Out With the New, In With the Old: Memorable Video Game Music

Video game music has certainly gotten more epic and cinematic in scope, but why isn't any of it as memorable as the stuff from older games? Gareth Robinson has a quick dive into nostalgia.

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Gate of Thunder Intro music. Youtube it, you're welcome. Actually, try any shooter by Hudson Soft, the music in those games will always bring back happy memories of me throwing my controller at my couch in frustration. Freaking hard games!!

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This looks interesting, but I didn't watch the video as I am absolutely sick to fucking death of watching the un-skipable Mario Kart 8 advertisement that I have been forced to watch 391 times.

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Good episode. As an "adult" gamer it is nice to really look through gaming history and not just focus on the new. There is a lot to be learned for new gamers and developers. And it makes appreciating the advances in gaming much easier and fulfilling.

As far as the top 5 remembered themes... he's right, they are from a long time ago, because there is little now that has the same effect but for a few.


1) Zelda

2) Super Mario Brothers

3) Contra

4) Super Tecmo Bowl

5) and one theme from a game I can't remember but I know if from old 8-bit game.

Newer stuff is very few, but the most notable I think for many would have to be:

1) Skyrim, seriously that theme will be in my head for decades

2) Ambient themes from Red Dead Redemption

3) The Theme from one of the first Bond games for the PS2, but that's a Bond Theme so...
the menu was just on a lot and will always be stuck in my head.

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WOW!! EPIC!!!! I LOVE THIS VIDEO! AND YOU ARE RIGHT!! The new soundtracks are amazing, sure! But the classic games used much more memorable music!

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I really enjoy the music of Kingdom the song "Simple and Clean"

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I agree with this video, but there are some great examples of memorable modern video game music. Uncharted is obviously one. But there are other great examples, for instance the menu music for mass effect 1 and the main theme for mass effect 2. The menu theme from 1 in fact is memorable, not only because it is amazing, but it plays during every emotional scene in the trilogy. Then there is also the main theme for fallout 3, not a favourite for many, but a haunting piece of music that always reminds me of how atmospheric that game is. And finally, the theme song for skyrim, it will definitely go down in videogame history as awesome and memorable.

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As this video shows the Kingdom Hearts theme can go with pretty much anything.

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My top 3 video game music list is Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask, and Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater.

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Maybe music is memorable in older games because you were young playing them, so you recognise them because of nostalgia? Newer consoles can play music that doesn't have to repeat every minute, but older consoles had to have more basic music. Some games use orchestral scores for effect and focus less on melodies. Think of Dark Souls and Dead Space. However this isn't always the case, what about Halo, Elder Scrolls, the new Mario and Zelda games? But I agree that the generic war zone music in FPS isn't that special

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Super Castlevania IV. GODLIKE.

Avatar image for Daddio93

Can someone please tell me what the Kingdom Hearts background theme is called. Been searching YouTube for it but can't find anything.

Avatar image for Daddio93

Nevermind, found it, finally.

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Sonic the Hedgehog, The Great Gianna Sisters and Arkanoid are among many that are forever ingrained in my head.

Battlefield however is probably the only recent game that has a tune I actually remember. Bada ba badam-pam!

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@sirkibble2 You speak truth sir.

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Hearing that Kingdom Hearts theme gave me butterflies in my stomach. So awesome.

The tunes of today aren't nearly as catchy because there isn't a rhythmic motif. I'm not just talking about drums or some other percussion. I'm talking a repetition--a beginning, middle and end that is familiar and flows together to create that nice rhythm.

Themes of today are more orchestral which makes them harder to remember because the chords, harmonies and rhythms aren't clearly defined. They serve their purpose in delivering an emotion experience--most of the time--but they don't stick when the power is off.

Avatar image for Daddio93

Is that background track from Kingdom Hearts? What is it called again, I must know, please!?

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It's simply not true. There are still authentic tunes in today's games. If you hum any of the Elder Scrolls tunes I can tell you which game they're from, same with Halo. Mass Effect also has memorable tunes.

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Awww, the IE9 advertisement was only 30 seconds instead of an hour and 39 minutes! Oh well. ;)

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Everything about video games were better when you weren't considered "cool" for playing them...

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One of my fave videos cause Ifeel him on what his saying

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so you will use kingdom hearts music but not show it.

some music fan you are dude.

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Silent Hill 3 OST Track 1 Lost Carol


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It is confirmed that I will be humming the Ballad of Godess tune from Skyward Sword ten years from now.

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Shout-outs to the Hikari Kingdom Hearts Soundtrack!

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Hmm.. I can't understand why you didn't play clips of music from all those different games you put visual clips up for. What's the point of visual clips of memorable game _music_? I agree that lots of those games had memorable music, but the point would have gotten home a lot better if I could hear and compare early Legend of Zelda music directly against Battlefield 3.

