Music can make or break a video game. For me, it’s impossible to think back on some of my favorite gaming experiences without hearing certain sounds in my head: the Forest Temple theme from Ocarina of Time, the Kamiki Festival music from Okami, and the battle music from the Gears of War series, to name just a few.
Considering how these scores burn themselves into our memories, for better or for worse, it should come as no surprise that there’s quite the market on the web for good covers of video game songs. The following are a few of my personal favorites.
This song is of the many that will stick with you after playing Majora’s Mask. You won’t play it the most often out of all of the ocarina tunes, but it will be there with you in some of the game's most significant and heart-wrenching moments. It’s the song you use to put heroes to rest, to bring families back together, and to bring peace to troubled souls. Sp0ntanius’s cover not only does this wonderful song justice but is a treat visually as well. Just try to watch it only once.
What’s a fighting game without great music? The Street Fighter series can claim some of the genre’s most memorable tunes -- including the ever-meme-worthy “Guile’s Theme” -- as its own. The game itself may be difficult, but what’s even harder is getting the songs out of your head. This cover is about as awesome as it gets (granted, everything sounds better with a little bit of beatboxing thrown in).
Pyrofiliac’s cover of “Song of Storms” may be the first video game cover I ever fell in love with. I’ve had it in my YouTube favorites for ages now, and I still have yet to get sick of it. Yes, this talented violinist has redone this cover, but the new version just doesn’t compare, in my opinion. Plus, the “Song of Storms” might just be the very best ocarina tune you learn in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, so it has that going for it, too.
I seem to be the last person in the world who is both into video games and hasn’t played Skyrim. So I’m surprised that when a friend posted this video on Facebook, back when Skyrim was still new and practically unavoidable (i.e., when there were arrow in the knee jokes everywhere), I bothered to give it a listen -- but I’m so glad that I did. Within the game, you can listen to “The Dragonborn Comes” by talking to the bards, and the performances range from "rather nice" to "mediocre at best." Malukah’s interpretation, on the other hand, is gorgeously haunting.
Feel how you will about Halo overall, but things don't get much more epic than this theme song: On one hand, it definitely fits the bill for the stereotypically grandiose overture to a game about space marines, but on the other, it’s pleasantly unusual with its Irish jig-inspired interludes. This song is perfect for a violin cover, and the best one might be Corporeal’s tribute. I’m sure they couldn’t have imagined as they were uploading this video to YouTube that someday they’d be rocking the E3 stage, but it's a well-deserved 15 minutes of fame, if you ask me.
"Medley" (Metal Gear Solid)
The Metal Gear games are exquisite in just about every way. They may be jam-packed with long cut scenes, but they’re also full of innovative quirks and excellent music. I’d count Metal Gear Solid 4’s “Love Theme” as one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs I’ve heard anywhere, let alone in video games (and the Brawl remix is as good or better). You can just feel this song tearing at your guts, and that’s what you want from video game music: You want it to make the experience all the more visceral. This medley of Metal Gear Solid music is wonderful because it’s so stripped down and honest. The guitarists are undeniably talented, and you know it because of what they succeed in making you feel.
Katamari Damacy is both a cult hit and one of Playstation’s flagship series. If you have the console, there’s a good chance that you’re either using it to play God of War or quirky, artsy games like this one; there's not much in between. If you’ve never heard of Katamari, you really ought to check it out, because the weirdness is practically unparalleled. And that’s what I love about this cover, too: It’s equal parts weird and infectious, and the rock treatment it gives the game’s music is as smile-inducing as rolling up everything from candies to the sun to create new stars.
Do you have a favorite video game song cover?
'Gaming for N00bs' is TNGG Boston's bi-weekly gaming column, written by Vanessa Formato.
Photo by Brandon Giesbrecht (Flickr)
About Vanessa -- Vanessa Formato is a 23-year-old Clark University graduate, freelance journalist, vegan cupcake enthusiast and video game aficionado. She blogs about body image and tweets about puppies. So awesome, even John Stamos is impressed.
The author is solely responsible for the content.