As people stayed inside worrying over 2020’s public health crisis, video games boomed. Gaming was the perfect indoor activity for stressed-out people all over the planet.
Fantasy narratives and settings help video gamers both escape from and interpret the real world’s harsh realities.
Original video game soundtracks, or video game OSTs, might seem like simple background music. Filling in boring silence is indeed one major role video game music plays. Game soundtracks also create and reinforce the atmosphere and feel so key to immersing yourself in gameplay.
Some game soundtracks are so good that they stand alone as albums anyone can enjoy—even non-gamers. Take a look at these outstanding video game OSTs.
1. Timeless Innovation: EarthBound (1994)
EarthBound is a classic with a diehard fanbase. Shigesato Itoi’s game expanded on what he started with Mother in 1989. The game was unique at the time as a traditional role-playing game with a real-world setting.
Composers Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka arranged a whimsical and somewhat surreal soundtrack that mirrors the game’s feel. Its diverse blend of styles includes dub, salsa, and reggae.
Suzuki stated that John Lennon’s music inspired many of the songs. To Suzuki, Lennon’s love songs reflected the game’s feeling. A popular opinion among critics and fans is that some songs on the EarthBound OST are tributes to Lennon and The Beatles.
Make no mistake: The soundtrack is still worth a listen even if you’re not a fan of those artists. There’s an endless number of unrelated sounds and styles to enjoy.
EarthBound‘ssoundtrack works with genres not often featured in video games. As the video game industry was starting at the time, this kind of music was almost unheard of for popular games. Yet, don’t avoid the soundtrack if you prefer traditional video game music.
As unique as it is, the EarthBound soundtrack does include plenty of classic themes common in popular games. There’s no denying that EarthBound‘s soundtrack diverges from tradition. Still, don’t think of it as 100% separate from the rest but instead as an interpretation of and tribute to the classics.
2. An Updated 80s Vibe: Hotline Miami (2012)
When Hotline Miami hit the market in 2012, critics praised it for an edgy narrative and style. A huge part of the game’s success is due to its 80s aesthetics.
The 80s vibe isn’t limited to the visuals and gameplay. Like most things with an “80s” look, Hotline Miami doesn’t replicate the real 1980s or its music. Instead, the soundtrack a techno tribute to the decade’s synthesizer music.
Hotline Miami‘s soundtrack is a perfect reflection of the game. The OST is also a great listen apart from the game: It’s common for Hotline Miami songs to pop up on 80s playlists that have nothing to do with gaming.
Hotline Miami‘s developers released the soundtrack before the game to create excitement—it worked. A couple of years later, in 2014, there was enough demand for them to release the soundtrack on vinyl.
3. Kooky Music for Focus: Katamari Damacy (2004)
It’s a Japanese series that celebrates the country and its traditions, but fans all over the world cherish the Katamari Damacy franchise.
This series features exciting yet casual, challenging but intuitive gameplay and impressive attention to detail. The games challenge players to build strategy skills and learn about Japanese culture.
The cute characters and ball-rolling are backed by unique, lively soundtracks.
Katamari games are so much fun that they have a strong following to this day: Katamari Damacy REROLL came out on several major platforms in 2018. Some fans speculate that new games could be on the way in the 2020s.
Standing out as a series filled with pure joy, the series’ success all started with its namesake, Katamari Damacy (2004).
Its soundtrack features music composed by Yuu Miyake, for the most part. It’s every bit as fun, silly, charming, and pretty as the visuals and gameplay are.
Katamari Damacy‘s video game OST won “Soundtrack of the Year 2004” awards from IGN and GameSpot. Once you take a listen, there’s no wonder why it did.
Listeners enjoy video game songs including classic electronic traditional video game music, jazz and samba elements, and J-pop vocals. Japanese live-action drama and anime fans recognize singers including Yui Asaka and voice actors such as Nobue Matsubara and Ado Mizumori.
Some tracks are unique to an exceptional degree: The composer of the Lupin III soundtrack, Charlie Kosei, wrote a track and sang it himself.
All in all, the Katamari Damacy soundtrack is a fun and lively soundtrack that manages to stay calm enough to be great background music while you get things done. It stands well on its own and is worth a listen whether you play the game or not.
4. Foundational and Fun: Super Mario Galaxy (2007)
The Super Mario games are some of the most popular video games ever created. It’s impossible to deny the massive impact Mario and Super Mario had on video game music. Many people asked to recall or hum a video game tune are sure to pick something from the Super Mario series.
Some of the series’ more exciting songs come from Super Mario Galaxy. The OST has something for everyone, using a 50-person orchestra to create an immersive galactic feel and playing experience. An orchestral sound also helps the soundtrack appeal to non-gamers.
Video Game Soundtracks and Other Music for Enjoying Life More
These video game soundtracks are must-listen albums for anyone interested in music and the power of auditory aesthetics. Game music helps a lot of people focus, so put a game OST on while working to get yourself in the zone.
If you don’t have work to do or need a break, listen while browsing this site. We have all kinds of great music and surprising ways you can enjoy life more. Check out another article and learn to enrich your life.