Over at Kilted Moose, Scott Munro put together a short list of his favorite video game music. They don’t align with my favorites at all, but the thing about game music, and music in general, is that we’re drawn to different songs and styles for different reasons. So here are some of my most cherished video game songs. I won’t say they’re the greatest compositions of all time — many are just deep cuts from well-known games — but they deserve to be appreciated.
Mega Man 5: Gravity Man
The funk drops at about 1:08. If you can’t dig that breakdown, you’re already dead.
Super Paper Mario: Gloam Valley
Try listening to just the bass line for an example of how much effort goes into these songs.
Doom II: Running from Evil (Entryway)
The second half of the song contains what is unquestionably the most face-melting MIDI solo of all time.
Rez: Fear is the Mindkiller by Adam Freeland
Finally, some video game music you can feel confident blasting from your car stereo. Tidbit: the killer horn sample comes from “California Soul” by Marlena Shaw.
Mortal Kombat II: The Courtyard
Good background fighting music, yes, but the mish-mash of tribal drum fills, atonal trills and an overbearing synth lead is beautifully abstract.
Contra 3: Hell Messenger (Stage 5)
This song does not get enough credit for how off-the-wall ridiculous it is. Mixed measures and clever counterpoint abound.
Ninja Gaiden: Foster’s Theme
I love the way the snare hits are scattered with such precision through the bridge in Foster’s Theme.
Streets of Rage 2: Spin on the Bridge
Streets of Rage 2 had a lot of great music, but the theme from stage 2 gets props for being all atonal and weird. The bassline seems to be caught on a rubber band.
No More No More Heroes
Let’s end with an epic jam. A live band could vamp on this blues progression forever.