Monday, 10 March 2014

Top 5 Classic Game Soundtracks (NES & SNES Edition)

I grew up in the 16 bit era. I cut my teeth on the original Nintendo, but it was the Super Nintendo that first got me into the culture. It was a time where the games had evolved to be more complex affairs. The graphics, the plot, the music, all improved with the advent of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. However I am not going to preclude tracks from the original Nintendo as they have some great tracks. One problem is that there were countless great tracks that often overshadow many gems. Even I am guilty of that. So today on Lost in the Music, I will be doing a top 5 game albums of the oft remembered games. As usual this list will have one game per franchise.

5: Star Tropics 2

There are some people who absolutely hate this game and think it shouldn't exist. They argue that everything that was great in the original was dumbed down and stripped away for the sequel. I will agree that the second game does have issues but I will defend the games music. There are a few tracks that can be overlooked, but for the most part, the music on Star Tropics 2 is fantastic.

What I love with Star Tropics 2 over the original is that each area has its own unique music, unlike the original where they used the same tracks for each of the islands. While the cities themselves may have had unique music, the dungeons themselves, save for the final one, were all similar. Star tropics 2 however had unique music for each of the area's you visited as well as the dungeons.

4: Sim City (SNES)

I love sim games. That feeling of being able to build and create is immeasurably fun. Sure the SNES Sim City is old and has features missing from its PC brother, but damn is it not still fun. For many kids, this was their first foray into this genre of gaming.

Normally the music in these sorts of games is nothing to spectacular but SimCity stands out. As you go further along in the game the music gets more complex, similar to how a city grows. It stands as as an interesting dynamic that hasn't been used in many other simulation games.

3: Yoshi's Island

Yoshi's Island sold a ton of games but these days, it is not that well known when you compare it with other Mario games which I find odd as the full name of Yoshi's Island is Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Of course the success of Yoshi's Island prompted its own spin off which seems to be more recognized then the original.

I love the music from this game and I feel that it marked the change in Kondo's style. I found the music to be far more appropriate for the game itself. There is a greater sense of adventure in the overworld maps while cave themes have that feeling of mystery and excitement. Compared to Super Mario World;s music which I found basic and bland, Yoshi's Island was a breath of fresh air.

2: Dragon Warrior 1

When I think Dragon Warrior, my mind always takes me back to when I was a child. As I have often said, Dragon Warrior was my first foray into RPG's and at the time, I didn't understand what to do and would wander around fighting monsters. These days. That is called grinding, but I digress.

The Music from Dragon Warrior was great because at the time, I was used to the Music from Mario and Legend of Zelda, which for the most part existed as background noise. The music from Dragon Warrior however felt integral to the story. With the world map theme, it showcases just how alone you are in the world. No one is brave enough to assist you in your battle against the Dragonlord. The caves were creepy on the surface and the deeper you went, the more ominous it became. The only bright spot in the world were the towns. No monsters had yet attacked them and the people were able to feel safe for the time being. You never got that Mario or Zelda.

1: Illusion of Gaia

I have talked about this track so much that I cannot add anything else that I haven't said before. Simply, it is a beautiful track from a criminally overlooked game. More people need to experience Illusion of Gaia. At a time where Squaresoft was dominating the 16 bit RPG's, this small game was proving that games could deal with adult situations in a respectful way. Suicide, alcoholism, slavery, these were all touched upon in the game and aside from Final Fantasy VI, I do not know if any other game from this era visited these themes.

It is a real shame that the Soul Blazer trilogy (Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma) never got the same amount of care and attention that Dragon Warrior/Quest and Final Fantasy have received. They are phenomenal stories with solid gameplay and powerful, emotional music. To me, this would be a great way for Square Enix to gain back its fans it has lost over the years. By paying attention to games that are not Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and give them the same attention.

It is my deepest wish that artists in the arranging community takes a listen to some of these tracks and do a remix of them. I would love to hear what some people can do with these under appreciated tracks.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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