Videogame Music – Arcade

I’ve always liked videogames. I’ve never been particularly good at any of them and I suffer from an annoying type of motion sickness that means a few minutes with some games has me merrily puking in the nearest receptacle.

But hey, games are fun right? Right?

I grew up in the 8 bit era when home computers and consoles were going through explosive growth and the arcades, man, the arcades. I remember my parents commenting that I was obsessed with arcades. If we went anywhere that had one, I had to go in and go on something.

It probably had something to do with Star Wars.

Original Star Wars Arcade

I loved Star Wars so when I discovered you could be Luke Skywalker, that was it. I was that annoying little kid who wouldn’t get off / out the machine you wanted to play. The Star Wars soundtrack was stirring enough but combined with the wrap around cabinet and gameplay, it took me to another world. Alec Guinness intoning “The force will be with you . . . always” just behind my head always sent a shiver down my spine. I think that’s my first clear memory of music in a game.

(I was going to post a video here but the only one I could find was a short play through. To my shame the music sounds like it was played on some janky plinky plonk kids metal xylophone piano. Ahh nostalgia, such a harsh mistress!)

Space Harrier

Another clear memory of an arcade soundtrack (apart from the sweet cocophany of bleeps and bloops that filled any arcade) was from Space Harrier, another game I was absolutely obsessed with.

For a start the graphics were rad, man. The cabinet moved and the music was amazing.

“Welcome to the fantasy zone. Get ready”

The main theme is amazing. It’s really simple and repetitive but it’s also something you can listen to over and over and it’s got that kind of optimistic fantasy sound that gets you dreaming about what could be. You just want to get lost in it and never come back. That probably explains a lot about my current state of mental health. Enough said.


I loved this too. Sure it was no Space Harrier but you got to drive a Ferrari with your hot girlfriend and you had a choice of four songs to listen to while you drove. Almost invariably I’d pick the wrong one and be forced to listen to it while I played but they were all ok. “Magical Sound Shower” is the best and probably the most famous. It has a Carribbean feel and the chorus is amazing. In fact I wish they had focused more on that and built the whole piece around it as it’s a great little tune. Always gave me Miami Vice vibes even though it sounds nothing like it.

Even though I’ve played a lot of arcade games over the years, these are the only ones where I distinctly remember the soundtrack. I’m not sure if that’s because I played these games more or if the themes were just that much better but I love them all the same.

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