It’s about time isn’t it? We’ve wanted to discuss the music to Borderlands 2 for quite a while. Thanks to fans on YouTube, you can listen to the entire thing, including the music from DLC. If you’ve been playing this game constantly for the past few months like we have, then most of this music is pretty familiar to you, but let’s take a step back and give it a listen on its own, without the frenzied action that usually accompanies hearing it. What you’ll find is an incredibly diverse and satisfying mixture of sounds and genres that create a textured and dynamic sonic experience. Give it a listen right here:
Archive for the ‘Music Monday’ Category
Are we still riding the high of an awesome Star Wars weekend? Absolutely! Is it cheating to include the music of Star Wars in a blanketed way without referring to a specific game? Yes, yes it is. But for the love of Yoda, we just don’t care! Besides, if you think about it, celebrating the music of Star Wars in a broad sense is the only truly fitting way it can be done right. John Williams’ incredible and timeless score for all six movies is the bedrock of music for any Star Wars-related game, whether its the quaint MIDI versions of these tunes in early games like Dark Forces or the more sweeping and orchestral renditions from modern games like The Force Unleashed. Take a listen to this unforgettable music and remind yourself just how much you love these tunes:
This is the orchestral music of multiple generations. Past centuries may have had Bach and Beethoven, but the 20th and 21st century has John Williams’ score ingrained in our minds. You could probably go up to any person on the street and ask them to hum the Star Wars main theme or the Imperial March (you might have to call it Vader’s theme) and most people probably could. There are few modern non-pop composers that have reached that level of ubiquity in our culture.
Let’s not forget all the lesser-known composers for Star Wars games that simply use some of Williams’ cues as a jumping off point to create their own stirring pieces of music. For The Force Unleashed, Mark Griskey used a great mix of both his original compositions and music from the both the prequel and original Star Wars movies. Since the events of the game happen between the trilogies, he wanted to offer some of both in an attempt to bridge the gap between the two. Others, such as famous game composer Jeremy Soule (Company of Heroes, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights), use this music only as a reference point to explore their own unique take on the Star Wars universe, as he did in the soundtrack for Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. For a more detailed look into Star Wars music, check out this fairly detailed Wikipedia page.
What’s your favorite piece of Star Wars music? Which Star Wars game do you think has the best music? Tell us in the comments and May the Force Be With You!
Any game that has the word “runner” in its title better have propulsive music to match, and much to the delight of gamers the world over, quirky retro platformer Bit.Trip Runner delivers on this in spades. Exciting, energetic and fun are just a few words to describe the sounds one encounters when playing this title from Gaijin Games.
It may be the most popular and recognizable of the games matching its namesake, but it’s actually the FOURTH installment in the Bit. Trip series. Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Core, and Bit.Trip Void were all great games, but this game’s rhythm-based platform action solidified this indie game developer’s status as innovative and quality, taking a simple concept and character design and continuing to find fresh and fun things to do with it. This was the first Bit.Trip game to feature CommanderVideo as a playable character. Plus, the music is just incredible, featuring chiptune-rock band hybrid Anamanguchi. Listen to the entire captivating soundtrack right here, courtesy of Band Camp.
For those unfamiliar, Anamanaguchi is a rock band in the traditional sense because they have a drummer, keyboardist, guitar player and bassist, yet a huge component of their music is chiptune music reminiscent of the kind you’d hear in 8bit video games. It is the foundation their music is based on, with the live instruments adding flourishes and fleshing out the sound of the digital music. It’s a musical harmony so fun and infectious, it makes you wonder why more bands haven’t tried it in the past. One of their more notable works was composing songs for the Scott Pilgrim game, which also had a fantastic soundtrack.
Here they contribute two tracks, the incredibly frenzied and delightful “Blackout City” and the epic gaming/prog odyssey “Mermaid.” To say odyssey I mean the song is over seven minutes long with several different movements, from a sound typical to the rest of the music on the soundtrack to quieter moments, to a grinding intensity that ends the track with a healthy dose of Tron-flavored tension. It’s something you have to hear to believe.
The rest of the soundtrack is produced in-house by the game studio, with very little details divulged other than that. However, the music varies in tone from more reflective moments to sounds that are straight-up EDM that one might hear in a club. The combination of retro and modern electronic music sounds come together in the most satisfying of ways, particularly on tracks like “Strength” and “Conviction.” It’s great to know that the old, limited sound capabilities of 8bit processors are still finding interesting ways to create new music in the 21st century.
What’s your favorite song on the Bit.Trip Runner soundtrack? Do you think one of the other Bit. Trip games has a better soundtrack? Is there another game with music so brilliant you think we should discuss it here in our Music Monday segment? Tell us in the comments!
Welcome to Strategy Week, Mac gamers! All week we’re going to be discussing various strategy games and the aspects that make them great. Since it’s Monday, you know of course that means it’s time to focus on the music. We’ve previously discussed the incredible music of Civilization IV on Music Monday, and while there’s no Yo-Yo Ma or award-winning songs like “Baba Yetu,” the soundtrack to Civilization V is as equally rich, complex, and satisfying as that of its predecessor. Listen to the entire soundtrack here, presented as an embedded YouTube playlist, 35 tracks longs.
