Published on July 12th, 2012 | by Phoenix1
4 Super NES Soundtracks Worth Revisiting
So this post is sort of bringing together a lot of stuff that I’ve alluded to in past posts. In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’m a huge music junkie, in addition to being a video gamer. So I’d like to fuse those two interests and talk about some classic video game soundtracks that are worth giving another listen if you haven’t in awhile. These soundtracks are from the years 1994 and 1995, which were, in many ways, golden years for video game music. Developers had figured out how to push the outer limits of the Super NES’s capabilities in order to deliver much more sophisticated graphics and sound than prior games. Anyway, here are my picks:
Mega Man 7 (1995)
Perhaps the best example of developers pushing the outer limits of the SNES is in Mega Man 7, which envelopes the reader in stereo-quality sound the whole game through. The game also continued the legacy of quirky, creative soundtracks that pervades the entire Mega Man series, with lots of cool synthesized sounds.
Best tracks: Stage Select Screen (Remember that “envelop you in stereo sound” comment? It’s on full display here.)
Shade Man’s Stage (Haunting sounds, and I like the drum line)
Cloud Man’s Stage (When I first heard Lady Gaga’s Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say), my first thought was, “Cloud Man!” Tell me the resemblance isn’t there.)
Dr. Wily Stage 1 (This might be one of my favorite video game songs of all time. They managed to write a layered song with multiple parts and everything… on the SUPER NES! That just blows my mind.)
Super Metroid (1994)
Big surprise… the Metroid superfan nominates his favorite game. But seriously, try and find more creative music on the Super NES. Go. I’m waiting.
Couldn’t? Didn’t think so. There’s just a sort of… mystical quality to this music that both creeps you out at times and inspires you. It sets the scene for the game beautifully, and like Mega Man 7, features top-notch quality sound for such an early system. The reason I picked Super Metroid out of all the Metroid games (which all have superb soundtracks) is that its music became the basis for much of the later music in the series. You’ll find its tracks covered in Metroid Prime, Metroid: Other M, and many other games in the series. Also check out Metroid Metal’s adaptations of songs from across the entire series.
Best tracks: Lower Brinstar (PERFECT mood music)
Lower Norfair (You know something real’s about to go down when you hear this one. And the simulated choir is cool too.)
Upper Brinstar (Yes, this is jungle music. It has a sort of “teeming with life” quality to it, but with some evil/darkness pervading through it too)
Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Again, we get stereo-quality sound out of the Super NES. The reason I liked DKC’s soundtrack is that many of its songs feel orchestral and arranged in a way the above two don’t. The stage music also takes longer to loop, so it doesn’t really feel like video game music in many ways. It feels like ambient music you could listen to in your car or on your iPod, being far less repetitive than most video game music. This soundtrack took many by surprise when it came out, and with good reason. Future games in the series built on this one too.
Best tracks: Aquatic Ambience (Talk about orchestral)
Ice Cave Chant (Imagine a huge cave with icicles everywhere. This track goes perfect with that, doesn’t it?)
Fear Factory (I like its evil industrial sound.)
Island Swing (And, of course, the obligatory classic jungle music.)
Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
MK3’s predecessor, Mortal Kombat 2, probably deserves to be on this list as well, but MK3 wins out because of its more sophisticated instrumentation. In particular, MK3 wins points for its awesome uses of synthesized piano parts in its tracks, creating that same sophisticated sound you find in the above games.
Best tracks: The Temple (This music has a weird ,ethereal quality to it, and the organ further contributes to the atmosphere of the Temple stage, which is built to look like a church, complete with candles and stained-glass windows with MK’s iconic dragon logo.)
The Bank (Speaking of pianos…)
The Graveyard (Love the bass in this one)