We don’t usually think of video games as sources of great music. Generally, soundtracks kind of blend in to the overall atmospheres of the games. Some games, however, from simple internet arcades to massive console experiences, do make use of real music, either in the form of licensed songs or their own compositions that go beyond keyboard-spawned game tunes. So here’s a look at 10 of the best uses of real music in gaming!
1. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – “Superman” by Goldfinger
This was included in a similar list at Buzzfeed.com and really serves as the perfect example of licensed music in video games. Anyone who played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater will remember busting out kick-flips to this ideal Cali skater ska-punk tune. It’s just hard to imagine a more perfect marriage between a song and game.
2. Bioshock – “Beyond The Sea (La Mer)” by Django Reinhardt
Another song noted on Buzzfeed’s list, “Beyond The Sea (La Mer)” just sets an incredibly creepy tone in the bizarre and captivating 2007 game Bioshock. One of several ’20s, ’30s and ’40s songs used in the game, it helps lend a deep, reflective quality to its impactful scene in the game.
3. NBA 2k14 – “Hate Me Now” by Nas
Lebron James famously got involved with the music selection for 2k14 and supposedly had a direct hand in the choosing the track list. There are plenty of interesting selections to choose from, and Kotaku.com has the full list. However, the choice of “Hate Me Now” has to be applauded. It’s a no-nonsense pump-up track that gets you psyched to play some (video game) basketball. It’s also a nice shoutout to an artist who predates today’s slew of rappers and pop stars desperately trying to get a piece of the NBA spotlight.
4. James Bond 007: Everything Or Nothing – “Everything Or Nothing” by Mya
“Everything Or Nothing” was written specifically for this underrated Bond game, but it belongs right alongside well-known Bond film themes such as Madonna’s “Die Another Day” or, more recently, Adele’s haunting Skyfall theme. Not only does the title simply sound right for a Bond film, but the song sets the stage for a sleek and sexy adventure. Check it out at the Bond wiki.
5. Saints Row: The Third – “Power” by Kanye West
Kanye West’s hit song “Power” from a few years back starts playing in this game just as you undertake a mission to parachute out of the sky and wreak havoc on a party. It’s a fantastic pairing and one that gives you just the right feeling of ridiculous invincibility. Geekexchange.com made note of this scene as well and provided a nice video clip of the action.
6. Prince Of Persia: The Warrior Within – “I Stand Alone” by Godsmack
Known as the game that took Prince Of Persia in a weird direction, The Warrior Within actually has some fun gameplay. Aside from that, “I Stand Alone” was a perfect track for the weirdly hardcore, semi-gothic route this franchise took. It might not be everybody’s favourite pairing, but the song and game embody each other.
7. Spamalot Slots – Original Musical Soundtrack
This isn’t a full-fledged console game, but the Spamalot slot arcade hosted at Casino.Betfair.com is certainly made better by its inclusion of official music. Those who have seen the show will recognize the goofy, playful sounds originally composed by John Du Prez and Monty Python veteran Eric Idle, and the gameplay is better for it.
8. Robot Unicorn Attack – “Always” by Erasure
This too is an online game rather than a major console experience. But Robot Unicorn Attack at Games.Adultswim.com has become something of a sensation. It just wouldn’t be the same without the repetitive, maddening, and strangely addictive 2009 mix of the 1994 Erasure pop song “Always.” Whether it’s good or bad that a song fits perfectly with a cartoon unicorn rainbow-bursting through shining star obstacles is up for debate—but there’s no doubt this is a killer match.
9. Crazy Taxi – “All I Want” by The Offspring
It’s almost hard to remember how much of a sensation Crazy Taxi was back in 1999. But before Grand Theft Auto became all the rage with its third installment, Crazy Taxi was gamers’ best shot at random, reckless driving. There’s something oddly fitting and equally reckless about “All I Want,” which would play now and again as you drove around completing missions while breaking every conceivable road rule.
10. Call Of Duty: Ghosts – “Survival” by Eminem
This one isn’t actually in the game, but its use in the game trailer was flawless enough to warrant mention. Never mind that the opening line of the song is “this is survival of the fittest,” a perfect sentiment for a game best known for multiplayer shooter contests. The energy of the song blends well with game action, and the promotion served a dual purpose in promoting Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2 and the game at the same time.