I’m a gaming veteran. I’ve been a computer gamer for years now, from the early 80’s loading from cassette onto a ZX Spectrum then playing on a Commodore Amiga, then moving to consoles (Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation), then hardcore PC gaming for years until I finally returned to consoles. I currently have a dusty X-Box 360 Elite and my gaming machine of choice: a PlayStation 3.
Game soundtracks have come a long way since the 80’s: most games now have official soundtracks, either licensed tracks or music especially commissioned and scored in the same way (and with the same budget) as blockbuster Hollywood movies. Many of these videogame soundtracks are now on Spotify, including the official soundtrack album for recently released art-deco shooter Bioshock 2.
Some early games had great theme songs: the Bomb the Bass John Carpenter-inspired theme to Xenon 2: Megablast, or Jonathan Dunn’s Robocop Title Theme (used by Ariston for their famous on-and-on commercials, for which composer Dunn received no royalties). But the first time I really noticed a full game soundtrack was in the Psygnosis game Shadow of the Beast from 1989. A weird and wonderful game, the ambient music fitted perfectly and really helped to create an atmosphere.
Here are five videogame soundtracks on Spotify: some official, some reconstructed, no joypad required.
wipEout Soundtracks – 1995’s WipEout for PlayStation had such a cool soundtrack that I still have the game CD long after I sold my original PlayStation. With licensed electronica from many of my favourites of the day (Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, Orbital), the WipEout soundtrack was massive. Although not officially on Spotify, here’s a custom playlist that features many of the tracks from that original game, as well as a selection from the sequels right up to last year’s brilliant WipEout HD, including that awesome Kraftwerk mix from Alex Gopher and Etienne De Crecy.
GTA IV: ElectroChoc – From my home city of Edinburgh, Rockstar North rule the gamescape with their Grand Theft Auto series. Since GTA III, in-game radio stations have provided the soundtrack to the city. Grand Theft Auto IV has a station called ElectroChoc. Mixed by DJ François Kevorkian (and later by production duo Crookers), ElectroChoc features some superb electro-house and discophonica. Here’s an ElectroChoc playlist on Spotify, featuring 20 tracks including Black Devil Disco Club, Padded Cell, Nitzer Ebb, and those boys again The Chemical Brothers. Be sure to check out Alex Gopher‘s Brain Leech (Bugged Mind Remix) with its nods back to that classic Xenon 2 theme.
Mirror’s Edge – Original Videogame Score – EA Games have added loads of videogame soundtracks to Spotify recently: Dante’s Inferno, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dragon Age: Origins and The Sims to name a few. My favourite though is the soundtrack to first-person action adventure Mirror’s Edge, featuring music from psybient act Solar Fields (Magnus Birgersson) and the title theme Still Alive by popular Swedish artist Lisa Miskovsky.
BioShock 2: Official Soundtrack – With its gorgeous decaying art-deco setting, intriguing characters and intricate storyline, BioShock was surely the best game of 2007. Sometimes forgotten in all the acclaim was its soundtrack: an inspired mix of songs featuring Garry Schyman’s original score and licensed Great American Songbook jazz from the 1930s – 1950s. Music from the likes of The Ink Spots, Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters helped contribute to the immersive atmosphere of BioShock. An official soundtrack album was never released, but I’ve reconstructed the soundtrack in Spotify: BioShock Soundtrack (Licensed Tracks).
BioShock 2: The undersea city of Rapture stands in ruins. Somewhere deep within, your Little Sister awaits. Once, you protected her and now, amongst hordes of genetically-altered maniacs, she is your only hope for salvation.
The sequel BioShock 2 was just released and I can’t wait to return to Rapture. The deluxe version of Bioshock 2: The Official Soundtrack is now on Spotify and gladly it continues in the same style as the original, including songs from Noel Coward, Billie Holiday, Fred Astaire, and Benny Goodman and his Orchestra.
Anyway, I’m ready for dreamtime Mr. Bubbles. If you spot any other game soundtracks on Spotify, would you kindly mention them in the comments?