Can Music Make or Break a Game? – Megabits of Gaming Feature

Can Music Make or Break a Game – Posted 16/08/2012 on Megabits of Gaming

The importance of music in a video game is often overlooked. We all have our favourite tracks from our favourite games, but how does music really add to our gaming experience? With the exception of games like LIMBO, I believe it has a massive impact on how we experience each game world.

The music of Tetris and Pacman is something that will remain with many gamers. Play these in a room full of people, and it’s guaranteed that most of them will know what these little midi files are from, and they will even be able to hum along to it. The music is part of the nostalgia for some gamers, part of the playing experience and each game may perhaps not have enjoyed as much fame as they did without these iconic sounds.

If you don't know the music to this, you have clearly been under a rock

If you don’t know the music to this, you have clearly been under a rock

Video game music has become a lot more complex since the early days of arcade machines though. With composers like Nobuo Uematsu, famous for the Final Fantasy series, Koji Kondo, the genius behind The Legend of Zelda soundtracks, or Shoji Meguro, a more obscure composer famed with composing some unique music for the Persona franchise, video games are a land filled with magnificent composition. Of course the magic of video game music is not just limited to JRPGs. The Halo franchise boasts a fan base with a passion for the orchestral music contained within, and Metal Gear Solid fans sing praise to each instalments soundtrack.

Even action games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta have a certain something about their battle tracks that are designed to get you pumped up. I bet you never thought that a version of Fly Me To The Moon could get your adrenaline rushing in order for you to kick some angel butt, but it really works. In typical Devil May Cry style, the main battle music is written and performed by the lead vocalist to heavy rock band, Hyonogaja, and really gets you in a button bashing mood. Without these key songs would you really have had as much desire to pummel those enemies and finish off the game? Perhaps not.

Fallout 3 is a rare example where older songs are used for the soundtrack, and Galaxy News Radio is a pure stroke of genius that left me riveted with every song, no matter how often they were replayed. Fallout New Vegas featured a similar soundtrack, but for some reason it just didn’t hit the same chords for me.

Galaxy News Radio was a unique twist on Video Game Music

Galaxy News Radio was a unique twist on Video Game Music

The true test of video game music though, is when you decide whether you want to listen to it outside of their game worlds. The music of Final Fantasy has its very own concert touring the world at the moment; Distant Worlds. The giant Halo series has even had a concert hosted in its honour, with fans flocking to listen to the live soundtrack and relive some of their favourite moments. If that doesn’t tell you the quality of what we are caressing our eardrums with, then I don’t know what will.

I can personally spend hours playing Persona 3 and not get bored of the battle music. I even listen to the soundtrack in my iTunes library when I start to get a bit of withdrawal. There are however some games that demand you mute them and create your own soundtrack. The music in Blue Dragon was one of these games. Every boss battle had the same annoying heavy rock track on an endless loop. There was no way I could sit through that, so I had to make my own amusement. I also did the same with World of Warcraft whenever I got stuck into a day-long session on the epic MMORPG because chirping birds does get a bit boring after a while.

Halo has a beautiful soundtrack with a plethora of fans

Halo has a beautiful soundtrack with a plethora of fans

MTV has dished out awards for the best video game soundtracks in the past, and of course the BAFTAs have recognized the medium of the game soundtrack in their annual video game awards. Music is just as important in games as it in film and television it would seem.

My point is without the music, gaming may not be what it is today. Without background ditties to hum along to and dramatic battle sounds, games might feel static and lifeless. Sure, some hit the mark where others fall short, but let us take a moment to appreciate what we so often forget is a vital cog in the gaming machine.


Maybe next year, Manchester…

So today is the MCM event in Manchester. I went last year with my Uncle, and it wasn’t brilliant, but it was the very first one so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I was going to attend this year to see if they boosted the event after the huge success it had last year, but unfortunately I have better things to do than go and queue up for hours in the hopes that it’s better a year later. Instead of attending the MCM I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, to give up chocolate, wine and meat for my own version of Ramadan (One that doesn’t turn me into a hungry, rabid female) on the very weekend that I have a 60th birthday party to attend. My fridge is full of non-alcoholic wine and Shloer to keep me going. If nothing else, it’s going to be a cheap 30 days.

