What ever happened to catchy video game music?

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#1 Edited by psx2514 (313 posts) -

What happened to catchy video game music like the video game music from the 80s and 90s? Yeah, video game music today is very orchestral and what have you, but most of it isn't catchy. I'm talking about that catchy gaming music you find yourself humming to yourself or even want to listen to on you portable music player. The most recent game I can think of that has catchy music is Super Mario Galaxy 2, and that has BOTH orchestral AND catchy music, so it's the best of both worlds. That's a huge exception though. Most gaming music today is mainly ambient background music to set the mood, but it's not very catchy.

I'm talking about in games that most people have heard of.

#2 Posted by Pffrbt (6589 posts) -

Western gaming became popular for whatever reason and with it came bland ambient orchestral soundtracks. Japanese games and indie games still usually recognize the value in having actually interesting, good, catchy music.

#3 Posted by geniobastardo (1294 posts) -

you're a hipster TC.

#4 Posted by Minishdriveby (10223 posts) -

The Hotline Miami, Rayman Origins, and Botanicula soundtracks are on regular rotation in my ipod.

#5 Posted by AdrianWerner (28081 posts) -

It's still out there. Just mostly in smaller indie games. Examples:

Tetrapod

Cider Time

Help

9 Bit Expedition

#6 Edited by SovietsUnited (2351 posts) -

There are plenty of memorable, catchy songs in the new millenium, you just haven't played many games

#7 Posted by Newhopes (4646 posts) -

Music is one area I think Japan is still well ahead of the west.

#8 Posted by Pikminmaniac (9193 posts) -

You can basically find that music with Nintendo and Indie games. The new Rayman series also shares this kind of music.

#9 Posted by SoNin360 (5604 posts) -

I just don't think that kind of music is necessary for AAA games. It works in smaller games where you're just jumping around and shit. But some games try to create a sort of atmosphere where catchy little music in the background wouldn't make sense.

#10 Posted by NoxRainbow (40 posts) -

It's not working for these days games. But I love to hear that kind of stuff in 2D games.

#11 Posted by Ilovegames1992 (14221 posts) -

@SovietsUnited: Give me some AAA games that have catchy music in the vein of atari or nintendo games of long long ago?

Video game soundtracks in this era are awesome though.

#12 Posted by SovietsUnited (2351 posts) -

@Ilovegames1992 said:

@SovietsUnited: Give me some AAA games that have catchy music in the vein of atari or nintendo games of long long ago?

Video game soundtracks in this era are awesome though.

The AAA filter is very limiting, I'll link regardless; If by "in the vein of Nintendo and Atari" you mean immediately catchy without longer listening (as in first 30s), alright:

Age of Mythology
Battlefield 1942
Conker's Bad Fur Day
World of Warcraft
TimeSplitters 2
Chronicles of Riddick
Assassin's Creed 2
Shadow of the Colossus
Portal 2
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Halo
Morrowind
Gun
Doom 3

#13 Edited by foxhound_fox (89837 posts) -

Older console/computer technology was limited to the number of tones that could be produced each second, so composers had a limited number of sounds they could use to make music. They had to come up with "catchy" tunes and riffs in order to make "good" music.

#14 Posted by EPICCOMMANDER (685 posts) -

A lot of this can be explained by the tremendous technological advances in video game sound. The late 90s and the new millenium saw stuff like massively enhanced sound cards, mono sound being completely phased out in favor of the vastly superior stereo channel sound system, electronic audio sampling, and digital conversion made it much easier to record music that wasn't just looped/riffed bips and bleeps from a synthesizer, but actual instruments.

#15 Posted by Pffrbt (6589 posts) -

@Newhopes said:

Music is one area I think Japan is still well ahead of the west.

They're ahead of the west in most areas concerning video games.

#16 Posted by Shmiity (5216 posts) -

Dude, im with you. I rant about this on every game soundtrack thread. Where the fuck has the melodic content gone? Up our asses, pretty much. I hate this orchestral shit. It's terrible. Sure, the fidelity is amazing, but these songs suck. WHERE ARE THE SINGABLE MELODIES? What's the Call of Duty theme? The Battlefield theme? You can't remember them- because they suck. Sure, some Indie and Japanese games from this gen have cool soundtracks- but think about the games the general public is playing: These AAA Michael Bay military-porn games. The music stinks in these. It's giving kids the wrong impression about video game soundtracks.

Blah blah blah, the sound tech was worse back in the day so they "HAD TO WRITE CATCHY MELODIES" since when did writing bad melodies qualify as good music? Holy shit this thread has made me angry.

#17 Posted by -ParaNormaN- (881 posts) -

Look up A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda. That game has some really killer tunes. Orchestral music is pretty catchy too though, I guess it really depends on your tastes. I found that most orchestral music from Japan are extremely catchy. Every Final Fantasy may not have been great but, the music in all of them are superb IMO. Devil May Cry had some cool orchestral music though most of the songs in those games are hard rock and metal. The opera music in Devil May Cry 4 was damn good.

