Unikum’s Corner of Hidden Treasures is a column in which Unikum recommends pieces of media they believe more people should know and love.
For this Unikum’s Corner of Hidden Treasures I’m casting a wider net, not just putting a single media in the spotlight but an entire genre! Funny enough, music and soundtrack in video games are not merely bops, whistles and sounds synchronized with the gameplay in an effort to immerse the player, but can be evocative and heartfelt, exhilarating, and epic, terrifying and nerve-wracking or gut-punching and sorrowful. Remember, to the composer the ultimate goal is trying to communicate a certain feeling to the player, a sense of the world, characters or story. Let’s use the final boss as an example, if it’s a giant Lovecraftian monster, you’d want the score to be epic, but also contain hints of horror, to truly underscore its horrific nature. Same with an emotional scene shared with loveable characters, unless there are notes which opens the tears ducts, well, what’s the point of writing and programming such a touching scene if it’s not highlighting that emotion? A soundtrack can elevate an experience, and sometimes even redeem horrible writing or poor graphics, because they just add such a depth to it.
Video game music can be great for several things. Firstly, I love using it for studying. As much of it is without vocals, it makes it easier to focus on the words on the page, and sometimes with just the right track, it might even contribute positively to the study session (this works for workouts too). Or you’re reading something, and the words aren’t quite conveying the emotional depth you’re looking for, then video game soundtracks can help you to get in that mood. Or, let’s say you just had a shitty day and need a good ol’ crying session, trust me, there are plentiful of tracks that fulfill this criteria. I personally also almost exclusively use video game music when doing creative writing, hell, I’m listening to one right now (Hi-Fi Rush “Whirring”)!
But while writing this I realize that I’m falling into the same pitfall as with my Owl City’s ‘Ocean Eyes (Deluxe Edition)’ recommendation, there’s really not much to explain with music, you need to listen to it, feel it. But where do you begin!? The world is so vast, with numerous video games and subsequent tracks! This is where my expertise can finally shine! So sit back, and let me dish out a few categories that you might want to explore and some tracks you might want to add to your fall playlist or just save in preparation for the midterm papers which are right around the corner! Be prepared to scurry the pages of YouTube as not every soundtrack can be found on Spotify, the only downside to video game music I would argue.
Ah, studying, something we all should be doing, and yet we neglect. Sometimes you’re just chilling, reading something for an obligatory assignment not stressing, other times (read: often), studying is done in the very last possible moments before a deadline or an exam. So, this category I’m actually gonna split in two, one for chill studying and one for intense studying. Again, there are tons of video games I haven’t played, so someone might add more or different songs to the list, and feel free to do so, but these are my usual go-to songs.
- “Box 15” – Danganronpa
- “Moonlit Melody” – Bloodborne
- “Comet Observatory 3” – Super Mario Galaxy
- “Metropolis” – Ratchet & Clank
- “Knitty-Knotty Windmill Hill” – Yoshi’s Wolly World
- “Cross – Examination Allergo” – Ace Attorney Series
- “Reasoning Death Match” – Master Detectives Archives: RAIN CODE
- “Non-Stop Debate – Heat Up” – Project: Eden’s Garden
- “The Dual-Bladed Duelist” – Paper Mario: The Origami King
- “Decisive Battle II” – Octopath Traveler
We all have been there; you’ve had a shitty day or just got some really bad news. You want to wallow in your own misery for a bit, let the tears bleed from your eyes in hopes that it might ease the pain. I like to use a quote from League of Legends, specifically the character Nunu: “It’s okay to be sad sometimes Willump, because that’s when you know when you’re happy”. And something about that just hits home. So, allow yourself to be sad, and with that, these songs definitely thug at my heartstrings and hopefully, they’ll do it to yours too.
- “Fi’s Gratitude” – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
- “Reset (Thank you)” – Õkami
- “Blue Bird Lamnation” – Virtue’s Last Reward
- “Not Tomorrow” – Silent Hill
- “Luma” – Super Mario Galaxy
We all need to feel a wee bit epic from time to time, especially after delivering a midterm or maybe just surviving an exam or delivered a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Or maybe you just need that extra adrenaline kick after finishing up a big project. Either way, a grandiose epic can really set the mood for whatever you’re planning to do that day and will heighten the stakes of whatever you’re planning on tackling.
- “Revived Power” – Shadow of the Colossus
- “Dragonborn” – The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
- “The Apex of the World (Rain)” – Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- “Radagon of the Golden Order” – Elden Ring
- “Moon Theme” – Ducktales (Original and Remstered version)
Certified Bops (Lyrical)
Despite most video games simply being instrumental music, that hasn’t held them back from releasing certified bangers in their soundtracks. It seems more of a symptom in modern games to include a vocal theme, however, there are others where they sneak in whenever, and coincidentally, they’ve also sneaked onto my playlist.
- “Moon River” – Bayonetta 2
- “Life Will Change” – Persona 5
- “Face My Fears” – Kingdom Hearts 3
- “Reincarnation” – Tokyo Mirage Session #FE
- “Philistine” – No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
We all need that blood pumping and doing its business while we’re exercising. There’s a mix between vocals and instrumentals here just to try and satisfy everyone, and it may seem similar to grandiose epics and intense studying, these are aimed at not rushing the blood to your brain or ego, but instead to those muscles.
- “My Heart Feels No Pain” – Hi-Fi Rush
- “Uncontrollable” – Xenoblade Chronicles X
- “Hopes and Dreams” – Undertale
- “Gym Leader Battle” – Pokémon Sword & Shield
- “(ISOLEUCINE)” – 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
I Just Like These
There’s no real merit to the last five recommendations, I just like and enjoy listening to them and they didn’t fit in any other category so I’m just going to be slamming them in here. They’re here due to their weirdness or just how they seem to draw me in, either way, be prepared for some weird, hype and fun stuff.
- “Queensland” – Alice Madness Returns
- “Toad Harbor” – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- “Whirling Cafeteria (Day)” – Disco Elysium
- “Moonlit Melody” – Bloodborne
- “Garden of Hope” – Pikmin 3