We’ve all been there. You’re playing a game and the tune from the stage you’re on is catchy enough that you begin to hum along with it. Before you know it you were sitting in class or languishing away in your cubicle and that tune is on repeat in your head. Game tunes may not be as memorable these days since they are “real music” (although I wouldn’t know since I don’t play modern games) but in years past this phenomenon was unavoidable. So in our sixth installment of this feature, let’s pay homage to some of the best beeps and bops ever pumped out through the monaural speaker in our console television!
I’ve been reflecting on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles quite a bit lately because of the release of the new movie TMNT: Out of the Shadows. Although I haven’t seen anything Ninja Turtles related since my original fandom in the early 90’s it is kind of cool that the franchise is still running strong. This particular theme is called “Alley Cat Blues” and comes from the second level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for the SNES. Sure there was an arcade version of this game, but I honestly only have experience with the Super Nintendo iteration. Although I did not own a Super Nintendo in it’s heyday my neighbor across the street did and I have fond memories of playing this game with him during a rental. The colors and graphics were mind blowing to me at the time, and the music was upbeat and kick ass! This was one of the few times in the 1990’s that I was envious of an SNES offering as a Genesis guy.
In keeping with the TMNT theme, I’ve always enjoyed the opening title theme to the putrid first TMNT game for the NES. Although the game itself was absolute shit I can’t knock the memorable music that Konami crafted for the title. Granted it was kind of odd that Konami would opt to go with an original composition rather than the ubiquitous Ninja Turtles cartoon theme for their game but at least their effort was a memorable one.
Holy fuck is this theme intense. The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis was a fun albeit a bit strange interpretation of the popular Batman animated series. The game played more like a shooter than a traditional side scrolling beat ’em up. While controlling either the Caped Crusader or the Boy Wonder you would guide your character level to level defeating bad guys not only with punches and kicks, but primarily by hurling an endless supply of throwing weapons at them. The graphics and sound were impressive for a Genesis title, but this main theme played during the title intro is ridiculously long. It times in at nearly 28 minutes. What’s more insane is that it doesn’t ever loop during the entire duration! TWENTY EIGHT MINUTES! I have to give credit where it’s due, the guy that composed this theme took his job very seriously.
When I was growing up I had a fascination with golf games. Playing Golf for the NES at my friend’s house generated an early interest in taking up the game, but unfortunately neither of my parents were interested in golf. As a result for years my only experience with the sport would be through the NES or with a few hollow plastic balls and some cheap second hand clubs my parents picked up for me at an antique shop. Still, when my friend picked up the NES Open we were both blown away not only by the great gameplay but some of the impressive animations and the cool background themes. Years later in high school when I started picking up older NES games that same friend gave me his copy of NES Open Tournament Golf which I still own and play today. In fact, despite being released in 1991 I’m still using the same save file which I am now approaching career earnings of $2 million dollars on. Sweet.
I’m definitely finishing this article on a high note. Castlevania is considered one of the greatest NES games ever made and the game birthed a prolific franchise which still lives today although the quality has waxed and waned a bit over the years. The stage 1 theme known as “Vampire Killer” was pleasantly pulsing in the background when most of us were first exposed to the franchise and left an indelible imprint on us. Honestly I didn’t experience Castlevania until many years later, and my first exposure to the franchise was through Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Still, I can appreciate this theme for the impact it had on millions of gamers across the globe and understand the legacy it created.
Thus ends another chapter of this ongoing series celebrating the best and most memorable video game tracks created. This particular entry was jam packed with fantastic tunes that everyone should be able to enjoy or at least appreciate. If you weren’t at least partially pumped by these selections then you obviously just don’t care about vintage gaming music. For shame.