Sharon's recent article on game music got me thinking about the topic. Video game music means so much to me, but why has it struck such a deep chord within my psyche?
The first game that I really stopped and paid attention to its music was Capcom's Mega Man 3. Bunbun, aka Yasuaki Fujita, composed one amazing song after another. As I conquered Robot Master after Robot Master, I was intrigued and delighted by the appropriate themes that accompanied each boss. Dr. Wily's Castle upped the intensity, making for a dark and sinister aura that permeated each section. The deeper I plowed, the more evil the music became. After conquering the wily...er, Wily, the game's final moments were encapsulated with the masterful Protoman's Whistle Concert. Give it a try:
Upon hearing this, I was floored. The whistle Protoman made in earlier encounters left an imprint, but to hear one of the most exquisitely executed 8-bit tunes that built off of that framework was huge for me. It stuck with me through my youth; I'd replay the whole game to hear this. I was pleased beyond words to discover via the Internet that the song went for a longer loop than the game allowed it to play. To this very day I consider it the song of songs of gaming for me. It's just so well done and beautifully composed that it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Mega Man 3 opened up a whole new tangent of gaming for me to savor. Saddled with a NES (1987 - 1996!) and a Commodore 64 (1992 - 1996!) alone for my tentative years of adolescence gave me ample time to establish great appreciation for 8-bit music; Castlevania (Kinuyo Yamashita), Legend of Zelda (Koji Kondo), Metroid (Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka), Mega Man 2 (Takashi Tateishi, Manami Matsumae), Power Blade (Kinuyo Yamashita), Contra (Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club), The Last Ninja (Ben Daglish, Anthony Lees), M.U.L.E. (Roy Glover) and many, many other games and composers left a sizable imprint on my personality.
Fun sidestory - My parents got so confused about my gaming music passion that, in a misguided attempt of protection, pondered that I was gaming pretty much 24-7. Not so! I was just jamming to the music of gaming lore as I did homework, wrote stories and/or poems, or drew. I had to explain and show them that I had it on my PC to listen to. Again, it's just another way of me expressing my deep love for this medium that my folks don't really comprehend. :p
I'm in a bit of a tight bind with schoolwork, so we'll consider this Part I. Next week I'll continue onward in time and I'll ramble about 16-bit up to 64-bit music (or so). If you want to shout out some of your favorite 8-bit jams, feel free to comment below!