Memorable Music in Gaming #26

There is a lot to like about our new batch of Memorable Music selections. We get a few PC entries, but a couple of console ones as well that help us span retro titles to more recent entries. I have to say that the Sega Genesis one in particular put a smile on my face.

Duet (PC) - Arete II

Duet's OST - masterfully composed by Tim Shiel - is the very definition of "love at first sight". While the entire world may have went gaga over Shovel Knight's and Minecraft's OST (and rightfully so) when they first came out, Duet too deserved (and deserves) that level of praise and attention. For a simple game about avoiding white blocks and tiles, and with zero story to speak of (in the traditional sense at-least), the OST is, for lack of a better word, flawless. Seriously, within and without context the tunes are the audio equivalent of using a q-tip... at the same time receiving a shoulder massage while a school of doctor fish nibble away at your feet!

As much as I wanted to include the entire album (seriously, it is THAT good), I feel this particular track correctly justifies my calling this OST love at first sight and flawless. Listen to this first and then check out the entire album!

Earthworm Jim 2 (Genesis) - Anything But Tangerines

You may be wondering: why the Sega Genesis version? Before I answer that, let's talk about the other versions of the same song. The PS1 version sounds like a confused, noisy mess of Skillrex and whatever passes off as pop music nowadays; the GBA version is plan unlistenable; the SNES version is decidedly 'round' and 'rich', but where it amplifies on the sound it loses its charm and appeal; the Saturn version has that distinct sci-fi flavor to it that sounds like a collaboration between Vangelis and a long-haired guitar shredder, but it still sounds messy.

While all versions have their own distinct personalities, and ergo their own set of fans, the one reason why I personally favor the Genesis version because it just... sounds right! It has that appropriate blend of silly and energetic, camp and seriousness - which is what I believe they were going for (both for the music and the game). If this makes any sense to you, then you understand what I'm trying to say here. I suggest listening to all versions and come to your own conclusion.

Half-Life (PC) - Adrenaline Horror

In the grand scheme of things, it's easy to forget that Half-Life has a pretty decent OST. Not overtly great, but slightly better than what some first-person shooters were churning out at the time. Listening to this music while writing this paragraph, I honestly don't know when and where exactly it appears in-game, but judging from the comments underneath the video it apparently plays during your first encounter with the soldiers. Even after going back to that particular scene, I cannot fully recall hearing the music the multiple times I've played Half-Life. Make of that what you will!

The 3rd Birthday (PSP) - Reaper

Practically every song from this game's OST sounds animalistic, like a whole bunch of beasts "singing" while revving their chainsaws and sharpening their knives. The dying drone and bass tone of Reaper could easily pass off as a composition by The Glitch Mob. In fact, if you remove all instances of The 3rd Birthday from the title, no-one would be able to tell it's not by The Glitch Mob unless, you know, they're massive fans of the band and/or have played the game before. In any case, Reaper fulfills its purpose as an angry, dominating boss battle theme that is at once intimidating and brimming with majestic power.

Shovel Knight (PC) - Strike the Earth

A sleeper hit upon release, Shovel Knight received rave reviews across the board. The eponymous character became an instant gaming icon practically overnight, and the Jake Kaufman-composed OST won the hearts of everyone who has played it - especially the main theme. Borrowing clear inspirations from the works of Manami Matsumae and Hiroshige Tonomura, this theme is what 8-bit heaven would sound like if it ever existed!

Article by Hamza