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The Sound of [Game] Music: The Aural Sensation Sweeping the Nation

First blog derp derp.

When it comes to doing homework, studying, or just plain focusing, nothing gets the job done like instrumental music, and especially music from my favorite games. It jump-starts me and keeps me motivated until I've crossed the finish line. When a tune I love comes on, it's serious business.

So in order to put off studying for my finals and encourage academic suicide, here's the gaming-centric side of my instrumental playlist, in no particular order (along the way I might fail to credit some artists and composers, please do not poop yourself):

Metroid Metal by Stemage
Long have I been a fan of what the metal band Stemage does. The name is no misnomer: it's Metroid, it's metal, and it's kickass. Headbanging highlights include Phendrana Drifts, Maridia, and The Ending. When I listen to Metroid Metal, I like to imagine Samus dueling Norse gods. Or something like that. That's a lie, I don't do that.

Mother 3 by Shogo Sakai
I could yell at you about Mother 3 all day. Hell, I could yell at a wall about Mother 3 all day. Hell, I could yell at a wall about the music of Mother 3 all day. Put on Mother 3 Love Theme, the Curtain Call, 16 Melodies, or any other various track and expect to see a softer, sentimental MisterGrieves.

Paper Mario 1 + 2 by Yuka Tujiyoko, Yoshito Hirano
The Paper Mario games had damn catchy tunes. And while a lot of it is purely eclectic, head-bopping happiness, there's plenty of subtlety to be heard in these soundtracks. Tracks like Tubba Blubba are close to my heart purely because of game association, but there's something to be said about the intensity of Bowser's showdown music or the sensitive, somewhat somber tone of the Thousand Year Credits. Also, Doopliss still rocks.

Smashing Live! by the Nintendo Symphony
You might have noticed that so far, the list has been entirely populated by first party Nintendo games. Well, don't expect that trend to let up entirely, because it's just simple fact that Nintendo has created some of the most memorable tunes in the business. Nothing brings this point home more convincingly than the orchestrated soundtrack to Melee. Among my favorites are the fantastic Fountain of Dreams and the stunning Smash Bros. Great Medley. And then there's that Opening...

Castlevania 20th Anniversary Collection by Michiru Yamane
This was one hell of a preorder bonus. It contains music covering the entire lineage of Castlevania, one of my most near and dear franchises. Oddly enough, my favorite tracks on this album aren't the more complex, later works, but the catchy 8-bit tunes like Bloody Tears or the ridiculously awesome Beginning, the intro to the 16-bit Super Castlevania IV.

Mother 1+2 by Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka
Ah, let's go back to Earthbound for a bit. Yeah, I imported the soundtrack to the Mother 1+2 compilation for the GBA. And you know what shocked me? They're not even the master tracks themselves, but completely re-recorded tracks using more complex midi instruments. Despite initially being stunned, the results were quite good. I took a shine to its version of Eight Melodies and Twinkle Elementary School's tune never gets old. Bye, Earthbound, I'll be back in a second, okay?

Hyrule Symphony by the Hyrule Symphony
Ah, one area where I truly don't have to explain myself. But hell, why not? Put bluntly, The Legend of Zelda, as a franchise, features what could be the pinnacle of game music composition. I get chills every time the incredible Legend of Zelda medley crescendos at Ballad of the Windfish. And let's not even start on that Ocarina of Time title screen. There's also a few Majora's Mask tunes thrown in here, like the Observatory theme that I feel captures the very essence of childlike wonderment. Koji muh-fuckin' Kondo, bitches. He eats orphans for breakfast and doesn't even get mud-butt.

Ooh, ooh! Also! Also Gerudo Valley!

Final Fantasy VII Piano Collection by Nobuo Uematsu
Nobuo effin' Uematsu. Not only does his dolphin-related Limit Break OHKO any boss in any game (Chad Concelmo notwithstanding), but his music is pretty damn impressive, too. His work on Final Fantasy VII was arguably the creative height of his career (so far) and tracks like the poignant Main Theme and upbeat Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony show it. However, this piano collection is a bit more subdued and conservative when compared to the full breadth of Uematsu's works. That's why I also have...

