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Kung Fu Hung-Su

80s and 90s gaming music versus today

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Question: The best part of the 80s and 90s for gaming was that technology was limited, and designers/producers were -forced- to make music and sound effects that were catchy in order to cover up a game's graphical shortfalls. Agree or disagree?

 

I saw this written by a game music dude who redid the Warcraft 2 themes (very well too!). I came across this issue as well when I attempted to make a game list of the most memorable PC game themes of all time, and had a rather huge number of 90s themes and only a handful from the 00s, which included Still Alive from Portal of course.

 

Have a think for a moment, about the music in PC games that you've heard. How much of it was truly catchy and burnt itself into your memory?

 

The -quality- of gaming music these days is surely incredible. Listen to the soundtracks of Dawn of War 2, Oblivion, the Witcher and others - they have full orchestras performing music composed by greats like Jeremy Soule and they sound really fantastic.

 

But, they don't seem to burn themselves into memory. Not that I've noticed myself.

 

 

 

Agree? Please provide examples of classic music that has burnt itself into your memory. Disagree? Please show us what music of games today has done so. What do you suppose makes music catchy?

 

I don't think a purely simple tune makes a song catchy, per se. I do think that one dominant tune is very important, which might be a problem for modern game music which all seems a little melded together. Older music couldn't get drowned in backup instruments. A fully orchestrated piece with one prevailing dominant tune seems more difficult.

Edited by Kung Fu Hung-Su

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One of the fight scene scores (or more precisely, the 'about to be a fight') for Freelancer was pretty cool - very tense. Either the guys behind Midsomer Murders thought so too, or it's more ground into my brain than I thought, because I could swear I've heard it turn up several times.

 

Some of the sector background music in the Egosoft X series is pretty memorable, too.

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Morrowind/Oblivion both have kicking sound tracks that are burnt into my brain.

 

But alot of games are more forgettable...

 

Seems to be alot more crap around these days.

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anyone heard the soundtrack scores from command and conquer (original) and mechwarrior 2? use to be able to play them in a cd player directly from the disc. great stuff!

 

as to the point of this thread, i agree that its all about the sound effects that given todays standards they can get away with much more. i suppose to who ever is designing the game, if he/she thinks its a very important feature of the game then they'll do a good job at it. if not, lets say something like aliens vs predator 2 or bad company 2 (nothing in multiplayer and that i play often :P) where its not required for the mood, they won't pour a lot of emphasis in that department.

 

as of recent titles, i only remember very few memorable scores (memorable to me) like from Crysis "pyrrhic victory" i think its called. and crysis warhead - airfield hero or whatever that one is called. dawn of war original, few good ones there.

 

You can actually compare this with movies too. Predator, No Country for Old Men, etc. hardly had a music score because they set the mood of these movies differently. Where as a Jerry Bruckheimer movie or Michael Bay movie really really delved in to it.

Edited by alkahest

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ha

 

I want to hear a modern remix of the original Wolf3D theme music.

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I used to enjoy an old RTS called Dark Reign. It had CD tracks that I enjoyed more than the music to Total Annihilation, which I preferred over Dark reign in the end... but since TA allowed you to play music off CD, I could have my cake and blow it up, too.

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My ringtone is the Ninja Gaiden intro theme from the heroic drumbeat on.

 

 

From about the :40 second mark I guess. I lifted it myself a few years ago.

 

 

NES games have some of the coolest music, I hear it these days and it's like flashback to childhood.

Edited by GhostWhoWalks

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Goldeneye and Perfect Dark had pretty awesome music.

 

Goldeneye moreso..

 

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Basically anything involving Jesper Kyd (Hitman games, Assassin's Creed games) is good, but other than that, I agree, old games had better music. In some modern games, it's hard to even tell there's music, untill you turn it off.

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the soundtrack from Red alert 3 wasnt too bad, and the fallout 3 soundtrack was good too, but again, i agree that older games have far better music.

