We’ve certainly come a long way when it comes to sound effects in video games. When we first started playing, all we heard were just a few blips and bloops. We then got a few catchy chiptunes during the heyday of the 8-bit and 16-bit generation. Video game music then evolved much further as we got recorded songs played by actual instruments and full orchestras. We then come to today, with some songs with actual singers and instrumental accompaniment made just for video game of such quality that they can even rival the Top 10 lists of “regular” music charts. Of course, there are also terrible songs… but that’s a totally different list altogether. And I’d rather not make that list when so many others have done so!
Of course, like all Top 10 lists, there are going to be some video game music that overshadows the rest. You have Still Alive from Portal, Snake Eater from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII and many more. Those are just several of the most memorable video game songs that usually dominate a lot of personal lists. And, yeah, I do agree that some of them belong as they are extremely good. But, like I said, there are also a lot of songs that are generally passed up for multiple reasons. So, in order to shine a spotlight on some of these lesser known songs, here, in no particular order, is my list of seven usually overlooked video game songs that have lyrics!
1. Lucia’s Theme [Lunar 2: Eternal Blue]
It seems only appropriate to start off a list about games with overlooked music with one of the more overlooked games there is! Lunar: The Silver Star Story is one of the most beloved games of RPG fans and it’s been remade several times. It’s even available for iPhones on the iStore! Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love given to its sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. Shame, really, as Lunar 2 is still a great RPG. Maybe not as great as the original Lunar but, if there’s one area where Eternal Blue has Silver Star Story beat, that would be the main song.
Most Lunar fans will have memorized the lyrics of Wind Nocture, AKA The Boat Song, by heart. It’s understandable but, as much as I love that song, Lucia’s Theme is much better!
Lucia’s Theme from Eternal Blue is an extremely beautiful song. The melody is simplicity as its best, delivering a very soothing and smooth harmony of notes that’s just so easy to listen to. Granted, Jennifer Stigile’s vocal range isn’t the best but she does draw out a lot of emotional feels with the song that manages to tug at the heart strings. It does cheese me a bit that they actually repeat the lyrics… but with touching lyrics as Lucia’s Theme has, I can easily overlook that flaw.
2. Lonely Rolling Star [Katamary Damacy]
Katamari Damacy is an odd game. The premise of the game is to use a really sticky ball to roll over objects so the ball will get bigger. Initially, it’s only powerful enough to get small objects like thumb tacks and pencils. But, as you keep rolling over objects, the ball does get bigger and gain the ability to “stick” to larger objects like, benches, mailboxes and even people! It’s a lot of fun. And the soundtrack is equally fun. But the best song in Katamari Damacy has to be Lonely Rolling Star!
Lonely Roll Star is a particularly memorable song, mixing techno and J-Pop and a wonderful blend of whimsy and happiness. It’s the kind of song that you can’t help but smile when you hear it… while ignoring the screams of the humans stuck on your huge rolling katamari. Sure, the lyrics are in Japanese but, hey, it’s the wonderful playfulness of the tune that makes it worth listening to!
3. A Pirate I Was Meant to Be [The Curse of Monkey Island]
Although I’m more of a Sierra guy, I do appreciate the Lucas Arts adventure games like Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle. The cornerstone of the Lucas Arts games is definitely the Monkey Island series. The games are known for its memorable characters and mind bending puzzles. But, most of all, the series is known for its witty humor and A Pirate I Was Meant to Be is a great example of how smart the comedy can be.
To be honest, A Pirate I Was Meant to Be isn’t that great of a song… but it’s incredibly clever! Essentially, the hero, Guybrush Threepwood, is trying to get his pirate crew to get a map that was just stolen. However, the crew seems to be more content singing. You can immediately get the crew to stop singing by tricking them into finding a word that rhymes with “orange.” But no one ever did that! No, everyone was content with choosing the other options because of how funny the entire situation was!
4. The Natural Playboy [Bust-A-Groove]
My first introduction to rhythm games came with Bust-A-Groove, a lesser known game for the original PlayStation. It was a very additive game and one of the games I kept on playing because, for some odd reason, I was pretty good at it even though I have two left feet in real life! While all of the songs in Bust-A-Groove hold a special place in my heart, my favorite song in the game is easily Hiro-kun’s theme song, The Natural Playboy.
Besides being the perfect song for the leisure suit, disco dancing lover Hiro-Kun, The Natural Playboy is one of those songs that, once you hear it, you wanna hear it again and again. The song is a great fusion of funk and 70’s disco. The lyrics are also just full of attitude that it’s impossible not to feel like you’re a natural playboy when you listen to it. Like disco, The Natural Playboy will never go out of style!
5. London March (Arranged) [Fatal Fury Special/King of Fighter ’97]
You think Street Fighter has the best music in a fighting game? Well, my friend, you haven’t heard the songs from the SNK fighting games! All their fighting games, from Fatal Fury throughout The King of Fighters, have incredible tunes and are actually good enough to listen to on their own. And the best one from the lot is London March, the theme song of Billy Kane, the stick wielding, right hand man of Geese Howard.
London March definitely takes its cues from classic heavy metal music like Ace of Spades and it’s just a great song to head bang to! The guitar riffs in the song are just phenomenal and memorable. The percussion hits hard at the right level. And, while the lyrics are kept to a minimum, it does keep to the heavy metal aesthetic with lots of screaming about trashing stuff. Honestly, if you slip this into a Motorhead playlist, people may not even notice!
6. Real Emotion [Final Fantasy X-2]
Not many people like Final Fantasy X-2. I guess it’s hard to get invested in a sequel that severely changed its tone from “let’s go save the world from a monster named Sin” in Final Fantasy X to “girl power and let’s go play dress up” in X-2 didn’t sit well with a lot of gamers. Like the game, the intro song, Real Emotion, is just as decisive. For me, however, it’s good so I say it’s overlooked!
Okay, Real Emotion may not be the most “manliest” of songs. The sounds of peppy J-Pop does tend to do that. But the song does manage to set the tone for the entire game. Final Fantasy X-2 is more of a cheerful romp through the world of Zanarkard after the world has been saved. It silly and kind of ludicrous but the game itself doesn’t take itself all that seriously, which makes Real Emotion a perfect fit for Final Fantasy X-2. And, if you like J-Pop anyway, you’ll definitely love the Japanese version!
7. I Want Love (Studio Mix) [Silent Hill 3]
I rarely see songs from the Silent Hill series in many lists of Top 10 Songs in video games and I think that’s really odd. Akira Yamaoka’s creations for the games are amazing and powerful. And, for me, the best song from the entire Silent Hill series comes from the third game. That song is I Want Love (Studio Mix).
I Want Love (Studio Mix) is definitely one of the most emo songs out there. Even when compared to other “real” emo songs, I Want Love (Studio Mix) stands on a level of its own! But, in a way, that’s what makes it so good! The song starts out soft and rather mellow. But the power and range slowly but surely builds and becomes an incredibly kickass song!
Akira Yamaoka managed to channel the pain of being in love with someone and still not feeling fulfilled. The pain is then driven all the way home thanks to the the extremely fantastic vocal range and power of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Combine this with incredible accompanying background instruments and a superb guitar solo, I Want Love (Studio Mix) is a powerful song that people really need to listen to.
What’s your favorite video game song with lyrics that usually doesn’t get the credit it deserves? Let me know in the comments section below!