Over the years, video games have made leaps and bounds in the advancement of technology. What was once simple pixelated graphics and monotone chiptune music, has now evolved to a display of near photo-realistic graphics accompanied with rich and powerful scores that stir the emotions within. Video game music has always been a crucial element in gaming, it has the power to extend far past the initial playthrough and infest our minds with it’s addicting melodies. It has become iconic, going hand in hand with the actual game itself.
Tommy Tallarico knew this and with that knowledge, he went on to create Video Games Live with Jack Wall in the early 2000’s and developed orchestral renditions of gaming’s most legendary scores. Two albums and many, many concert dates later, VGL established itself as the premier live video game music experience. In 2013, a Kickstarter went up to raise funds for the third iteration of Video Games Live, appropriately titled Level 3. The Kickstarter was a smashing success, with $285,081 raised by 5,679 fans and here we are months later with the final result, a 15 track record filled to the brim with timeless scores from gaming’s past and present.
The overall selection of scores on this records quite possibly has something for any gamer of any stride, something that I rather enjoyed listening to the record. For the RPG fan who longs for the days of Squaresoft, the excellent renditions of Liberi Fatali from Final Fantasy VIII and Scars of Time from Crono Cross should evoke warm memories from the PSX days. For the MOAB and MMO fan, the theme to Dota 2 and Invincible from World of Warcraft are here to play as you grind away. For those who can tell you the difference between all the Poké Balls, the rich and full rendition of the Pokémon theme is going to be your new favorite song.
Two tracks stood out for me the most as I listened to the record, both for the impact they gave me. First, we have the interesting opera version of the iconic Tetris theme. No longer that chiptune tune we all can hum on cue, it has been brought to life as a joyous and festive Russian opera score. It honestly sounds like it came from a long lost Russian ballet at the end of the 19th century, I can close my eyes and picture a stage full of dancers and falling blocks. I love the creativity of it, hell it’s probably one of the most creative renditions of a video game I’ve ever heard.
The second was my personal favorite of the album, The Legend of Zelda’s 25th Anniversary Overture. From the opening harp melody from the Ocarina of Time, I was immediately taken back to the first time I saw that iconic opening and sat in the same awe I had as a kid. Then I received a completely fantastic medley of various scores from the Zelda series, from the obligatory main theme to the beautiful arrangement of Princess Zelda’s theme. As a lifelong Zelda fan, I was overly pleased with it as it flooded my head with many memories of a childhood filled with Link’s many adventures.
Overall, I loved this record as both a music fan and a gamer. There was not one track on the entire record I didn’t care for, each track was very well done in my eyes. Hopefully we’ll get to see new editions emerge in the near future, as I’d love to see what Tallarico will come up with next.