gamer once in a while. Selecting this tune was what most of us agreed on. Humming the melody makes us think of vampires and whips and the good old days of top-notch side-scrolling platformers. These delightful and memorable melodies were composed by two talented young women -- Kinuyo Yamashita and Satoe Terashima in 1987. Kinuyo continued to write music and a lot of her compositions was included in a variety of popular titles.
Best of C64
Publisher: Apex Computer Productions
I'm almost convinced that a lot of you don't even know this game existed. It was one of the most popular titles for the Commodore 64, an old computer system that appeared on the European market during the era of the ZX Spectrum (at the same time, Atari 8-bit 400 and 800, and the Apple II, were dominant Stateside). At any rate, out of all the game tracks we can remember from those days, Creatures and Creatures II stand out as the best. Two brothers, John Rowlands and Steve Rowlands were responsible for bringing the lively little buggers to virtual life. John worked on the game code, while Steve composed a wide range of charming tunes, which blended perfectly with platform-style action.
Best of Amiga
Publisher: Psygnosis / Art & Magic
We'd probably declare this as one of the ultimate champion in the world of video game music. It's certainly one of the best tunes we've ever heard in a video game. It was an absolute melodic marvel in those days. The 2D side-scrolling wonder defined the Amiga as the top platform in terms of audio, sound design and music. The creator of this particular soundtrack, Tim Wright, created an iconic piano instrumental that was later adapted by the keyboardist of Dimmu Borgir in the song 'Sorgens Kammer' without crediting its true author (the band was supposedly unaware of this). Legal ramblings aside, Agony was a tremendous success, as well as the brilliant music that was skillfully woven into the game.
AT's Hottest Video Game Soundtracks Ever (Part 2)
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