In Game Music Showcase, I take a look at a few songs from a particular category, like battle themes or title screen songs. The songs are listed in no particular order, except for the last one which is my personal favorite of the bunch. I love video game music more than any other genre and with this feature, along with game music appreciation, I hope to help you understand why.
So why bother with having two music features? Game Music Appreciation is more in depth while Game Music Showcase is more of a microcosm of one category of video game songs.
I already talked about 5 great first level songs in the last Top 5 Game Songs I did but there's so many great opening level songs in gaming that this category deserves a second look. Here are 5 more great background songs from the first level or area of each given game.
Goldeneye 007, 1997
Goldeneye 007 has one of my favorite game soundtracks ever. Hell, I have almost EVERY song from the game on my iPod. I think all that's missing are a few short musical queues like the death fanfare, so I actually DO have every real song from the game on there. That should give you a bit of an indication of how great the music in this game is. The folks at Rare got really creative with this one. Rather than just doing digitized versions of songs from the movie, they composed a completely original soundtrack with pretty much every song containing snippets of the James Bond theme somewhere in it.
As for the opening level, it follows the film's opening scene with 007 bungee jumping to the base of a Russian Dam to access a secret chemical research facility. I love pretty much every part of this song, from the opening melody, the incredibly catchy beat, and the amazing bass throughout the whole song. It really deserves multiple listens just so you can catch everything.
Super Mario 64, 1996
Video Courtesy of YouTube user
I really don't talk about Koji Kondo enough. It seems like I'm constantly spouting off Nobuo Uematsu's name as if he's the only video game composer worth mentioning, but there's an army of awesome composers throughout the history of video game. One of the best ever is the afore mentioned Koji Kondo, the man responsible for some of the most recognizable video game compositions ever. Level 1-1? That was Kondo. The Legend of Zelda theme? Kondo. ALL the music in Ocarina of Time? Kondo.
He also composed the song in question today, Bob-omb Battlefield. I still remember the first time I played Mario 64. After years of Super Mario World, it BLEW my mind to see Mario in a 3D world, even if it's hilariously primitive by today's standards. The game's first level was pretty forgiving as far as design and enemy placement is concerned, so I ran around it A LOT to just try out all of Mario's moves. My point it, I heard this song many, many times but I still love it. Listen closely and you'll notice so many layers to the song. I especially love how a trumpet (or whatever you would call that midi instrument) is added when the first part of the song loops. Little things like that can make an already great song amazing.
Super Meat Boy, 2010
Super Meat Boy is a frustrating freakin game, especially for someone like me who is only sorta good at video games. It doesn't help that I've all but lost my childhood reflexes at this point. Regardless of its difficulty, SMB has some of the best platforming gameplay I've experienced in years and an AMAZING soundtrack. The first world's music is a great example of that. I say this a lot, but this song is just so fitting for the kind of game SMB is; one where you'll die a LOT. I'll talk about this game much more in depth when I talk about games of 2010 but for now, here's the amazing first world music of Super Meat Boy.
Final Fantasy VII, 1997
I've mentioned before how awesome Final Fantasy VII's soundtrack is but it can't be said enough. From what I've seen, Bombing Mission is usually combined with the game's intro theme since the game's intro segues perfectly into the first area, but I'm specifically talking about music that plays in the first area of gameplay. Speaking of which, the first area of Final Fantasy VII has you taking control of massive sword user extraordinaire Cloud as he and resistance leader Barret fight their way to a "Mako Reactor" to bomb it so it will stop sucking up the planets life energy or some other silliness like that.
The song really reminds me a lot of the soundtrack to the first Terminator film which is one of my favorite film soundtracks ever. I don't even know how to describe that type of music, really. I always call it 80s sci-fi music but there's probably an actual name for it. The first Mass Effect had a crazy soundtrack like that too which left me really disappointed with the second game when they went with a more traditional soundtrack.
Metal Gear Solid, 1998
Right after I posted my last Top 5 Game Songs, I almost immediately remembered this song and wanted to kick my own ass for not including it. I freaking LOVE this song. It's just such a perfect sneakin' around song. I remember playing the demo of MGS1 soooo many times and just running around the first area, listening to this and watching the credits. That's right. The first Metal Gear Solid has in-game opening credits that appear in the corner of the screen during the first few minutes of the game. It really helped drive home something that I felt all through MGS1: for the first time, I really felt like I was playing a movie.