These days, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a score from a video game and one from a major motion picture. If someone is not told which one is from which and listen to a piece from each, unless that person is well versed in the movie and video game music worlds, they would be hard pressed to know the difference. This also shows how music has changed over time in the gaming world.
On Monday, my wife and I were able to go to a performance of Video Games Live. We had been to a performance once before at BlizzCon 2008 where they did a set of all Blizzard pieces, so knowing a little bit what to expect made us look forward to it greatly. This time we were treated to music from a wide variety of gaming, from Pong and the 8-bit era all the way to current titles.
For the week leading up to VGL I would randomly get the Zelda theme and the Dark World theme from A Link to the Past, as well as some of the Mario level themes. If you follow my Twitter feed or happen to be a friend on Facebook, you will have noticed many references about going to the performance. To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement, and I was not disappointed.
I am continually amazed by the quality of the music in the gaming industry. There are certain themes in movies or television shows that have become part of popular culture, like the Star Trek theme. Yet, there are songs like the Mario theme which are equally as part of our popular culture as anything else. In front of the right audience, people will recognize gaming music more than others.
There was a wide range of games represented through the evening. As I mentioned, it begun with Pong and a set with 8-bit and 16-bit games, and as I saw the videos of the games go by I couldn’t help but have fond memories of times gone by. StarFox, Zelda, Mario, F-Zero, Final Fight, among many others. From there, they did more specific themes from other game series like Castlevania, Street Fighter, Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.
There were three things that I was wanting to see through the night: Warcraft (of course), Zelda, and Mario (specifically a certain piano piece from Super Mario World from the sky zones). Thankfully all were played, but unfortunately without Lament of the Highborne from Burning Crusade. All were played excellently, and it really gives a great sense of immersion in the games even though you’re just watching videos with an orchestra on stage.
If there was ever any doubt of how much of an impact a certain song can have on a game, a good example would be a certain song from Final Fantasy VII, “One Winged Angel“. As the song was announced, the entire auditorium burst into cheers and people sang along to the chants of “Sephiroth!”
My wife had mentioned to me that she was hoping to hear “Still Alive” from Portal, and if they hadn’t played it we were going to ask them at the meet and greet afterwards. Sure enough, for the finale we were treated to a sing-along version of the song. It was just the soloist singing and Tommy Tallarico on guitar, and it was awesome.
I give Mister Tallarico lots of credit for what he has done. Showcasing video game music is one of the best ideas to come up in a long time, as it is something that needs to be seen. People put their hearts into composing what some people take for granted as background music, and it’s great to see it out in front.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you play World of Warcraft with the music on and turn it up. It is excellent, and can be bought through iTunes. I would highly recommend it.