Music might be the most overlooked aspect of video games by game creators and game players alike. Unless its the star of the show in a music game, music is often perceived as audio wallpaper. Game makers generally aren’t as successful in implementing music as they are with other elements of their products, such as graphics and gameplay. Nowadays, licensed music and slapped-in “Hollywood-like” orchestral scores are the norm. With the advent of voice chat, custom soundtracks and other diversions, game players in general I think are paying less attention to game music than ever before, too.
I’m still paying attention though. I grew up in an era where video game music had its own distinct sound due to technological limitations. An era when the Super Mario theme was still hot and new. Where the awesome work of game composers shone through the primitive beeps and bloops. Game music has evolved dramatically over the years, but we as gamers have had our ears blessed with some truly great music.
I wanted to take the time out to write about some of my favourite pieces of video game music in a series of posts. There are some amazing tunes that have not only had an impact on my gaming, but my life as well in some way or another. There were more obvious choices I could have gone with to start this series, but I wanted to give credit to a game that has recently eaten up a lot of my time (and my brains). Besides being super fun to play, it has some of the best video game music I’ve heard in a while.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was horribly late jumping on the Plants vs. Zombies bandwagon. I was never really into the tower defense genre. However, the rave reviews and positive word-of-mouth continued to pour in a year after the game’s release. One of the final factors that got me to try the game was a post on Kotaku, where they featured a live performance of the Plants vs. Zombies theme song performed by Laura Shigihara, the game’s composer. I fell in love with the song instantly for it’s great melody, great composition and charming lyrics. I had the song stuck in my head for days before I had even played the game myself.
When I finally got the game, I was pleased to find out that the rest of the game’s soundtrack is also awesome. Plants vs. Zombies in tone and concept is really weird, which would make the task of creating music that fits the game really difficult. It really feels like the music was created with the game in mind, because it fits the game so well. The melodies of all the tracks are really strong, catchy and really emote the feel of classic video game music from the 80s and early 90s. Not to say that the music is comprised of bleeps and bloops; the instrumentation is all done with modern instruments and sounds awesome.
My favourite little touch in the music are the elements that give the music a slightly creepy feel. For a game about zombies that want to eat your brains, it’s still fairly light-hearted. There’s just enough there to keep the music as creepy and tense as it needs to be.
I could gush about Plants vs. Zombies all day for a number of factors, not just the music. While I do enjoy listening to “Zombies on Your Lawn” on my iPod and I recommend you check out some of the tracks below, I think the music works best when you hear it as you play. If you come into Plants vs. Zombies because I told you about the music, stay for the awesome gaming experience.