Crispy Gamer

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

Gamers growing up in today's CD- and DVD-enabled world don't know how good they have it. They've been spoiled by surround sound systems, a billion sound channels and epic soundtracks recorded by full orchestras. Back in our day, we had primitive sound chips chirping out bleeps and bloops that occasionally resembled real recorded music, and daggumit, that's the way we liked it!

No, I'm serious, we actually did like it. Game music back in the good old days of game music (defined here as anything released during or before the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis era) actually had a distinctive character that was exclusive to the medium. While today's game soundtracks are largely indistinguishable from the kind of forgettable background sounds that infuse most movies and television shows, classic game music is instantly recognizable as such, and totally inextricable from memories of long nights spent in front of glorious, glowing, two-dimensional sprites.

Actually, now that we think about it, maybe today's kids don't know how bad they have it. In an effort to change that (and in honor of the currently ongoing Blip Festival 2008), we here at the Game Trust thought it would be "groovy" to share some of our favorite classic game tunes with you. While narrowing it down to one song per person was tough (many of our members grappled with their decision for days), each selection here is a true classic of the retro "chiptune" genre, and represents hundreds of hours of childhood gaming bliss. Enjoy!

Click the play button to hear the tune.

Kyle Orland

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Mega Man 2
The Track: Metal Man stage BGM
Why: This game taught me what techno music was before I even knew there was such a thing. I especially love the short two-part harmonies that end every section.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Steven L. Kent

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Streets of Rage
The Track: "Dilapidated Town" (Level 2 - Inner City BGM)
Why: Because it influenced so many other musicians. Both Jeremy Soule and Michael Giacchino have mentioned this tune to me as formative, as did Nobuo Uematsu. I guess I'm saying it is the most important music -- along with the music from Super Mario Bros.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Troy S. Goodfellow

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter
The Track: "Introduction"
Why: Even using the crappy sound of your average PC of the day, it still works as a melody. It evokes similar tunes that you may know from other science fiction, but is light enough to function as an intro to what was, at best, a very light farce of a game.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Evan Narcisse

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: OutRun

The Track: "Passing Breeze"
Why: When this game debuted, the simple feature of being able to choose your soundtrack seemed mind-blowing. I played OutRun obsessively when I was younger and this particular "radio station" has echoed in my head ever since. I recently found it on a fan site and the memories of trying to master those turns against those changing backdrops came back clear as day.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Scott Jones

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

Game: Super Castlevania IV
The Track: "Theme of Simon Belmont"
Why: There are so many interesting parts of this song that, in memory, I recall it as about four different songs. It grows and changes in expected ways, and then circles back to the hooky refrain. A genuine classic.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Gus Mastrapa

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Moon Patrol
The Track: Moon Patrol theme
Why: Classic arcade themes were always brief and the best were insanely infectious. The loop for Moon Patrol is sort of unexpected: It's a 12-bar blues run that really grooves, giving the game a free-wheeling feel. An ominous sci-fi soundtrack wouldn't be half as fun. [Editor's note: The embedded sample includes sounds from Moon Patrol gameplay.]

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Ryan Kuo

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters
The Track: Spathi theme
Why: The ping-ponging rhythms and the "WOW" siren make you think that being the most cowardly alien race in the universe is the raddest thing ever.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

David Long

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

The Track: "Whirlwind"
Why: Shinobi III had one of the best soundtracks to ever grace the rather meager Sega Genesis sound hardware. This understated track shows off the composer's capability to get the most out of it, while reminding me of the craziness of being a surfing ninja taking on the infamous Neo Zeed!

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Alex Van Zelfden

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest

The Track: "Cranky's Conga"

Why: It's impossible not to smile while listening to this music. From the wacky jungle beats to the catchy pirate music, it embodies the fun of the SNES era.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

David Chapman

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

Game: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
The Track: "Zombie Panic"

Why: It's got that upbeat but Halloween-like beat. Since it's the first song, I know the game the minute I hear it.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

John Keefer

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

Game: The Bard's Tale
The Track: "The Traveller's Tune"
Why: It just helped me get into the game. I ... found myself humming it in between sessions. Picking one was tough, but this one signified the game for me.

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Aaron Williams

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: M.U.L.E.

The Track: Theme song
Why? [Aaron chose to let the music speak for itself.]

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Click the play button to hear the tune.

Marc Saltzman

The Game Trust's Favorite Classic Game Tunes

The Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
The Track: "Monkey Island Theme"
Why: It just wouldn't be a Guybrush Threepwood adventure without the catchy tropical tunes in Monkey Island and its successors. Even LeChuck himself was caught toe-tapping to the melodic soundtrack.

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Comments

These are really perfect tunes for all those game. Every music adds more fun to specific game. - Rich Von Alvensleben

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