Musical Tuesday: “Guile’s Theme” (Street Fighter II), composed by Yoko Shimomura

“For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.” — M Bison, Street Fighter

 

I hadn’t planned to choose Guile’s Theme as this week’s song. I’d originally picked out another song… and then, on Monday, I couldn’t log into the site. Now it’s Tuesday, and I couldn’t resist the urge to combine one of video gaming’s classic, catchy, iconic themes with the above meme. As an added bonus, this even ties into previous Musical Mondays — Yoko Shimomura, who composed most of the character themes for the arcade version of Street Fighter II, eventually went on to compose much of the (excellent) soundtrack of Xenoblade Chronicles. Below the cut, I’ve posted a video that rounds up 55 minutes’ (!!!) worth of Guile themes from various Street Fighter games — if you ask me, the original is still the best. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Main Theme” (X: Rebirth), composed by Andrei Zakharov

I’ve never played X: Rebirth, the space simulation from which this week’s piece hails, and judging by the reviews (and the series’ reputation for density), I doubt I ever will. But that doesn’t detract from the haunting beauty of its main theme, a song that conjures up loss, and melancholy, and the frozen grandeur of space. I’ve embedded it below the cut — enjoy!

 

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Musical Monday: “Hometown” (Xenoblade Chronicles), composed by Yoko Shimomura and ACE+

I’ve previously highlighted the gorgeous soundtrack of Xenoblade Chronicles, and this week, I’ve returned for a second helping. “Hometown” is the epitome of RPG town music – peaceful, happy, and pleasant. Like most of the game’s ambient songs, it comes in two versions — a more energetic one that plays during the in-game daytime; and a gentler one that plays at night. I’ve linked both below the cut. Enjoy!

 

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Musical Monday: “Paper Dolls” (Digital: A Love Story), composed by 4mat

This week’s song is a chiptune piece that features on the soundtrack of Christine Love’s interactive fiction/adventure game Digital: A Love Story, a game I’ve previously praised to the skies. Upbeat and energetic, “Paper Dolls” plays at a moment of great hope in the narrative — Digital veterans will probably remember the moment in question — and like the rest of the game’s music, it is a wonderful fit for tone and theme. I’ve embedded the song below the cut — enjoy!

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Musical Tuesday: “Mado Kara Mieru” (Calling All Dawns), composed by Christopher Tin

Over the weekend I wrote about an excellent game themed around the four seasons of Japan, so how better to follow it up than with an excellent song themed around the four seasons of Japan? “Mado Kara Mieru” is part of the Calling All Dawns album, composed by Christopher Tin of “Baba Yetu”/Civilization IV fame. It’s slow, contemplative, and quietly beautiful, and the story behind the lyrics is equally interesting. From the composer’s blog:

 

It’s sung in Japanese, and is based around a series of five Haiku, each corresponding to the changing seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and ending on spring. Each verse is sung by a singer in a different stage of their life; so a young girl sings the first spring verse, an adolescent girl sings about summer, an older woman sings about autumn, etc. The song ends with a return of the young girl singing about spring, therefore completing the cycle of the seasons. So in essence, it’s a song about the cycle of life.

 

I’ve embedded the actual song below the cut below. Enjoy!

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Musical Tuesday: “Dune Variation” (Dune), composed by Stephane Picq

For this week’s theme, I present another blast from the past — a piece from the 1992 Dune adventure game that preceded Westwood’s far-better known Dune 2. Specifically, I’ve presented two versions. The first is the in-game version; the second is the version from the “Spice Opera” CD. The first couple of minutes of the CD version are a rather dull lead-in, so I’d advise you skip to 1:55, but the rest of the song more than makes up for it. It’s a lovely, otherworldly piece that always makes me think of Arrakis, and wind howling in the desert, and the wonders that Frank Herbert conjured up almost 50 years ago. Enjoy!

 

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Musical Monday: “The Stonemasons” (Europa Universalis IV), composed by Andreas Waldetoft

This week’s song, which I’m pretty sure is a remix of the Europa Universalis III theme, is perhaps my favourite from EU4. There is war in the game, and there was war in this period in history – lots of it! – but there was also trade, culture, and splendour, and this song feels like an expression of the latter. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “World Map” (Ni no Kuni), composed by Joe Hisaishi

Besides Europa Universalis IV, I’m also playing Ni no Kuni, a PS3 RPG born from a collaboration between RPG developer Level-5  and legendary anime house Studio Ghibli. It is an utterly gorgeous game, and its music – composed by Ghibli regular Joe Hisaishi and the lesser-known Rei Kondoh – is just as effective at bringing the game’s fairy-tale world to life. Below, I’ve linked the world map theme — enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Leaving for Philadelphia” (John Adams), composed by Rob Lane

With Europa Universalis IV just a few days away, this week I present another song from John Adams, the HBO miniseries based on the career of the second president of the United States. “Leaving for Philadelphia” is a gentler, bittersweet-sounding version of the main theme, which I also encourage you to check out. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Reign of the Septims” (Oblivion), composed by Jeremy Soule

For this week, I present another classic video game theme – “Reign of the Septims”, aka the main theme of Oblivion. (Specifically, I present the version performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the Greatest Video Game Music CD.) Personally, I think the Morrowind theme (“Call of Magic”) edges it out, but it remains a solid piece of music. Enjoy!

