Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

High Score’s Best Scores

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Silent Hill: Downpour was released earlier this week, but I decided long ago that I would not be buying it. Not only has the series lost the atmospheric and unsettling feel (which it lost quite a few releases ago), it also lost one of the main reasons I continued playing.

Akira Yamaoka served as the musical motor behind the series from the original game through the embarrassing Wii rerelease of the original as well as the few great ones in-between. Listening to the soundtracks for the first three games, it’s obvious that Yamaoka had a clear sense of the creepy, haunting ambiance the player would experience and his music heightens the experience. When I learned KoRn would be providing some of the music for Downpour and Akira would not be composing any pieces, I hung up any second thoughts of buying or playing the game. Joystiq also shared some of the same sentiments in their review saying the loss of Yamaoka is possibly the game’s “biggest detriment”

That being said, I don’t want to focus on terrible in-game music. Instead, we’ll listen to some of my favorite gaming scores. Feel free to add yours in the comments!

One of the best musical compositions in a game comes from one of my favorite games: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Symphony, while also being my first foray into the Castlevania series, made me more aware of atmosphere in games. Voice acting aside (“Have at you!”), Symphony brought a more holistic approach to gaming – not only was the gameplay fantastic, the music and art served as an incredibly immersive experience for that console generation. Composer Michiru Yamane gave us the ethereal and classic pieces that are as timeless as the game itself.

Some music fits the game so perfectly, it’s almost impossible to play without it. Garry Schyman’s Bioshock soundtrack and score are the best examples of this. The decaying world of Rapture was almost magical when coupled with his haunting compositions while the in-game licensed music heightened the “roaring twenties” aesthetic, the mingling of the two made Bioshock ‘s ambient sadness a little more perceivable.

And of course, who could forget the Tetris theme? It was the first bit of gaming music that continually got stuck in my head. Wikipedia guesses that Hirokazu Tanaka is the likely composer of this piece. Here’s a dubstep remix… for some reason…

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Written by highbrowhighscore

March 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm

One Response

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  1. I’m glad that you mentioned Bioshock. It’s one of my favorite games because of it’s unique atmosphere. At it’s core, it’s just a singleplayer FPS, but it really showcased the storytelling potential of a genre that is saturated with crappy CoD clones redoing WWII….AGAIN.

    I also really like the concept behind the original Left 4 Dead music; a dynamic score that is unique to each individual play-through. But I have to be honest. I didn’t notice it changed until the developer commentary pointed it out. Don’t know what that says about the concept.

    More so than the Tetris music, my childhood is encapsulated by that music in Super Mario Bros. Duna Duna Duna…. When you pass the first level and drop down into 1-2. I got the fireballs and the mushroom and I’m about to get 1337 on you n00bs and skip a bunch of levels.

    D

    March 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm


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