#18 Posted by chaplainDMK (6877 posts) -

@Pffrbt said:

@Newhopes said:

Music is one area I think Japan is still well ahead of the west.

They're ahead of the west in most areas concerning video games.

Examples?

#19 Posted by chaplainDMK (6877 posts) -

@SovietsUnited said:

@Ilovegames1992 said:

@SovietsUnited: Give me some AAA games that have catchy music in the vein of atari or nintendo games of long long ago?

Video game soundtracks in this era are awesome though.

The AAA filter is very limiting, I'll link regardless; If by "in the vein of Nintendo and Atari" you mean immediately catchy without longer listening (as in first 30s), alright:

Age of Mythology

Battlefield 1942

Conker's Bad Fur Day

World of Warcraft

TimeSplitters 2

Chronicles of Riddick

Assassin's Creed 2

Shadow of the Colossus

Portal 2

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

Halo

Morrowind

Gun

Doom 3

I'm just gonna add some of my favorites:

Sim City 3000's entire soundtrack (best damn game soundtrack of all damn times damn it damn) - Seriously, a city builder has my favorite soundtrack of all times :D

Red Alert's Hell March

Duke Nukem Theme

Red Dead Redemption's Far Away

#20 Edited by EPICCOMMANDER (685 posts) -

@Shmiity said:

Dude, im with you. I rant about this on every game soundtrack thread. Where the fuck has the melodic content gone? Up our asses, pretty much. I hate this orchestral shit. It's terrible. Sure, the fidelity is amazing, but these songs suck. WHERE ARE THE SINGABLE MELODIES? What's the Call of Duty theme? The Battlefield theme? You can't remember them- because they suck. Sure, some Indie and Japanese games from this gen have cool soundtracks- but think about the games the general public is playing: These AAA Michael Bay military-porn games. The music stinks in these. It's giving kids the wrong impression about video game soundtracks.

Blah blah blah, the sound tech was worse back in the day so they "HAD TO WRITE CATCHY MELODIES" since when did writing bad melodies qualify as good music? Holy shit this thread has made me angry.

There's a lot to discuss here. I think it's silly to dismiss games like Resident Evil, Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, as having unmemorable music as all of those games try to be realistic and/or try to offer an immersive experience, and constant background music is rarely used by those games, and music in general is used more sparingly for certain levels, certain parts of levels, or for cinematic elements.

You compare any of those to a top-down/side-scroller game like Legend of Zelda from the 80s or 90s where you didn't even have the sound of Link walking around and there were very few sounds at all, the music in that game was basically a necessity to make the game not seem incredibly dull. You take out the music in a Legend of Zelda game and it would be a crippling experience. You take out the music in Half-Life, and it wouldn't make much of a difference as 90% of the time there's no music at all.

Furthermore, the significance of the improvements made in the sound design of video game consoles and computers cannot be overstated. Back then, original score was the only kind of music possible to add to a video game. Today, games like Bioshock use real-world music from the 1940s almost exclusively over making their own music, and that was just impossible to do even in the late 90s.

This actually brings me to a different point in that if we are talking about game designers making their own music for their game then maybe the AAA games of the 80s and 90s are superior, but if we can include music that's not something original, Bioshock would take the cake for my favorite video game soundtrack just because of all of the oldies music that they used.

Anyway, as far as games nowadays, I'm partial towards some of the music from the MW2 soundtrack, which was at least partly written by composer Hans Zimmer, but some of it I did not like because it was far too dramatic. Also I liked the Battlefield: Bad Company music.

#21 Posted by turtlethetaffer (16912 posts) -

I find that most Japanese games these days still have impressive sound tracks.

#22 Posted by psx2514 (313 posts) -

@Shmiity: Do you think that the Mario Galaxy games have the catchiest orchestrated soundtrack in the past 5 years?

#23 Posted by Gamerno6666 (2256 posts) -

Super Hexagon has catchy music.

#24 Edited by Grieverr (2755 posts) -

Yes, OP!!!! I agree!

Although I think Halo (the main theme, at least), Final Fantasy 13 and Metal Gear do have memorable orchestral music, for the most part, today's games have ambient music. I do wish there were more games with melodies and catchy riffs.

Nintendo is still excellent when it comes to music. I don't know how they do it!

#25 Edited by Shmiity (5216 posts) -

@psx2514: Eh. Not really. They tried, but it's not very good. Mario games are hard to critique, because the musical themes of older Mario games are so ubiquitous to our society. There is just the inherent bias that newer Mario songs just can't compete with the Mario melodies we already know. I get that they went for orchestral arrangements because it would be "bigger" like the Galaxy theme, but it's still stale. I would have preferred a synth track. I'm listening back to that OST now, and it's not very good.

In my opinion, good modern video game song moments are: "In the sky" church version from Bioshock Infinite. It's so gorgeous. The OST version sucks though, because it's too dry. They cut the room reverb out.

