Video Game Music Takes a Turn for the Worse

Video game music gets very little respect here in the states. In Japan, it is extremely popular and has been for some time. Game soundtracks sit right next to the hottest pop albums in music stores. Die-hard fans have been willing to import soundtracks for years, but now it is useless. The art of making a real video game soundtrack has been destroyed, making way for pop-artists to litter soundtracks. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to game music composed by Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, Actraiser), Uematsu Nobuo (Final Fantasy), or Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim) about real game music. This is the type of music you just don't see anymore. It is an indescribable rush when a great track kicks in at a major point of game, keeping the player glued to the screen until they accomplish their task. Sure, some games feature superbly orchestrated tracks, but this is the type of music limited to RPG's. A recent example of a flawless game soundtrack is Rockstar's Red Dead Revolver. The cheesy spaghetti western themes were captured flawlessly, all composed by a person with experience in the genre. It not only heightened the games immersiveness, but made the game more enjoyable overall. This is not an integral part of the game of course, but just like the graphics, easily add to the overall feel of the product and make it an even more enjoyable experience all the way until the credits roll. Licensed soundtracks can work of course. A personal favorite is the classic Rock & Roll Racing for the SNES, Genesis, and recently the Game Boy Advance. Blazing around the tracks listening to "Born to be Wild" was a blast back then and it still is today. More recently, Grand Theft Auto Vice City flawlessly integrated various 1980's music into the game via radio stations and was, arguably, one of the game's highlights. But, how long is it until Mega Man starts blasting bosses to the music of Jay-Z? As games continue to grow, more and more popular music will be tossed onto the game discs, abandoning the day of real video game music artists. This is a style of music that needs to be preserved no matter how large and complicated games may get in the future. Should it not, we will always have fond memories of walking into an arcade and getting pumped up by the music in Ken's stage in Street Fighter II.

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