[Staff Featurama] The Power of Music
Music is amazing. Without words, without plot or concrete meaning, it has the ability to bring out emotions, to elevate a moment into an unforgettable experience. In this interactive post, we, the staff of Twinfinite, explore this, sharing our favorite music, some of our favorite moments, with you, the reader. After the jump, you’ll find our testimonies, our memories. I ask that, as you read, you play the many excellent and varied tracks as they come, so that you may experience what we have.
Journey is arguably the most beautiful game I’ve ever played, and it’s not without the beautifully orchestrated soundtrack by Austin Wintory. The entire experience is absolutely wonderful, but one of the most incredible moments is the final scene of the game.
Up goes the journeyer to what could be heaven, or another life, who knows. It’s completely different from the sand dunes you were so accustomed to. There’s water flowing, and blue skies, and everything is so bright and vibrant. Your destination is just in reach, and you are finally reunited with your partner after your climb to the heavens. All the while, the incredible ‘Apotheosis’ is playing in the background, cuing in whenever you overcome certain obstacles or reach certain checkpoints. It syncs so well with the whole theme of the game, and is a beautiful accompaniment to the reaching of your goal that you’ve been trudging towards for the past who knows how long. The strings are pounding, wind instruments piercing, and without this incredible piece, this scene would not hold the power that it does. It nearly brought me to tears, and chokes me up still to this day. If you haven’t played Journey yet, the soundtrack alone is reason enough. You won’t regret embarking on this emotionally opening experience.
What a truly intimidating song this is. You start Zelda with this whimsical theme that works well with the notion of exploration. Then when you enter a dungeon this non-stop scaling set of notes fills your ears as you walk in to a room full of creepy looking statues, bats, dragons and all sorts of bad things. This is a song that immediately instills memories of dying in a dungeon.
It’s a great piece of music that ties in to always getting me anxious and not many dungeons or even boss battles can say that. The Dungeon Theme of Zelda is a classic piece of music that haunts and reminds me of how music can actually intimidate you into playing in a different state of mind. I can’t even enjoy Wizorb to its fullest because of what this song always reminds me of.
Secret of Mana may not be the greatest adventure experience ever crafted for the SNES, but it damn well has the most wonderfully adventurous soundtrack ever composed. You read that correctly: the soundtrack surpasses even the system’s library and sound chip. It’s an enduring masterpiece, and Hiroki Kikuta is my favorite composer because of it. The likes of Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo, and Yoko Shimomura are more accomplished composers with several excellent soundtracks to their names, but none of them have ever made a soundtrack that compares to the magic of Secret of Mana. It’s a truly distinct sound that not only immerses me in the game, but meshes so perfectly with it to create a truly magical experience.
Each song in the game evokes a strong feeling of thrill and wonder, even while covering a range of different emotions: joy, excitement, melancholy, danger, or purpose. Each of these rolling melodies fit the beautifully colored locales they belong to: Into the Thick of It puts you into a hopeful, adventurous mood as you wander through the bright green forests at the start of the game; Ceremony fills you with dread as the unsettling discord of its bells beckon you into the misty halls of the South Ruins; Flight into the Unknown captures the exhilaration of flying over continents on the back of a friendly, fur-coated dragon; Star of Darkness greets you somberly into the once sunken Grand Palace; and The Meridian Dance, a fiercely rolling war ballad, announces the arrival of the Mana Beast and the finality of your destiny. Between each of these tunes lie yet more melodies packed with the same magical finesse, making it a solid and unforgettable soundtrack.
In short, Secret of Mana‘s soundtrack is magical, not just because it’s memorable and dynamic, but also because it fits perfectly with the rest of the game.
ActRaiser is a relatively lesser-known SNES title, but it’s a cool game with some unique mechanics. Part of the game is a city-building God Game, and the other part is a 2D sidescroller in which your character (the deity of the game world) takes human form and clears out monsters so the cities can thrive. Like many of the best games from the SNES, ActRaiser holds up quite well even today, and it’s definitely worth playing.
One way this game truly stands out is with its soundtrack, and the choice track is the song from Bloodpool Part 2. To this day, it still amazes me how good this still sounds. You could put this song into any action game/scene and it would be incredible. Listen to this.
The word ‘epic’ is one of the most woefully overused terms on the Internet, but I’ll dig in and say that this song (and soundtrack overall) lives up to it.
The soundtrack of Total War: Shogun 2 is easily the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard in a video game. It is not only true to the game’s aesthetic of medieval Japan, it sounds beautiful and dramatic in the right times. When playing Shogun 2, you will hear a variety of musical sounds, from deep, rumbling tanko drums to the fleeting pluck of a koto, all of which anyone can identify as uniquely Japanese. But more important than its variety is its relevance: the music accompanies the player according to what they are doing to match its mood, whether calm or intense.
It is especially effective in a strategy game such as Shogun II. On the campaign map, you will hear a serene, calming tune to accompany your meditations of an alliance or a pivotal battle. It almost compels you to sit there and listen to muse some more. As an added bonus, the music coincides with the season the campaign is currently in, enhancing the immersion of the player beyond just being authentic. On the battlefield, there’s nothing like a foreboding tune to go with moving your army into formation, then a track of inspiring, dramatic drums and chants to accompany your brilliant cavalry flanking maneuver or your samurai’s bloody slaughter. The satisfaction of an exciting and deep battle experience is multiplied, simply by the music.
The soundtrack represents the game perfectly and enhances the experience of the player, encompassing the calmness and intensity of strategy.
Heeeeeeeeeeeeee hope. Loooooooooooooooooooo ses. Heeeeeeeeeeee hope. Saluuu ses. That’s the opening hymn you hear when you pop in Final Fantasy VIII to your PlayStation. I’ll never forget that moment.
I was so blown away by the graphics, by the idea of this system, but most of all I was blown away by the music. All these years I still a capella it (despite not knowing what it says) out of sheer nostalgia. It’s a music video of sorts, setting into the forefront the most amazing scenes from the game and starting the player up in the most mystical way possible.
Final Fantasy VIII has resounded with me through the years and can be considered my most favorite video game of all time. This can largely, and I’m not kidding, be attributed to the opening scene. I was entranced as the beautiful graphics filled the scene to such a magnificent song. It spoke of an adventure, of rivals, of villains, of friendship, and of love all in the span of three minutes. Not to mention that when I first got it, I didn’t have a memory card so I had to constantly keep restarting my game.
Since I can’t not mention it, I’d also like to point out that one of the best songs in gaming is definitely Metal Gear Solid 3‘s Snake Eater. It’s better than like, any Bond song. That ladder was far too short.