Podzilla 1985

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Best Game Soundtracks...and we ain't talkin' that "original" composer jibber jabber.

So we all know that video game music is an under appreciated art form. People like to write off game music as background monotony, but anyone who has played the greats know that a good soundtrack can make or break a game.

Unfortunately, the song did not drown out Navi.
Castlevania and Final Fantasy are the two games I think of first whenever I defend video game music to the non believers. Both are classic games, but wouldn't be where they are without the music. This is the kind of music that defined a generation. Nothing gets my blood pumping harder than listening to Vampire Killer while dusting all manner of undead (except vampires, go figure). Who can forget the first time you fought Kuja in Final Fantasy IX while The Dark Messenger took your ears off to a paradise that contains only the greatest dead musicians, and also the Big Bopper.

Of course, that's just the best of the best for me. You still have a wealth of catchy tunes - from the timeless Mario Bros. music to the Legend of Zelda's adventurous medleys, and all the way through the generations and into the orchestrated soundtracks of now. Also, Halo probably had some kind of thumping in the background while you wasted your life shooting grunts. 



But there is another kind of game soundtrack, and though its contributions often go under the radar, it is in no way less important. Much like the OST to your favorite movie, sometimes games have contributing artist that somehow capture the spirit of the title with their offerings.

Most of these types of soundtracks come from sports games, and sure enough we have one or two on the list, but that doesn't detract from the fact that these OST's are fucking awesome. A lot of these artists are fans of the industry and happy to contribute their original pieces, as well as previously done material that fit within the style of the title.
He's single, ladies.

It is that music, done by major artists, that we're going to focus on right now. Here is a list of the five greatest soundtracks that used licensed tracks, chosen by me, and maybe Bob. Who will, for all intents and purposes, be known on this site as Bunny Bob.

We'll provide you with a song from each soundtrack, and if you're smart you'll put down your crack pipe and go hunt the rest down. I hear there is a free music store somewhere on the internet...



SSX 3

Let's just get it out of the way now - this is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time.

I loved this game and no snowboarding title, or sport game in general, has ever taken its place. The free roam mountains were amazing, the characters were bursting with life, and the game was just damn fun. It's a shame that EA Sports has never rekindled the magic that they found with SSX 3. Even the newest SSX title, while fun in its own right, failed to live up this classic.

And how about that soundtrack. This was the game that introduced me to such bands as Yellowcard, Autopilot Off, Finger Eleven, Placebo, Thrice, Royksopp and many others. Also, the Black Eyed Peas were on there, if you're into that sort of thing. This was before their weird electric pop stage, so their song is actually pretty catchy. Top to bottom, this soundtrack was kicking ass, and I love the way they integrate the music into the actual game. It wasn't just background music, the DJ would talk about the titles and the artists. It was a cool feature, and really helped make the game feel alive.

My favorite song from the game is also one of my favorite songs in general. It's hard to choose from such an awesome diverse soundtrack, but I'm going to have to go with Autopilot Off on this one. The song is called "Clockwork," and it's actually different from the version on their album. Both versions are awesome, and I was obsessed with finding this song after playing the game.

Enjoy!
                                                                            

VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE: BLOODLINES

One of the few games on this list that isn't a sports title, and boy is it a doozy.

This one is more or less an open world RPG based around different vampire clans at war. It's based on the classic pen and paper game, and at the time it was pretty revolutionary. When was the last time you played a vampire RPG? It had a mature storyline, good graphics, great writing, and quite a bit of freedom.

And then there was the music. This reminded me of a Marvel film soundtrack, like Daredevil or Elektra. The artists fit the genre, and the soundtrack almost outclassed the title it was bundled with. The music fit the tone of the game perfectly, and is just as memorable as the tale told. It definitely had a gothic rock feel to it, and sported some pretty important names like Darling Violetta and Lacuna Coil.

This wasn't just a soundtrack thrown together to simply go in the game - the music helped tell the story. This was as dark and violent as a game comes, and the music followed suit quite nicely. Ripping peoples throats apart in the shadows never sounded so good. Though it had quite a bit of instrumental music, it was the licensed tracks that I remember the most.

For our sample track we're going to go with Darling Violetta's "A Smaller God." You may remember Darling Violetta from the Buffy soundtrack, or their intro song to Angel. They're a great band and deserve way more fame than they've received.