 

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Musical Monday: “Boss Battle” (Final Fantasy XII), composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto

With a song named “Boss Battle”, you know exactly you are going to get, and this track from veteran Sakimoto (Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles) doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Milky Way (Battle)” (FTL: Faster than Light), composed by Ben Prunty

This week, I present one of the battle themes from last year’s indie hit FTL (my coverage here). It’s a catchy and cheerful song, which may just help counterbalance how sadistic the rest of the game can be! Enjoy.

 

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Musical Monday: “Radical Dreamers ~ Unstolen Jewel” (Chrono Cross), composed by Yasunori Mitsuda

This week’s song is one I haven’t heard in its original game – it’s the beautiful, mellow closing credits theme to the never-released-in-PAL Chrono Cross.  Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Xaltocan” (Expeditions: Conquistador), composed by Leonardo Badinella

This week’s theme is one of the overworld tracks from Expeditions: Conquistador, a sort of alt-historical King’s Bounty in which players command a band of Spanish explorers/conquistadors in sixteenth-century Central America. It is a good game, and it owes some of that success to the atmosphere created by the music. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Trilltrall” (Dominions 3), performed by Anna Rynefors, Erik Ask-Upmark

This week’s music is the lovely “Trilltrall”, as featured in the classic strategy game Dominions 3. Dom 3 is set in a world of myth and folklore, and its soundtrack — apparently comprising traditional Swedish folk songs, performed by the duo of Anna Rynefors and Erik Ask-Upmark — is the perfect match. Enjoy!

 

(Addendum: to my delight, I have discovered that the performers’ music, including this track, is available for purchase from Amazon and Google Play. As I type this, I am downloading my newly bought album…)

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Musical Monday: “The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley” (The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra)

This week, I present you with an orchestral rendition of some of gaming’s most iconic music. While I am not the world’s #1  Zelda player — I only picked up Twilight Princess around six months ago! — Link to the Past was one of my favourite games growing up. So the Zelda music always brings up happy memories of exploring Hyrule, fighting guards, and ignoring the plot — I could never get past those boulder traps in the Eastern Palace, so instead I just played LttP as though it were proto-Skyrim. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez” (Hearts of Iron), composed by Joaquin Rodrigo

Since the release of World War 2 grand strategy game Hearts of Iron II, almost a decade ago, Paradox Development Studio has always set its games to original music by Andreas Waldetoft. But the original Hearts of Iron relied on pre-existing music — for instance, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”, Mussorgsky’s “The Great Gate of Kiev”, and this week’s theme, Rodrigo’s “Adagio”. While lovely, “Adagio” is neither heroic, nor bold, nor martial at all. It is melancholy and regretful (according to Wikipedia, one of Rodrigo’s inspirations was grief at his wife’s miscarriage), and perhaps that makes it appropriate for accompanying a game about World War 2. Worth thinking about while you listen to the song.

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Musical Monday: “Dream of Albion” (Medieval: Total War II), composed by Jeff van Dyck

This week’s song is the haunting, beautiful title theme of the Britannia campaign, from the Kingdoms expansion for Medieval: Total War II. As with “Uncle Samurai” from Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai, this is one case where Jeff van Dyck’s music was better than the rest of the game —  Medieval II is my least favourite entry in the series. Enjoy!

(Fun trivia: this is actually built around an old Scottish folk song, “Ailein duinn”. Personally, I prefer this to the original, or at least to the versions of the original I’ve heard on Youtube.)

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Musical Monday: “Hymn to Red October” (The Hunt for Red October), composed by Basil Poledouris

With Wargame: AirLand Battle bringing the Cold War to virtual life, I can think of no better choice for this week than Basil Poledouris’ theme to The Hunt for Red October. It’s a powerful, Russian-language choral piece, well suited to the movie’s subject, and another feather in Poledouris’ (Conan the Barbarian) cap. Enjoy!
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Musical Monday: “Reach Out To The Truth” (Persona 4), composed by Shoji Meguro

This week’s song is the battle theme from classic (has it really been that long?!) JRPG Persona 4. It works on several levels: (1) it’s an energetic, upbeat, and enjoyable song in its own right; (2) it fits the mood of what, murder mystery plot notwithstanding, is a pretty cheerful game; and (3) as a piece of J-rock, it’s probably exactly what the protagonists would listen to while they fight monsters. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Main Theme” (Stardrive), by Jeff Dodson

This week’s song is the main theme to Stardrive, the upcoming (26 April) 4X space strategy game, and it is exactly what one would expect from the main theme to a 4X space strategy game. This is not a bad thing. Triumphant, stirring, and dare I say, “epic”, it’s been a real pleasure to listen to. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Withered Earth” (Suikogaiden II), composed by Miki Higashino

This week’s song is probably the most obscure I’ve featured to date. It’s the opening theme to a game I’ve never played — Genso Suikogaiden Vol 2: Duel at Crystal Valley, a visual novel spun off from the cult classic Suikoden JRPGs. (You might remember I featured the opening theme to Suikoden III a while back.) It’s also a lively song with a unique sound, and like the Suikoden III theme, it goes really well with the accompanying cinematic. Enjoy!

