Push My Start Button
I made a video game mix CD as a gift to my girlfriend. She asked for a bunch of video game songs months ago but, instead of me just giving her songs I liked, I decided to arrange a traditional CD, keeping in mind things like composition, the golden ratio and flow. The name of the CD is Press My Start Button. (Cheesy, I know.)
Compiling a CD for my girlfriend proved very difficult because her taste in music is really strange and all over the place. Video game music I know she enjoys includes songs from Katamari Damacy, Final Fantasy IX, and from Voodoo Vince, an obscure video game for the original Xbox. She generally likes anything with complex percussion instruments and she dislikes the music from the 8-bit and 16-bit era.
That being said, I wanted my CD to be comprehensive, having a good balance of music from the original Nintendo to current-gen systems (sorry Atari!). My goal was to have an hour of music that brought together her tastes and mine while exposing her to video game music she has not heard before. In addition, I made sure that every song in the CD was actually in a video game, meaning no remixes. Lastly, each song is from a unique game, just to force a variety of styles.
Below, I will give you the songs in order on the CD (thank you random Youtube uploaders!) and a brief description justifying my choice and its position. Please feel free to disagree, give alternate suggestions and even suggest what you would put in your own video game mix CD. Also, if you want a copy of the CD, let me know and I’ll find a way to get it out to you.
#1- Chrono Cross- Scars of Time
The opening to Chrono Cross seemed like a perfect beginning to the CD. The melodic beginning welcomes you in and the tonal shift one minute into the song really gets you pumped up and (hopefully) makes you want to listen more. Moreover, the chord progressions flow beautifully as the song builds to an epic conclusion.
#2- Super Street Fighter II HD Remix- Spittin' Narcissism (Vega Stage)
Technically this song is a remix but, it was the Vega Stage music in Super Street Fighter II HD Remix, so it’s alright. Either way, I liked the transition from Scars of Time to here, because of the extensive use of percussion in both songs. In terms of emotion there was a shift from being “pumped up” to a bit more chill feeling but, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
#3- Little Big Planet- Dancing Drums
I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse but, the percussion focus is why this song appears here. In order to get my girlfriend into the CD I wanted to start off very strong with a style I know she likes. Moreover, I felt like these first three songs shared some sort of tonal bond while being different enough to give the impression that the CD is traveling in some sort of direction.
#4- Fallout 3- Rhythm For You - Eddy Christiani and Frans Poptie
Moving from crazy funk, this song still has some of the funk but overall is smoother. There are also a multitude of virtuosic solos in this piece all of which blew my mind when I first heard this song. Simply put, the song is composed extremely well with a bouncing base line and a strong beat. I also felt there was an emotional relation between this song and Dancing Drums, for whatever reason. It just felt right.
#5- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past- Dark World Theme
I had a really hard time finding a song to follow up Fallout 3 and I knew I wanted this song in the CD because it is one of my favorite Zelda songs. In retrospect, a better choice might have been the Super Smash Bros. Brawl version of this song but I had to start getting away from current generation songs somehow. This is probably the weakest transition in the CD.
#6- Super Mario RPG- Forest Maze
I used this song to travel from the “relaxed” songs of Fallout 3 and Zelda. The purpose of this song was to be heard, enjoyed and then immediately forgotten about. This song, while composed well, isn’t highly memorable in my opinion, unless you have seen the version with lyrics, that is. In addition, both Dark World Theme and Forest Maze invoke feelings of traveling to me, which around song #5 or #6 out of a CD of 23 songs, is good place to have a journeying feeling.
#7- Sonic the Hedgehog 2- Chemical Plant Zone
The CD was running out of energy at this point so I used this high-intensity song to bring the listener back. There is a lot of rhythm play in this song and it’s really hard not to bop your head to the beat when you’re listening to it. This happens to be one of my favorite Sonic songs as well, so it just needed to be in the CD.
#8- Mega Man- Elec Man Theme
Riding off the energy of Sonic 2, I put in the first song from an 8-bit console. The transition from Sonic to Mega Man worked really well and both of these songs have almost the same tempo. I also knew quick melodic roll after the first phrase would make my girlfriend laugh. That and the B section just feels like the composer thought he was so cool, which he is of course.
#9- Chrono Trigger- Undersea Palace
At this point I decided that I have enough happy songs; it’s time to get serious and start building to the #14 song, which I calculated to be the golden ratio for the CD. I absolutely love this song from Chrono Trigger, especially for the rolling synth in the background that makes you feel a little nervous. This is a big tonal shift from Elec Man, but #9 seemed like the right time to have that shift.