Just to agree with @adriannauss , I think part of the reason these are so memorable is that they were highly repetitious and the games required you to replay the same areas over and over to beat them. Modern games you may only go through each part one time and the music is so much more varied and subtle.

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Battlefield 1942 theme :)

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solid ep - agree that the music is memorable for those older games! In recent memory, Alone in the Dark has a great haunting soundtrack :)

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What people need to realize, the cinematic music of today’s games can have the same lasting effect as the original 8 bit sound tracts, just like older movies like Star Wars themes weren’t 8 bit classics but we still remember those. What made the classics to memorable is one part nostalgia, also video game producers couldn’t get lazy with it, they had to make it catchy or you would pull your hair out listening to 8-bit beeps and bops. ALSO take that and the face you would hear the same theme looping over and over again, it gets burnt into your head for all of eternity. So yes, there is great music in some of today’s games, but with the higher quality cinematic music, its sometimes easier to get lazy by just throwing in a bunch of sounds and special effects

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@adriannauss As a musician, there is nothing lazy about creating the music they create and then making 20+ of them throughout the game. They still pay their dues to create the music they make.

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There is some very good music from recent games like Zelda Skyward Sword, Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid and more. It's just too recent to compete against nostalgic soundtracks from Mario or Final Fantasy, for example. Give it some years and we'll be saying " Remember Skyrim's main theme, that was awesome"

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And Red Dead Redemption John's Death song.

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I'll be humming the Skyrim theme and the Mass Effect 3 ending song in 10 years.

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True! Soundrack is essential in an action/adventure style game. I just cant imagine one without it.

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Right now, I really enjoy Skyrim's music, so much so I just purchased the 4 CD set. Even though it changes a little bit from game to game, the theme music for the most part is the same and will be remembered for a very long time.

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One of the reasons for this is that recent game musics, even if great, take time to become nostalgic. Other is that we were young and everything is much more magical when you dont know much about anything, automatically making all you experience that much more memorable.

Also, my number one game music of all time is actually Red Alert 3's Soviet March.

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Square was always really good at creating memorable soundtracks.

1. Final Fantasy (Favorite Tracks: Ruined Castle, Dungeon)

2. Final Fantasy VII (Favorite Tracks: JENOVA, One Winged Angel)

3. Kingdom Hearts (Favorite Tracks: Dearly Beloved [All Versions], Darkness of the Unknown [From Kingdom Hearts II]

4. Super Mario 64 (Favorite Tracks: Slide Theme, Bowsers Road

5. Ocarina of Time (Favorite Tracks: Forest Temple, Hyrule Field)

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I love how the front page asks the question "Do you remember memorable video game music?" A little redundant lol.

I love Streets of Desolation from the NES Batman game based on the '89 movie. Also Korkiri Forest from Ocarina of Time. And who could forget Jeremy Sole's Morrowind soundtrack? I'm sure I could think of more, but I'm scared I'll never get off Nostalgia Road if I start...

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Kingdom Hearts.... that is all

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For an episode based around video game music you have chosen some pretty lame background music to this video.

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.....How is assassin's creed not even mentioned in this video or the comments below? Their music was beautiful.

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@Cronicx- It was beautiful. But was it memorable? Can you hum a great portion of the music?

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@sirkibble2 That's like saying can I hum the score for Inception. Of course I can't hum the sound of an entire orchestra and the voice of an incredibly talented 19-year old girl, but if I heard it, yes I could identify it in an instant, so yes it was memorable.

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@sirkibble2 Oh, well yea I could if I had to. It would just sound awful, lol

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lol Okay. I think I confused you by saying "...a great portion of the music." I didn't mean humming all the instruments. My bad. I meant humming the primary melody of the song like what Daddio93 was saying.

But you also mention remembering as in if you heard it. But could you remember it if you didn't hear it? That's why I asked if you could hum a tune. If you can hum it, that means you don't need to hear it for it to memorable.

Avatar image for Daddio93

@Cronicx- Humming doesn't involve hitting the orchestral tunes in the song. Can you hum the tune was the question.

Avatar image for Sword403

1. Final Fantasy 7

2. Sonic 2 Hill top zone

3. Contra 1st lvl in NES

4. Rocket knight adventure NES

5. Alicia the Dragoon GENESIS

6. Castlevania SOTM

7. Kingdom Hearts

8. ZOE 2

9. Mickey Mouse castle of illusion GENESIS

10. Donky Kong country 2

Man I'm old!!!

Avatar image for Xilonix

1. Unreal Tournament 2004

2. Halo 2

3. Crysis

4. Gears Of War 2

5. Unreal Tournament 3

6. NFS Carbon

7. Jet Set Radio Future