Some of the best and most enjoyable gaming experiences you can have is when a game has an awesome soundtrack. It can really make or break a game. Here I count down my top 10 game soundtracks. There was only one rule: I had to have played every game personally.
10. Sceal (Various)
Let’s start with a game from last year. Sceal is a recent indie game from developer Joint Custody, available on PC and iOS. The game itself is undoubtedly beautiful, an arty watercolour landscape where your character is a ghost that needs to solve the mystery of how they died. It’s set in an Irish village and has a beautifully haunting Irish folk soundtrack to go with it, composed by the acclaimed Irish folk legend Lorcan.
Check it out:
9. Omikron/The Nomad Soul (PC)
The Nomad Soul was a late 90s adventure/puzzle game released for PC and Dreamcast. It’s set in a futuristic world with 4 sectors that must not be crossed, each sector having different behaviours and existences. You are a spirit in the body of a cop, investigating a serial killer that is believed to be a demon.
What the game is better known for, however, is the involvement of legendary singer David Bowie, who not only starred as an in-game character but contributed to the soundtrack of the game and to the storyline.
Check out one of Bowie’s tracks:
8. Guitar Hero (PS2)
The original. The best. Guitar Hero is a game series that could not be possible without music supporting it. It is music. Mostly rock. However, none of the future versions quite caught the imagination of gamers around the world like the original did. It was that generation’s Duck Hunt in the respect that it gave you an entirely new controller experience. This one had me playing for hours on end and was responsible for a small bout of RSI.
Oh so satisfying when you hit the star power button and rocked out with the whammy bar going nuts. My favourite track? This one:
7. Tetris (Various)
One of the first games where the music is often more memorable than the game. Hum along a bit with anyone and they’ll probably know it. Tetris was an instant classic and the music helped it cement that status.
Relive it in its 10 minute glory:
6. Secret of Mana (SNES)
Secret of Mana is a timeless classic of a game but, more importantly, it’s the music in the game that makes it all the more memorable. Testing the Super Nintendo’s soundchip and pushing the boundaries, it sounds unlike anything else.
Take this flute based track as an example:
5. Mega Man X (SNES)
Mega Man X is probably the most heavy metal game soundtrack in existence. From the moment it started it was a face-melting shredfest that never let up. It suited the game perfectly too. Capcom made a classic here, and they know it.
Ever wondered what it would sound like on a real guitar? Wonder no more:
4. Metroid Prime (Gamecube)
Metroid Prime had some wild expectations both in gameplay, storyline and music. The original trilogy kicked ass in all these departments, and boy did Prime deliver. Truly worthy of its name, the music was astonishingly good. I think it’s the closest I ever came to being at a rave.
3. Sonic The Hedgehog (Sega Megadrive / Genesis)
The Beatles had The Rolling Stones. And Super Merio Bros. had Sonic The Hedgehog. Sega’s classic game and major rival of Nintendo’s superstar game was wildly successful and was an awesome game to play (I can say that now…) in its own right. Just like its counterpart on Nintendo, Sonic was devastatingly simple gameplay, rich and colourful graphics and an amazing soundtrack that changed in just the right moments of gameplay to make you that bit more excited or apprehensive about what was coming.
Go on, you know you want to:
2. Super Mario Bros (NES)
And it should come as no surprise that I picked Super Mario Bros. over Sonic. I always was a Nintendo fanboy and that golden seal of approval always meant a quality game (at least back in the 80s/90s that is…) from which you’d have many hours of great gaming.
It is/was better than Sonic in most departments, including the music. It absolutely was and that’s no slight on Sonic. We were lucky as gamers back then that both games were stunningly good and both became legendary classics.
But if you want to know why the music in Super Mario Bros. is better? Sing ‘do do do do de do’ or ‘do do do de do do do’ at most people and they’ll guess Super Mario Bros. and then do an awful Italian accent and say “It’s a me, Maaaaarioo”.
That’s why, my friends.
Here it is in ALL its glory:
1. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)
You just knew that GTA had to be in here somewhere. Rockstar Games has a rich history of producing GTA games where the music is as much a star of the game as the graphics, story and gameplay. They always deliver and it’s always brilliant. It must cost them a fortune in royalties but I’m sure no one ever complains about their music being in the game.
However, the best example has always been Vice City. It’s no secret that the game is much loved because of its Miami setting and its 80s vibe and the music is flawless. So many classic 80s tracks are in this game, across various genres (as is now the norm – lots of ‘radio’ channels all playing different choices of tuneage).
Can you believe this is just ONE of the radio stations?
So there you have it folks – my top 10 game soundtracks. Yes, it was incredibly difficult to pick just 10 and yes, I’ve genuinely played all of these games over the years. Oh and yes, you’ll probably think I’m wrong about some of them. I had a blast with them all and the music in the games just made the playing experience so much better for me. Now, I’m off to make a mixtape.