It has been two weeks, which means it is time for another Beats n’ Stuff. In this week’s column, I spotlight some tunes from some of my favorite video game soundtracks.
From emotionally resonating scores to Drive-esque bops, video game music has evolved in ways the chip tune music of decades past could not have predicted. For me personally, growing up with video games helped me in turn grow an appreciation for music as well, as I have always felt the two go hand in hand and complement one another.
In this week’s edition: “polygonal melodies,” I feature the likes of semi-recent music, from this year to way back in 1999.
1.) “Lovely Forest” by Calum Bowen
Also known as bo en for his pop-enthused musical counterpart, Calum Bowen’s brief score for the colorful first-person-speed-shooter Lovely Planet is just as fun as the game itself. Speeding through levels, blasting enemies with your seemingly harmless paintball gun-thing to the tune of Bowen’s tracks is fun as heck. It is one of the rare PC/Mac games where I don’t turn off the sound and play a podcast in the background.
Recommended if you like: Bubblegum pop meshed with the cutest FPS of all-time
2.) “Polaroid” by Laugh and Peace
The cult-Japanese-rhythm game from the Playstation’s heyday, Vib-Ribbon, never saw a release in the United States. Despite this, it received worldwide acclaim for its simplistic aesthetic, and its practicality: as users could input their own CDs into the system and the game would randomly generate levels from the tracks. Recently, thank god, North America was finally treated to a PSN release of this much-sought after title, and I celebrated by playing it relentlessly for hours. While the “pop-in-your-own-cd-and-go-to-town” feature is cool, I found myself falling in love with the soundtrack that accompanies the game, and I feel that Laugh and Peace’s original music with Vib-Ribbon is simply the best way to enjoy it.
Recommended if you like: Unique rhythm games starring adorable bunnies
3.) “Guru Guru Gravity” by Tetsuya Uchida & Yuu Miyake
Arguably, or not arguably, Keita Takahashi’s Katamari series consistently has the greatest music on their soundtracks, and it has even spawned a great Team Teamwork mash-up album. While Takahashi is no longer involved with any of the games following the first two, the rest have definitely carried on his spirit, including Beautiful Katamari. In the Katamari games, you play as the Prince or one of his cousins, and help the King of Cosmos in rolling up items to create new stars, because the dorky king got too drunk and knocked them all out of the sky (silly goose!). “Guru Guru Gravity” is a fun, techno-laden tune that captures the Katamari spirit perfectly.
Recommended if you like: Feeling the cosmos
4.) “A Way of Life” by Shoji Meguro & Mayumi Fujita
I could not find the actual song I wanted to use for this playlist, but this one will do. Shoji Meguro’s Shin Megami Tensei-game scores are among some of my favorites. Often when I think of JRPGs, I think of Meguro and his music. In particular, Persona 3 is one of the greatest JRPGs of all-time, and one of my personal favorite games. This particular tune comes into play in the Playstation Portable version, if you choose to play as a female (which I wish so badly to be an option in the upcoming Persona 5). The Persona series is dark, but Meguro’s scores hardly reflect that, and instead reflect the cheery, sunny side of being a teenager in Japan for the social-sim aspect. Even during the dungeon crawling aspects, the music never veers too dark.
Recommended if you like: Hating on Persona 4. Persona 3 will always be superior.
5.) “Sweet Soul Brother (Remix)” – Hideki Naganuma
Here’s a game I never actually played due to never owning an Xbox, but I did play its predecessor on Dreamcast, the incredible Jet Grind Radio (released as Jet Set Radio in Japan, and later as Jet Set Radio in the U.S. in its HD re-release on PSN). Jet Set Radio Future, its sequel, is supposed to be really good, according to pals of mine who have actually played it. While I dream one day of it too getting an HD re-release, in the meantime, its soundtrack sure is great though, is not it?
Recommended if you like: Rollerblading and graffiti!!!