Review by Richard Buxton
Compared to the mighty film industry Gaming is still in its infancy, constantly shifting and developing in its strive to discover its identity. With each generation, the gaming industry takes another step towards an all-encompassing grip entertainment, be it through hardware capabilities or online functionality. From humble beginnings, games have grown at a breathtaking pace in not only concepts and visuals, but in audio. Long gone are the days when the sounds of a video game were dismissed as mere “bleeps and bloops”, and today the industry can boast musical journeys that can stand proudly beside their motion-picture counterparts.
The evolution of video game music has been punctuated by a number of pivotal achievements that have defined the growth up until each of these groundbreaking moments. Sticking in the memory are the likes of KOJI KONDO’S early and forever-iconic themes for SUPER MARIO BROS. and THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, TAPPI IWASE’S controversial METAL GEAR SOLID theme, MARTIN O’DONNELL and MICHAEL SALVATORI’S platform defining HALO scores, and NOBUO UEMATSU’S library of music for the FINAL FANTASY saga. These examples, among countless other scores, can all be argued as monumental works in the history of video game music, and so deciding what is truly an essential theme is an almost impossible challenge to be tasked with. Nonetheless, it is a challenge that LONON MUSIC WORKS has elected to tackle.
The biggest question one faces when compiling such a collection is what makes a theme or score essential? Is it simply the quality of the composition? Is it the theme’s effectiveness when heard in context? Or is it the influence the composition had on other composers and developers in the industry? A glance at the tracklist will reveal suggestions that LONDON MUSIC WORKS struggled with a similar question when the video game themes to be recorded were discussed. The tracklist presents a collection of both the classic and the new, offering a healthy balance of the refreshingly modern, and nostalgically aged. As one ventures into the “classic section” of the album, it becomes clear that a number of these themes are deserving of a place in any essential collection, but it is the recordings of more modern video game themes that are somewhat questionable choices for such a collection.
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