When Game Music Controls Your Soul - Will Sora Layton Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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When Game Music Controls Your Soul

About four or five years ago, I didn't listen to music. At all, really. When I did, it was involuntarily through what was playing on the radio in the car, or simply enjoying the music of some game I happened to be playing at the time. I couldn't (okay, I still can't) name many bands that have ever existed, only knowing some from seeing people listing them in their profiles in places online, questions on Jeopardy!, or, again, from the radio. The only Beatles song I know is Yellow Submarine, and that's because we watched the weird movie of it in art in 8th grade. 

I love this OST very, very much.

Sure, there are some songs I do know by some famous bands, like Bohemian Rhapsody, Wanted Dead or Alive, and Mississippi Queen, but I only know of them because of video games; the latter two from Rockband, and the first from an excellent Super Smash Bros. Brawl music video. The maker of this video also did one for Majora's Mask, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess, among others, introducing me to Full Moon, Before the Duel, and Nightfall, respectively. the only others really are War by Poets of the Fall, which I got from Alan Wake, Bullet with Butterfly Wings from the Dead Space 2 launch trailer, and of course, Utada Hikaru's pieces used in the Kingdom Hearts series. Even though these songs are all great, I end up listening to ones being directly made for games much more often.

The original spark for this blog was Matt Helgeson's recent post about Grand Theft Auto's use of licensed music. While, again, I have enjoyed games like Alan Wake and Kingdom Hearts for using tracks already put out by artists, I have much more enjoyed original music for games like Silent Hill: Downpour, The World Ends with You, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. There's something about the tracks they offer that have just appealed to me way more than anything I've heard anywhere else. If you look on my profile page, I list Poets of the Fall, Utada Hikaru, Takeharu Ishimoto, Old Gods of Asgard, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in my favorite music section. Old Gods of Asgard is a band in Alan Wake that is fictional and whose songs are performed by Poets of the Fall, Takeharu Ishimoto a composer for The World Ends with You, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn being a vocal artist for a couple Silent Hill songs. What especially stands out in the following songs to me is how they connect to me personally, and thus fill certain voids/habits I'm in at times.

Here's a good one for depression time.

While I've, unfortunately, never gotten to play a Silent Hill game yet, a couple of the themes for the recent games have caught my interest, and I listen to them every once in awhile. The couple that have really gotten me are One More Soul to the Call, Love Psalm, and Silent Hill, made for Silent Hill: Homecoming, Book of Memories, and Downpour, respectively. These songs have been there for me in times of depression, as I'm the kind of "listen to X type song when in X mood", since they kind of help in some weird way. I'm not entirely sure why, but these songs have just filled that somber need, and have done it better than any sort of sad song I've heard on the radio. In particular, Silent Hill, seen above, fits in with my depression in a sense of how it just comes back sometimes, with it always being there, like the lyrics say.

You should listen to this Transformation. See what I did there? If you didn't...listen. :P

However, there is one OST that has been more comprehensive in satisfying my music needs, and that OST is that of The World Ends with You. My favorite Nintendo DS title (and the remixed songs for the iOS version) has a great number of jumpy, upbeat tunes that have helped me cheer up more than once, with songs like the fan-favorite Twister, Hybrid, and Someday. However, my favorite of The World Ends with You soundtrack is Transformation, a song I consider to be the theme of Beat, one of the game's main characters. The song symbolizes how in recent years, I've become more assertive and independent, doing new things, and especially blogging here on Gameinformer. What helps more to connect me with this song is that it's playing during some battles of the game, which just means that I hear the song while erasing Noise, and just let it sink in more. The same can be said for the rest of the game's OST as well, and the stage fight in episode 4 of Alan Wake.

Although both of the previous series have provided great tracks for me to listen to, in the months following its release, I have listened to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance's substantially more than any other game's tracks. The Platinum hack-and-slash has so many great tracks, and I haven't even listened to all of them yet-sometimes I get obsessed with one new one and listen to that one a lot, until I check out another track(though the "non-listened-to" list is growing very small). Lately, I've been killing my ears with A Soul Can't be Cut, and I'm My Own Master Now. Some of the other tracks I've grown to really love have been mostly the themes of the characters/bosses of the game. 

I finally found what I was looking for...there are so many versions of this song!

What's really been so engrossing about Metal Gear Rising's OST is how the tracks are all basically doing what Transformation does for me-connecting, and making me feel better about myself. Each can be alluded to just my depression, my difference, my thoughts, or some other aspect, and I find that pretty awesome. For example, Mistral's theme, A Stranger I Remain, has fit in with my difference from most people I know. Most of my friends play different games from me, are way more social, and do activities with each other, while I'm more doing my own thing. This song has helped me feel better about me going my own way, as I've realized it's about where I'm comfortable, not where everyone else is comfortable in life. 

This is one of the best themes in any game, IMO.

Another one, a bit more controversial in connection, is Collective Consciousness, the theme of Metal Gear Excelsus. It deals with the corruption of America, something Senator Armstrong talks about prior to the boss fight. I'm not really a revolutionary or anything, I'm just a firm believer in equality, human rights, and everything, and I see our society today as being somewhat corruptive and all. I know that the quality of life in our country is much higher than some other places in the world, but it just irks me for people to be all "'MUERICA" as though we're infallible and perfect. And well, this song kind of follows that, which is pretty awesome.

Metal Gear Rising has even more themes that connect directly to me, but I think addressing those two is enough to highlight this, as well as demonstrate how much I loved the game's soundtrack. If you've ever been emotionally connected with a game's original music, I've love to hear about it-I know General Mills44 has, with his recurring Song of the Week series. I think they're one of the great things about gaming, because besides just being a part of the game, and connecting you to the game, they're something to represent the game, and connect you to an emotion, to pull you more into the experience, something that normal music in our society hasn't really done for me(except for Kingdom Hearts! That's great!).

And hey, games have also given us music like this.

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