Five Awesome Video Game Tracks Part 4

Hello old friends and newcomers alike!  Five Awesome Video Game Tracks is an ongoing series where I discuss a specific piece of music from a video game and post a link for our faithful readers to listen and enjoy it.  Some of these tracks are just plain amazing.  Others aren’t great but hold some kind of nostalgic value for me.  Others are neither and I just like them for some reason even.  Let’s get started!

I haven’t quite finished milking the Star Wars gravy train just yet.  We are still only about 2 months removed from the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens so I’ll go ahead and pop in another Star Wars reference while it’s still a fresh subject.  Right around the release of The Force Awakens I wrote an opus about the PC FPS game Star Wars: Dark Forces.  I’ve always adored the game and as a result I’ve been exposed to hours of themes played in a continuous loop as I guided Kyle Katarn through various corridors.  My favorite mission was always the rescue of Crix Madine from an Imperial detention center and as a result the track that plays during that level has stuck with me through the years.  It definitely has a foreboding sound to it reflecting the ominous atmosphere of the level very well; especially at about 1:45 into the piece.

Sticking with PC games for a moment one of the most critically acclaimed WWII strategy games of the 1990’s was Panzer General by SSI.  You begin the game as a German general on September 1, 1939 and tasked with a particular mission in Operation Fall Weiss the invasion of Poland.  Your task is to take the Polish cities of Kutno and Lodz by no later than September 10.  Afterwards the game continues to unfold into WWII with a few twists here and there depending on your successes.  It’s a great game which led to a series of sequels such as Panzer General II, Allied General, and People’s General which are all based on WWII as well but allow you to take control of different armies and fight different battles.  As a strategy game you will spend a lot of time looking at the battlefield screen where this piece of music plays.  It has a certain dignified tone to it reflecting your status as a general while also later imbuing a sense of the task at hand and dangers of conflict.

This month is the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter II so it’s a given that I’d have to make a Street Fighter II mention and of course link to my own article in the hopes that you too are a Street Fighter fan and will read my tribute to the game and push the “like” button.  Capcom typically had great music in their games so it’s no surprise that Street Fighter is loaded with memorable themes, but the one that I believe stuck out to most people; myself included, would be the track for Ken’s stage.  It had a fast tempo but also retained a kind of sadness to it, especially the brief segment where it slows down just a hair.  All around a great piece of video game music that gets my nostalgic juices flowing.

Oh man, I don’t know where to get started on this track.  I could write a dissertation on Super Mario 64 and what the game means to me.  Although I cut my gaming teeth on the NES, the N64 came along at that pivotal age in life where you’re too old to be considered a child but not old enough that your life is weighed down with a myriad of “real” responsibilities.  Super Mario 64 is one of two games that evoke strong feelings of nostalgia for that age from me.  Beyond personal feelings, it was in itself a masterful work of art and is still considered among the greatest video games of all time.  I routinely choose this as my favorite all time video game and it is one of the reasons I’ve been diligently assembling a boxed N64 collection.  Dire Dire Docks is a great track that perfectly suits the water levels in Super Mario 64 as it is a relaxing slow paced tune with just a hint of melancholy which fits the on screen action very well.  The water stages typically involve Mario exploring a vast empty area devoid of much life besides sea creatures and this theme perfectly captures the mixture of laid back action and loneliness of these levels.

Spider-Man was my 2nd Sega Genesis game after Sonic the Hedgehog.  I had mentioned in my post about the 1990 Toy Biz Spider-Man figure that when I received the toy for Christmas I was largely unaware of Spider-Man at that point.  This game was my first true introduction to Spider-Man.  I played it at a friend’s house and immediately had to have it.  Unfortunately by the time I got my Genesis in late 1992 this game was approaching three years old and not readily available.  With no stores around me stocking the game I settled on the LJN NES Spider-Man fiasco Revenge of the Sinister Six.  Ugh.  Fortunately this game was re-released in 1993 and I quickly snapped it up and played the crap out of it.  This is the theme that plays at the beginning of the game as well as during the final stage as Spidey is about to disarm a bomb and confront the Kingpin.  Although it’s not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination it does an excellent job of capturing the feel of this game which is an intangible you can only understand by playing it.  It’s simply one of those pieces that has stuck with me through the years.

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