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children by Nobuo Uematsu
This is the epic stuff. Easily my favorite part about the subpar Advent Children flick, the soundtrack featured the definitive versions of some VII classics. In an incredible artistic twist, One-Winged Angel is presented as a Latin choir/metal/orchestral juggernaut that's simply jaw-dropping. Seriously, it crushes your skull. But, like, totally in a good way. And don't get me started on Aeris's Theme. Damn it, I'm getting all emotional.

Metal Gear Solid by Kazuki Muraoka
My first exposure to the Metal Gear Solid franchise was through the stellar GCN remake, The Twin Snakes. So it's a bit odd that the only Metal Gear music in my Zune is taken from the original PSX version, midi format and all. Nonetheless, tunes like the Metal Gear Solid Main Theme, with its quirky samurai yelps, are timeless. Also great are the classic Encounter and the rather touching The Best Is Yet To Come (which features beautiful Moonspeak lyrics, so it's practically instrumental).

Bound Together by the good folks at OC Remix
Wait, is this record skipping?


No, it isn't.

If you'd quit your bitching, I'd tell you that this is probably my favorite videogame soundtrack produced for fans by fans. I'd tell you that it features some incredible techno beats like Sky Runner, Tessie, and especially Snow Wood 1, while providing a valid counterpoint with great stuff like 8 Melodies Piano, Dalaam, and Deep Darkness. But what about Pokey, Kraken, or Dreaming on Distant Shores? I'm not even going to waste my breath on you by telling you how they completely reinvent their original counterparts while retaining what makes each piece so emotionally effective. You had your chance and you blew it.

Bye, Earthbound, I'll miss you!

World of Goo by Kyle Gabler
There's one major difference between Kyle Gabler and Danny Elfman: one has shared the sack with Tim Burton on numerous occasions. Aside from that, though, the completely prodigal Kyle Gabler seems to channel Danny Elfman's very soul with his contributions to World of Goo. That's not to say he hasn't got any surprises up his sleeve. While stuff like World of Goo Beginning and Tumbler seem to jump straight out of the motion picture Beetlejuice, Red Carpet Extend-o-matic comes from a completely different, slightly majestic direction, and is one of my favorites. Also, the entire album is free!

Information Chase by Bit Shifter
Thanks to Topher for turning me on to this guy(s?). While not explicitly from any videogame in particular, the completely original set of chiptunes is every bit as infectious as your Super Mario Brothers or your Tetris. In fact, upon hearing Hexadecimal Genome (my personal favorite) in the RetroforceGO! podcast, I was completely convinced it came from some forgotten Game Boy relic. Honestly everything's good on this album. Google it, it's free as well.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance by Noriko Aoki
The Fire Emblem franchise is represented by a single track on my Zune, but it's a damn fine one. Life Returns is the ending theme of Path of Radiance, sung in a fictional language featured in the game. Despite knowing that, it sounds an awful lot like Japanese to me, and it's beautiful.

Voices of the Lifestream by the good folks at OC Remix
Am I becoming repetitive? Final Fantasy VII's soundtrack is just that good, and the folks at OC Remix can vouch for me. This massive, four-disc album of remixes features great stuff like Materia Junkie, motor crazycycle, and Stone Eyes. Check it out. I can't say much more about Uematsu's incredible compositions, but the artists at OC Remix can certainly hold their own with their huge pool of talent.

