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Video games and the development of electronic music.


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I think video games played a large parallel role in the development of electronic music, psytrance included. Video games from their earliest times have often had ambient and electronic tracks, scores and sounds both as back and foreground. Many video game themes and cultures relate to psytrance and electronica. Sci-fi, horror, space and heaps of other fantastic and artistic concepts. Many electronic music artists and listeners would have been inspired by video games from their youth.


The 8 and 16-bit/32-bit/Arcade/PC eras were my favourite for playing video games. I remember heaps of those games had ambient electronic tracks in the background.


I've also noticed that some people who really don't like electronica as sound/music have also never played video games. When they describe electronic music they say it just sounds like a load of blips and bleeps and not real sound/music. I'm not therefore saying that playing games is definitely a prerequisite for enjoying electronic music.


Anyone agree, disagree or have any observations to add?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember some 2-D scrolling shooters having some pretty good tracks in the background. Same with survival horror games like Silent Hill.


Heaps of the sounds are homogenous and for me personally when I listen to a psytrance track, whether modern or classic, I've heard many of the sounds and some arrangements before in the 80's and mid-90's when I was playing video games. Also have heard many of the same sounds in cartoons of that era . I really don't know much about sound engineering, history and development of MIDI controllers, PC Speaker, Keyboards, stand-alone synths or the complete history of electronic sound and music but here is a cool link to http://120years.net/ which seems to catalogue 120 years of electronic synthesisers. I don't know how good or accurate that list is but it would be interesting to hear some of the stuff from around 1900. Wonder what sort of melodies, vibrations and atmospheres they had happening.:P:D



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Try Einhänder from SquareSoft and I remember a other game from SuqareSoft on the Super Nintento, what was only released in Japan. It was Seiken Densetsu 3 and has some goaish tracks.

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etnica - true protoss warrior was dedicated to my favorite real-time strategy Blizzards Starcraft Broodwar. This game have a lot of tasty psychedelic samples in it B) And etnica use them :D


vax (synsun) - protoplasma has samples from popular game too. don't remember it, because never played.

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I was about 10 when arcade games and consoles like Atari were a tidal wave of pure joy in the early '80s. It was all we could think about. We lived, breathed and ate video games and anything having to do with them. I can't say I found the music itself very memorable, but the aesthetic of the 8-bit sound is something that I absolutely love and incorporate into my own music.


We could play Atari or Vic-20 or Intellivision all day long, but there was nothing like actually being in the arcade where the sound was full-quality from decent speakers, where you could feel it as you played. And there was a psychological factor to this that drew you, and what little money you had, back to the games over and over. You almost felt like the games were doing you a favor, when in fact you were putting your measly quarters in the pockets of the game companies.

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Has anyone mentioned Wipe Out? Always had a really good banging soundtrack with plenty of big fat acid lines.


Also worth checking Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar, brilliant music.

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My favorite VG soundtrack is easily Super Castlevania IV.

The atmosphere they managed to create in that game with graphics+music is a piece of art.

The entire soundtrack is great, but my favorites are the final tracks. With those tracks they turned the last part of the game, the last boss fights and the final battle with Dracula into an epic, cosmic battle between good and evil.

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Extreme G, Wipeout and Castelvania all had great soundtracks.


Here's some epic underwater ambient from a game called Ecco the Dolphin that I used to play on the Sega Mega Drive:



If you listen all the way through there's heaps of quality and variety in this Contra/Probotector Medley:


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This is a game I played heaps of that had some cool tracks, Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis on Mega-Drive:



And a 2-D Shooter called Thunderforce 2 that was also on the Mega-Drive. It had an techno/electro-rock soundtrack that was very memorable:


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Video games have always provided us with excellent music. Personally, I just LOVE to hear world or forest ambient music in games, since I'm a big fan of fantasy RPG video games   :ph34r:


I've also made one track, called Zemlja Planina, which was primarily intended for a RPG video game that was developed on my college, but the game unfortunately never saw daylight except for some concept art and story line. However, I managed to make a soundtrack for it and later dedicate it to mountains and forests :) 




Anyways, you should also check  Rome Total War and Medieval Total War for some excellent music composed by Jeff Van Dyck. Excellent stuff.


I also remember a great soundtracks from C&C Red Alert 2, very intelligent and full of energy.  




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Then, there is Age of Wonders, AoW: Shadow Magic, and AoW 2: The Wizard's Throne, one of the game series which has the best fantasy ambient music I've ever heard. The only games which have equally good music are Heroes of Might and Magic III and IV, composed by Paul Romero.




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Video games have always provided us with excellent music. Personally, I just LOVE to hear world or forest ambient music in games, since I'm a big fan of fantasy RPG video games :ph34r:


I also remember a great soundtracks from C&C Red Alert 2, very intelligent and full of energy.





The same guy who did the Dune series also did the Command & Conquer series.


I also liked alot of world game music in RPG's. Here is some from an excellent game that I used to play called Shining Force by Sega.




