Behind every great video game soundtrack is the game composer, the artist who put some of your favorite moments from gaming into a song that will stick with you for years. Any gamer worth their controller can hum the Super Mario Bros. theme immediately upon request.
Here are a few composers who are some of my favorites — and chances are they are yours, too.
If you grew up with an NES in your home, you know the works of Koji Kondo. Kondo has given gamers some of the most iconic melodies in gaming, from the songs in Super Mario Bros. to the main theme of The Legend of Zelda.
Kondo has worked at Nintendo since 1984 and continues to create tunes for Mario and Zelda games, including the gorgeous soundtracks for Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword.
Fans of The Legend of Zelda music across the globe have been treated to hearing an orchestra play their favorite themes in The Symphony of the Goddesses. Speaking from firsthand experience, I can tell you that the concert is amazing. The tour resumes in the U.S. this summer and fall.
Scoring a game series across three radically different settings and eras is no easy feat, but Danish composer Jesper Kyd has done just that with the memorable soundtracks for the first four Assassin’s Creed games.
Kyd also worked on the Hitman series of games before taking on Assassin’s Creed, so chances are you’ve assassinated some pixels with the accompaniment of Kyd’s haunting soundtracks. His next project is the upcoming zombie MMO State of Decay.
Obviously opening screen themes make the biggest impression on players, and most gamers will name Halo as another one that has made a mark on their gaming lives.
Before joining Halo developer Bungie, O’Donnell also scored Riven, and then all Halo games until Halo: Reach. He is currently at work on their next title, Destiny, which is one of the most anticipated games in development.
Lately I’ve been leaving the title screen on just to hear the music from Skyrim , thanks to the powerful theme composed by Jeremy Soule. No matter how many times I get frustrated with Skyrim, I just have to hear the theme once, and I have the urge to play the game immediately.
Soule has been composing Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind; the opening theme of Morrowind has always stuck with me as a beautiful melody that captures the open, sky’s-the-limit feeling of the series.
Soule has also composed the soundtracks for too many games to list, including the Harry Potter video games from EA, as well as Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2.
Speaking of game music fit for a symphony, the music of the Final Fantasy series, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, is breathtaking when performed by an orchestra and chorus.
The composer is also the keyboardist in his own rock band, The Black Mages, which frequently rocks out to Final Fantasy themes.
Uematsu has scored a multitude of games for Square Enix and the studio Mistwalker, including the little-known gem Lost Odyssey, which is another one of my favorite game soundtracks. But no other game music has made an impact on me like the opening theme to Final Fantasy II on the SNES. As a kid, I would leave the SNES on for hours just so I could hear the prelude theme.
If you’ve been a lifelong video game player like I have, chances are you’ve come across game soundtracks like these that speak to you every time you hear a certain melody. They might remind you of epic battles or nights hunched over the keyboard, or maybe evoke a good bit of nostalgia for those pre-parenting days when you actually HAD time for epic battles at night that didn’t involve a dirty diaper.