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Monday, 22 April 2013

Top 20 Video Game Themes (#20-16)

For a while now, I've not quite been sure what to do with my first video game related post. I've had a huge love of video games since I was young and they've been my longest and most enduring interest. There have been numerous releases I've not yet been able to play through for financial reasons and my backlog is getting huge, but those are for future posts. To start off, however, I thought I'd begin by combining my love of video games with my love of music and counting down my personal top 20 favourite video game themes.

These aren't the best or the biggest or the most influential or anything, they're simply my 20 favourite themes. So, let's get started...

#20 My Heart is Crying (Rusty Hearts)

I first encountered Rusty Hearts around a year ago. I was browsing the Steam store and felt in the mood for an RPG of any sort, and decided to see if there happened to be anything for free. There were a few games that I browsed through but held no interest for me, when I came across Rusty Hearts. A free to play MMORPG with quite a nice looking anime art style. I didn't have anything to lose, so downloaded and installed it. The game isn't amazing, though the combat can certainly be quite fun, however from almost the opening screen the music grabbed me. The soundtrack is memorable and varied with numerous stand out pieces that evoke excitement during battle or drip with atmosphere in quest hubs. The most prominent track for me, however, was this beautiful piano melody that hangs softly over the character select screen, equal parts elegance and melancholy. This piece took me in from the moment I loaded the game and though I've since stopped playing I still frequently listen to this track.

#19 Edo Castle (Mystical Ninja 2 Starring Goemon/Goemon's Great Adventure)

Mystical Ninja 2 Starring Goemon (or Goemon's Great Adventure in some countries) was a game I was introduced to as a child by one of our family's friends. It hooked both my younger brother and I as we dedicated hours to playing through it. However as we lost contact with our friend so too did we lose contact with the game. Many years later I decided on a whim to buy it again from ebay, as I remembered really enjoying it. The first few levels were fun, but it wasn't until I reached the first castle stage at the end of the first world that the magic came flooding back. As Goemon stood in the burning castle and this song came on I truly remembered why I loved this game. It has a great energy to it with a high tempo and upbeat melodies that never entirely subdue the undertone of danger eminent in the song as you slowly climb your way up the burning castle.

#18 Mice on Venus (Minecraft)

I have sunk more hours into Mojang's enormous sandbox masterpiece than I could ever hope to count. By now I've played a bunch of the mods and spend most of my time in creative mode designing my own ridiculous structures, but I can still easily recall my first adventures into the ever-expanding world of Minecraft. Most prominent among those memories, however, is mining deep underground in dimly lit caves, glancing around warily for signs of monsters down shadowy passages while the ambient melodies of Mice on Venus echo softly throughout the caverns. Those memories were of such a pure wonder and immersion and have been rarely matched throughout my entire gaming life.

#17 Working (SpaceChem)

For those who aren't familiar with it, Spacechem is an interesting indie puzzle game that challenges you to create intricate paths that atoms travel along, getting them to form or break bonds with other atoms as they go. It has a fairly steep difficulty curve, but allows for plenty of experimentation in searching for the most efficient solutions to each problem. It was recommended to me by a friend and it was available on the Humble Mobile Bundle, so I bought it. Along with the game itself, you could download it's soundtrack and it turned out that alone was worth purchasing the bundle for. The peak of this soundtrack is the track 'Working'. Its steady, almost mechanical beat combined with its slow pondering melodies suit the feel of the game beautifully. As the song begins to pick up towards the middle however, the tone slowly builds to nothing short of epic. Embedded in the music is a strong sense of purpose, a meaning to the work you're doing, and the grand tone of the track is inspirational as you sit there clicking slowly away trying to figure out just the right path for your little atoms to take.

#16. Phoenix Wright ~ Objection! 2001 (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)

The first game in the Ace Attorney series truly had an outstanding and memorable score with incredible diversity, easily capturing the wide variety of emotions that were portrayed through the characters over its numerous court cases. The most iconic for me, however, is without a doubt the Objection! theme. The progression it symbolises and the uplifting feeling of 'This is it, I'm on the right track!' is portrayed to the player so well through the music. It's not aggressive and it's not overconfident, but each time Phoenix's trademark 'Objection!' paves the way for this song it brings a feeling of security, satisfaction and determination. It sets the perfect mood for your steady, unyielding drive to uncover the truth of the case.

And that's the first 5 positions in this series of blog posts. I initially said I wanted to do one video game post every two weeks, but to prevent this list from lasting too long I'll try and post slightly more frequently than that. Hope you've enjoyed it, I'd love to hear any comments or opinions you have and I hope you stick around for the next part!

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