Shining Force 2 also had great compositions. Both Shining Force games were on the Mega Drive. With a third in the series coming out on the Sega Saturn. I have them all still in a cupboard back at my parents place. Haven't played them in 15 or so years.





Jon =)

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As far as I am concerned, I enjoyed video game music long before even consciously listening to music, well, as a kind of hobby. Back then, when we used to write in personality books, e.g. "Thinks I like" or "hobbies", I always wondered how the other children could possibly think of "listening to music" as some kind of hobby. I played games. Only afterwards I realised, that a huge part of the gaming experience was related to music. I didn't listen to bands, but enjoyed video game music, which was my first contact with electronic music, too. While I started with a Sinclair ZX81, the C64's SID really changed everything. Even today I listen to some of my old favorites from time to time, e.g.


Matt Grey - Last Ninja 2: The Mansion



The whole Last Ninja series' soundtracks are awesome!


There were so many great soundtracks and composers back then, the likes of Rob Hubbard, Chris Hülsbeck, Ben Daglish, Matt Grey, Jeroen Tel...far too many to mention. There is still an active SID community nowadays, producing new tracks or remixes of beloved ones. Since those C64 times, video game soundtracks have been an important part of my musical education and some of them have become so memorable, that a "soundtrack to my life"-list could never be written without them. Without any particular - except the first one - order, I'd like to make some recommendations:


1. Any Final Fantasy soundtrack composed by Nobuo Uematsu, but especially the Final Fantasy 6 OST. It's a masterpiece and one of a kind. I seriously think that this is the best music ever composed for a video game...and not just limited to that. I remember playing it like it was yesterday. Having seen (heard) it being played on stage by an orchestra, man that was awesome. It's not just the Opera Scene, it's also Celes' Theme, Terra's Theme, Zozo, every single track.




Other favorites are: Last Ninja series (C64), Thunderforce IV (Mega Drive), M.U.S.H.A. Aleste (Mega Drive)(TFIV and Aleste have the most badass soundtrack of all shmups out there!), Ys Book I&II (PC-Engine), Chrono Trigger (SNES), Shadow Of The Beast (Amiga), Silent Hill series (Playstation 1 and 2, Akira Yamaoka!), Gate Of Thunder & Lords Of Thunder (PC-Engine), Super Shinobi (Mega Drive), Tempest X3 (Playstation), Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow (PS2, killer soundtrack by Iranian singer Azam Ali)...I could continue this list for hours, not to mention the demoscene, cracktros and so on...


Now, three special recommendations for the psychedelic / electronica community:


1. Tempest X3 (Playstation)


It's the most psychedelic game I've ever played, has a killer electronic soundtrack of its own (Check out the video!), but you could also choose to play your own CDs with it. Play it with some psy and it will suck you in like a maelstrom. Nothing beats the stress you have when playing a level of over 100, desperately trying to get some power-ups, finally getting an AI Droid, the robotic voice announcing AI DROID, kicking the ass of those damn electrifying enemies, hearing the voice announcing "excellent", zapping all the enemies with your "smartbomb" while "EAT ELECTRIC DEATH" is written allover the screen, clearing the level as your ship accelerates to the next level and the female computer voice saying "YES! YES! YES!". It's that awesome and I'd love to see a HD remake of that one on the PS3 or XBOX360.




2. REZ (Dreamcast)


Lots of things have been written about this game and usually, when there's a discussion held about whether games are ART, you can be sure that lots of people will shout "REZ! REZ!". I don't participate in that discussion, as it is pointless. While the game itself is "only" an on-rails-shooter, it was so far ahead of its time in terms of art design and music, that even today it cannot be overrated. Tetsuya Mizuguchi's masterpiece made the player influence the game's music by reacting to his playing style and timing in shooting down enemies. One could probably print out every single frame of this game, make a poster out of it, and display it publicly.




3. Child Of Eden (XBox360)


It's the new game by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, creator of REZ. He presented it at this year's E3 and it will make use of the new Kinect motion controller for the XBox360. Check out Mizuguchi playing it live on stage, only by using his body's movements to play it.







So yes, video games and their music had and still have an important influence. I won't go as far as to say that only people who play games can appreciate electronic music, though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I find your discussion about videogame music to be pointless based on the examples I've heard that you've provided. why do you do it?


I have a couple of videogames with music on them that I like quite a bit but I will refrain from letting you know about it because I do not like the idea of divulging valuable information of music to you from me. But this track I think is connected to my musical taste though. It's kind of like me, blue, logical drum and cool. I tend to agree with intelligent programmer musicians (like mike clarke). You all can't share my taste. Haha.







I like connecting it to a movie scene. It's from the future and has a wierd cool scientist weapons expert snooping around the headquarters of a company on Venus in darkness and there's somehow a red laser light involved. The music is basically like his character. His name would be 'Mido Lincoln' and he's got an elongated forehead and kind of has psychic abilities and blue goggle glasses. It just makes sense with the music. I like my cool movies and characters, and better music to go along with it....

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