Just under a year ago, I wrote up a piece about new games that had great soundtracks that served as a tribute to games of the past. When I had finished writing it, I was satisfied with what I had written, happy to share some of my favorite soundtracks with the fine readers of PlayStation University.
The next day, that satisfaction was replaced with deflation. The games included didn’t suck, but commenters pointed out one glaring omission, and I had somehow managed to exclude another game that was arguably my favorite retro-soundtrack as I was writing the list.
Obviously, such egregious injustice will not stand, so allow me to talk about a few more of my favorite retro-flavored soundtracks in games today.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed
Let’s begin with the entry that I’m still beating myself up for not including in the original list. The existence of Bionic Commando: Rearmed proves that remaking old games (and not just remastering or porting them) can be extremely rewarding for consumer and publisher alike. It prettied up what was already a solid game, making it into one of the premier downloadable games of 2008.
The highlight of that remake, though, was the revamped soundtrack. Simon Viklund masterfully took the catchy tunes of the NES original and made them into powerhouses that you could blast out of your car without shame. It still used many of the 8-bit sounds found in the original soundtrack, but gave it a techno twist that wouldn’t be completely out of place at a club. Well, the awesome game-themed club in my head.
I could talk at length about why I love each and every track found in Rearmed, but instead I’ll just include a few of my absolute favorites below and see if you disagree with my sentiment. Not that you will.
Above: Heat Wave
Above: Power Plant
Above: Rise of the Albatross
If you enjoyed those (and you did), feel free to download the soundtrack off of iTunes for $9.99 by clicking here. I’m not big on iTunes normally, but it’s really the only place to buy it, so there you go.
3D Dot Game Heroes
Another game that I very shamefully forgot to add to last year’s list. Considering the subject matter and the game’s aesthetic, it should’ve immediately come to mind, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, 3D Dot Game Heroes is pretty much exactly what you would get if you combined the design trappings of an NES game — in this case, The Legend of Zelda — and pumped as much current-gen tech into it as you could. While the game had a 3D-pixelated look and had the same screen-to-screen gameplay as the original Zelda, it had beautiful water effects, effective bloom lighting, and a killer soundtrack.
Obviously, the soundtrack is going to be the main focus here, though it’s a wonder that people don’t talk about it more. Like Bionic Commando above, it takes the best of what’s old and makes it sound fresh. The overworld theme heard through much of the game, for example, sounds like it’s right out of The Legend of Zelda, but it’s just different enough to stand on its own. The game’s soundtrack also draws inspiration from other popular 8-bit series. My favorite being “Dark Tower,” which seems to draw inspiration from Castlevania.
Above: Main Theme/Overworld
Above: Dark Tower
Above: Advancing Through the Coastline
Also like Bionic Commando above, there aren’t many options for purchasing the soundtrack. In this case, all I found was this Play Asia listing for a Japanese copy, running at $25 plus shipping. A steep price, but it’s all I could find.