THe title theme is the first impression any player has of any game. A good title theme captures the feel of the game perfectly, so let’s take a look at some games that get you immersed even before the game starts.
Classic Mario Brothers
This one should be on any top video game music list for obvious reasons, so let’s just get it over with. The anthem of our childhood? Check. One of the most iconic tunes in gaming? Check. It’s also a positive and upbeat tune to just listen to on its own, so this entry shouldn’t be a surpise to anyone.
The obligatory obscure entry is the main theme of People’s General, a TBS developed by Strategic SImulations in 1998. The game revolves around an East vs West World War 3 with the United States and China leading the charge on their respective ends. With units of each type numbering in the double digits, a lengthy sheet of stats for each and terrain playing a huge role, this game is much more in-depth than something like Advance Wars and CC: Red Alert, so the main theme sounds very militaristic. From the name and the box art, it’s obvious that China is the poster boy of this game, so the sporadic oriental sounds really hit the spot. Even without them, the main theme sounds a lot more Chinese than American (just compare their gameplay music at 1:06 to the upbeat US trumpet music at 3:42). It’s just the tune for a military parade in Beijing.
The original Deus Ex had one of the best scores of all time, but its title music really takes the cake. Going hand in hand with the game’s conspiracy theme, it starts off dark and sisnister and then gets much louder, like you just learned about a huge secret government plot to do something beyond anyone’s imagination. The synthesized music also does a great job of conveying the futuristic setting.
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
The main theme from Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty sounds very similar to the original’s, but it just works better here because it doesn’t have to represent the whole game, just the Terrans. The first few seconds sound a lot like that “evolution” music, which is an awesome touch since we’re talking about humanity. It then goes to louder and heavier music, which makes you think of what humanity has evolved into – gorilla-like space suits, gargantuan battlecruisers and imposing artillery tanks, with the guitar riffs adding a nice little touch of exploration. The darker parts that follow convey a feeling of fear and uncertainty – very fitting for being caught up in a war this huge. In short, this theme works really well for a campaign that focuses on Terrans because it sums up the Terran backstory without using a single word, only emotion.
They have evolved from apes, mastered space exploration and are now in huge trouble because of it.
Ave Maria – Hitman: Blood Money.
Very few people, especially in the gaming industry, have the musical genious of Jesper Kyd, so why would IO and Eidos use a song that’s not original ? Ave Maria (composed by Franz Schubert in 1825) fits Hitman: Blood Money like a glove – it’s calm and VERY classy, just like Mr 47. The German language never had a reputation of sounding beautiful, but this song does a superb job of challenging that. If you look at the English lyrics (below), think of the Hitman as “Maria” and it will make all the sense in the world. Agent 47 may be a cold blooded killer, but he makes bad people go away to protect the innocent. Herr Schupert would be proud.
Ave Maria! Maiden mild,
Heed your children’s prayers,
In the valley of tears, be our shield
Let my prayer waft to you.
We sleep safely until morning,
Your cloak of stars covers us.
O Maiden, see our worries,
O give peace to our hearts!
Ave Maria! Pure maidservant!
We want to trust in you faithfully
You, sweet maiden, undaunted
Full of hope, to you gaze upward,
And calmly bend God’s Will to us,
That your holy solace may drift to us.
O Maiden, full of grace, tend to us
The child, that suppliantly entreats you.