I love a lot of old video game music. Sure, there’s a hefty dollop of nostalgia at work, but many video game soundtracks are astounding in how they manage to squeeze sophisticated tunes out of limited sound capabilities. I think working with such heavy restrictions brought the best out of many composers, which is why their compositions stand the test of time, and still see people working on remixes today.
Here’s the music for the Moon level on Ducktales on the NES (warning: music lovely, but quite loud and shrill):
Here’s the ‘Epic Remix’, complete with screaming Kiss-esque lead guitar:
I mean, come on. If that isn’t Epic I don’t know what is. I listen to it blasting through my stereo headphones, and all I can think is: I’m Scrooge McDuck, and I’m on the FUCKING MOON. Rock.
And here’s video games coverband The Advantage (named after the official NES joystick, I imagine) performing their version of it live:
What I love about this clip are the moments where you can hear the crowd singing along. It just shows the roaring affection gamers have for these songs. They sat with us through our childhoods. They oversaw our frustrations, our triumphs. They were the soundtrack to our blossoming imaginations.
Here’s the original soundtrack from somewhat forgotten Sega arcade classic Space Harrier, followed by the driving Rave remix that accompanied the revamped PS2 version:
I’ve always liked the theme to Space Harrier, as well as the enthusiastic digitised speech: ‘Welcome to the Fantasy Zone – get ready!’ The game itself was a bit too fast and stressful for me, especially the full arcade version with the pneumatic cab that lurched and twisted as you dodged spinning laser orbs. While you’re listening to the remix, to get the full experience, imagine that you’re about ten metres in the air on some violently whirling carnival ride, with an announcer yelling: ‘Okay – let’s rock this ride!’ and ‘Okay! Let’s go!’ at various intervals.
I’ll post some more of these when I find ones from games I really love.