Video Game Music: Demystified

I wish the Super Mario Bros. 2 pause music would play any time I paused in real life.

Some people in the universe take video game music very, very seriously. This is mostly because the soundtrack of Pokemon Red is the only music you discover by yourself between the ages of 6 and 10. It becomes permanently ingrained to your brain, a sense of belonging and ownership you can’t quite get from regular old records – and when that combines with an already oily sense of geeky entitlement, you create some fascinating human specimens. I’m not trying to be spiteful, it’s just that people saying incredibly passionate things about semi-inconsequential content is really funny. Still, there is some video game music you should know about, and I have compiled that along with any notable/hilarious YouTube comments along the way.

Chrono Trigger – “Wind Scene”

Hilariously Overwrought YouTube Comment: “Such a moving and peaceful song that can bring a tear to my eye every time I listen to it.” –prince apoopoo

Chrono Trigger is kind of like The Traveling Wilburys, if The Traveling Wilburys were Japanese and were regarded with one of the most impeccable legacies in the history of pop music. Basically in 1995 a bunch of hotshot RPG developers got together and built a massive ridiculously-innovative supergame which is still secretly the best game to ever come out for the Super Nintendo. Obviously the music, orchestrated by a dream team of Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobou Uematsu, Noriko Matsueda (just pretend those names mean something to you), was pretty good. “Wind Scene” has always been my favorite, because its magic works on literally anyone, Grandmas to 8 year old boys. I seriously will play it at my wedding, and no one, including my future wife, can stop me.

Metal Gear Solid 2 – “Main Theme”

Hilariously Overwrought Youtube Comment: “Srsly games offers so MUCH more emotions, legendary jurneys, epic storys and awesome character than any movie will ever do. LONG LIVE THE MGS SERIES!” –Drakengard65

The Metal Gear Solid series was invented by full-time crazy person and occasional game-designer Hideo Kojima. Kojima is an evil version of Quentin Tarantino. I won’t go into specifics about how Metal Gear Solid 2 antagonistically blueballed it’s audience, but it would be kinda like listening to Centipede Hz and realizing Panda Bear was replaced with a pale skinny blond dude with spiky hair and a sword. But you know what? Any negative thing I can say about Metal Gear Solid 2 is immediately erased by that introduction. I’m not going to stand here and say that the main theme of MGS2 was not responsible for heroic tears in my mid-pubescent youth.

Donkey Kong Country 2 – “Stickerbush Symphony”

Hilariously Overwrought YouTube Comment – “still can't get enough of it. it's very calming, and it gives you a feeling of both hope and sadness... and then it's very emotionally disturbing when we reach the end of the "chorus" /"refrain," like it's some sort of cliffhanger to what is bound to happen...” –sisigman

Listen sisigman, I feel you. “Stickerbush Symphony” is one of the best songs ever written. I would rather listen to “Stickerbush Symphony” than live 95% of my entire life. It’s got charisma, an otherworldly mystique, a gorgeous, misty aesthetic, and some of the best midi-sax of all time. I have absolutely no snark to offer, in fact, someone should rap over this right now. [Ed: I suggest Chinx Drugz, but that's just me.]

Mario Kart 64 – “Rainbow Road”

Hilariously Overwrought YouTube Comment – “I honestly cried when I played the new MarioKart game. They have Rainbow Road as a throwback level, and it didn't have this music. I burst into tears, confused the heck out of the kid I was babysitting...” –IANOYTYK

Probably the only song on this list that you could call iced the fuck out. “Rainbow Road” is a globetrotting classic, if only because Mario Kart 64 somehow crosses over every boundary that can possibly exist between video game players and non-video game players. These days it sounds like a throwback Depeche Mode jam, with maybe a little more pizzazz. There’s nothing quite like pulling away from the rest of the pack with high-flying synths blowing out your TV speakers. This song makes it feel like the whole world is proud of you.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “The Lost Woods”

Hilariously Overwrought Youtube Comment – “It took me a year to beat this game! games back then was very challenging it took more than a controller it took a MIND” – RicTown07

It says something about our current cultural situation that you can say the phrase “lost woods” to anyone under the age of 30 and chances are they will be immediately consumed by this melody. Ocarina of Time is like the London Calling of video games, in the sense that it’s totally universal and universally lauded. As a child, when I was exclusively listening to shitty low-fidelity rips of video game music and about three different AC/DC songs, “The Lost Woods” was in heavy rotation. I remember one night I caught my Dad whistling it, which made me feel like I was liberated. Something about the gently ascending melody is catnip for Elementary-schoolers, to this day I don’t think I’ve gotten “The Lost Woods” out of my head. If only Saria would start returning my calls.

Super Mario Bros. 2 – “Pause Music”

Hilariously Overwrought Youtube Comment - This music has haunted me since I was a kid up to now o.o” -thbklover2010

It’s funny how with laughably limited memory and an 8-bit console, the folks over at Nintendo digitized one of the sickest walking baselines of all time. I wish the pause music for Super Mario Bros. 2 would play any time I paused in real life. Elevators, classrooms, car commercials, the dark edges of my soul. It seriously makes everything better.

Persona 4– “Never More”

Hilariously Overwrought YouTube Comment – “I grew chest hairs on my soul from Persona 4” -dusperz

Persona 4is a 90+ hour super-game that involves building and maintaining relationships with an eccentric group of high school friends as you battle phantasmagoric demons who exist a parallel plane of existence only accessible by crawling through a television. Yes this is dumb, really dumb, but it actually totally works. When the credits started rolling at the end of my 90+ hours and this song was playing against all of the friendly visages of my accumulated electronic pals, it really got me in the feels. Wistful Japanese pop music is a dangerous and beautiful weapon.