RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Jan 11th 2008 at 11:40:49 PM by (TraderJake)
Posted under Feature, Music, Modern Gaming, Classic Gaming, Retro

As I sit hear, listening to the Future of Rock and Roll, I was pondering what my next article should be. I sit hear, enjoying the music, listening to the smooth melodies of the indie rock scene. Feel the emotion, the magic, the rhythm. Music is a powerful medium. Music can be one of the best ways to convey emotion and mood without saying a word. Truly, music is an important part of games. From the 8-bit era to today, music has been an integral part of games. Think of the classics. The Mario Theme. The Zelda Theme, and many more, they're all great. Let's take the time to reminisce on the past, and identify the history of game music as it is today.

As a kid, the first system that I had was an NES, and the first game that I played was Super Mario Bros, with its earthshaking 8-bit game play and amazing synthesized tones on three channels. However, 18 years after first playing Super Mario Bros, the melodies first introduced in the game are now some of the most recognizable pieces of game music ever written. I bet Koji Kondo, when he first pumped out the 8-bit tunes found in the Mario series, had no idea that his tunes would become iconic. The question is then, why are these musical pieces, and the musical pieces from many other retro classics, iconic? I don't know if I can give an authoritative answer on that. It could be the numerous incarnations of these melodies, but the melodies had to be popular to experiences numerous incarnations. Perhaps they are popular still today because they are nostalgic. For some people, that might be the case, but for most I don't buy it. The game music of old is popular still today for one reason - it's good. Listen to some of the classics. The Mario Theme. The Zelda Overworld Theme. The Balloon Fight Music. Metalman's Stage Music (a personal favorite of mine). I bet you can name some of your own favorites. Retro Music has had a lasting effect on the gaming public and communities. Just look around. You'll see it's true.

As time progresses, I feel the same arguments for why 8-bit songs are still popular holds true for more recent tunes. Look at the songs found in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Those songs are masterful, beautiful, and powerful. Today, actual orchestrated pieces provide memorable tunes for us to remember. The Metal Gear Solid Theme comes to mind as a tune for the ages. Certainly, as time progresses more and more memorable tunes will be composed, and for the generation of now, they may be to them what the 8-bit classic tunes are to us.

Do you find game music to be interesting? Or to you, is it just background noise? To me, game music is in a league of its own, and with the success of activities such as Video Games Live, I can tell that many other people feel that same viewpoint. As time progressed, game music became more and more complex, allowing it to become more effective in its purpose. Perhaps you like the new music, with its orchestral arrangements and almost cinematic quality. Perhaps you enjoy the retro tunes of the 8 and 16-bit era, but chances are that if you are reading this site there is probably a game theme or song that you really enjoy. I know I certainly do, and I hope that you do too.

David Murnan is the Site Director of RF Generation, the classic and modern video games database. In the past, he was also a band geek, and wished that the marching band he was part of would do video games themes. Alas, they did not. David Murnan is also a Nintendo Fanboy, which can be noticed by the songs that he has mentioned. You'd probably be a Nintendo Fanboy too if that's what you grew up on. Certainly, we hope you didn't expect this article to be authoritative, and if you did, well, yeah... Sorry.

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There are several game music internet radio stations that have good content, so I'd say many people share your views. I myself have a folder of game music, 16 bit stuff mostly, but soundtracks for games in recent years like Splinter Cell Chaos Theory and Mass Effect as are much a part of the experience of playing to me as the graphics or control, each creating their own niche of nostalgia.

Demon Attack on the INTV was the first game that had music that struck a chord with me. Being a young child I remember how anxious I'd get hearing the piece that played when I blasted into space to face the mothership, scary stuff.
thefirst game that struck a chord for me was the Starfox game on the SNES, I'd play the first level, then restart the system after beating it.  Since then though, ive been playing alot of the Nobuo Uematsu stuff on my speakers.

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