It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who spent countless hours on weeknights and weekends in front of their televisions as a kid playing Nintendo that to this day I find myself humming bits and pieces of game soundtracks. Despite the limited ability of the old NES music designers managed to squeeze out of it, with the help of additional soundchips in cartridges, some astonishingly catchy music. Furthermore, despite all the technological advances these old catchy tunes remain the bedrock on which new music for old franchises are built upon. That tune that plays whenever Link gets a new item in the Legend of Zelda? There from the very beginning! Mario’s theme? Yup. Vampire Killer? Check! The music might be tweaked, reworked, remixed, and molded but behind it all you still find these iconic, simple ditties.
Ditties that have been firmly lodged in my head for over 20 years at this point! Here are the ones I find myself humming in elevators most often! Not all of these are from the NES but the majority are. (Click the images to listen to the songs.) It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the tunes showcased here are from games that I go back to play over and over again. How else do you think they became automatic responses for me?
There are some more quite a few more (like Terra’s theme from Final Fantasy VI, or the second stage music from Shinobi 3)… This is enough to get you started though! Youtube is a great resource as are quality fan sites (think The Castlevania Dungeon) If you want even more chiptunes and don’t care if they’re from video games check out 8-bit Peoples.
So, folks what are your favorites pieces of 8-bit and 16-bit music? Please let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for great tunes as well as great games that come with them!