To kick off our Indie Week festivities let’s discuss the music of one of the most highly-lauded indie games of this generation, Braid. This action/platform/puzzle game twists the conventions of game genre and tropes in fascinating and unique ways that can’t be fully described here, lest we give those who haven’t played some spoilers. Few platformers have used the concept of time and “rewinding” through time to solve puzzles, so adjusting to Braid’s fascinating game mechanics takes a while but once you do, it will be incredibly difficult to go back to Mario titles without wishing for a way to rewind and do-over. The way the plot is interwoven into the gameplay throughout and learning the horrible truth of Braid once you complete the game creates an immersive experience where players chomp at the bit to see what happens next. And yes, it’s okay to read exposition after or before a level–not every plot point has to be a five minute FMV.
Like all the games we spotlight here in our Music Monday feature, the music in Braid elevates the experience from an enjoyable one to a transcendental moment, all through seemless sound and score implementation. Listen to the epic pieces that make up this soundtrack right here:
Unlike many of the games we feature, however, this music was not composed originally for the game. Creator Jonathan Blow and his studio Number None, Inc. decided to license music for the game. They did this because they thought not only would it reduce costs that would otherwise go to hiring a composer, but also believed typical game scores couldn’t convey the mood and complexity of what they felt Braid needed. The songs chosen for the soundtrack come from composers/musicians Cheryl Ann Fulton, Shira Kammen and Jami Sieber, all on the indie label Magnatune. The music ranges in sound from Celtic-influenced pieces like “Maenam” to some that are more mediaval and renaissance-inspired such as “Downstream”. There’s even some brooding ambient moments like Sieber’s “The Darkening Ground.”
These aren’t just great pieces of music though. There are two additional reasons these particular tracks were picked. They are generally substantial in length, most in the 4-6 minute range so that when players were solving long, complex puzzles looping music wouldn’t become as much of an irritation. Even more fascinating and probably rarely used as a metric was the songs’ ability to sound great when played backwards! When time rewinds in the game the music rewinds as well, so designers wanted music that fit this design in a stunning way. For a taste of what this sounds like, check out the Jon Schatz remix of “Maenam,” which features some of the rewinding sound effects and puts an interesting spin on this song. When the stunning visuals of Braid are paired with this gorgeous music, it’s hard to think of this game as anything other than high art in game form. Take one listen, play the game, and we think you’ll agree.
Since it’s Indie Week, check out our write-ups on other great indie game soundtracks:
Have a favorite track from the Braid soundtrack? Are there any other Indie games with fantastic soundtracks you think we should spotlight? Let’s hear it in the comments Mac gamers!
It seems fitting to feature the soundtrack to Batman: Arkham City on April 1st. It is after all referred to as April Fool’s Day, and what better day to talk about a game that features the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker? I’m sure it’s one of his favorite days, so in his honor (does he have any?!) and that of the day, let’s discuss the fantastic soundtrack to this universally acclaimed action game. Take a listen to it right below and feel the sweeping, epic orchestral music that swells from your speakers:
Usually we feature games that are either classic or have been out a while. It provides enough time to reflect on the game and music itself, affording us the opportunity of hindsight. Let’s break from that with this week’s Music Monday as we delve into the music of a game that only came out a few months ago. From the mind of Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion, Psychonauts) and Double Fine Productions comes The Cave. Part platformer, part puzzle game, players select three characters from a stable of seven to explore the titular Cave. This is no ordinary spelunking expedition, however. The Cave reflects the darker parts of those who enter, creating a veritable trial of the character’s psyche. It’s a fascinating concept that begs for repeated journeys with difference characters in order to learn about each’s journey. With such a cerebral game with plenty of replay value, it needs to have great music that will enhance the experience and not become tedious during multiple excursions throughout every nook and cranny. Take a listen to the subtle yet affecting music right here:
Hearts of Iron III plays like a 21st century version of Risk if it was solely focused on World War II. Command countries and squadrons as you rewrite history according to your battle tactics. Naturally the soundtrack for such an epic strategy game has to be equally epic in scope yet keep with the time period. Take a listen to the sweeping soundtrack here, which feels like it fits the game perfectly:
Some games need intense music to punctuate dramatic moments or to clue the play in to how they feel or what mood or time period the game takes place in. In these games the music plays an intergal role and can even feature pop songs or at least pop song structure. Others, such as Limbo, use music more as an ambience to fill what would otherwise be awkward silence and does so in a pleasing way. Popular indie game Minecraft definitely falls into the latter category. “Songs” on this first soundtrack appear more like impressionistic paintings, giving vague yet beautiful approximations of songs that let the brain interpret them however they wish instead of telling you what to feel. Listen to the electronics and piano-driven, understated elegance of this soundtrack right here:
When you’re dealing with a game that spans the course of human history and beyond, you’re going to need a score that is both timeless and era appropriate for the right moments in the game. Civilization IV is a game that strikes this balance perfectly. The CD may be be out of print, but one clever Spotify user has put together an impressive playlist that is more or less the entire thing. The soundtrack features many well known composers, such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Yo Yo Ma. Listen to this breathtaking blend of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern compositions here: