Game Music 3: A Sound of Thunderdome

Speaking of Richard Vreeland, this game music is beautiful. I often have to stop playing because the soundtrack keeps moving me too much.

Hyper Light Drifter - The Midnight Wood

Notice how the Drifter and the broken down, disused golem are sitting in the exact same posture. There are tons of wonderful details like this all over. There is an extensive map to pore over with arcane, decipherable runes that have real, salient import as to Why You Are Here.

A second track from the game receiving an honorable mention is Titan. It reminds me of my grandfather dying of Covid last November. Some mountains you climb, others you experience; the look on his face was one of labor. The music has profound chords, build, and a subtle, slow, resonating heartbeat percussion.

And now from Yasunori Mitsuna:

Chrono Trigger - Main Theme

I was living in Japan at the time this trailer was released, and remember encountering it in a Tokyo bookshop that also sold video games. I stood there and stared at this video clip on repeat that seemed to invite the viewer into an expansive story with detailed characters and lighting and backgrounds. Not as obvious yet subtly present was the fact there were no battle transitions; characters would just whip out their swords on set in an apparent cut scene, but no: that’s how the game plays.

I learned the word leitmotif because of this track.

Massive Chalice - The People’s View

The time frame is 300 years, and your mortal heroes will not survive. But… maybe you can cultivate positive traits passed down through generations that will help you win the war. Heritability is a central gameplay mechanic in this unique gem. I like the violins on this track, and it’s a good melody.

The Void (Tension) - Sister’s Greenhouse

This is the game I 100% would have wanted to design. It’s about bodies, relationships, alchemy, and gardening in the afterlife. What you are after is color, which is simultaneously your currency, hit points, mana, and attribute modifiers. All of those things, together at the same time. The goal is to be reborn.

I like how the track starts slow with the sound of vinyl fuzz, with mallets or an out of tune piano and some strings playing somewhat randomly, then the chord suddenly shifts. Later, things become rhythmic with an increased tempo, and mechanized.

I was listening to that exact track just now while dinking around on Disasterpeace’s Bandcamp. Such an incredible soundtrack. I’ve been tempted to nominate some of it in previous thunderdomes but the tricky bit is always narrowing down your selection!

Yeah! Let’s do this!

Alrighty, here are my entries:

Hades - Good Riddance (possible Hades spoilers?)

I’m almost loathe to post this because the discovery of songs like this in Supergiant’s games is so wonderful, but this is seriously a beautiful piece of music. Damn.

Steamworld Dig 2 - El Machino

This track by El Huervo (also known from Hotline Miami) plays in the main town area of the game, so you hear it often. Or if you’re like me, you stand in town for several minutes at a time just so you can listen to it.

Paradise Killer - GO! GO! STYLE

This game makes no sense to me, but goddamn listen to this track! Listen to that saxophone!

And because I can’t let a Thunderdome go by without adding a JRPG…

Chrono Cross - Dreams of the Shore Near Another World

Another overworld theme, notable because it’s your first indication that something is wrong with the world. What happened to the overworld music I was just listening to? Why is it this new, mournful song? One of the things I love about Chrono Cross is how it uses different themes to communicate the differences between the worlds.

I thought I had done this one previously, but if I hadn’t it was absolutely on my list for this time. Nobuo Uematsu is absolutely a master of game music.

Ok, I’ll bring the retro as usual.

  1. The Faery Tale Adventure - Main (Daytime) Theme (David Joiner)
  1. The Faery Tale Adventure - Nighttime Theme (David Joiner)
  1. Times of Lore - Title Music (From 0:00 to 7:42) (Martin Galway)
  1. Fairlight (Mike Alsop)
  1. Outer Wilds - End Times (Andrew Prahlow)
  1. TBD

  2. TBD

  3. TBD

(Will fill in the rest, but I didn’t want someone else to snag my #1!)

I was going off the Google Sheets, but if I missed it, I’ll grab another. There’s no shortage!

No, if you looked I trust you! I just know it was on my short list, along with Bastion, Zelda and Metroid. It’s been a while, it is entirely probable I forgot what I even put up.

One of my favourite soundtracks. No idea what I’d nominate though… the title screen? Timber Hearth? The Sun Station? The main theme ensemble? The credits? The Ancient Glade? End Times? All sooo good!

@SadleyBradley yeah Craig’s right, Terra’s theme was in Game Music 2, nominated by Craig! :-) It’s a great piece of music.

I may possibly add a column in the master list at some point showing how far each tune got.

Dammit, he’s right! And it wasn’t even, like, named weird or anything.

I’ll edit my post and the Google Doc accordingly.

Woohoo, Thunderdomeeeeeeeee!

@SadleyBradley beat me in the Hades nom race, and technically, mine kinda constitutes a spoiler, for which I apologize, but it’s so fucking good. Korb’s soundtrack for this game is unfathomably good, and all the duets with Barrett are just on another level. Such a cool, pulse-pounding, evocative track!

I don’t even know if “2AM” is my favorite Animal Crossing track (that might be “Go KK Rider!” or the little ditty that plays in the 5 minutes right before the general store closes), but the melancholy, wistful tone of this track, that begins playing at, well, 2AM every night, has been the sign to my partner and I that it’s probably time to stop decorating our beloved Arubelle and go to sleep for basically a full calendar year now, and I just adore it.

