Thursday, September 6, 2012

The History of Video Game Music: The 8 Bit Era

It should be noted that if you want to learn about video game music, a quick skim through a wikipedia page will tell you most of everything you could ever hope or need to know.  This series is me going through my favorite tunes, artists, and look into a culture you may have never knew existed.  Still, I do want to relate some history and the 8 bit era is where it all begins.

So, arcade video games became popular in the 1970's.  The movie Tron (1982) starts off in arcade where these games became popular.  There aren't too many notable games that had some memorable music from this time.  The best music seen before the rise of the Nintendo Entertainment System is seen in the Tetris main theme.
Yeah, it get's repetitive.  But for the time it made the most of the synthesizers that it could.  In fact, everything from the 8 bit era--this would be before the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis--made the most of the limited technology of it's time.

Music from video games during this time, from 1984 to about 1990 or so, was catchy but only laid a foundation for the culture that came later.

Koji Kondo, Nobuo Uematsu, and The NES

Some real star players in video game music first got their work on the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Koji Kondo, a senior student at the Osaka Univeristy of Arts, was the first person hired by Nintendo to write musical compositions for their games.  This is the man behind the main theme for Punch-Out! Mario Brothers, and The Legend of Zelda.
The other talented composer that emerged from this time is none other then Nobuo Uematsu!  Nobuo Uematsu worked with Squaresoft, now known as Square Enix, for most of his professional career.  His work is best known on the Final Fantasy Series
There were a lot of other talented musicians at this time but these are the works I wanted to point out.  Things really kicked off when the Super Nintendo was released.  Stay tuned for future posts on video game music!


  1. I started playing video games when I was very young, before I was even 8. One of our first games was Super Mario Brothers 3. I still have nostalgic feelings whenever I hear the Super Mario Brothers theme being played.

    And I love the Zelda theme to this day.

  2. Man, i still play nes, i can't help it