Over the years we’ve branched out from being mainly reviews-focused to the occasional blog series or regular feature. There are various reasons for this, among them that we don’t have as much time to play the oldies as we used to, but it also adds a bit of variety to the content on the site. From our point of view, it makes things a bit more interesting and reflects the changes in gaming coverage that have taken place over the 15 plus years we’ve been going, and hopefully the same goes for you (although a recent survey of the site’s 7 readers was inconclusive: if you’ve not completed it yet, don’t forget that you’ll be entered into an exclusive prize draw if you meet the deadline).

In this series we’ll be looking at music featured in games – specifically, existing songs by real bands licensed by publishers for a soundtrack. A lot of coverage of gaming music focuses โ€“ correctly, perhaps โ€“ on original compositions or chiptune music and remixes, and this is undoubtedly a lot cooler than what we’re going to do here, which is basically talk about bands and their most commercially attractive material in the context of being plonked onto the menus of some publisher’s annual franchise instalment.

On the other hand, we’re in the business of looking back here, and while upon release it may be perfectly valid to cynically dismiss an expensively assembled collection of tracks as irrelevant in terms of the overall experience, digging through them after a few years gives us an opportunity to revisit those choices, those songs, and what they said about the time. Plus it’s an opportunity to have a bit of a giggle about some things that haven’t perhaps aged too well, and embarrass myself by revealing rather too much about my own preferences in the process.

Some ‘discs’ from the ‘days’ when you could ‘own’ your ‘music’.

My own qualifications in this regard can best be described thus: I had a healthy appreciation of most of what was popular once upon a time, during those formative years when such things seemed so important, and your choices and preferences were part of who you were, or so it seemed; and anything even slightly away from the mainstream made you extremely cool and original and definitely not just following a different set of pre-packaged tastes and trends.

However, since then, as with most things, I’ve gradually fallen more and more out of touch, and however I might try to listen to new stuff, my Spotify account is mainly used to access old albums that I’ve either lost or haven’t ripped audio from. But occasionally the corporate appropriation of music for gaming soundtracks has been successful and I have found myself getting into a band as a result of hearing them during a game.

So, basically I’m even less qualified to write about music than I am about games, although I do like reading about it: even those extremely sneery pieces that used to appear in the likes of NME and Melody Maker and still pop up in newspaper arts sections like The Guardian’s Saturday Guide, which seem able to extrapolate and express so much criticism of an artist or band from a particular single or album (which would, of course, drive the ‘objective games criticism!’ crowd wild as these pieces fail to note the ability of the singer to hit the right notes or the general competence of the guitar playing). I kind of like and admire their snootiness, while at the same time still considering them rather mean-spirited and not the kind of writing I could really pull off myself.

Hey, now, wouldn’t this be a good one to cover? We won’t be doing so, though.

My choices for this series will be predicated on the fact that I do think that’s there’s something interesting to say about at least some of the featured songs. Some other rules: we must have reviewed the game already, and the pieces will try to avoid repeating anything in the review (which will be linked to), while still talking about the music in the context of the game. But it’s likely we will also be going off on tangents at various points.

Also: this will be a discrete blog series, otherwise separate from the reviews themselves. While it would sort of make sense to bolt these pieces onto the relevant review as a side feature, those extras tend to be mainly for little additional tidbits and thoughts about the game, and more significant pieces tend to be rather hidden away there. Also, although we’ve done this in the past, the practice of adding new content to old reviews can be a bit jarring, especially if there’s several years between when the pieces were written.

So, there we go. We’ll get started on this shortly, so why not join us for a fun look back at some old music from the 90s and 00s?