It’s a golden age for fans of video game music, so how do you listen? – Talking point


Streets of Rage vinyl
Image: Nintendo Life

Being a fan of Nintendo video game music has historically been quite difficult. Biggest audio fans would cling tightly to their Killer Cuts CDs, dedicated collectors wept at the triple-digit price of the rare Japanese CD sets they contained. the majoritybut never quite everybody, from a popular ’90s RPG soundtrack, and everyone else was wondering why publishers seemed to have so much trouble working out an obvious and mutually beneficial deal. Do you like the game? Then ask your nearest dealer for the soundtrack!

Believe it or not, as was the case 99% of the time.

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Fortunately, that predetermined position of professional disinterest has changed in recent years, and now music lovers around the world can get their hands on more video game soundtracks than ever before.

What were once import-only oddities are now just a casual Spotify search, and what was once non-existent absolutely now get limited edition ornate music boxes and premium vinyl releases. Many of them will still cost you a penny, but they are more available and affordable than ever; we are moving in the right direction.

Time to take a look at how much game music there is and where you can get it. We started with old school media (don’t worry, we’ll get even older soon) …

CD

Video game soundtrack CD
Image: Kerry Brunskill

Now nearly 40 years old, the compact disc remains a simple, DRM-free way to get your hands on the biggest, oldest and newest game soundtracks. Nintendo itself has started releasing lavish box sets for top charts like Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons (the Zelda series has even had several orchestral concert albums available as well) with other titles, like Link’s Awakening and Splatoon 2. Receive full multi-disc albums; all set and waiting to be purchased through your favorite import website.

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Closer to home, Grandia, Actraiser, Streets of Rage II and Skies of Arcadia all have official soundtracks released by France-based Wayo Records and, in this writer’s experience at least, Mick Gordon’s soundtrack for Doom is something that can be extracted from a small branch of HMV.

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Digital

Digital video game soundtracks

Although they are often buried under wildly inconsistent labeling, both iTunes and Amazon offer a plethora of soundtracks in all regions, running the full spectrum of titles you would expect them to have (such as Monster Hunter Rise, albeit with Japanese text, and Legend of Mana’s recently remastered soundtrack), titles you’d hope would have (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hades, the entire Devil May Cry series) and titles you would never dare to ask for.

I need to buy the Dreamcast soundtrack honor them SEGAGAGA, From Capcom Dino Crisis 2Or Namco’s Pac-Mania? You can do it right now, right from your phone – no foreign currency gift cards or secondary accounts with fake addresses in the right country required, just press, buy and play.

Vinyl

Vinyl
Image: Kerry Brunskill

Until the wax cylinder returns to the mainstream, vinyl is currently the most modern of all audio formats, and games are eager to capitalize on its success. It’s a large, tactile record that’s a pleasure to behold, and the slightly ceremonial nature of picking and then playing a specific album in order is a welcome first for 2021.

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Tags like Brain wave and Data disks have led the way with this anachronistic (at least in terms of digital production videogame music), and thanks to their boom in popularity, vinyl game soundtracks are easy to buy (you’ll have to be quick if you want a specific variant, sure) and can be anything from classic arcade games like Gradius, Ketsuiand Treasure legend Ikaruga, which had no soundtrack, to indie hits like Untitled Goose Game (a nifty album that cleverly mimics the cheeky nature of the game with its double-paced system, resulting in slightly unpredictable plays) Shovel Knight and Celeste, or even the soaring box office hits of the last decade. Skyrim is on vinyl. Dark Souls is on vinyl. Minecraft is on vinyl. Get the name of any game out of a hat and it will be on vinyl or will soon be on vinyl (which will probably deplete your initial batch in seconds).

No game is too niche to be considered for a vinyl release these days. happiness.

Transmission

Video game soundtrack streaming

Last but certainly not least is streaming, a format so simple that most platforms don’t even make you pay anything to listen to the wonderful melodies it contains, as long as you can tolerate the ads, of course.

Here the much-loved role-playing game developer Falcom arguably rules supreme, their online offerings dating back to a selection of albums originally released in the late 1980s, while also including the soundtracks of games so new they don’t even have English releases yet. in addition to the vast majority of everything in between.

Square Enix is ​​just as comprehensive, allowing users everywhere and anywhere to listen to official recordings of NES and SNES classics, the latest releases, concert performances, and even their own. “Chillhop LoFi Remixes“Although we don’t pretend to be cool enough to know exactly what that entails.

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More specifically for music fans who own the Switch, they can enjoy listening to the various delights of Undertale, Octopath Traveler, XCOM 2, and Hollow Knight without having to do much more than log in to the streaming platform of their choice.

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Some people listen to the Mario Sunshine soundtrack through their Switch.  True story
Some people listen to the Mario Sunshine soundtrack through their Switch. True story

So things are definitely better than ever, to the point that finding game soundtracks in very common local venues is nothing special. Once the stuff of dreams, Resident Evil vinyls are now in the same stores that stock “Top 100 Dad Rock Hits”. Anything from retro chiptune to towering symphonic arrangements can be accessed via phone or tablet.

Could things keep getting better? Of course they could. There are still too many easy-to-spot holes in the games’ music catalog and many strange inconsistencies in regions and formats; It’s still not a given that a new vinyl release is accompanied by a digital equivalent, for example, and even if you do take into account licensing issues and label preferences that need to be negotiated when re-releasing vintage OST, that scenario still It feels like an overly obvious missed opportunity for someone somewhere in line marketing.

Still, what we’re seeing right now is gaming music finally being taken seriously without constantly struggling to justify its existence to a more mainstream audience; as audio entertainment in its own right, as something worth enjoying, enjoying, and ultimately paying for if you want to see (or hear) even more in the future.


There are plenty of options for happy ears – let us know below how you like to enjoy your video game music when you are not playing games in the survey below, and be sure to check out the other Nintendo Life VGM Fest articles in our season! . of interviews and reports focused on music.




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