 

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Question: The best part of the 80s and 90s for gaming was that technology was limited, and designers/producers were -forced- to make music and sound effects that were catchy in order to cover up a game's graphical shortfalls. Agree or disagree?

I disagree. Music was (and still is) about setting the mood of the game.

 

 

I saw this written by a game music dude who redid the Warcraft 2 themes (very well too!). I came across this issue as well when I attempted to make a game list of the most memorable PC game themes of all time, and had a rather huge number of 90s themes and only a handful from the 00s, which included Still Alive from Portal of course.

Does it necessarily have to be PC?

Halo, Warcraft and Diablo stand out.

Plants vs Zombies has a very catchy tune for a very fun game.

Street Fighter IV's theme (not the stupid boy band song, the other one in the intro) is one I really like and sometimes get stuck in my head.

 

Have a think for a moment, about the music in PC games that you've heard. How much of it was truly catchy and burnt itself into your memory?

Does it just have to be PC games?

I admit that most of the tunes I like are from the late 80s - mid 90s

 

Of course the games really early in the day usually had no music in-game. Music back then was only for the intro. Look at Leisure Suit Larry. Al Lowe noted that games had music during the intro, but most of them were rather dark and moody - to suit the atmosphere of the game. His game was light-hearted and a bit of fun, so he made Larry's theme just like it.

 

The -quality- of gaming music these days is surely incredible. Listen to the soundtracks of Dawn of War 2, Oblivion, the Witcher and others - they have full orchestras performing music composed by greats like Jeremy Soule and they sound really fantastic.

 

But, they don't seem to burn themselves into memory. Not that I've noticed myself.

Unless it's music during the end or the intro to a game, I don't think it's meant to stand out. Music is for setting the atmosphere of the game.

 

Agree? Please provide examples of classic music that has burnt itself into your memory. Disagree? Please show us what music of games today has done so. What do you suppose makes music catchy?

Katamari.

 

I think it's because you're associating the music with a fun game. You won't remember it if the game sucked.

 

I don't think a purely simple tune makes a song catchy, per se. I do think that one dominant tune is very important, which might be a problem for modern game music which all seems a little melded together. Older music couldn't get drowned in backup instruments. A fully orchestrated piece with one prevailing dominant tune seems more difficult.

Some games have several tunes that are catchy and memorable (Monkey Islands theme, SCUMM Bar music and Le Chucks all stand out). Final Fantasy Series all have multiple tunes that stand out too.

 

Are we also including games that take their soundtrack from other sources?

eg Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has great soundtracks, but they are all from various established artists. Same with the Grand Theft Auto series, Road Rash. Even Carmageddon's intro is from Fear Factory.

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Are we also including games that take their soundtrack from other sources?

eg Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has great soundtracks, but they are all from various established artists. Same with the Grand Theft Auto series, Road Rash. Even Carmageddon's intro is from Fear Factory.

Yeah, I have to ask the same. Many of my 'games with the best soundtrack' list actually use established music/commission an established artist to make music, but it fits.

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I think they're both equally good, it's just hard to make some of the more impressionable sounds without reverting to using non recorded music.

 

Also, more Devil May Cry music please, the video game world needs way more metal produced solely for the game.

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Hmm lotsa replies! I think it's simplest for me to answer everyone by answering...

 

Question: The best part of the 80s and 90s for gaming was that technology was limited, and designers/producers were -forced- to make music and sound effects that were catchy in order to cover up a game's graphical shortfalls. Agree or disagree?

I disagree. Music was (and still is) about setting the mood of the game.

 

While this is true, I think you've grossly simplified the importance of music in 80s and 90s games. There are many games today where you could remove the music entirely, and you'd still enjoy the game from all it's other factors - great audio engineering and design, enthralling character design backed by strong voice actors, and of course the many many aspects of visual design. If you removed the Mario theme from the first Mario game, haha well! I would dare say that the game would have been many times less successful, though it would have still sold.

