Music Within Games: Part 1  
An introduction.

These two lines of introduction are necessary to explain the strange publishing adventure of Faile's "Music Within Games" special feature. Immediately loved by our readers, this feature divided in four articles went offline - for technical reasons - one day after the publication of the last chapter. So, what better occasion to publish it than the opening of the new version of Faile has revised the four articles, and I've personally selected many new tunes to accompany the author's exposition. On a note, while Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros midis available in this page are close to the sound quality of the original tunes, Final Fantasy's midis are rearranged versions of the (already beautiful) original tunes.

Listening to the first tunes in this first article, in particular to the ones from Donkey Kong - you'll probably find yourself smiling at the simplicity of these first efforts of combining music with video games. But anticipating Faile's final words in the last chapter of this feature, "when you get there, do not forget from where you came, with the early bleeping Mario and Final Fantasy".

- Harry

Faile It never used to be like this. Once upon a time the main source of tension within a videogame would be whether you could complete a level before sleep came calling. Now whether flying the Millennium Falcon against the Deathstar or standing up to Metal Gear, there is a new source of tension - The Musical aspect of a game. Like the movie scores that inspire, a good soundtrack can send the heart leaping with joy, or send a player into tears, inspiration and tension combined together within a game. Yet it wasn't always like this. This series of articles traces the beginnings of music within videogames to the standard today reached by games such as Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X.

Space Invaders Skip back to the early days and Pong on the Atari 2600. The electronic beeping didn't really inspire a player to that game and in fact nor did the gameplay (at least not on paper), and there lies an answer. In the early days of gaming there was no need for elaborate musical numbers within a game, all that mattered was the game, and thus games littered with a few strangled sound effects prospered. Space Invaders for example never featured any music within the game, just the zap of the gun, and the cries of the aliens as they poured down wave after wave. It sounds more exciting on paper than it does in practice unfortunately and playing the game today reveals hollowness, even taking into account its age.

After the videogame market crash of the early eighties, the console market was left with two major companies remaining, Sega and Nintendo, with Nintendo revealing its NES in 1985, and Sega with the Master system in 1986. This sparked a new era in videogames, with the market suddenly opening up. Games companies had new technologies to work with and greater resources, having survived the drop in the market.

Super Mario Bros"Come the time, come the man", runs the old saying, and Nintendo's time had come and in doing so they brought a chubby plumber from Brooklyn, New York - Mario. First featuring in the arcade game Donkey Kong, Mario soon grabbed himself a piece of gaming history becoming the gaming world's first marketable videogame character in Super Mario Brothers in June 1986.
The Game also featured a soundtrack that ran through the levels, and indeed included elements that would have run throughout the rest of the series of Mario brothers' games. Music was finally starting to be included within games, yet the systems of the time placed restrictions upon what could be achieved. And what could be achieved with such system resources?
The answer came in 1987, when a then small Japanese software company by the name of Square released Final Fantasy on the NES. Featuring a battle theme that also featured themes that would be used throughout the series, videogame music had reached an all-time high. It was no revolution, yet it was a step towards the future.

Part 2 - The Role of Final Fantasy and Square within the videogame music industry - Coming This Monday!

Want to Know More ? Midi Files
:: Donkey Kong Introduction Theme (Nintendo, 1983)
:: Donkey Kong: Level 1 Tune (Nintendo, 1983)
:: Super Mario Bros: Overworld Theme (Nintendo, 1985)
:: Super Mario Bros: Starman Theme (Nintendo, 1985)
:: Super Mario Bros: Underworld Theme (Nintendo, 1985)
:: Super Mario Bros: Water Theme (Nintendo, 1985)
:: Final Fantasy I: Battle Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Battle Victory Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: World Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Underwater Palace Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Temple Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Airship Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Town Theme (Square, 1987)
:: Final Fantasy I: Ending Theme (Square, 1987)

- Faile (2 Apr, 2004)