Tarranium (User)

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Video Game Music Gone Downhill?

Tarranium | 157d ago
User blog

Introduction
The point of this discussion is very simple, to raise awareness that music in games has been going downhill for a while now. I will use examples from different eras of gaming. NES, SNES, N64, PS1 and obviously the PC.

I will make comparisons to more modern games music but I will discuss about that at the end, first I will make examples that will help me to make my point.

Now now, I took only a very few examples of the biggest titles on these systems and you will see my point at the end.

NES
Super Mario Bros. theme song is said to be the most recognizable gaming song of all time, the Nintendo Entertainment System was a powerhouse of its time but…yeah, anyway! The Super Mario games had very catchy tunes for one simple reason, the NES could only handle MIDI music. MIDI music on these great NES games were made in the manner of real instruments but they were transformed into these MIDI songs so they could be in the game.

Many of these MIDI songs are legendary, like Castlevanias theme song Vampire Killer. But if we don’t count the songs of Mario almost the biggest one has to be Megaman, seriously, how many remixes have you seen of Megaman II’s Doctor Wily Stage?

Huge credits go to the people who made these songs but the bigger one goes to the people who actually transformed those tunes into the great MIDI tunes we know today.

SNES
I want to mention Mario again but you all know the famous Super Mario World Overworld theme so let’s move onto a bigger platformer.

Donkey Kong Country, one of the biggest trilogies of its era, the biggest on SNES. Great games and amazing music, but some of you new comers to gaming might be wondering. Doesn’t SNES also use the primitive MIDI music like its predecessor? No, the SNES is able to play actual music, not at the quality of our HD systems but still. But the SNES had a big difference in its music from its competition, the Sega Genesis. Genesis focused more on Rock and fast music and so Nintendo made it so that they should outshine the Genesis on the sound department, the Genesis’s games soundtracks are mainly Rock or otherwise simple but fast track, because that’s what the Genesis does the best Nintendo decided to up the ante and made it so that the SNES could play orchestrated music and tons and tons of other instruments from different genres at great quality.

Let’s get back to Donkey Kong Country thou, the entire trilogy doesn’t have a single bad song. All the songs are almost completely different genres, many believe that Diddy’s Conquest is the highlight of the soundtracks of the trilogy. Seriously, go listen to the entire soundtracks of all the 3 games. They vary extremely well and they are very good, like extremely good.

N64
Oh my freaking god, Conker’s Bad Fur Day has one of THE best soundtracks on the entirety of Nintendo 64. The entire soundtrack goes from country to blues to orchestrated glory, same goes for the 2 Banjo Kazooie games. The soundtracks are just pure gold, they’re catchy, they’re epic, they’re fun, they’re happy, they’re sad and even fear installing.

PS1
The Playstation 1 had many, many great games. Too many to name, but the PS1 has many great soundtracks on it. Croc, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Oddworld, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Tomb Raider and Klonoa to name a few.

All of these games had very varied soundtracks and for the most part they were amazing, Resident Evil is a terrifying soundtrack while Crash Bandicoot hits it up with happy tunes.

PC
DOOM is one of the biggest things that comes to mind when PC game music is mentioned, even thou the remakes of the songs on Brutal DOOM kick everyone’s asses it still proves the point, Metal is awesome and it’s pure epicness when it’s done right.

Duke Nukem 3D is also a prime example, freaking Mega Deth made a cover of his theme song, and it is one of my favorite tracks of all time.

Not to mention the orchestrated genius that is the Total War franchise soundtracks, or the score of Medal of Honor Allied Assault or even the absolute glory that is the soundtrack of Knights of The Old Republic.

The Point
The big point I want to make is that new game music is awful. That’s literally the only reason why retro music has become popular. It’s the same reason retro games in general have become popular, because much of the mainstream games are just milking the cash cow.

Like PAYDAY 2, it’s a game that I play from time to time but the ENTIRE soundtrack is just awful. I know literally 2 tracks from the entire thing which aren’t crap. Why do I say it’s awful? Because it is, it’s a perfect example on how the fake music era of today has affected our gaming industry, in a very, very negative way.

Do you know what music is defined by? Music is defined by making sounds with objects, like rocks, instruments of the stone age. Today… Ugh, anyone can become famous as actual talent and effort is a thing of the past. Prime examples, Justin Beiber, Skrillex and such.