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Musical Monday: “Twelve Dreamsongs” (The Twelve Kingdoms), composed by Kunihiko Ryo

Happy Easter, everybody! This week’s song is the opening theme, “Twelve Dreamsongs”/”Juuni Genmu Kyoku”. of a classic anime, Asian-themed fantasy epic The Twelve Kingdoms. I’ve linked two versions — the first is simply the show’s opening credits, which pairs lovely visuals with a short version of the song. The second version is the full-length theme from the official soundtrack. Hmm. With my Twelve Kingdoms DVDs sitting on the shelf within arm’s reach, perhaps it’s time for me to re-watch the show…

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Musical Monday: “Adventure” & “Crimson Sky” (Guns of Icarus Online), composed by Zain Effendi & Gimmen Gong

Now that Muse Games has announced Adventure Mode, the long-awaited expansion for last year’s airship shooter Guns of Icarus Online, the time seemed ripe to highlight my two favourite tracks from the base game’s soundtrack:

1. The game’s main menu theme, “Adventure”, composed by Zain Effendi — a short, sweet, mellow piece that goes beautifully with the game’s steampunk setting.

2. An more stirring in-game piece, “Crimson Sky”,  composed by Gimmen Gong.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for my upcoming email interview with Muse!

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Musical Monday: “Anvil of Crom” and “Theology/Civilization” (Conan the Barbarian), composed by Basil Poledouris

For this week’s song, we’re going back to the ’80s – specifically, to Conan the Barbarian, a movie that tried so, so hard to be a dark, serious fantasy epic. It didn’t quite succeed, but Basil Poledouris’ majestic soundtrack brought it tantalisingly close. Below, I present the iconic main theme, “Anvil of Crom”, and a gentle travelling theme, “Theology/Civilization” – great ambient music for any fantasy RPG. Enjoy!

 

(By the way, did you know Arnie is due to return in a fourth Conan that retcons both Destroyer and the Jason Momoa reboot? One hopes it’ll be better than Destroyer…)

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The RPG Battle Themes of Motoi Sakuraba

This week, I’d like to spotlight the music of Motoi Sakuraba — probably best known nowadays as the composer of the Dark Souls soundtrack, but I’ve been a fan of his for years, ever since I heard his work on the Valkyrie Profile games. For now, I’ve chosen just a few tracks: the regular battle themes from Valkyrie Profile (1999) and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (2006), plus one boss battle theme from Dark Souls (2011). Note how his style has broadened over the years – the overwhelming majority of the original Valkyrie Profile‘s music is in the same upbeat rock style, whereas by Silmeria the music takes on a deeper, more epic quality that finally  blossoms into the very different sound of Dark Souls. Enjoy!

Musical Monday: “Spring Buds” and “Shattered Bamboo” (Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI), composed by Yoshihiro Ike

This week’s songs are from Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, KOEI’s epic strategy game set in war-torn Ancient China (and the last of its series to be translated into English). The game’s music is situational, so I want to say the first theme, “Spring Buds”, plays when you’re at peace, and that the second, “Shattered Bamboo”, plays when (A) you have a large empire and (B) you’re at war (I don’t recall hearing it when I was an underdog at the start of the game), but I can’t quite be sure! I can say they are as lovely as they are atmospheric, and I hope you enjoy them.

 

 

Musical Monday: Satorl, the Shimmering Marsh – Night (Xenoblade Chronicles), composed by Manami Kiyota

This week’s theme is a piece of ambient music from the Wii’s flagship RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles. Like the area in which it plays (depicted in the concept art below), it has an otherworldly loveliness that actually made me halt what I was doing in the game, sit back, and drink in the experience for a couple of minutes. Enjoy!

 

 

Musical Wednesday: Big Iron (Fallout: New Vegas), by Marty Robbins

And we’re back! This week’s song is Marty Robbins’ 1959 country ballad “Big Iron”, featured in Fallout: New Vegas. Including it in the game was an inspired choice! Not only does the song help establish the game’s pseudo-Western atmosphere, but its lyrics — about a gunslinger who rides into town with a “big iron on his hip” — could easily have been about your exploits as an RPG hero. Enjoy!

 

Musical Monday: “Kia Hora Te Marino” (Calling All Dawns), composed by Christopher Tin

It’s Christmas Eve! For an uplifting song, I give you something that’s not actually from a soundtrack — “Kia Hora Te Marino” (“May Peace Be Widespread”), from Christopher Tin’s “Calling All Dawns” album (1). The liner notes describe it as a “traditional Maori blessing”, and its tone and lyrics are a wonderful fit for the season. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

 

 

(1) You might remember this album as the source of the version of Baba Yetu I linked to a little while back.

Full credits for song: “Kia Hora Te Marino” was composed by Christopher Tin, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and featuring lyricist Jerome Kavanagh and backing vocalists Ben Mullon, John Mullon, Jordan Young and Tangaroatuane.