There was a point in time when video games were solely considered as a leisurely, transitory craze. In Japan back in the late 1970s, what ACY Entertainment calls the Golden Age of arcade video games, millions of people gathered inside – what we deem today as “old school” – arcades and be amidst a 2D world where anything was possible. For some, they get to experience the unadulterated feeling of power and control. Others, however, they see these establishments and machines as pure noise making objects. This – in turn – is where we’ll start tackling the significance of a different facet of arcade, or video games in general.
Audio qualities in video games – just like its popular music counterparts – have evolved throughout the years. Back in the day, iconic tunes such as that from Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda were subconsciously lodged inside our heads, thanks to one Koji Kondo. Upon hearing the famous synth heavy beats, it isn’t too long before we bob our heads and, often times, even hum along to it. In essence, these video game music scores set a wonderful precedent to what’s in store for us in the actual playing process.
We’ve mentioned earlier how these tunes have constantly developed over the past decades. Similar to this, our views on pop music have veered away from the exclusive metaphase of songs and music videos, artists and albums. If truth be told, some of today’s so-called “hitmakers” and “chart toppers” have made their way into various contemporary video games.
For instance, in the latter part of the ‘90s, there was Los Angeles-based ska punk band Goldfinger and their song ‘Superman’, which was used in the groundbreaking skateboard console game ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’. Legendary rock musicians like Ozzy Osbourne and The Rolling Stones contributed to video game soundtracks for Brutal Legend and Call of Duty: Black Ops, respectively, while KISS have been featured on popular online gaming portal Spin Genie. In terms of the more current artists, Kanye West’s 2010 hit ‘Power’ was used for the game ‘Saints Row’, while Rihanna’s 2009 song ‘Run This Town’ incorporated well on ‘Battlefield 4’.
All in all, this represents the continuous – not to mention parallel – evolution of music and video games. Come to think of it, who would’ve thought that a simple Japanese fan of jazz and progressive rock, Koji Kondo, would turn out to be one of the most influential and innovative people in both worlds. In a way, he defined and meshed pop music and arcade games way before the more famous ones were even born.