A Bunch of Random OC Remix Songs by OC Remix doods
Super Mario 64's Liquid Mario, Mega Man X's Brainsick Metal, Pokemon Red's TEEM.ROKIT, Skies of Arcadia's Dungeon Cave (BuriedAliveMix), Super Mario Kart's Rainbow Rain, Metal Gear Solid's Legend of the Snake 2: Snake Versus Dragon, Golden Sun's Sol Sanctum Guitar, Gunstar Heroes' Deep Mine, Shadow of the Colossus's Wanderer on the Offensive (Live Edit), Zelda: The Wind Waker's Ancient Hero, Punch-Out!!'s Little Mac's Confession, Castlevania's Castlemania (i c wut u did thur), Final Fantasy IV's Tororian Love Song, Silent Hill 2's True (ItsGoneNowmix), Mega Man 2's QuickDraw, Zelda II's Hipccordian, Castlevania's Wicked Orchestra, Final Fantasy VI's Death on the Snowfield, and Super Mario RPG's Farewell, Star Guardian.

Phew. Find them and download them. They're all good.

Persona 4 Bonus Soundtrack by Shoji Meguro, Atsushi Kitajoh, and Ryota Kozuka
Probably the only album on this list I'm not absolutely batshit insane for, but a good one nonetheless, and certainly worth its asking price of "diddles." I'm not the one to run to if you want to hear someone wax about Persona 4 for hours, but I do have some favorites here. Reaching Out to the Truth is catchy and generally spunky J-pop, while My Affection will crawl into your delicious ear holes and plant thousands of spidery, little eggs. Irritating little eggs. I feel like I'm obligated to mention the Junes Jingle, even though I'd be a much happier, saner person without it or Nanako in my life. Nanako.

Francis by GCITherewolf and GCIDogmeat
You know what I don't hate? This song.

And, last but certainly not least...

Chrono Symphonic by those same dudes at OC Remix
Okay, I think I might want to relinquish that statement I made about Bound Together being the best fan music compilation on the net. That honor might have to go to these guys, who put together an album so good, so cohesive, that you almost wouldn't believe it was made by over fifteen different people. There are so many classics in this list that naming them all would make this post even more unwieldy than it already is, but honorable mentions go to the flat-out epic Confronting the Mystic and The Last Stand. The cream of the crop, however, is a brief but life-changing take on the Kingdom of Zeal's theme, Manifest Destiny. It simply does not get any better. That's 11, right there. I'd advise SirRus to simply quit while he's ahead and never do anything ever again, because he has achieved his life goal and earned his place in my kingdom of eternal gaming orgies.


Well, that was entirely too long. But that's me. What about youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?
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About MisterGrievesone of us since 8:35 PM on 02.03.2009

Hey, I'm MisterGrieves! I'm an eighteen-year-old gamer who grew up on the Super Nintendo and has rose-tinted memories of the N64. Up until the end of last generation, I was unquestionably a gamer exclusive to Nintendo. That's not to say, however, I never wondered how the other side lived. My curiosity was piqued and I started filling out a backlog of PS2 games; there was no looking back.

Today, I'm a gamer of varied tastes, and I'm interested in games spanning (almost) all systems.


Mother3Advance W arsDualStrikeMetalGearSolid4
CastlevaniaDawnofSorrowDisgaeaEart h bound
LegendofZeldaM a jora'sMaskMe t roidPrime
Fin a lFantasyXIIMet r oidPrim e 2Echoes
SuperSmashBrosBrawlIcoFinalFantas y VII
Shad o woftheColoss u sSuperMarioWorld
FireEmblemPathofRa d ianceP o kemonS i lver
Fi n alFantasyVIMario&Lui g iSuperStarSaga
FinalFantasyIVLegendofZeldaThe W indWaker
R i verCi t yRansomPunc h Out!!CaveStor y
Audi o SurfViewtif u lJoeSilentHill2
SkiesofA r cadiaSuperMarioGa l axy
PaperMarioSuperMar i oRPGMetroidII
SuperMetroidMetroid F usionGunstarHeroes
MegaManMegaManXGold e nSun2TheLostAge
TheLegendofZeldaALinktothePast ?

PSN ID:OleGrieves
Steam ID:DarkMirror_Link
Mii code:6770-7202-7411-2196


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