Why the Coverage?
As such a developed market, games exist to cater to all tastes. Despite being tied so closely to developing tech, the titles that the video game industry produces have never been limited to those which push the cutting edge. While some entries, like Red Dead Redemption 2 aim for enormous budgets that put many Hollywood movies to shame, the indie market is also seeing constant success. In between this space are thousands of other releases a year, each of which needs a genre, and each of which needs multiple music tracks to fit their themes.
Just a TasteFor a look at how diverse music in gaming can be, there are near-infinite examples from which to choose. For the sake of an article with limited space, we're going to cut it down to what we think are some of the best illustrations from throughout gaming history.
To turn back the clock, we're tempted to go with the theme song of Super Mario Bros as the biggest standout, but limitations can actually drive creativity. To demonstrate this, we're instead going with Bloody Tears from Castlevania 2 on the NES. Bound by 8-bit processing, the music in games of this generation was extremely confined. The NES boasted a total of five sound channels; two for pulse waves, one for triangle waves, one for white noise, and the last one for differential pulse-code modulation. What this meant for users is that musicians were confined to a box, and just like with graphics, these restrictions could be a boon in disguise.
Around the PlayStation generation, with leaps in processing power and storage space, high-quality audio extended what was possible to remove many prior limits. Games like Final Fantasy 7 have become legends for some of their tracks, which have again stood the test of time as they pushed expectations and ideas of what gaming music could be. From chilled-out western-style country music for rural locations to industrial and mechanical tracks for the dystopia of Midgar, these tracks showed how far gaming had come. Again, like with Castlevania, a few of these tracks have become legendary, showing up decades later to bring a chill down classic player spines.