Thursday, January 23, 2014

NES Games With Overlooked Music

There are numerous "best-of" lists of NES music out there that are comprised of all the usual-suspects; Mega Man, Zelda, Castlevania, etc. I wanted to make a list that paid tribute to some of the more underrated pieces of NES music. All of these are based on personal preference, so if something you like isn't listed, well, tough shit. In no particular order...

Jungle Theme - Snake's Revenge
Whether you like this game or not (I certainly do) you have to admit that this particular piece is damn catchy. It fits perfectly with the scenario; you've just been dropped off by chopper and split up from your team, the flares exploding overhead illuminating the night sky as you make your way through the dense jungle. It definitely pumps you up for the long mission ahead.

History - Destiny of an Emperor
Another excellent tune in a Capcom game, big surprise. Like the previous entry, this one gets you prepared for the upcoming adventure, although in a different way. Simple and melodic, it's one of my favorites.

Entryway - Shadowgate 
The best video game music should bring out certain feelings, and this one certainly accomplishes that. It has an uneasiness about it that sets the tone for the entire game. This one has haunted me on numerous occasions and just bring with it feelings of dread.

Character Select - Friday the 13th
I'm not sure why this particular piece doesn't get more respect. Sure it's simple and repetitive, but I don't know many other songs that create a creepy atmosphere like this one does. Like the Shadowgate entry, it sets the tone for the whole game. Listening to this one late at night still makes my hair stand on end.

Mantra - Faxanadu
Another somber piece, I can't think of Faxanadu without thinking of this song. The game itself has quite a few memorable tunes, but this one definitely stands out as the best.

Dave's Theme - Maniac Mansion
Even though Dave spent most of my playthroughs of Maniac Mansion sitting in the basement waiting to push a brick, his theme encompassed the entire Maniac Mansion experience for me. I consider this the official theme to the game and no one will convince me otherwise.

Intro - Wizards & Warriors
Even though this one is criminally short, it really strikes a chord (no pun intended). It would sound great as a classical piano arrangement, but is excellent as-is. It conjures images of, well, Wizards & Warriors I suppose. I can leave this one on repeat forever.

Elm Street - A Nightmare on Elm Street
Another underrated game with another great piece of music. At times uplifting, at times ominous, it plays well into the game's narrative. The interlude with the ticking clock fits the theme perfectly and reminds you that it's only a matter of time before Freddy catches up with you...

Password - The Goonies II
It reminds me of summer time in years' past. Like the source material, there's a bit of childish wonderment involved here. Now that I'm older, it also makes me think of my son, and that's never a bad thing.

Paris - Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy
While I am not a fan of the "redone" version of Golgo 13's theme in this game, the music for the Paris stage definitely has a hook to it. There's not a whole lot there, but what they did with it definitely sticks with you. I've caught myself humming this one on several occasions.

Title Theme - Rambo
This game gets a lot of hate. It's definitely far from perfect, but not as bad as some people say. Unfortunately, this theme is probably the best thing the game has going for it. That being said, this piece seems to fit the Rambo mythology very well and has been on all of my video game music playlists.

And finally...

Area Clear - Bionic Commando
OK, so it only spans a few seconds, but it accomplishes a lot in that time. You've just blasted your way through an enemy base and unlocked a piece of equipment. I can't think of a better quick-hit theme to accompany that feeling. While it's a miniscule part of one of the most revered NES games, I think it plays an integral part in the narrative.

I couldn't possibly put any of these in a preferential order. They all played a part in the musical background of my childhood and I love them all. If some of these happen to be your favorites as well, great minds think alike. If you weren't previously familiar with some of these, hopefully you found something new that you enjoy.

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