One of the biggest reasons why I tend to lean more towards classic games as opposed to more modern releases is without a doubt the music. All my life I have been a lover of music, and from a very early age I was raised on the classic Nintendo consoles, especially the NES and N64, so as is to be expected, my love of the two tends to overlap a lot. One thing I’ve noticed however is that the effort that goes into creating music for newer games seems to have dropped significantly. Anytime I play modern games, I hear a lot of generic orchestral sounds, or licensed music from various decades, and it makes it hard for me to differentiate between them. Sure, some of it sounds cool, but there never seems to be much that makes it unique, that makes it truly stand out from other games. With the old-school games however, everything has its own sound. You don’t even need to see a game to know what it is, you just need to hear it.
Take the Mega Man franchise for example. When you play a classic Mega Man game, like Mega Man 2 for instance, you know exactly how it’s going to sound. The game has a soundtrack that is so unrivaled by many. Every level has its own unique theme, with the exception of the Wily Fortress and the menus. You never hear the same music twice. And on top of that, the music is awesome! My favorite tracks in particular are probably Crash Man, Air Man, and Quick Man. Every theme fits perfectly with the level it’s representing, and it all ties together to make it sound perfect. The soundtrack is different from Mega Man 3 or Mega Man 6 or any of the others. They’re all unique.
Another classic game with a near perfect soundtrack is Donkey Kong Country. David Wise, the composer for the game, is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite composers. The level of atmosphere that comes from every track is perfectly in tune with the theme of the individual stages. The same can be said about the sequels as well. In fact, honestly, every classic Rareware game is amazingly composed, whether it be by Wise, or the man responsible for some of the best N64 hits, Grant Kirkhope. Rare games always put creativity first, and that was certainly true when it came to music.
Modern games just don’t have the same effect. If I’m playing Fallout, Halo, or Battlefield, they all just sound the same to me. Sure, they can achieve some level of feeling, but nowhere near the extent of the classics. Game soundtracks these days are just too derivative, too conformitive. Thankfully, with the return of old-school gaming principles in the indie world, we do still get plenty of games with kickass soundtracks, like Hotline Miami and the recent Cuphead, not to mention Nintendo games still try to stick to their roots, with recent hits like Splatoon having pretty cool music. Needless to say, nothing compares to the classics. I’m RevSpennicus, and thank you for reading this quick article. Perhaps next time I’ll do a more concise list of my top ten soundtracks in gaming, if that’s something people would be interested in reading.