Friday, January 13, 2012

Game Music Jukebox #1

I've tried setting up weekly updates before, with mixed (read: no) success. But it's a new year, and I feel very strongly about this subject, so here goes.

Starting this week, I'm publishing a weekly post called "Game Music Jukebox" where I'll highlight a few music tracks from a specific game.

I am a huge fan of video game music. I believe it is an under-appreciated art form, and one of the most overlooked elements of a game's presentation. People always talk about a game graphics, but outside of the extreme core audience, very few people truly take the time to recognize great game music.

I will cover over 25 years worth of gaming music history, from the earliest arcade games, to the 8 and 18-bit eras to the modern day surround sound orchestrated masterpieces. I'm going to start off shying away from the obvious choices (you don't need me to tell you how great the Legend of Zelda theme is) and will try to focus on some game music tracks that you may or may not have heard before. So, let's kick this off, with...

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers for the NES!

Back in the days of the NES, Capcom was responsible for releasing games based on Disney licenses. Among these releases were some true classics: Darkwing Duck, Duck Tales and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. These games all featured some great music courtesy of Capcom's fantastic NES compositions. Just over 20 years ago, on the NES, Capcom were completely unstoppable in the music department.

While the game is a lot of fun to play, especially the 2-player co-op mode, for me it's the music that really stands out. Here's a selection of music from the soundtrack:

First up, is the most commonly heard music in the game. This music is featured in three of the games levels: Zone A, Zone C, and Zone E. It's a nice, lighthearted but high-tempo theme that works very well with the fast-paced, frantic gameplay. You're very likely to catch yourself humming along with this theme while you're playing.

Next up is a theme that is a little more intense: the Boss Theme. This is the music that accompanies every end-of-area boss encounter. For a game as easy-going and carefree as this one, this is a really intense "duel-to-the-death" type theme. This music always makes me want to make the boss fight last just a little longer, and usually results in me hesitating on landing that final blow, just to hear another few seconds of the music.

Finally, the real star of the soundtrack: the Theme of Zone J. This is the music for the game's final level. To me, it almost sounds like this music is "too cool for this game". This music would be at home in a Mega Man game, it's that good. This music is the reason that I have to play the game through to the end every time I sit down to play it.

So, that's it. If you've never played Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Ranger on the NES, I strongly suggest you do so. It;s a really fun game with a great NES soundtrack.

What do you think of these tracks? Do you have your own favorite music from this game? What's your favorite game music? Let me know in the comments!

Until next week, don't forget to play with the volume high and appreciate game music!

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