But anyway, I’m sad to be missing this MCM in Manchester, but thankfully I have just seen that the MCM in London just so happens to fall on the weekend on my birthday, and the weekend that I’m going down to see the man. He doesn’t know this yet, but no doubt he’s reading now….I haven’t attended an MCM event since last summer, so I really want to go to this. Will I cosplay? No, but I’ll take pictures of everyone else in their fantastic costumes and buy lots of pointless things, including a massive supply of Pocky no doubt.

Maybe next year, Manchester

In the world of gaming I haven’t really been up to much. I’ve been playing Persona 3 Portable on the PSP. When I first bought it I think I had reached Persona saturation point as I was playing Persona 3FES, then I was also playing Persona 4, but I’m really enjoying it now. I like how it’s slightly different when playing as a female, as in I can have different relationships with people, and it just feels like an entirely different gaming experience playing as a different character. If given the choice I always tend to pick the male character in games, but the female character in P3P is just as strong as her male counterpart. I started The Answer on P3FES, but soon rage quit as I kept dying. These games are incredibly fun, bu my God they test your patience. I am very much looking forward to Persona 4 Arena though, as previously mentioned, it just looks amazing and completely insane. Need to get that on pre-order soon.

Playing as a female in P3P is actually quite fun

Not much else going on in the world of gaming for me, so instead of that I have been watching Dexter season 5&6 excessively to try and catch up to the latest season starting in September. I’ve had a few strange dreams about murder investigations and being abducted, but aside form that it’s been real edge-of-the-seat stuff.

Obsession or appreciation?

I’m a sucker for a decent RPG, and I think I have mentioned upon many occasion that the Persona franchise has become one of my favourites. Where Final Fantasy has started to fail me, Persona has combined my love of life simulation and RPG mechanics beautifuly.

It could be said that I have perhaps taken my love a step too far though. If you follow the Persona series, you will no doubt know that there are prety much three different versions of the game. There is the original, then there is Persona 3 FES which introduces an entirely new game mode & the abitility to port your character information from the original, and now there is Persona 3 Portable which, as the name dictates, is the portable version of Persona 3 on the PSP that allows you to play as a girl for the first time. Playing as a girl has never been important to me in gaming. It’s nice to have the choice, but playing as a sword wielding beefcake is fine by me too. I’m going off the point now though.

Three versions of a game are all very well, but surely you only need one copy, right? Wrong. I need all three in my collection.

In my defence, the portable version was only £30 for the collectors edition and that is something else I can’t help but love.; bonus stuff. I like free stuff that comes with games. I got a poster, an art book & some postcards and the artwork of Persona has always been something I have adored. Being the huge anime nerd I am, on top of being a massive gaming geek, any game that has anime style visuals is an instant winner (as long as it plays well).

I am also in posession of Persona 4, but this was not great in my opinion. Beautiful visuals, and interesting gameplay, but the whole time limit thing drove me a little loopy & the weather system was a bit too much of a pain. It’s typical Japanese though; put a ridiculous amount of obstacles in your way so you have to really use a lot of strategy to move forwards. The next Persona-esque game I would like to add to my collection though is definitely Catherine. I am unsure if this is actually going to be coming to England. I know it’s coming to America, but it might be a little too obscure & sexy for us uptight Brits to handle. Or at least that’s what PEGI will likely think.

We need a little more sexiness in our games that isn’t alien sex in Mass Effect. Lets show some more love for our Eastern neighbours and see some of the more obscure stuff over here so I can fully utilise my appreciation/obsession.

Grinding and Music

I started thinking about this when I saw a forum topic discussing the task of grinding. Grinding can apply to any game where levels and skills are used, but there are those who enjoy grinding, and those who really can’t stand the mere thought of it. Personally? I love grinding. There are few things I enjoy more than spending hours on a rainy day beefing up my favourite characters for an epic battle. I know, it’s really sad, but I’ve always loved it.

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