 

I saw this written by a game music dude who redid the Warcraft 2 themes (very well too!). I came across this issue as well when I attempted to make a game list of the most memorable PC game themes of all time, and had a rather huge number of 90s themes and only a handful from the 00s, which included Still Alive from Portal of course.

Does it necessarily have to be PC?

 

No.

 

Halo, Warcraft and Diablo stand out.

Plants vs Zombies has a very catchy tune for a very fun game.

Street Fighter IV's theme (not the stupid boy band song, the other one in the intro) is one I really like and sometimes get stuck in my head.

Yes indeed, all those are great examples, though I don't recall the SF4 theme.

 

Have a think for a moment, about the music in PC games that you've heard. How much of it was truly catchy and burnt itself into your memory?

Does it just have to be PC games?

I admit that most of the tunes I like are from the late 80s - mid 90s

 

Of course the games really early in the day usually had no music in-game. Music back then was only for the intro. Look at Leisure Suit Larry. Al Lowe noted that games had music during the intro, but most of them were rather dark and moody - to suit the atmosphere of the game. His game was light-hearted and a bit of fun, so he made Larry's theme just like it.

 

It's coming to my attention that great music certainly broadens the potential audience of a game a great deal. Thinking about text adventures and roguelikes and such with no music, it really did take a special kind of person (fully atomic, wahahaha) to play and enjoy those games.

 

The -quality- of gaming music these days is surely incredible. Listen to the soundtracks of Dawn of War 2, Oblivion, the Witcher and others - they have full orchestras performing music composed by greats like Jeremy Soule and they sound really fantastic.

 

But, they don't seem to burn themselves into memory. Not that I've noticed myself.

Unless it's music during the end or the intro to a game, I don't think it's meant to stand out. Music is for setting the atmosphere of the game.

 

Atmosphere can be set while also standing out. A fast paced action game such as many fighting games and simpler shooters of yore had music that stood out while also setting atmosphere. eg I dunno, DOOM!!! =D These days, making music that stands out is obviously rarer as has been mentioned, which I believe, is because of developments in all other aspects of modern, and complex, games.

 

Agree? Please provide examples of classic music that has burnt itself into your memory. Disagree? Please show us what music of games today has done so. What do you suppose makes music catchy?

Katamari.

 

I think it's because you're associating the music with a fun game. You won't remember it if the game sucked.

 

This one is difficult to disprove - one, because I'm having enormous difficulty thinking up a game that sucked, and two, even if I did, how many sucky games also had great music? It's very very easy to find a sucky game with great visuals, but great music? Hmmmmmm.

 

I don't think a purely simple tune makes a song catchy, per se. I do think that one dominant tune is very important, which might be a problem for modern game music which all seems a little melded together. Older music couldn't get drowned in backup instruments. A fully orchestrated piece with one prevailing dominant tune seems more difficult.

Some games have several tunes that are catchy and memorable (Monkey Islands theme, SCUMM Bar music and Le Chucks all stand out). Final Fantasy Series all have multiple tunes that stand out too.

 

Are we also including games that take their soundtrack from other sources?

eg Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has great soundtracks, but they are all from various established artists. Same with the Grand Theft Auto series, Road Rash. Even Carmageddon's intro is from Fear Factory.

 

Tough call on that one. I'll say yes, include those, but only because I had read up on the enormous amount of effort the creators of GTA4 went through to pick songs for the game's radio stations that would be enjoyed by players.

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Hmm lotsa replies! I think it's simplest for me to answer everyone by answering...

 

Question: The best part of the 80s and 90s for gaming was that technology was limited, and designers/producers were -forced- to make music and sound effects that were catchy in order to cover up a game's graphical shortfalls. Agree or disagree?

I disagree. Music was (and still is) about setting the mood of the game.

 

While this is true, I think you've grossly simplified the importance of music in 80s and 90s games. There are many games today where you could remove the music entirely, and you'd still enjoy the game from all it's other factors - great audio engineering and design, enthralling character design backed by strong voice actors, and of course the many many aspects of visual design. If you removed the Mario theme from the first Mario game, haha well! I would dare say that the game would have been many times less successful, though it would have still sold.

