I can remember being a child at home with my Atari (yes, I just dated myself) and playing these games like beating them meant life and death. I can also remember hearing adults say things like “it’s just a game”, “there’s no future in gaming”, “I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with those things.” If I was old enough and wise enough to answer, I couldn’t really put it into words. At the time there were really only three games that put much into building a story or an immersion experience, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers (they weren’t Super just yet). It was later, when the Mario Brothers became Super, when Link traveled Hyrule, when Samus kept the world safe, and when I had the need to learn the code that games became a truly immersed in game-play. Gaming became about story, experience and music.
Wait a minute, music? Yes, music. If you were ever a gamer, I bet you can remember the music to your favorite games over the last 30 years. You can torture your friends by getting the theme song to Super Mario Brothers stuck in their head. You probably know a Russian folk-tune just because it drones in your ears while you played Tetris. Many of you got your first taste of Industrial/Techno music thanks to the game Mortal Kombat. The thing about music in gaming is that it set the stage, set your mindset, the tempo, and your adrenalin for what was happening and what was about to happen. The games of Nintendo truly brought another layer to the gaming experience.That said, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the games of Super NES and Sony Playstation (the original) along with several Japanese composers who transformed what music did for games. Koji Kondo (Legend of Zelda series) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series) took video game scores to the level of epic movie soundtracks. The music was beautiful and orchestral (not electronica). The scores told a story all by themselves and only enhanced the effects of the gameplay. These games, largely the frontrunners of modern role-playing games (think Mass Effect and World of Warcraft), not only transformed their genre of gaming, it transformed gaming altogether. It no longer made a video game just an exercise, or even just a story, it became a full-sensory experience.
I invite you to experience their art and their gifts here:
- Aeris’s (Aerith’s) Theme – (Advent Children)
- Eyes On Me
- Final Boss Themes
- Hyrule Symphony – Zelda’s Lullaby
- Final Fantasy VII Retrospective (epicagames.com)
- May The Incredible Music of Final Fantasy Live On Forever [Video] (kotaku.com)