Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Video Game Music - Battle Music

Over the years, I've played many different video games.  One of my favorite genres is the role-playing game.   The stories, the growth and development of characters, the exploration of a new world (or worlds) has all been something that has intrigued me and pulled me in.  For me, music is one part of a video game that can either make me really love the game, or make me want to pull my hair out every time I play the game.

I decided to write up a post dedicated to battle music from various games.  By battle music, I mean the music for generic battles.  In RPGs, those could be called 'random battles'.  For other games, I would define it as music that is played when fighting enemies that aren't considered 'bosses'.  In no way do I intend on covering each possible song or even each genre.  I do plan on making more posts on this subject in the future.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have a song you feel like should be represented in one of these posts.

I believe that good video game music should be engaging and interesting.  It should be something that helps me indicate that I'm actually in a conflict of some kind.  Some of the best kinds of battle music actually help me wake up and focus more on a more tense moment in the game.  That being said, battle music shouldn't be annoying.  If the music makes me not want to play the game further, or makes me want to run screaming from battles, than the music probably isn't as good.  Also, if the battle music should sound like battle music.  It shouldn't sound like a walk through the forest or like a party (I guess unless the battle takes place at a party).

Disclaimer/rant: although the music from all of the games I will share is clean, the games themselves may not be.  Sadly, I wish that game designers could produce games that were entertaining without having to rely on immodesty, crude language, immorality, or gratuitous violence and gore.  [/endrant]

The first song comes from a game called Ultima III: Exodus known to me as Exodus Ultima.  The game was released in 1983 on multiple platforms, including the 8-bit Nintendo (ah, nostalgia).  I remember being charmed by the game's overworld and overworld music.  There was a lot of places to discover and things to discover.  However, the battle music itself became fairly repetitive over time.  The same music was played whether I was facing one of the weakest enemies in the game, or even the final boss of the game.  Looking back now, I wonder how I handled listening to the music over and over again (arguably, I've probably been spoiled by the excellent music in today's games).  Here's a video of the music (you may not want to listen to it for very long, to avoid taking sanity damage):

The second song comes from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released in 1998 on the Nintendo 64 (and re-released on other platforms later).  This was probably one of the first games I remember playing where 'situational' battle music was used.  When I would approach an enemy, special music would begin to play to indicate the tenseness of the situation.  At first, I really liked it, but later I would find the music to be somewhat annoying when every last little bat would trigger the music, or if the music would only play a few seconds because it actually started playing after I defeated the enemy.  The game couldn't keep up with how fast some enemies died.  Other than that, it is a decent piece of music.

The next song is the main battle theme from Final Fantasy X (released 2001-2002 depending on where you live).  Final Fantasy X is a game that I've only recently had the opportunity to play in the last few months.  I have to say that I enjoy the battle music from the game.  Some things that I don't like is that the music feels oddly repetitive.  It also feels like it isn't very consistent with itself.  I've often wondered if the music designers took the same melody and did it with multiple instruments just to make the game music last longer. Other than that, the music is alright to listen to for long periods of time.

The next piece of music comes from the video game Bayonetta (released 2009-2010 depending on where you live).  Bayonetta is a very over the top, action game.  Although the music is top notch, it's one of the games that inspired my previous rant.  The music in the game is beautiful.  It features a number of different battle songs.  I opted to pick the one that sounds more like battle music, and less like a 'girl power' song (although I recommend listening to "Riders Of The Light" sometime).  The music is entitled 'The Heavies' and is generally played when battling tougher opponents.  In my opinion, the music does a good job at indicating the dangerous nature of the enemies being fought.  Heard outside of the game context, the music seems to be a bit too tense, over the top, and loud (I've found it's useful for staying awake on late night drives).

Shifting away from console games for a moment, the next piece of music comes from the game Skyrim (released in 2011).  I have to say that I've highly enjoyed the immersive nature of Skyrim.  The music in the game is beautiful.  Skyrim also features situational battle music, like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  I've found that the music either does one of two things: it starts playing after I've slain the last opponent, or it starts playing and lets me know that I'm in for a long a drawn out battle.  Sit back an enjoy a piece of high quality battle music (Skyrim also has at least two other battle themes):

I hope you've enjoyed today's sampling of battle music from video games.  Feel free to leave comments, share this post with your friends, or post about battle music that you would like to see covered in possible future posts.

1 comment:

  1. ZELDA! I have all of the soundtracks from Ocarina of Time onward. Mass Effect has a good soundtrack as well, especially the most recent one.