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The Music Of Childhood: The Top Songs of Gaming’s Yesteryear
If you had to pick one game music track for each the consoles of times gone by, which would you choose?
Tough question, right? How the hell are you supposed to pick ONE song from each console? Isn’t that a bit daunting? Well no, not really. The songs added to a list like this don’t have to be the end-all-be-all BEST song ever to grace that console; a list like this mandates personal input. It’s not about the greatest song, it’s about the most memorable song to you the player
After much thought, the following is the list I came up with. There are some oddball choices, yes, but these are the tracks I think of when I reminisce about gaming as a child. The personal nature of the list is why, I’ll warn you now, the Super Mario Bros main theme will NOT be my top choice for the NES. As much as I love it, there is another track I can think of that better represents MY experiences with the NES back in the good ol’ days. Honorable mention? You bet your ass. Number one NES? Nope, and if that kills the whole list for you, I apologize in advance. Hear me out though, check out my picks. You may be surprised how much you enjoy what I’ve chosen.
NOTE: This is home consoles that I owned growing up only, no portables or one unowned considered. Could use some help on the music of consoles I never had, actually.
NOTE 2: I’m only going to go to the PS1/N64 generation. PS2/Cube/Xbox is only last generation, it’s not retro yet.
NES: “Moon” from Ducktales
If I said to you “My song for the NES is from Capcom” you’d instantly think Mega Man. Really, who could blame you? All six Mega Man games on the NES sported fantastic music (Two is the best of all time, WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT?!). However, I feel like the one song I always go back to is played during a crazy duck’s lunar treasure hunt. I just remember getting to the moon for the first time, hearing that song, and thinking “Wow…this level is awesome” based solely on the audio. I could have left ol’ Scrooge McDuck right where he stood and just listened to the song. In a time where game music was primitive, the Moon level’s theme showed us how powerful a song could be to a video game. Color me impressed.
Super Nintendo: “M. Bison Stage” from Street Fighter 2
This will end up being a controversial pick, I’m sure. Granted, I’m leaving out the Mario games, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and God knows how many other games, but I had to choose this game and this song. Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo was the first game in which I had ever seen the credits screen. My trusty Guile and I fought for hours trying to get to Bison, most of the time to no avail. I could get through the eight normal characters no problem, then Balrog would whoop me. I finally got the best of the boxer, and Vega clawed me to oblivion. Once he was declawed, Sagat would uppercut my butt to the continue numbers. But the first time I beat Sagat and stood face-to-face with Bison, I heard that first gong and knew I’d be in for a loooooong night of trying to best him. When I finally did defeat him, I remember being the happiest 4-year-old kid on the block for DAYS, showing the other kids how to be Street Fighter. This song takes me back every single time I hear it.
Genesis:”Rug Ride” from Disney’s Aladdin
If you’ve decided to stick with me here, there are plenty of Sonic songs I could have posted here, as well as Comix Zone, Sword of Vermilion and others. But Jesus H Christ on a stick, I LOVED GENESIS ALADDIN. Believe it or not gamers, but there was a time when movie tie-in video games were NOT the shovelware pieces of poo that they (mostly) are today. (I’m looking right at you, Iron Man 2. Dear God, you were terrible.) Movie tie-ins were some of the best gaming experiences available: Lion King on Super Nintendo, Goldeneye on Nintendo 64, and this beauty Aladdin for the Genesis. This particular song is from the Battletoads-hoverbike-esque escape from the Cave of Wonders on the magic carpet. As you progress the speed of the obstacles increases exponentially, eventually not telling you what directions they’re coming from. It’s a hectic level, easily one of the best in the game. Now GO PLAY THIS. NOW.
Playstation: “Ride On” from Final Fantasy VIII
The Ragnarok song! Come on, man! RAGNAROK! My personal trademark song from my favorite Final Fantasy of all time (yes, you read that right) gets the nod, if only because I did so much damn flying in that ship it’s laughable. Tell me this song doesn’t make you want to just TAKE ON THE WORLD! Nothing is impossible in any situation accompanied by this melody. I feel inspired to keep writing this article just hearing it.
Nintendo 64: “Dire Dire Docks” from Super Mario 64
Zelda fans, hold up a second. We know that Zelda music is timeless, fine. However, I feel like Super Mario 64’s soundtrack is a bit overshadowed by that Hylian jerk, especially this song. I remember how relaxed I always felt in the levels this song played in, even when I was failing miserably at whatever task the star required. You may call me crazy for not choosing a song from Hyrule, but when I think of N64’s music selection, this song always comes to mind first.
So I’m sure that most of you reading this will have different choices, and that’s fine by me. Part of what makes gaming great is the personal nature of the medium. Everyone has their own experiences, their own preferences, and their own fond memories. I’d love to know what song send you down memory lane. Share them below, because I could always use more music to experience, too.