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A Timeless History of the Best Video Game Music: From 8-Bit to Modern Classics

atari music

Do you remember the first video game you ever played?

For me, it was Atari.

I spent hours playing games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

The music in those games was just as memorable as the gameplay itself.

Join us while we will take a look at the history of video game music. We will start with 8-bit classics and work our way up to modern video game masterpieces.

So put on your nostalgia goggles and let’s get started!

Origins of Video Game Music

The earliest video games did not have any accompanying music. Super boring.

The first video game to feature music was Pong, which had a simple beeping sound to indicate when the ball was hit. This beeping sound quickly became synonymous with video games. As technology improved, video game music began to evolve.

The next big step in video game music was the introduction of synthesized music. This type of music was first used in the arcade game Space Invaders.

The use of synthesized music allowed for video game developers to create more complex and interesting soundtracks for their games.

This new type of video game music quickly became popular and was used in many classic video games, such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger.

The synthesized music of the 1980s would lay the foundation for video game music for years to come.

The Rise of MIDI

In the early 1990s, video game music began to take advantage of a new technology called MIDI.

Video Game Music

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a type of computer code that allows different electronic instruments to communicate with each other.

This new technology allowed video game composers to create richer and more complex soundtracks for their games.

One of the first video games to use MIDI was Super Mario World.

The use of MIDI in video game music would lead to some of the most iconic video game soundtracks of all time.

Modern Video Game Music

Video game music has come a long way over the years.

While older games featured little more than simple beeps and bloops, games today feature lush soundtracks that can rival those found in Hollywood films.

The Rise of MIDI

Today, video game music has evolved into its own distinct genre. Many video game soundtracks have been released commercially and have become best-sellers.

Some of my favorite video game songs are from the Grand Theft Auto series. The GTA games are known for their over-the-top action and immersive worlds, and the music reflects that perfectly. 

The songs are often adrenaline-pumping rock or hip-hop tracks that get your blood pumping as you race through the city streets or shoot criminals in broad daylight.

Some video game soundtracks have even won prestigious awards, such as the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Final Notes

The video game industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings and the game music today directly reflects that.

Some of our other favorite video game songs of all time include the original main theme from Super Mario Bros., the Battle Theme from Street Fighter II, and pretty much any song from Kingdom Hearts.

What’s your favorite?