Thursday, 20 March 2014

Five Relaxing Retro Videogame Songs

MegaWestgarth Final Fantasy IX

Everyone gets stressed and anxious from time to time. Stress is completely natural, but allowing stress to gain too much control can result in a range of unwanted emotional, physical and behavioural effects. I should know -- I've had the heavy weight of anxiety peeking over my shoulders for longer than I can remember.

Over the years I've developed my own ways to truncate negative thoughts, halt anxiety-fueled behaviours and drip-feed motivation into my dank, grey brain. Most of these methods involve a paper and pen, some logical thinking and plenty of deep breathing. Other methods involve looking inside myself and taking my mind to other places. But sometimes I just need a quick and easy jolt of energy to get me through the da.y.

Enter relaxing retro videogame music.

To state the obvious: relaxing music is relaxing. However, relaxing music from retro videogames is music I listened to in my care-free youth. The combination of deep-set pattern recognition and the nostalgic value retro videogames hold offers an instant burst of positive thinking. Such bursts are admittedly short lived, yet can sometimes make the difference between getting dressed in the morning or simply staying in bed.

So hit the jump to see what retro tunes I find particularly useful. Maybe you'll get a kick from them too:

Composer - Ryoji Yoshitomi
Wario Land 4 Relaxing MusicI've been an avid fan of Wario games since first playing Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 many, many years ago. Wario Land 4 on the Game Boy Advance isn't my favourite Wario Land game, but it's definitely one of the best looking and best sounding titles on the system.

Of particular note if the theme from Palm Tree Paradise, the easiest level in Wario Land 4 and the most relaxing to play. I have no idea what the Japanese lyrics are or what they mean, but they add a lovely soft tone that makes Palm Tree Paradise one of my go-to tunes for a quick burst of relaxation.

Composer - David Wise
Donkey Kong Country Relaxing Music
I strongly consider Donkey Kong Country, at a technical level, to be the best 2D platformer of its time -- an opinion I elaborated on in my very first article for BitMob. Of course, it helps that this 16-bit classic has some fantastic music including the relaxing Aquatic Ambiance. This song has also been faithfully rearranged in the recently released Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Composers: Kenji Yamamoto & Kouichi Kyuuma
Metroid Prime Relaxing Music
Here's another underwater tune from another of my favourite games : Metroid Prime. The music from this GameCube classic suits the game's environments and, as such, convey feelings of claustrophobia, hostility and alienation.

Crashed Ship Frigate Orpheon, however, takes place within the flooded wreck of Metroid Prime's tutorial level. When visiting the crash site for the first time, players are unable to manoeuvre through water as they can in thin air, making for a more slow paced and mysterious experience.

Accompanying this section of the game is the Crashed Ship Frigate Orpheon theme: a piano track at its core, with layers of weird and wonderful electronic sounds meandering in the background.

As with Aquatic Ambiance, the tune has a slight element of intimidation to it purely from my days spent playing the game as teenager. Nevertheless, I find it to be a nice tune to help clear my mind when I'm in a pickle. Metroid Metal also did a less relaxing cover, which is worth a listen.

Blast Corps: Havoc District
Composer: Graeme Norgate
Blast Corps Relaxing Music
Havoc District or, as I refer to it, "The J-Bomb Theme" is a tune from one of my all time favourite games: Blast Corps for the Nintendo 64. The game involved smashing, bashing and crashing through numerous cities and villages in a range of ridiculous demolition machines. As such, Blast Corps' soundtrack is mostly comprised of light-hearted, synthesized rock tunes or banjo dance tracks.

Havoc District is a bit different as it accompanies the first level to use the J-Bomb: a hovering robot capable of stamping down entire skyscrapers in one go. Despite the destruction, the song is slow and plodding -- reminding me that I can do (i.e. demolish) anything in my path given enough time.

It's also worth nothing that the Blast Corps track I referred to in my Anime Courtyard review of The Lego Movie Videogame -- the track that I said the Bricksburg theme reminded me of -- was in fact Havoc District.

Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy IX Relaxing Music

Not to be confused with Final Fantasy IX's main theme, "Melodies of Life", "Over The Hill" is the tune played when traversing the game's overworld -- that is until Disc 4 where the theme is replaced with "Another Nightmare".

While containing many dark themes, Final Fantasy IX is, at a glance, a far more light hearted game than its predecessors and there's no song that sums up this light-heartedness more than Over the Hill.

Let it be known  that Melodies of Life is a very sweet song, but I personally find that it carries too much emotion for me to find it relaxing. Over The Hill, on the other hand, contains the same nostalgic melody yet never becomes too intense.

Over the Hill and Melodies of Life have been officially rearranged several times for use in other Square Enix games and albums. Although I'd argue that the original is the most relaxing, it may still be worth checking out the others:
So I hope you enjoyed this short, wordy list of my most listened-to, relaxing retro videogame songs. I'm not  usually one to write lists such as these, but seeing as how there's so many people that suffer from stress and anxiety, I thought this little list might be worth sharing on the off chance that someone actually finds it helpful.

And if you do find it helpful, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, or contacting me via Tumblr or Twitter.


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