Music for the Masses

Music is awesome and anyone who tells you different is too old for you to be taking advice from. Speaking of music being awesome, have you heard some of the great videogame soundtracks that are currently being tossed around the Internet?

In this week’s column I’ll be highlighting two such soundtracks that are getting some high praise from game and music aficionados alike.

Videogame music being awesome is hardly anything new but there is some great stuff that has come out recently and I would like to share. The first soundtrack that’s been getting some love is from an Indi-game developed right here in Toronto. They Bleed Pixels developed by SpookySquid Games recently made its long awaited debut on Steam, but more tomy point is the subsequent release of They Bleed Pixels On the Dance Floor. Pixels On the Dance Floor is a collection of the game’s creepyscore by Toronto musician DJ Finish Him a.k.a Shaun Hatton and was released a week before the game. It’s still available via Finish Him’s Bandcamp page for a cool $5. I suggest you grab it and support a Toronto based musician. It’s a spectacular deal for over 35 tracks of quality crafted homegrown videogame music and will probably be the coolest five bucks you’ve ever spent.

Gamers have shown time and time again that they will listen to game soundtracks in their own own right it simply has to be made available.Another soundtrack that I’ve been jamming on all weekend is the mix tape of homages to that wonderfully synthy decade known as 80s. I’m speaking of course about Jake Kaufman’s soundtrack to WayForward’s new downloadable title and throwback love letter Double Dragon Neon. The game is a street brawling tribute to everything 80s and the music is no exception. With tunes inspired by Stan Bush, Bananarama, Devo and many others. Kaufman has successfully nailed almost an entire decade’s music through parody and tribute. The best part about Kaufman’s 45 track timewarp is that’s available free of charge from My favorite track is the surf inspired “Tube Ride” which provides a fun new arrangement of the music from the original Double Dragon. Seriously, I haven’t been loving a soundtrack this much since Amanita Design’s Machinariumin 2009.

The relationship between games and their music is special oneI think that releasing these soundtracks for a very low price or even free (if as an artist they can afford it) is a great way to promote a game. This may not hold true for larger titles. Sure, the Legend of Zelda inspired Symphony of the Goddesses recently made a stop in Toronto and Video Games Live is still a hot ticket, so there is a place for the AAA soundtracks but I don’t think the download space is appropriate. I doubt the likes of Jim Guthrie could sell out a venue like the Sony Center like a symphony about a young boy in a green hat can. However, when it comes to Indi or middle tier games I think that offering up the soundtracks for download is an excellent and affordable way to generate buzz for your title. Some developers have even offered up vinyl recordings of their soundtracks with much success. The aforementioned work of Jim Guthrie and Amanita Designs are great examples. Gamers have shown time and time again that they will listen to game soundtracks in their own own right it simply has to be made available.

The relationship between games and their music is special one. As gamers we all grew up listening to the works of Koji Kondo and other composers. Now, years later all you need to do is hear those songs again and the memories of childhood whimsy come flooding back. Very few pieces of music inspire such a sense of adventure than the music from the Legend of Zelda. I feel that this relationship is one of the elements that make videogames as medium special.