 

So you think that Mario's music was to cover up the shortfalls in graphics?

 

Oh don't get me wrong, a decent game without any music is still a decent game. But the right music makes the game that much better. Carmageddon would give a very different impression if it had a ragtime piano theme during the intro instead of a Fear Factory song. Or Animal Crossing if it was filled with electronic music.

 

I will give you a few examples of games that had no (or very minimal) music and are/were still successful - Pacman (A very brief song before the game started), Pong, Space Invaders.

These games didn't need music to cover up blocky graphics to make them great.

 

I think the original statement emphasises too much importance on graphics.

 

 

 

Halo, Warcraft and Diablo stand out.

Plants vs Zombies has a very catchy tune for a very fun game.

Street Fighter IV's theme (not the stupid boy band song, the other one in the intro) is one I really like and sometimes get stuck in my head.

Yes indeed, all those are great examples, though I don't recall the SF4 theme.

 

They got rid of Exile's "The Next Door" for Super Street Fighter IV and stuck with the other theme.

 

The theme really starts 30 seconds into the video. This is the intro for Super Street Fighter IV, although it's more like an extended remix of the orignal one from regular SFIV.

 

It's coming to my attention that great music certainly broadens the potential audience of a game a great deal. Thinking about text adventures and roguelikes and such with no music, it really did take a special kind of person (fully atomic, wahahaha) to play and enjoy those games.

But people won't buy a game based on the music alone. They buy it because they heard/read that the game is fun. Great music is a bonus.

 

 

Atmosphere can be set while also standing out. A fast paced action game such as many fighting games and simpler shooters of yore had music that stood out while also setting atmosphere. eg I dunno, DOOM!!! =D These days, making music that stands out is obviously rarer as has been mentioned, which I believe, is because of developments in all other aspects of modern, and complex, games.

I think Final Fantasy is doing a good job of standing out. Same with Halo. In fact most of Blizzards music gets attention too.

 

I do agree that atmosphere can be set while standing out too. Sephiroths theme is very well known, and it set the pace of the game perfectly. Really got you pumped up and ready for a boss battle.

 

Agree? Please provide examples of classic music that has burnt itself into your memory. Disagree? Please show us what music of games today has done so. What do you suppose makes music catchy?

Katamari.

 

I think it's because you're associating the music with a fun game. You won't remember it if the game sucked.

 

This one is difficult to disprove - one, because I'm having enormous difficulty thinking up a game that sucked, and two, even if I did, how many sucky games also had great music? It's very very easy to find a sucky game with great visuals, but great music? Hmmmmmm.
Over the years there's been a big push for better graphics, and music second. Especially with FPS.

Sucky game may spend heaps on great visuals, and less on everything else. If I could think of an example of a crap game with awesome music I would say so.

 

 

 

 

Are we also including games that take their soundtrack from other sources?

eg Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has great soundtracks, but they are all from various established artists. Same with the Grand Theft Auto series, Road Rash. Even Carmageddon's intro is from Fear Factory.

Tough call on that one. I'll say yes, include those, but only because I had read up on the enormous amount of effort the creators of GTA4 went through to pick songs for the game's radio stations that would be enjoyed by players.

 

I still remember the music in the very first Grand Theft Auto

This is "Joyride" by Da Shootaz

 

 

Wonderboy 3, not the greatest game but awesome music.

 

Example:

You take that back King_Of_The_Mountain!

Wonderboy 3: The Dragon's Trap is a great game. One of the first games I bought on the Master System because reviews I read were good. And it lived up to the reviews too.

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I seem to get the music from Ultima 4 on megadrive stuck in my head from time to time. Mainly the bit where you are out in the open or the dungeons. Music in those days found it much harder to just blend in. It's hard to be subtle with that sort of technology.

