By GlobaX Gaming Staff
Video game music has a way of sticking with us, of lingering, of creating those fuzzy lasting feelings of nostalgia. One of the main reasons we get into retro gaming the way we do is likely due to the bevy of nostalgic memories associated with video game music in the first place!
Here are some of our favorite examples of retro video game music elevating the form!
Streets of Rage 2 (1992, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega) — Composers: Yuzo Kashiro, Motohiro Kawashima
Streets of Rage 2 is, make no mistake, a triumph even without its soundtrack. The superior Sega beat-em-up when stacked against the more staid Golden Axe series, Streets of Rage 2 is a pulsing fever-pitch of an action game. What’s so remarkable is how Yuzo Kashiro’s dark, club-tinged music is the perfect fit for the game, as well as for the Sega Mega Drive’s FM sound capabilities. Maybe guitars sound slicker on the SNES, but for pure synthesizer action you really can’t beat the Mega Drive. (Terri Rose)
Shadow of the Beast II (1990, Commodore Amiga, Reflections/Psygnosis) — Composer: Tim Wright
Now this one’s fun because I don’t even particularly like the game in question! The lush graphical style of Shadow of the Beast II may mask a game that has not aged particularly well mechanically since the 1990s, but you aren’t going to beat the prog-tastic Tim Wright soundtrack. Wright’s gorgeous melodies and haunting pieces echo the game’s iconic Roger Dean cover and concept art. Mind-meltingly beautiful stuff. (Nicholas Tristan)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997, Sony PlayStation, Konami) — Composer: Michiru Yamane
Oh boy, do I ever love Symphony of the Night. The glorious mid-1990s pixel art, the playful sense of humour, the oddball eccentricities, the inventive level design. But the music, Michiru Yamane’s glorious patchwork quilt of pre-rendered gothic goodness, is truly representative of the game’s madness and its genius. Symphony of the Night is the best game musically in a series already overwhelmed with good music. (Ben Beck)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998, Nintendo 64, Nintendo) — Composer: Koji Kondo
Gotta have some Zelda in the mix — Koji Kondo’s music for the series has always been superlative, and I could have easily picked the NES original or the sublime A Link to the Past. But I’ve gotta give it to the N64’s crown jewel, Ocarina of Time. “Saria’s Theme” alone makes this a worthy entry in the Zelda canon, but every dungeon, every temple, every random encounter is scored with Kondo’s trademark care and precision. An all-timer. (Dave McDougal)
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (1995, Super Nintendo, Rare) — Composer: David Wise
One time, fairly recently in fact, a close friend of mine came over to my apartment and we listened to the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack. In its entirety. For no other reason than we both really like it. David Wise is one of the most underrated composers in video gaming, with a light deft touch that always suits the material just expertly. Also, isn’t it odd that the subtitle of the game is Diddy’s Kong Quest and not Diddy Kong’s Quest? I’m just saying. (Nicholas Tristan)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega) — Composer: Masato Nakamura
Come on now, was there any way Sonic wasn’t going to make this list? Of all the games in the series, which have pretty sparkling music across the board (I maintain it’s the best part of the woeful Sonic 06, at least), Sonic 2 is the one that gets it pretty much perfect. No other game tingles my nostalgia centres quite like this one, the one that made me a lifetime Sega and (unfortunately) Sonic fan. (JCM)
That’s it for this part! Join us next week for our modern picks in the world of music!