We’re a long way from the land of the minimalist music that once planted itself in the brains of ’80s kids playing games on their NES. While there were certainly some titles back then that had great music—who doesn’t have the Super Mario Bros. theme stuck in their head?—gaming soundtracks hit an entirely new level with the release of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Titles ranging from Tekken 2 to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time arrived with stunning in-game music that set the precedent for what we expect today. And in regards to that, it’s truly impressive to see just how much video game music has progressed in just the past few years alone.
First off, and this is more a testament to the impact of video game music, there are some pretty incredible performances of these soundtracks taking place around the world. Not to stick to the The Legend of Zelda franchise too much, but its music is being taken to different corners of the globe via the Symphony of the Goddesses. The performance includes music from throughout the series as performed by a huge orchestra and choir, both of which are complemented by projected footage that corresponds with the music. Therefore, if you’re hearing music from a fight against Ganondorf, you will also see that fight. It’s pretty mesmerizing and beautiful to witness (and you can actually get a preview on YouTube if you’re interested).
Great—hell, even just decent—music in video games simply makes a huge difference for the user. This is true even when abandoning the big-budget series like The Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy for some of the most simplistic gaming options around. Case in point: Betfair’s casino site employs a variety of sounds for each and every one of its 100-plus games, some of which will no doubt trigger some nostalgia for certain users. The ones with comic book movie themes, for example, feature sounds and music from the actual films. And it’s all used in the same way as with their actual video game cousins: the developers want to keep gamers gaming, and a great way to do so is to set the mood through a solid soundtrack of material that’s not necessarily unique.
Similarly, you have to hand it to Rockstar Games for what they have done with the Grand Theft Auto series over the years. In addition to containing some bits of original tunes, the games have become well-known for their artist-curated soundtracks of classic and modern music. Take the fifth installment, for example, which boasts a slew of choice curators (DJ Pooh, Flying Lotus, and many others) who put together the awesome playlists heard on the radio while you’re driving. Whether you hear some previously unreleased/brand-new music depended on the DJ, but it all came together for one of the better musical experiences of the past few years.
These are but a few examples of how music and video games have come together to form rich, engaging experiences. And in the coming months, we should have even more instances of this, particularly with the release of Star Wars: Battlefront, which looks amazing and should sound just as great, too.