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Published on April 23rd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Blog: Game Music – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Game music. You either love it or you hate it, in my opinion. And some games are right on the mark with their music. Whether it’s for humour, for ambience, for thrills or just for background. Games always have music in them to some degree. In this post I’m just going to cover a few of my hits and misses when it comes to game music. Again, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but bare with me here.

So first of all I’m going to go with a sure fire winner, is Dead Space. The silence, and the sound effects at first are the thing that totally get you. But then when that music comes on, I tell you, I was terrified from the get go.



The mix of that classical, yet dissonant melody. Something about it just sends shivers down my spine, and I tell you, you play that bad boy in the dark, and that music comes on, you’ll be feeling some sack of scared. It’s thriller, it’s intense, it’s got beat, and all of that just adds to that suspense when you’re getting attacked. Especially if you hear it and you’ve no idea where the little buggers are. That, is really the worst.

You know what I mean, you’ve got them all in your sights, you’re shooting the crap out of them, and you’re thinking “DANG! This is scary, but I’m going to be fine, cause I know where they all are.” And then BAM!

Bam!

Now say “Ahhh.”

One of them Necromorphs jumps out from behind you, and you feel your heart in your throat, like, literally! Now, Let’s just say for an instance, that there you are, playing Dead Space, getting attacked by Necromorphs, and in the music was, I dunno. Lady Gaga? Actually, no, I take that back, that’d still be pretty terrifying. But you get my point.

Now, in my opinion that is a super hit, that is the epiphany of the music that I NEED in my games. I emphasise need, because this next one… Just read on, you’ll see what I mean.

So Dead Space was in my books of “The Good”, to be honest, it’s probably logged somewhere in my mind like “THE EPIC BOOK OF EPIC GAME MUSIC.” Or some other tripe like that. But what about “The Bad”? Well, I’m sure you all have your own opinions of music in games that just has been way off the mark, but one game that I think has just missed, by a long shot, on the music from was…



Yup, Silent Hill: Homecoming – One More Soul To Call… Now usually I am a huge Silent Hill music fan, and thinking back to the older ones like 2 and 3, which had AWESOME soundtracks might I add, and then this song comes on… I’m sorry, it was terrible in my opinion. I was wholly disappointed when I heard that for the first time, and I think every time I hear it now I shudder. Now, I know there will be a few people out there thinking it’s not bad, or they liked it, but I’m sorry, I thought it was just plain hideous. When compared to their predecessors’ for music, it just seems to hit a bitter note in comparison.

I'm a teddy bear?

“Where’s Robbie? I want Robbie. I’m a teddy?”

Now I could go on about how the rest of the music in that game is good, and pretty terrifying, and how it scared the hell out of me when Shepherd was trying to get Robbie out of that hole, but we won’t go into the torture of me being a blood covered pink rabbit, and we’ll go straight into the next part of this conversation. What were Konami thinking? “Let’s make a game, with a really good soundtrack, but let’s, for one song, make it TERRIBLE”… Brilliant idea, Konami! Except for the part were you entirely ruined a game for me with that one song…. Okay, so I might be being a little bit over the top, but still. It’s how I felt.

So, apart from that horrendous music, could it get any worse then that?… Well, this post is called the good the bad and the ugly for a reason. We’ve covered a good one and a bad one, so you guessed it.

It’s back to Good!

I didn’t want to go and ruin everything right away by coming out with The Ugly right now did I? Besides, I’m sure I could find some more spot on hits to add to this collection? And of course, I’ve already got the perfect music in mind.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinions on these things, but I hope there are folks out there who are going to agree with me on this one. You put the disc in, you’re waiting to start the game, after you’ve already played the first one a thousand times, and you just don’t know what you’re going to expect, and then… This. This congruence of sounds, and instruments coming together. And I speak true, when I first heard this, the music practically rippled up my spine, and the excitement that shot through my core was insane.

And if you don’t know what I’m talking about already, then here it is, for your auditory pleasure.


Now just listen to those sounds. You cannot say that it is not bang on perfect music for that game. It has the excitement, the intensity, the sheer thrill that you’re seeking when you want to play it. If you disagree, then I’m sorry, I could let you get away with disagreeing with the Silent Hill: Homecoming one, but you cannot say that this music, this majestically, magical mix of moods, is not good!

Say Cheese!

I think gears of war in general was spot on the mark for all of their musical happenings, not just that one song, nor just that one game. But I had to choose one, and that one was the first one that just sprouted up in mind. Probably because it’s the one I’ve heard the most, but that is besides the point.  I love the orchestral values that seem to have stuck in games these days, especially when it comes to scary games, or games with thrill in them. They have kept well with that dramatic appeal that orchestras have. And I’m glad of that. I’m an art and music student myself, so seeing a game that has beauty in it in both music and design forms, it just hits a higher note for me.

Now… I’m not going to bother with another bad one, because to be honest, if I were to list most “bad” music that I had found in game, I think this post would turn from 1500 words to 40000, so it might be best to skip over a few things for now, and dive straight into one of the worst pieces of music I’ve ever heard. And, no, I’m not talking about Britney Spears. Now I’m keeping myself quite restrained here and only going for games that were on XBOX. However, if I were going to go through all games ever, I’d probably say something like “Animal Crossing : Wild World – Resetti’s Theme (massive shudder)… now I’m not going to put it in here, but if you haven’t heard it then please, just search it on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean…

But back to the point of Xbox360 music misses. The worst of the worst. The possible worst music in Xbox game history, so far anyway…

The Ugly

I know some of you are probably thinking, what could have made such a bad impression on Mr. Robbie to go and proclaim to the world that this bit of music in a game was ugly? Well, quite a few things. You play through the game, and it just seems to SMASH my dreams.
And no, I’m not talking about this…



Really, what was that about?

