Video Game Menu Music (Part 1)

By Zott820Zott820


When people boot up their game, and skip that introduction movie that they may have seen 40 times, they wish to be grabbed by something striking, something aspiring, something that makes them want to play the game.

Hence menu music. Its that thing on the menu, before you get in the game, that changes your entire outlook on the game ahead. This music sets the mood. Whether it is beating up your aggressions to take down a foe, or beating them into submission for a sorrow filled story, the menu music comes first.

Menu music includes: Title Screens, Menu Screens, and the occasional load screen. Any screen, not including cutscenes or introductions, that you aren’t “playing” on, then should count as Menu Music. Songs that play over a cutscene, but extend into the menu/title will still be counted as menu songs.

Here I will catalogue some menu music that has caught my fancy over the years. I’ll give a brief commentary of each one (I mean brief, this time, promise), and why it is notable.

Good menu themes like I mentioned before, get you in the mood for playing the game. Furthermore, they fit the game and should be able to be heard a few times without getting sick of it. They also have the tendency to become the legitimate “theme” of the game. For shooters that have no ingame music besides atmospheric tracks, the menu music is where the mark must be made.

EDIT: 6-5-09, Embedded in High Quality where available.

I’ll start out with Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (PC and N64)

This original theme set the stage for the other two games that followed. This midified orchestra was well done, demonstrating Factor 5’s mastery with videogame sound systems of old.

Following up we have Metroid Prime (Gamecube)

Any great game in the 2D world always has difficulty transitioning to polygonal greatness. However, Nintendo did it again. To fit the game, the menu music keeps the alien feel of the games with oozing and squishing, that ultimately presents itself into a memorable piece. Not exactly humable, but it need not be.

Rush 2 (N64)

Here we have a double feature. The intro song that carries over to the title screen is the real gem here, though I’ll throw in the menu music just for its jazzy beat. Both are heavily electronic, but it is actually very fitting for this racing game.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3) [Soviet March]

Taking a trip far north we reach the tundran banks of a new age of war. How else can we lead our soldiers to glory without a fitting theme song? I believe the music department captured the essence of the stereotypical Russian march, ran with it and polished it to greatness. Trust me, this song will be stuck in your head all day.

There is a version in the expansion with a female lead, however it pales in comparison to this version.

Battlefield Bad Company (PS3, Xbox 360)

An odd choice for menu music that caught me off guard, however, over repeated exposure and hate, I have gradually grown in a love-hate relationship to actually find this a nice menu music. Guess it was something about the electronic piano coupled with regular piano. The music doesn’t fix the horrible single player, but it provides a time wasting alternative.

Battle Tanx (N64, PSX)

One might not initially think this a memorable theme, but they were clearly wrong. Yes, the sounds are harsh, and scratchy, but they do fit the mood of this nearly post-apocalyptic world. Plus, with a clanking beat, you can go to your friends and go “clank clank”, and they’ll know.

Blazing Angels (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

While the game did have some flaws, this piece of theme music followed the game’s name, and immediately caught you by the ear. Its sting ensemble takes you to the sky to sour amongst trumpet clouds.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3) [Nate’s Theme]

The trees become thicker and longer as we enter an uncharted world. This fitting piece is my favorite of the game. The rest of the songs seem devoted to atmosphere, and don’t allow the musician to stretch their wings to epic potential; but here, they soar. The drum beat feels like one is deep within the Amazon, and the brass makes the score that much more epic in its standing. Bravo.

Crysis Warhead: (PC)

I have some things to say about the game itself, but I’ll reserve them for later. To be honest, most of the score is like this one, but since it was on the title screen, I picked this one of course. I suppose what I liked is that it is sort of like the new Batman scores that are dirty and action packed. That sums up this game in a few sentences, so the music works. No real theme here however, but not something I am sick of after listening to it.

Castlevania: Circle of the moon/ Dracula X Chronicles (DS-PSP)

[First 20 or so seconds are not the song]

Both games have the same menu music. However, the Dracula X Chronicles version has a higher quality of the two, so I put that up for you. What makes this song cool is the creepy vibe given off by the chanting. I have no clue what they are saying, but it doesn’t matter.

Lego Racers (PC, N64)

I’ll finish off with this quirky song. It isn’t so much good, as annoying, and memorable for its annoying characteristics. Then again, it is for a game based on Legos, so I wasn’t sure how much to expect out of it. It fits because it is out there. I’m sure someone will make a jive beat out of it for some breakdancing, and you know what, it emanate stuck song syndrome, so that’s why I included.

Well, that is enough menu songs for PART 1. I shall be following up later with some more videogame menu songs that are noteworthy.

Video Game Menu Music (Part 2)
Video Game Menu Music (Part 3)
Video Game Menu Music (Part 4)

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