Music has played an important role in my life. Out of high school I started playing guitar which sent me down a path that shaped my adult years. I spent most of my time absorbed in music, be it listening to new bands or creating my own tracks. As such music is always an important to me.
With all that in mind, it is somewhat strange that when it comes to video games, music has never really been a major factor to my enjoyment. I would actually struggle to think of soundtracks I would have classed as exceptional. I know Zelda has excellent music, and Mario’s themes are iconic, and Final Fantasy have always had a stellar soundscape, but beyond the obvious big title games I never really noticed music too much whilst playing. It was t that I didn’t enjoy them, but I could never see myself listening to a soundtrack outside of the game being played. That idea seemed crazy to me. Why would you do that?
That began to change when I first played Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita. The music drew me in in a way no other game had before it. This was the first game I actually downloaded the soundtrack for so I could listen to it on my phone while I was at work. Funnily enough, this isn’t what spurred me on to listen to more video game soundtracks, but it certainly was the first time I began to take more notice of music in this medium.
The game that opened my ears to how incredible music in games can be was Nier:Automata. The fifth game in a long running series beginning with Drakengard, the music for all of these games have been top notch. Nier:Automata though stands in a league of its own. It isn’t just one of the best video game soundtracks of all time, but one of my favourite collections of music I have heard full stop. I ended up purchasing the 3 disc set of the soundtrack, the first video game music I ever purchased, though it wouldn’t be the last.
Splatoon 2 was a game whos soundtrack I had largely ignored. Because of how frenetic and action packed the gameplay in Splatoon 2 is, I just never stopped to smell the roses, or in this instance listen to the music. That changed when Nintendo of America posted a video of one of the new tracks that came in one of the first major updates. The track was by Ink Theory, which is Splatoon’s take on Avant Garde, a musical style I rather enjoy. This led me to listening to more tracks the game had to offer, and eventually purchasing the Splatunes 2 music set.
It hasn’t stopped there either, as the latest addition to my soundtrack collection is on its way now. The Breath of the Wild collector’s edition soundtrack caught my eye with its beautiful packaging, but had me scratching my head as to how it had 4 discs worth of music. Wasn’t it all ambient music in the latest Zelda? I can barely remember a single note of a single song, let alone an entire soundtracks worth. Jumping on YouTube though opened my eyes to some of the masterful music that goes on in that game, and I actually knew most, if not all of the tracks from the game. It is a highly underrated gem that will largely be overlooked due to its minimal use in game.
It is strange how different aspects of gaming can open up to us the older we get. Things I would have never noticed in games when I was younger, such as music, is now something that significantly adds to my experience. Thankfully this is an ever growing medium, one that is quickly improving in every aspect. The level of the stories told, the visual styles and the audio design is now rivalling more popular entertainment industries. As such, listening to video game music outside of a game itself no longer seems like a far-fetched idea to me anymore.