Saturday, June 13, 2009

When two passions merge...

You might know by now that I'm a huge videogame fanatic. You might also know that I'm just as huge of a music fanatic. So when those worlds collide, marvelous things can happen (at least in my opinion.) But sometimes, those things can fall wayside and might never be heard of or mentioned about again. That is not my intention for this post. I want to shine some light on towards how music not only intensify the videogame experience, but sometimes even define what that game was all about.

Music in videogames are important, from the very subtle ambiance of a pin drop during a stealth shoot-em up FPS to the delightful fail music after dying by the hands of a goomba, music is part of what makes up a videogame. There's even a genre of videogames that is totally devoted to music; the rhythm-based vidogames that include such phenomenons as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Dance Revolution franchises. Without music to back them up, they would all be failures. And to transition into the point of this post, music is best served as part of the game but to also make it a stand-alone element amongst itself. Take a look at Guitar Hero and taking its claim on various acts as special packs such as Aerosmith, Metallica, and AC/DC as well as other themed versions such as 80's. Rock Band announced of a Beatles exclusive to its catalog. The point is that although now games are incorporating acts to help promote their products, it was a complete 180 back in the day and actually helped incorporate bands to star status. And there have been some games as well as musical acts to follow that principle.

One game that stands out in my mind was the title Road Rash for the Sega Saturn as well as the Playstation. As far as the gameplay is concerned, it's very short, simple, and to the point. Ride motorcycles across a circuit, don't get pulled over by the cops, and beat the crap out of any other motorist that comes your way. But what really set this above all other racing sims at the time was the soundtrack. It was the first to actually have a soundtrack. And it was GOOD!!! The definite notable band on the soundtrack is Soundgarden with their hits Kickstand, Superunknown, and Outshined, and Rusty Cage; but there was definitely more than meets the eye in that game. One of my favorite bands, Paw, is featured there. Paw, being a cross between grunge with a little bit of country twang (kinda like Hank Williams III) it really sets itself above all else there. It even incorporated a friggin' music video for their song 'Jessie' as an exclusive for the Playstation and Sega Saturn versions, now that's epic.

Also there was other notables such as acid rock group Monster Magnet before they were noticed. But my main focus is with Paw. I have their only LP and it friggin rocked, and it's just too bad that most people only associate Paw with their stint on Road Rash. They even have an EP that was made in 2000 that's available on eMusic, but since then, not much and that eventually ended up to the disbandment of the band. In fact, the only band that is still in existence from the game's soundtrack in whole is Monster Magnet; I wouldn't consider Soundgarden because only Chris Cornell is currently playing an active role in music since their band broke up in the mid 90's.

Another game that shines in the music department is Big Air for the Playstation. A snowboarding simulator that featured big named acts as well as some unknowns. Two acts that stand out is Blink-182 (who when this game was releaced was just coming out of their Dude Ranch album featuring hits like 'Dammit') and the one that I'll focus on for this game, Gangster Fun. Gangster Fun was a ska band back in the 90's that were under the helm of Mike E. Clark of ICP producing fame. Their songs were of the noir side of ska if there was one and amplified it to a beat of a drum for just about everyone to get into groove with. Notable songs were be 'Skarabia' and 'Night of the Living Stove' that were featured in the game. Personally, that got me hooked, but just like Paw, their fame was short lived only releasing just one LP and having a cameo appearance in ICP's Jeckel Brothers album. Another good band not getting the recognition that it deserves. But on the topic of snowboarding games, Shawn Palmer's Snowboarder for the Playstation 2 had another kick ass soundtrack to it to incorporate acts like Static-X and help kick start the band Alien Ant Farm to stardom. Both names are huge in its respected genres, Static-X for it's industrial rock and Alien Ant Farm for their stint in alternative music and their remake of Michael Jackson's hit 'Smooth Criminal.'

Heck, they're even the arcade classic Revolution X that was a rail shooter who featured the band Aerosmith exclusively. They even attempted to coin the phrase (to use) "music as a weapon" all throughout the game. It wasn't a good game compared to other rail shooters such as Terminator 2 arcade game or Silent Scope, but the simple fact that it was it's own arcade cabinet that was totally music oriented towards one of the greatest acts in existence. What can I say, you gotta have a yin to a yang sometimes...

But in short, videogames are an art form. Just as much as music. And to collaborate on such is well, kinda like an interactive music video. We can be the director and make it as epic (or as much of an epic fail) as our talents can offer.

BootLeG sampler.. signing out...

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