Also, Skyrim's "Streets of Whiterun" is nice, too. I didn't care for the manly, boisterous vocal main Skyrim theme, though. I thought it was obnoxious.

#26 Posted by psx2514 (313 posts) -

I think it's because Japanese composers have been phased out of the gaming industry in the West, and Japanese composers tend to make the catchiest music.

Also, it IS possible for music to be both ambient and catchy. Aren't the Metroid games good examples of this?

#27 Edited by PinchySkree (69 posts) -

It went the same way as good level design and innovation.

#29 Posted by jcrame10 (343 posts) -

@psx2514: last of us (please tell me you've heard it), tales of xillia, playstation allstars, mario 3d world, donkey kong country tropical freeze has the original composer from 1994 back....

#30 Posted by waffleboy22 (145 posts) -

It really depends on your musical preference I think

#31 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@psx2514: Why just settle for catchy music when you can listen to stuff like this?

#32 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (15209 posts) -

Yeah... Every game wants to sound like something out of a Transformers Movie....

But trust me you can still find catch music, and when you do it might get stuck in your head and then you might realise why most developers stopped using that type of music,

#33 Edited by ojmstr (1319 posts) -

Ive noticed that in indie games you hear alot of cool "catchy" music like in some of those old school games from the 90's but you can't really put that type of music into modern western AAA games.

Btw my favorite gaming Original Soundtracks of all times are metroid prime opening OST, final fantasy 7 opening OST and Tomb Raider opening OST.

My favorite newer ones are The Last Of Us and Shadow Of The Collossus.

Some games works great with that type of ambient soundtrack through the game though like in Kill zone Shadow Fall, the soundtrack in-game is really good and catchy.

#34 Posted by sukraj (23448 posts) -

I need to get out more often

#35 Posted by l34052 (3259 posts) -

@SovietsUnited said:

@Ilovegames1992 said:

@SovietsUnited: Give me some AAA games that have catchy music in the vein of atari or nintendo games of long long ago?

Video game soundtracks in this era are awesome though.

The AAA filter is very limiting, I'll link regardless; If by "in the vein of Nintendo and Atari" you mean immediately catchy without longer listening (as in first 30s), alright:

Age of Mythology

Battlefield 1942

Conker's Bad Fur Day

World of Warcraft

TimeSplitters 2

Chronicles of Riddick

Assassin's Creed 2

Shadow of the Colossus

Portal 2

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

Halo

Morrowind

Gun

Doom 3

With the exception of Conker none of those are what i would call catchy when compared to the likes of Sonic or Aladdin or Streets of Rage or any number of 90s 16bit classic games.

#36 Posted by Black_Knight_00 (18795 posts) -
@sukraj said:

I need to get out more often

Don't, it's raining out there

#37 Posted by KillerK1ng (110 posts) -

Blaster master for 8 bit music heaven

#38 Edited by Jimmy_Russell (921 posts) -

Dota 2 has an absolutely epic orchestral soundtrack, performed by the famous Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

#39 Edited by dethtrain (434 posts) -

Rogue Legacy OST - [03] Trilobyte (Castle): http://youtu.be/O8J4pTNZFjc

#40 Posted by Byshop (12163 posts) -

@newmusic2183: Please don't bump old threads.

-Byshop

#41 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

Yeah... Every game wants to sound like something out of a Transformers Movie....

But trust me you can still find catch music, and when you do it might get stuck in your head and then you might realise why most developers stopped using that type of music,

What? What are you talking about?

#42 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (15209 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride

I should probaly check my grammar before submitting.

#43 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@The_Last_Ride

I should probaly check my grammar before submitting.

How do all games sound like Transformers? I showed you 4 videos where the music is not even near that type of music

#44 Edited by Jacanuk (5160 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@newmusic2183: Please don't bump old threads.

-Byshop

Old threads? clearly even if its a few months old its still a topic that can get people to write. So even though i normally agree with the idea that thread necromancy is bad, this is a good thread to have come back.

And i agree with Ride , yes the old music was catchy and good and together with nostalgic it makes it seem one of a kind. But look at the music made today its amazing.

#45 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (15209 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride

Can't see them..... And only 4 ?

How many games are there in total again ?

#46 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@The_Last_Ride

Can't see them..... And only 4 ?

How many games are there in total again ?

i posted 4 prime examples of why games don't need catchy tunes and they don't sound like Transformers...

#47 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (15209 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride

Thats what you're on about ?

To be honest I don't even remember the music from transformers, I only said it because.... Well.... Just because.....

#48 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@The_Last_Ride

Thats what you're on about ?

To be honest I don't even remember the music from transformers, I only said it because.... Well.... Just because.....

i posted 4 videos of music, did you even listen to them?

#49 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (15209 posts) -

@The_Last_Ride

Nope... They don't show up on my phones Browser.

#50 Posted by The_Last_Ride (73517 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu: you should look at it from a pc then and judge it then