I was digging through my younger brother’s room the other day looking for something he had borrowed. Coming across a huge stack of naked CD’s, I decided to be nosy and look through them to see if there was anything interesting. My curiosity was rewarded when I found my old Killer Instinct soundtrack, Killer Cuts; the one they packaged with the first production run of the Super Nintendo version of the game.
Jazzed, I popped it into my car player on the way to a fishing rendezvous and found myself bobbing my head like I did back in frickin’ 1995. Some of those songs are still pretty good, damnit!
About a week later I showed the CD to a co-worker. He started laughing, recognizing the disk before I even put it in. Apparently he had loved Killer Cuts as a kid too. Later, we played it at work, annoying the clueless youngsters who had never even heard of Killer Instinct the game, let alone the soundtrack.
I’ve always been a big fan of video game music since the SNES demonstrated it could play a pretty good tune. I remember recording video game music on cassette tapes using a microphone and a boom box to play later on school trips. I didn’t like everything, but occasionally a song would bend my ear and I’d have to have it. I was never into the music of the day. I never picked up on New Kids on the Block or Ace of Base like the other kids. I liked music that was a little different. I liked the music of adventure; the kind of stuff I could place in a movie scene. After all, a lot of the tunes were composed around a story. When Nobuo Uematsu wrote the soundtracks for the Final Fantasy games, he was basically composing music for movie scenes you played.
As games progressed beyond running and jumping, designers realized the music played a pretty big part in how people were engaged by a game. Dudes like Uematsu-San started to look a lot cooler. Turns out, people loved their “video game music”. Now world orchestras play the same sh*t he wrote for SNES games. Distant Worlds will be rocking out in Illinois this weekend, as a matter of fact.
Being a lover of video game music is no big thang these days. However, when Killer Cuts came out, game soundtracks weren’t something you saw very often on this side of the pond. Now, most games have an OST you can pick up off Amazon. Sometimes they even come with the game or with collectors editions. My copy of Persona 4 came with a soundtrack (albiet, an incomplete one, damnit), and the World of Warcraft soundtracks ship with their special release packages.
Which isn’t a bad thing, considering how much game music has changed and how much companies now emphasis the importance of how a game sounds as much as the look now. Of course, there will always be old favorites from the days of SNES and even 8-bit Nintendo. Who doesn’t love the Mega Man 3 theme? Whoever did that deserves a frickin’ Grammy.