Article from the Perceptra.net blog. Written by LordMzn, translated by Cerniera.
Today I would like to face you with quite an easy topic. Do you remember the soundtrack of your first videogame? Was it Wario Land? Or Bubble Bobble? Maybe Crash Team Racing? I do, and I believe that soundtracks have a very important role when talking about the quality of the game. I don’t mean music’s quality, but just the right music at the right time.
Our favourite game is, of course, TrackMania. There’s quite a big difference between TMN and the “old” TMS and TMO when talking about soundtracks. In the first TMS we found a very good job done, trying to recreate an environment, an atmosphere. This job is also way better than the one done in TMN (well…of course, TMN is a free game, so they weren’t supposed to spend too much on it). In fact, in the TMS’s soundtrack, we find 13 songs, that I remember still now. In the TMN’s soundtrack there are (maybe) 4 songs.
The quality of the music is not so different, in TMS we find songs by Hi-Jera, Big Wednesday, Dan Money and some other unknown artists. But each of those songs were associated to a different environment. Instead, in TMN, 4 songs are repeated four to five times during each sessions, always linked to the same environment. The effect is totally different, and the quality of the game change too. In fact, TMN hasn’t got a solid single player part, and I think almost everyone has already changed the default TMN songs.
Another big difference is about the authors: with a good soundtrack, as the TMS one was, and a lot of experiences associated to it, it can happen that a person wants to hear the soundtrack even when outside the game. Regarding this topic I’d like to mention some other games: FlatOut, FlatOut2 and Midnight Club 2. About these games I can say that I really enjoyed the soundtracks, maybe because of the different gaming experience offered, even if the community around them wasn’t as big as the TM one. Anyway, I tried (successfully) to get them, even if I had to face big problems (no shops knew them, even online). This had two consequences. The first was that I got a CD for every soundtrack named and my friends made fun of me for that. The second is that I got to know the authors of those songs. And now I’m a fan of Tokyo Dragons!
Still talking about soundtracks, I have to remember Gothic and Morrowind. In RPGs (Role Playing Game) soundtracks aren’t made by songs, but by “themes”. The theme of the war, the theme of the exploration, the them that you hear when you get into a town. The gaming experience is really different and the game really takes you into an another world. The result is that I usually still whistle the morrowind’s main themes, and I haven’t played it for two years.
At the end, we can say that the “pure” quality of the songs in the soundtracks is not the main important thing. The songs have to fuse with the game, creating an involving and exciting experience. Soundtracks of “Need for Speed”, as a good example, are made by famous and good artists, but if you haven’t got a good feeling with those games, you won’t enjoy the songs. If we’d need to summarize everything I said with an equation, we could say that the possibility of remembering a soundtrack is proportional to the gaming experience we had.