#10- Streets of Rage- Round 8
Sticking with the dark theme, this Streets of Rage song fits perfectly. I love the way this song slowly builds, adding a melody late after taking time to establish a funky beat with complicated percussion. This song also has a complicated background, making it slightly related to Undersea Palace.
#11- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time- Trouble in the Barracks
This song feels very dark and primal and fit nicely after the Streets of Rage song. I wanted this song to develop more however; it feels like it only hits one note. I did need more songs from around 2003 anyway. Oh well.
#12- Sonic & Knuckles- Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1
After the Prince of Persia song I wanted to lighten the mood a little bit but still leave an air of mystery before we get to clear midpoint/ending at track #14. This funky little song is the first level of Sonic & Knuckles and just has a solid beat that will get stuck in your head.
#13- Gunstar Heroes- Stage 3B
For those who have played Gunstar Heroes, this is music played on Orange’s stage. I just love the baseline in this song and how busy it is. It feels as though my ears are being filled to the maximum, which is what I wanted to do so that track #14 would stand out a focal point of the CD.
#14- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess- Introduction
I mentioned a bunch about how all of the songs were building to this point. I don’t even think this is the best song on the CD but, it serves as a beautiful closing mark to a section. I think I could have chosen a more popular song but, I like the use of traditional orchestral instruments to mark a checkpoint for your ear.
#15- Super Mario Bros. 2- Title Screen
This short 0:32 ditty should be interpreted as an “intermission” song. Think of it as a hint that you are going from Side A to Side B (oh cassettes, how I miss you!). I chose this song specifically because I know my girlfriend liked the Vadrum drum remix of this music. I highly suggest you click on that previous link; Vadrum is an insane man on the drum set and the fact that he does video game covers makes him so badass.
#16- Parappa the Rapper- Instructor Mooselini’s Rap
At this point in the CD, this is the last opportunity to have high energy songs and this song just makes you want to groove. I also felt that since my girlfriend liked Katamari Damacy songs that there was a chance she would really like this song as well. The song has an “adorable” feel to it, like many Katamari Damacy songs. I purposely didn’t pick the OST version of the song because half the fun of Parappa the Rapper was the embellishments you could add between the required hits.
#17- Dr. Mario- Chill
In the closing seconds of Instructor Mooselini’s Rap there is a little transition sound that goes along with the squares appearing on screen. The little sound flows straight into Chill music when put right next to each on a CD. Chill by itself has amazing composition, going all over the place yet still keeping the same tone. With Dr. Mario’s gameplay there wasn’t much happening on the screen at a given time and I felt this song filled the empty space well.
#18- Super Mario 64- Bowser’s Road
The relentless percussion motor going on in background is what makes this song so epic. Yes, the melody also adds to the journeying feel but the constant drum beat of the song is why this one makes the CD. The chord progression builds very slowly to the bridge as well, which is countered by the constant drum, making the song stick in your head, if at least for that moment.
#19- Voodoo Vince- The Square
I mentioned this game in the introduction of this post. This 3D platformer isn’t very good in terms of gameplay but, the jazzy soundtrack is addictive. I added this song because it was my favorite one from the game, with a syncopated and creepy chorus. I love how the piano comes up from the depths of the bass to steal your attention for a fleeting moment, only to eventually be drawn back into the disjointed rhythm.
#20- Super Mario Galaxy- Gusty Gardens Theme
I had no idea how to follow up The Square so I just decided to wind down the CD with some energy before I get to the mellow songs I had placed as tracks #22 and #23. Gusty Gardens is one of my favorite songs from Super Mario Galaxy so I was glad I was able to find a place for it somewhere.
#21- Mega Man X- Credits
I originally had this following The Square because both were jazzy pieces, but this song just felt so different from The Square that I couldn’t put them next to each other. I love the free form feel of this song as though the composer was just told to jam out for a couple of minutes.
#22- Final Fantasy X- Silence Before the Storm
This song is an interesting take of a
#23- Donkey Kong Country- Aquatic Ambiance
There were so many songs I could have taken from Donkey Kong Country but when I remembered this song I immediately knew that this would be a peaceful way to end this hour long CD. Donkey Kong Country had such a unique sound when it came out; its music was subtly complex, never demanding your attention because it fit so well with the game’s atmosphere. I’d also like to note that if this CD were to loop to the beginning (as most video game songs do) it also transitions well to Scars of Time.
Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this little music compilation. Feel free to rip it apart and tell me what you think I got wrong, or what I got right. In case you were wondering, my girlfriend really enjoyed the CD. Success!