Video games and music have gone together hand in hand since the inception of videos. What makes video game music so beautiful is that composers craft and create the song, particularly for a particular moment or a scene in the game. Video game music rarely pays attention to the current trends and takes pleasure in bringing scenes to life. In a more modern gaming era, mainstream songs are also being used to capture moments within a scene. Whether it's a song that has been used before or a completely original every video game track is valid and deserves a place in a diverse and ever-growing music genre. In this particular genre of music, any style is welcome.
The Grammys have now made their own category for video game music which has been a long-time coming and I think it should have had its own category forty years ago. It's great to see an overlooked and underappreciated collection of music get the recognition it deserves.
There are many musical masterpieces in video game history that have changed the world in some way. Gaming music is now being preserved in the Library of Congress and has become accessible in ways never before seen through radio, streaming platforms, and physical releases. To celebrate this new-found recognition of a true art form, let us look at some of the most prolific and important tracks in gaming history.
Overworld Theme - Super Mario Bros. Composed by Koji Kondo
The Super Mario Bros. theme has inspired and influenced a plethora of video game composers. Video game music would not be where it is today without this energetic tune that gets stuck in your head and remembered for all time. It's a song that's made so much impact that some even want it to become Japan's national anthem. This song is simple, energetic, and can be adapted into many styles, but it will still have the Mario essence. The song will be enjoyed in its 8-bit glory for all time.
Battle! Champion- Pokemon Diamond & Pearl Composed by Junichi Masuda
The Pokemon franchise has had some fantastic tracks over the years and the one I picked here is the one I feel impacted the game the most. The piano interlude that plays before the battle starts and the intense music that plays afterward tell you that you're in for a big fight ahead. Cynthia's battle theme has been used many times and the track is so popular, Cynthia made many returns to the series. She was already a great character who had a lot of strong traits, but many of the champions had to share their theme song. Wallace and Stephen had the same final boss theme. Red and Lance had the same one in the Johto games and Blue's theme was remixed for the official world championships in real life. So Cynthia not only gets her own unique prelude but her own theme that is used only for her battles. The iconic track helped strengthened Cynthia's legacy and thus changed the world in a way that made the Pokemon franchise reach another climactic high.
Guile's Theme - Street Fighter II Composed by Yoko Shimomura
Street Fighter II was already an iconic game spawning many spin-offs and ports to modern consoles. One of the Internet's most popular memes is Guile's Theme Goes With Everything. This guy in the video clearly agrees as he's rocking to Guile's theme with KFC drumsticks in his hand. Guile's theme perfectly captures the pop culture of the 80s with its bustling technology and is a song that you can both dance and fight to. Like Super Mario's overworld theme, it embraces its simplicity and catchiness to become more than just a song.
The Legend of Zelda Theme Composed by Koji Kondo
The Legend of Zelda theme is another example of how one track can make a game's lasting legacy. It further installs Koji Kondo as one of the most well-known and revered figures in the video game world. The theme perfectly captures the feeling of fantasy and adventure and is the perfect song for Link's quest. No matter what version or rendition of the song you hear, it will always be epic and beautiful.
The Entire Animal Crossing New Horizons Soundtrack
This soundtrack was composed by the team of composers including Kazumi Totaka, Yasuaki Iwata, Yumi Takahashi, Shinobu Nagata, Sayako Doi & Masato Ohashi. It's impossible to pick out just one track, so I've selected the whole soundtrack. Animal Crossing has been a growing franchise since the N64 era but made its international footprint in the GameCube era. It further expanded its legacy on future consoles and has only risen in popularity over the years. Animal Crossing New Horizons is one of the best-selling video games in this modern era for its lovable characters, endless customisations, and of course, a calming soundtrack. ACNH proves you don't need to have bombastic beats, a grand adventure of lust, violence, or profanity to succeed. Great care has been taken and each season and time throughout the day has its own song.
We could spend dozens of hours highlighting amazing and important tracks from gaming soundtracks of the past forty years and still barely scratch the surface. Hopefully, this piece has ignited your curiosity about gaming music and inspired you to make your own explorations. I hope you enjoy and come back to SUPERJUMP for more celebrations of our favorite hobby!
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