Like most 20- and 30-somethings in the 21st century, I grew up with two little red buttons under my thumb, spending a decent portion of my leisure time having adventures with Mario, Link and Mega Man. I have fond memories of shouting frustratedly at the television screen when “Kid Icarus” wasn’t going my way (which was most of the time) and triumphantly winning the rat race in “Battletoads” over and over again. In their own little way, early video games did have a lasting impact on my life which I can still recognize every time I’m faced with a problem and ask myself, “What would Solid Snake do?”
Just as lasting as the games themselves is the music within. If you listen closely, many of those songs sound derived from classic rock and metal sounds of their time, and that’s because they often were. One of my favorite video game music composers, Koji Kondo, has cited Deep Purple and ELP as inspiration for the “Super Mario Bros.” theme. And you can hear by the Minibosses’ rendition of the “Super Mario Bros. 2″ soundtrack that these tunes can sound just as natural when presented with guitars and drums as they can in their stripped-down electronic state.
So it should come as no surprise for me to reveal I kept a mixtape in my car for a long time that was full of songs from some of my favorite games of my youth. And, yes, part of that is because I loved the games. But another more important part is because it was just damn fine music. Yeah, maybe it was a little unconventional, but you try driving around on a lovely spring day with the “Battletoads” theme coming out of your speakers and not bopping your head to the rhythm (which I had a car full of friends doing once and it was magical).