WWE SMACKDOWN 2007

Every year, like clockwork, THQ comes out with a new wrestling game that somehow managers to take two steps forward and ten steps back. One year they might add a new feature but take out two from the previous. They'll add in new moves and take out a collection of them. It's mind boggling.

Regardless, every year, I buy the new title because WWE pretty much has a monopoly on wrestling games, and also I'm a complete jackass.

Up until last years title the WWE games have done a great job of including licensed music to go alongside their original entrance themes. Each year has their ups and downs artist wise, but I feel like 2007 was the best of the bunch.

Godsmack, Nonpoint, Blackstone Cherry, Ghostface Killah, Versus the World, Rise Against, and three tracks from Three Days Grace (ironic) are the tip of a very delicious modern musical iceberg.

The game itself is good, the Smackdown series usually is, but more often than not you'll find yourself sitting at the menus while rocking out, or in the case of Ghostface Killah...rapping...presents? I don't know what the term for getting into a rap song is. If you know, hit us up with a comment, and also get a better taste in music.

We're going to pick Rise Against for our selection song, although I used Three Day Grace's "Riot" for my own wrestlers entrance music. The RA song is called "Survive," and it rocks all kinds of socks. It was also the first song I had heard from this group since "Swing Life Away," and boy is it different.

Now enjoy this track, brother!


MADDEN 2004

Paint has a flip option!
EA does a pretty damn good job with their soundtracks. Although I haven't been a big fan of Madden since the SNES days, I have always enjoyed pissing around with the titles and I noticed the music is almost always top quality. We had to think long and hard about which game had the best OST, but 2004 came out on top, and not just because Bunny Bob threatened me about it.

This is an audio treat with a pretty diverse cast of artists, from huge groups like AFI, Blink 182, and Thrice to guys I had never heard of but definitely wanted to hear more from, like SOiL, Serafin, and Adema.

Funny story about the Blink 182 song - it was actually called "Action" in the game, but later became "Feeling This" for their album. The reason why is because they had put it in the game before they had really thought about an album version, much like the Autopilot Off song on the SSX 3 soundtrack, and they didn't even really have a name set for it yet. It's a great song, but I could never find the song "Action" and it drove me nuts. Oh well. Angels and Airwaves are better anyway.

Trying to play the game now is a bit hard because it looks and plays like, well, a sports game from 2003. I don't care what B2 says, it didn't age well. It was a lot of fun back in the day though, and the soundtrack still remains one of the very best.

Enjoy my personal favorite song from the soundtrack, "All That's Left" by the aforementioned band Thrice.



GUITAR HERO....every fucking one of them. Also Rock Band. And Rocksmith. (But not Power Gig)

It wouldn't be fair to make a list about video games that incorporate pop culture music without talking about the games that are built specifically around that ideology.

Guitar Hero was a huge deal when it first came out. It allowed Joe Sixpack, with no real music experience, to feel like he was some kind of guitar...guitar...er....star! It fooled a lot of innocent people into thinking they were real rockers. It also probably did irreparable damage to their psyche the first time they picked up a real guitar and realized their only talent was pushing buttons on a piece of plastic.

But who cares about them and their promiscuous mothers!

The game was fun, and for a little while we all believed we were heroes before the market became over saturated with similar titles and the whole genre went bust. And what a set list these games had! You had everything from Ozzy to Coheed and Cambria, Queen to Dragonforce, and really everything in between. There was truly something for everyone, and it's a shame the publishers became a victim of their own success. I'm sure there is some kind of parallel you could draw there between them and the fate of most popular bands, but damned if I can figure it out.

I just want to kick back sometimes, turn my creative side off, and pretend that I'm a rock star. Or some kind of guitar hero, I suppose.

Our choice track for this entire genre of games is (what else?) Godzilla, by Blue Oyster Cult. If I could find a way to change the chorus of the song to incorporate the Blogzilla name I would, because I have no shame and am not above going Puff Daddy on them.

Still, good games, good music, and good times. Except for when the times became very awkward and people lost their jobs. We don't support that nonsense at BZ85.

Unless it's Mitt Romney.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

How adorably foreign and unattainable!
We would feel bad by not mentioning two games that didn't make the list. The GTA series has always had a terrific and diverse soundtrack, as has the Saints Row trilogy. I wouldn't have heard about the Black Veil Brides, Dragonette, or that adorable sounding Russian group Ranetki without those games.

And my life would be a whole lot emptier without "O Tebe."


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