Article: Music in Videogames

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.

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9 Responses to Article: Music in Videogames

  1. T_Z_ says:

    I totally agree with this!! I think FFVII’s soundtrack rocks, specially in the boss battles 😀

  2. Hastings says:

    I don’t. I love TrackMania, since the day I got the Sunrise demo, but most of the sound tracks are just so repetitive that they fail to create the right atmosphere to me and disturb me more than they support the racing feeling. Since Sunrise, I have switched off the entire sound and listen to internet radio or winamp instead.

    Plus, I remember several games (Prince of Persia 2 and Oblivion being the most recent ones) that were rather frustrating and turned me off after some time. Still, the sounds were, as far as I can see, often, if not always, high-quality and the music perfectly suiting the atmosphere.

  3. djoszee says:

    I always turn off music in games, don’t ask me why but it annoys me. Fact is that I love the intro-sound of TMO 🙂

  4. Fluffski says:

    I love music in tmu (not to hot on ROCK tho). I like to have a boogey when i race and some tracks a funky soundtracks to go with them (including mine) 😉

    As for old games, i loved things like Sega Rally with its funky soundtrack and i can go right back to games like Outrun with tracks like “passing breeze” and “spash wave”.
    Or even Cannon fodder 2 with “WAR!, never been so much fun!” the first time i heard a fully sampled soundtrack 😉

  5. RKO90 says:

    Great article 😀 but just one thing, it was translated by Cerniera, not Carniera 😛

  6. TimeBreaker says:

    oh yeah well the music of a game can influence you a lot and i thik im a good listener as i can remember even the music from old ps games about 6 or 7 years ago
    and sometimes i just have the feeling of listening to it again 😀
    (one game that really impressed me in all parts was banjo-kazooie, a pretty old but perfect jumpnrun, with amazin music 😀 i can still remember every music title and every music perfectly fitted in in every level ) another game is crash bandicoot, the real classic crash bandicoot 😀 this game had some of my really favourite background music, because it created an incredible deep atmosphere, that just was unbelievable)
    i also downloaded many many official soundtrack cd’s of games (just type ” name of the game + OST” in your filesharing prog, and im sure it ll immediately find it as long as it was a good soundtrack 😀

    now coming to tm
    i loved the tms soundtrack 😀
    i think they perfectly fitted in, and they were fun to listen no matter if they were your taste of music or not
    when i had tmn, i still thought this music was fitting in even if i didnt like the music in the first days.. and after ayear of playing tmn, i switched off the music xD
    and now coming to tmu… i think this music is the biggest crap ive listened too :/
    now first the menumusic.. this sucks and i remember the tms menu music, which i still remember now and which was just awesome :O
    the stad music was a surprise in the beta, and i liked it as they were remixes of the nations music, but nowadays i get rid of it
    my favourite music is rallye i think which is weird cause i hate the enviro 😛
    while i first listened to the snow music i was starting laughing because it sounded to extreme weird xD yes just weird and it still is 😀
    oh and all other musics are crap, i dont feel anything when i listen to them :S
    but nadeo was clever enough to make finally that menu bar in the uppper right where you can immediately switch off the music 😀
    THANK YOU NADEO, youve saved my life

  7. insane says:

    gotta admit, i never even listened to the TMU soundtrack even jsut once…
    first thing after i got it, i switched off the sound and started my winamp instead 😛
    no clue why, but i do this with every game, unless there is a storyline with spoken text to follow…

  8. well. done. that’s really fantastic! good job buddy…waiting for more..you just put what the people searching for..good luck!

    http://www.mstoni.com/

  9. LordMzn says:

    thx guyz for feedbacks 🙂

    of course, it was just my opinion!

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