It’s a golden age for video game music fans, so how do you listen? – Subject of discussion

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Image: Nintendo’s Life

Being a fan of Nintendo-based video game music has always been quite difficult. Older audio aficionados clung tightly to their Killer Cuts CDs, dedicated collectors mourned the triple-digit price of the rare Japanese CD boxes containing more, but never quite all, from a popular ’90s RPG soundtrack, and everyone was wondering why publishers seemed to have such a problem finding an obvious and mutually beneficial deal. You like the game, don’t you? Then order the soundtrack from your nearest dealer!

Or not, as it was 99% of the time.

Press Play ▶ ️

Thankfully, that default stance of professional disinterest has changed in recent years, and now music lovers around the world are able to get their hands on more video game soundtracks than ever before.

What were once imported-only rarities are now just a Spotify search, and what wasn’t there before at all now get limited edition ornate music boxes and premium vinyl versions. Many of them will still cost you a pretty dime, but they’re more readily available and affordable than ever – we’re going in the right direction.

It’s time to take a new look at how much in-game music is available and where you can get it. We’re starting with old-fashioned media (don’t worry, we’ll get even older soon) …

CD

Video Game Soundtracks CD
Image: Kerry Brunskill

Now nearly 40 years old, the compact disc remains a simple, DRM-free way to get your hands on the greatest gaming soundtracks, old and new. Nintendo itself began releasing lavish box sets for charts like Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons (the Zelda series even had several orchestral concert albums available as well) along with other titles, such as Link’s Awakening and Splatoon 2, receive full multi-disc albums; all ready and waiting to be purchased through your favorite import website.

Closer to home, Grandia, Actraiser, Streets of Rage II and Skies of Arcadia all have official soundtracks released by Wayo Records, located in France and, at least in this writer’s experience, the Mick Gordon soundtrack. for Doom is something to remember. a small branch of HMV.

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Digital

Digital Video Game Soundtracks

While often buried under hugely inconsistent tags, iTunes and Amazon have a plethora of soundtracks in all regions, spanning the full spectrum of titles you’d expect from them (such as Monster Hunter Rise – albeit with Japanese text. – and Legend of Mana’s newly remastered soundtrack), titles you hope to have (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hades, the entire Devil May Cry series) and titles you never dared dream of asking.

Need to buy the Dreamcast soundtrack pay homage to them SEGAGAGA, Capcom’s Dino Crisis 2 or Namco’s Pac-Mania? You can do it right now, right from your phone – no foreign currency gift cards or side accounts with fake addresses in the right country required, just produce, buy and play.

Vinyl

Vinyl
Image: Kerry Brunskill

Until the Wax Cylinder makes a mainstream comeback, vinyl is currently the hottest of all audio formats, and the game is keen to capitalize on its success. It’s big, tactile, the records are a joy to watch, and the slightly ceremonial nature of picking and then playing a specific album in sequence is a nice novelty in 2021.

Labels like Brain Wave and Data Discs have led the way with this anachronism (at least in terms of digital production video game music), and thanks to its boom in popularity, vinyl game soundtracks are easy to buy (you’ll have to be quick if you want a specific variant, mind you) and can be anything from classic arcade shmups like Gradius, Ketsui, and the legend of Treasure without the soundtrack Ikaruga, to independent hits such as Untitled Goose Game (an inventive album that cleverly mimics the cheeky nature of the game with its double-groove system, resulting in slightly unpredictable pieces) Shovel Knight and Celeste , or even the towering blockbusters of the past decade. Skyrim is vinyl. Dark Souls is made of vinyl. Minecraft is made of vinyl. Pull any game’s name out of a hat and it’s either on vinyl or soon on vinyl (which will likely sell out its initial batch in seconds).

No game too niche to be considered for a vinyl release these days. happiness.

Diffusion

Streaming video game soundtracks

Last but not least is streaming, a format so smooth that most platforms don’t even charge you anything to listen to the wonderful melodies it contains – as long as you can tolerate the ads, it ‘that is to say.

Here beloved RPG developer Falcom arguably reigns supreme, with its online offerings extending to a selection of albums originally released in the late 1980s while also including the soundtracks of games so new that they don’t even have English versions yet, plus the vast majority of everything else too.

Square Enix is ​​equally comprehensive, allowing users from anywhere and everywhere to listen to official recordings of NES and SNES classics, the latest releases, concerts and even their own “Chillhop LoFi remixes”, although we do not pretend to be. cool enough to know exactly what that entails.

More specifically for music fans owning Switch, you can enjoy the varied delicacies of Undertale, Octopath Traveler, XCOM 2, and Hollow Knight without having to do much more than log into the streaming platform of your choice.

Break ⏸️

Some people listen to the Mario Sunshine soundtrack through their Switch.  True story
Some people listen to the Mario Sunshine soundtrack through their Switch. True story

So things are definitely better than they’ve ever been, to the point where finding game soundtracks in very ordinary local places is pretty mundane. Resident Evil records, once the stuff of dreams, are now housed in the same stores that stock “100 greatest rock daddy hits”. Everything from retro chiptune to booming symphonic arrangements is accessible via phone or tablet.

Could things still get better? Of course they could. There are still far too many easily spotted holes in the in-game music catalog, and many strange inconsistencies between regions and formats – it’s still not a given that a new vinyl release will come with a digital equivalent. , for example, and even if you keep in mind the licensing issues and label preferences that need to be negotiated when re-releasing vintage OST, this scenario still feels like a missed opportunity too obvious to someone. somewhere down the merchandising chain.

Even so, what we’re seeing right now is that game music is finally being taken seriously without having to constantly fight to justify its existence to a larger audience; as audio entertainment in its own right, as something worth enjoying, indulging in – and ultimately paying for if you want to see (or hear) even more in the future.


Plenty of options make ears happy – let us know below how you like to enjoy your video game music when you’re not playing the games themselves in the poll below, and be sure to check out the other Nintendo Life VGM Fest articles from our season of music-focused interviewing and reporting.


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