Remixes aren’t really helping either, to be fair there are some epic ones like Trainer Red Fight Theme Epic Orchestrated Remix and tons of more like Champion Lance’s Metal Remix. But the likes of YouTube are plagued by horrible, horrible dubstep “remixes” and like.

Video game music can be remade with epicness but most of the time untalented attention beggars tend to get popular with the intelligence impaired audience which is most of the planet.

This leaves me to my final note, the dying music industry has now plagued the video game industry and we as gamers and especially the likes of me, Game Designers must fight this plague with everything we possibly can muster.

e-p-ayeaH  +   157d ago
Music in games can still be relevant specialy in good big budget games like Red Dead Redemption and Heavy Rain both games required a great soundtrack to make them feel way more imersive than they really are.
#1 (Edited 157d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
xX-StolenSoul-Xx  +   156d ago
Skyrims music a few years back made me feel really immersed and I thought it was top of the line
DCfan  +   156d ago
We still have Persona.
SeraphimBlade  +   156d ago
I think you're just playing the wrong games, to be honest. True, we don't get as many stick-in-your-head theme songs as we once did. Deus Ex is a prime example. Yeah Human Revolution had a great ambient soundtrack, but I think we all prefer the original's theme over anything in HR.

And low standards for getting popular has NEVER NOT BEEN THE CASE. Anyone can get popular but people only REMEMBER the good stuff. That's true of everything, not just music. Everything "back then" looks better because they don't show you old stuff that didn't have any staying power. It's also important to remember that for every classic, there's 49 songs/games/movies/whatever that no one could give a crap about. Things were never better. There's always only ever a few really good things.

Yeah, I don't think the major, major games care about it like they once did, at least the western ones, but the kind of stuff I play continues to impress me.
beebap  +   156d ago
The last of us, hitman, metal gear, mass effect are just some of soundtracks I remembered quickly, prob lot more if thought about it some more.
caseh  +   155d ago
Metal Gear sound track is epic, Harry-Gregson Williams is quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to that series, not so sure about Kiefer Sutherland though... :/
dedicatedtogamers  +   156d ago
There's a lot of great modern music in videogames. Journey, Halo, Last of Us, MGS4, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy 13, Mass Effect (I know I'm forgetting a ton more) all had amazing music.

With that said, as videogames have become more "Hollywood" and we can actually use real instruments in a soundtrack, it feels far less unique. That's the thing. Old videogame music felt unique because all of the sounds were piped through the hardware. Nowadays videogame music could just as easily be music for a Michael Bay or Peter Jackson movie. It loses its unique-ness. It feels even less unique when a game uses licensed music. Then it isn't even unique to the VIDEOGAME.

Still, there are plenty of fantastic modern soundtracks that use real instruments. It just depends on the talent of the composer.
DCfan  +   155d ago
I'm fine with instrumental music. Im not so fond of gaming going "Hollywood" with all these big budget titles focusing on cinematics and dumbing down gameplay.
coolbeans  +   155d ago
I honestly don't believe that's the case. A lot of today's big games are going more for walls-of-sound orchestras and ambiance to build atmosphere instead of super-fun-time theme music, but that doesn't mean the music's inherently worse. It's one of those double-edged swords for me: I can certainly appreciate a developer assembling someone like Abbey Road Studios, but then I also wonder if having SO many follow the leader like that is a very good idea when looking at the big picture of the industry.
Orionsangel  +   155d ago
Game music from today has nothing to do with game music from the past. Back in the day most games were divided into stages/levels. Each level had it's own theme, both in look and music. Often time the music was catchy and looped. Also music composers back then had to try harder because of the limitations given to them.

Today with the way most modern games are made the music is more like a movie score. It's all interwoven through out the game. Nothing stands out on it's own. Rarely do you have any catchy music. Even in retro style titles. I don't know if music composers forgot what made late 80's early 90's video game music so awesome, but they're just not doing it like the old days anymore.
Cam977  +   154d ago
This s one of the worst blogs I've seen, I'm sorry.
Picking one sub-par game and using it as an example to make such a profound statement is pathetic; moreover, this is ridiculously biased:
'the entire trilogy doesn’t have a single bad song.'

You clearly prefer retro music to modern music, it isn't hat it's gone downhill.
Lets see...
-THE LAST OF US
- HEAVY RAIN
- DARK SOULS 2
-GTA IV (Orchestral stuff, not radio)
- UNCHARTED
- ASSASSINS CREED 2

Need I day more? Terrible blog.

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