What ever happened to catchy video game music?

#1 Edited by psx2514 (212 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 (6528 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 (9734 posts) -
#5 Posted by AdrianWerner (27983 posts) -
#6 Edited by SovietsUnited (1900 posts) -

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

#7 Posted by Newhopes (4501 posts) -

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

#8 Posted by Pikminmaniac (8760 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 (5338 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 (38 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 (1900 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.

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 (87626 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 (437 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 (6528 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 (5038 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- (755 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 (6713 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 (6713 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

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 (437 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 (16672 posts) -

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

#22 Posted by psx2514 (212 posts) -

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

#23 Posted by Gamerno6666 (467 posts) -

Super Hexagon has catchy music.

#24 Edited by Grieverr (2633 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 (5038 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 (212 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 (59 posts) -

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