A (Brief) Guide to Exploring Videogame Music

Videogame music is gaining recognition from big radio stations in the UK, thanks to Classic FM and, more recently, BBC Radio 3. And now London will have another Final Symphony Concert! I find this very exciting as videogame music is such a passion of mine. Yes, it invokes memories of the games I love, but I know the right piece of music will aid my writing. From Aerith's Theme to Nate's Theme, there's a videogame track out there waiting to inspire you.

Thanks to increasing awareness of its magnificence, exploring videogame music is so much easier than it used to be. No longer do you have to import soundtracks from Japan, or buy a game OST at random and hope there's something worth listening to on it. Allow me to offer an incredibly brief look at a few places you can start, whether you're a gamer or not.

Where to Start (As a Non-Gamer)

There are some great compilation albums available now to give you a taster of what videogame music can offer.

I recommend the London Philharmonic Orchestra's two "Greatest Videogame Music" albums. Both have a great variety of music, from classics of the gaming world to more modern pieces. These are perfect albums to start with if you're not familiar with gaming music.

After these, you can move onto performances by Video Games Live.

You may find yourself loving a particular series or composer, and that's were you can start exploring the original soundtracks (OSTs) of entire games. For example, those two pieces come from Koji Kondo. My personal favourites include Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, and Greg Edmonson.

Dedicated videogame music sites, such as Game Music Online, provide excellent reviews of all kinds of soundtracks, many of which will suit a variety of writing genres.

Where to Start (As a Gamer)

Have a favourite game, even an old school classic? Start there. You really will be impressed with the selection available on iTunes. If it's a more obscure title, tracking down a copy of the OST may be tricky or expensive. Check the game's publisher's website to begin with. If you have to import, I recommend Yes Asia, as I've never had a problem with them in all the years I've imported Japanese OSTs.

Pictured: OBSESSION <3

Oh, and if you still own original PlayStation or PC versions of Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II, congratulations! You officially own those soundtracks! ...At least you do in the UK. Can't speak for other countries, sorry! If only all games came packaged with their soundtracks.

With some of the bigger franchises, you'll find a lot of eager fans have put together their own covers of the best music. I love Project Destati's Kingdom Hearts albums, but you also have artists like Taylor Davis producing phenomenal covers:

Explore Loudr to find excellent cover artists. Their albums are nicely priced, and excellent additions to your score collection, especially if you're struggling to track down original recordings.

And if you ever have the chance to attend a live performance of videogame music, go. I cannot describe how amazing it is to hear orchestras play music you may only have ever heard in their old school Nintendo cartridge format.

So, I hope I've given you some ideas of where to start! And let me know if you ever need any recommendations. I'll try to keep my Final Fantasy recommendations to a minimal ;)


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