 

I think these days the music can be more moody and less obvious (if done right) but still bring a lot to the game. It's just in a different way to the way games used to do it. It's probably better for the game play but I dont think you are going to have those classic tunes stuck in your head from todays game music.

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Wonderboy 3, not the greatest game but awesome music.

 

Example:

You take that back King_Of_The_Mountain!

Wonderboy 3: The Dragon's Trap is a great game. One of the first games I bought on the Master System because reviews I read were good. And it lived up to the reviews too.

 

I didn't say it was bad, hell I love the game but it's not the best

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So you think that Mario's music was to cover up the shortfalls in graphics?

 

Oh don't get me wrong, a decent game without any music is still a decent game. But the right music makes the game that much better. Carmageddon would give a very different impression if it had a ragtime piano theme during the intro instead of a Fear Factory song. Or Animal Crossing if it was filled with electronic music.

 

I will give you a few examples of games that had no (or very minimal) music and are/were still successful - Pacman (A very brief song before the game started), Pong, Space Invaders.

These games didn't need music to cover up blocky graphics to make them great.

I think Mario's music was an essential part of the game's success. Yes, the game contained elements of great game design: risk/reward, progressive increase in difficulty as the player got acquainted with the game's skills etc - but there was definitely purpose in the music that was made for the game. Had to be catchy to really make the game a mad hit.

 

Pong, Pacman and Space Invaders are -significantly- older than Mario (I'm talking about Super Mario Bros in this case) and not reeeally appropriate for this argument. They did do all one thing - change gaming history, but they did that 'in contrast with what was already available.' Pong was better than everything else, Pac man was better than everything else, Space invaders was better than everything else...at the time. Catchy music was non essential to making a game rise above others. Mario certainly rose above what was available with the music.

 

I think the original statement emphasises too much importance on graphics.

/agree, haha

 

They got rid of Exile's "The Next Door" for Super Street Fighter IV and stuck with the other theme.

 

The theme really starts 30 seconds into the video. This is the intro for Super Street Fighter IV, although it's more like an extended remix of the orignal one from regular SFIV.

I thought EXILE's song was INDESTRUCTIBLE, haha. But yes, this would probably burn a happy memory into the minds of SF4 gamers. I'm still a Tekken boy, though T6 lacks any real theme song.

 

But people won't buy a game based on the music alone. They buy it because they heard/read that the game is fun. Great music is a bonus.

Didn't say people will buy games for the music. (ignore music games). Riddle me this: how long will a person play a game that has no music at all, before putting it down and complaining that the game feels dead?

 

For many games, not long, I imagine. Even if they don't put it down, they'll complain about it being missing. Music of some sort is -essential-.Great music keeps a game in a person's mind for longer. This is a good thing.

 

Atmosphere can be set while also standing out. A fast paced action game such as many fighting games and simpler shooters of yore had music that stood out while also setting atmosphere. eg I dunno, DOOM!!! =D These days, making music that stands out is obviously rarer as has been mentioned, which I believe, is because of developments in all other aspects of modern, and complex, games.

I think Final Fantasy is doing a good job of standing out. Same with Halo. In fact most of Blizzards music gets attention too.

 

I do agree that atmosphere can be set while standing out too. Sephiroths theme is very well known, and it set the pace of the game perfectly. Really got you pumped up and ready for a boss battle.

 

How much of Final Fantasy's music stands out? How much of it is in the last decade? Same again for blizzard - how much of the music have they made lingers in your mind, and how much of it was made recently? Halo theme is only one song - that doesn't make catchy music common. Not to mention that the halo theme is over half a decade old now. I stand by my belief that catchy music in games today remains uncommon, because it it is perceived to be unnecessary compared to a game's other elements. A shame.

 

Over the years there's been a big push for better graphics, and music second. Especially with FPS.

Sucky game may spend heaps on great visuals, and less on everything else. If I could think of an example of a crap game with awesome music I would say so.

Shame really. Pumping Strogg with a shottie to the metal sound of Sonic Clang is branded deeply into my soul :D Edited by Kung Fu Hung-Su

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