I feel like my nomination of the amazing “March” from the desperately under-appreciated Tales of Legendia was unfairly robbed, but the entire soundtrack is just so delightful, particularly Go Shiina’s work like this delightful track, “The Meeting Place is the Fountain Plaza.”

In a similar way, every single track on Jeremy Soule’s Total Annihilation rip-roaring orchestral soundtrack is solid fucking gold, and limiting myself to only one per Thunderdome is the clearest sign of my restraint’s continued existence you’ll ever find. “Brutal Battle” is epic and thrilling and awesome.

Damn shame I can’t just nominate every track in Project Wingman, which I would be sorely tempted to do. Time to limit myself to one and make some difficult choices.

Thanks for picking up the torch on this, @krayzkrok and @geggis! I’m glad that people enjoyed the Thunderdome enough to miss it.

As I recall, we had a couple of tied voting scores last time around. I might recommend a slight tweak to give a bit more granularity on the positive side, by using the Qt3 review scale. That would put 2.5 stars as completely neutral if it were an option, but forces you to commit to a mildly positive 3 stars or mildly negative 2 stars. The Thunderdome is no place for these guys:


a) From Divinity OS 2, among many standout songs, I prefer the subdued version of the main Rivellon theme.
Divinity Original Sin 2 - Rivellon

Not nominations, but DOS2 soundtrack had excellent music, and not all of it made it into the soundtrack unfortunately (probably since many of them were variations, like the ship theme). Still linking Land of Fairytales though.

b) From POE2 Deadfire, the main theme (and many other songs) set up the sailing and exploration setting brilliantly. Also manages to carries the weight of history across.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire - Deadfire

c) While I find many of the other climatic songs in FE overwrought, I find Funeral of Flowers from FE Three Houses works very well. The story’s over, climaxed the last map right? Nope get sad. Excellent use of leitmotifs from the rest of the game.
Fire Emblem Three Houses - Funeral of Flowers

Also inverts the map/battle variant split. Normally the battle theme variant is “louder” in orchestration. This time around the battle variant is subdued one of the pair.

d) And finishing up with some Dynasty Warriors rock. Thousand Suns is the theme of the winning side of the major climatic battle (Chibi/Red Cliffs) that essentially ensured the formation of the three kingdoms.
Dynasty Warriors 7 - Thousand Suns

And then the next game, in a hypothetical unlockable scenario (where now history is being reversed) it gets inverted and used as the theme song of the historical losers as a haha fuckers get fucking dunked on. Twas great.

I haven’t participated in these threads before, so I have a bunch of my old favorites that I still listen to regularly to nominate! Most of them are from older games (a couple very old), but I love the entire soundtracks of all of them. I’ve picked out my favorites from each.

First, from King’s Field IV - the Ancient City by FromSoftware. The King’s Field series was a precursor to the Souls series, with lots of direct references carried into the Souls games, and some subtle ones too. King’s Field IV was amazing and had amazing music.

Song: Mansion of the Howling Winds
By: Tsukasa Saito

Next up, from the original Divine Divinity soundtrack (and I still love that game, even with all its jankiness, and I love its music).

Song: Sighs of the Elvenkind
By: Kirill Pokrovsky

Here’s a game that I actually heard the soundtrack to long before I ever played the game, or even knew what kind of game it was. When I finally decided I loved the music enough to actually play the game, I was not expecting a Breakout clone. The game is good fun though, and the soundtrack amazing! The game is Shatter.

Song: Kinetic Harvest
By: Module

Finally, I love all the Amanita Design games, and some of the soundtracks are outstanding. My favorite soundtrack remains Machinarium.

Song: The Bottom
By: Tomas Dvorak

That soundtrack was very “mystical.” The Divinity series was very well served by Kirill.

I think you’re probably right. I’d originally used “It’s OK I guess” and I think that probably sums it up better.

While I’m not fond of the game itself, Machinarium–and Samorost 3–are two of the most beautiful games I’ve played. I even have a couple of signed and framed prints by Adolf Lachman on my wall. (I’m particularly happy with the rusty metallic frame we went for. Speedball 2 in the middle, by Dan Malone.)

Machinarium’s soundtrack is one of my favourite game soundtracks though, full stop. Floex recently released a remixes album and I was surprised to see Orbital had remixed The Glasshouse with Butterfly. Turns out Paul Hartnoll thinks the OST is one of the best albums of the last 10 years so that was pretty cool to hear! The remix itself is alright :-)

Anyway, very cool to see The Bottom nominated! I’ve had Clockwise Operetta in my shortlist for a while now and I still think it’s going to get nudged out by something else…

Oh he’s done some great music, and his artwork is amazing.

What bothers me about the remasters/remixes/covers of these boss themes is how often they lose the organ which is such a propulsive driving force. The Black Mages’ version of the FFVII boss music stands out for that. And the cowbell.

What’s Born To Be Wild without the organ? Exactly. I am disappoint that the organ is gone for The Decisive Battle!