“SHUT UP!”
Thank you Serah.

Now as much as I would like to call that The Ugly, I’m afraid it isn’t. It’s terrible, and doesn’t go (in my opinion) but that’s probably just because I am not a Leona Lewis fan, and anything would have been better.

Now, this next game, could have possibly fallen into the worst game in history, never mind just the game with the worst music. Now, I’m going to be honest, and say, at first, it sounds like it might be a good game, but really, no, it’s not…
Now I’m not just picking this for general game play, and for how crap the voice acting is, or for how totally useless you feel while playing it, and how utterly pointless the game feels, but for the music. Although were I writing about terrible games I’m sure this would definitely feature, rather high up there too…



The music is terrible. For a game that is meant to be scary, it just isn’t. It’s noise. There is a difference between dissonance, and noise, and I’m sorry, AQInteractive, but you were way off with this one. Music in the whole game is bad. I could put a video of all of the soundtrack up, and after about 2 minutes, you’d be ready to throw your computer out of the window. Or….


Do this…

But anyway… Now, I think what could have made the soundtrack better, (cause I’m not just here to rip on the games, let’s give them a fighting chance, eh?) would have been less noise! Noise doesn’t make it scary. Use sounds, and harmonies, and clashing sounds, like an F# and an E together. I know, I’m chuntering on about the keys, etc. But it’s like they literally had no clue on what they were doing with the music. I could have created something better.  In fact I’m sure I did about 4 year back. But wasn’t for a game, and we wont go into that.

But that’s about it. I could have listened a fair few more for The Good. Resident Evil 4 pops to mind, Tomb Raider, and a few other ones. But it would have just gone on and on, and I’ve picked what I think would be two of the best THRILLER game soundtracks out there… Now comment on with some of your idea’s, what you think could have been the worst, and even the best. If you’ve got a better idea of what makes the perfect sound track then Gears or Dead Space then let me know, I always love finding some new awesome game soundtracks.

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7 Responses to Blog: Game Music – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

  1. Scot Mackay says:

    A track that I have to give all credit to, wasn’t really used in the game but extensively for the commercial. Its a track called “Into Dust” by Mazzy Star. It was used for Gears of war 3 and has the most beautiful, haunting and simply mesmerising sound. I downloaded it and its become one of my favourite tracks on my ipod.
    Another favourite has to be Martin O’Donnell “Halo Drums” as I call it. An awesome primal drumbeat that gets the toe tapping and the trigger finger twitching.

    The worst music I have ever heard in a game is a strange one for me.

    Do you remember playing the original Sonic the hedgehog for the Sega Megadrive?
    Do you remember the labyrinth level under the water?
    Do you remember the creepy bloody music that played as Sonic was beginning to DROWN!?

    It was the most horrible feeling to hear this musical “timebomb” counting down forcing you to panic and scramble with the controller to find air for poor wee Sonic to breath. It was bloody terrifying!

    Music or the absence of sound creates an atmosphere that if handled correctly can make the difference between pant wetting or rage inducing feelings.

    • Robbie Dixon says:

      Oh man! The Sonic music when you were drowning was brutal! It was intense! I can remember the amount of times I panicked with my controller haha… It get’s you down man!
      Also, the “Into Dust” advert song for Gears 3 was amazing. I had heard it a few times, but didn’t know what it was called, so cheers for that one!

  2. Polerand says:

    Toally agree on Gears. I heard tha music quite a bit, just turning it on and waiting for friends to get on, or trying to get in an all-bots match to get Wingman matches won, but I never got tired of it.

    Honorable mention to Left 4 Dead — maybe sound in general rather than music specifically. Witches …

  3. Tony Winkett says:

    Game music that has stood the test of time for me is Casino night on Sonic, any track in Rock and Roll racing on the Megadrive, and recently Bioshock infinite when Will The Circle Be Unbroken kicks in as you go down in the lift at the start. All great uses of music.

  4. Robert Young says:

    The music I remember most fondly are those of my megadrive games, SOR, Golden Axe, Sonic… the music would change up as soon as a scenario kicked in like running out of breath or a boss about to attempt to kick your ass. Most recently it’s games like Halo CE (it won me over so much that I switched from PS2 to Xbox overnight) and then you have games like Dead Space, F.E.A.R., Condemned and not to mention GOW. When done correctly music can make the game, when done wrong it could turn a great game in to a shit one.

    Great post!

  5. Scot Mackay says:

    i just want to give honourable mention to Sega’s Coolspot. If you check out the bonus level rave tune, Nothing can beat it.

  6. To be totally honest Robbie I’m a bit of a Nancy so I don’t play Dead Space in the dark. Middle of the day with all the lights on and curtains open, that’s me. Now Bio shock had some excellent creepy music too as I recall. More middle of the day playing.

    The music that annoys me most is anything on a handheld. Tetris, Mario, Pokemon… Plinky plinky plonk.

    But the tune that made me most excited about a game was Paradise City on the trailers for Burnout Paradise (i will talk about burnout every time I’m here!). That song just added to the jumping up and down excitement of the game. And who would have thought that ‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavinge would be such a good driving song?!

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