In my many years of running this blog, I’ve ended up collecting a fair share of video game-related junk. Demo discs. Hot wheels cars. Even collecting bottles of Mountain Dew Game Fuel. But one thing I’ve gotten the most often these days is random video game-related music.
It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by music, from the styles and genres, to their appearances even in video games. Naturally, over the years I’ve gotten a bunch of music CDs, each with their own little story that I’ve either found on a past I Bought Stuff!, or something I had for years.
I have the traditional soundtrack fare of music straight from the game, but there isn’t a whole lot I could write about those. For example, I own The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that Nintendo Power was giving away to people who re-subscribed to the magazine, but there isn’t much to say about that. However, I do have a fair share of stuff that’s tangentially related to video games that I think are interesting instead, so I’m gonna go with that option here.
So here are five random video game-related CDs I own, in no particular order.
Music from the Motion Picture: Tomb Raider
This was around the time where the franchise was probably at the absolute biggest it could be, despite a slight slump thanks to Eidos following Activision’s philosophy of pumping out a new game in the franchise every year, something that would inevitably lead to the abysmal Angel of Darkness in 2002.
I never saw the Tomb Raider films, but I heard they’re fun, goofy action flicks. Angelina Jolie being the box office draw probably helped too. This film also features Daniel Craig way before he was James Bond, so it already has piqued my interest.
I honestly didn’t think the film would be filled to the brim with licensed music, but there’s a lot here, and it’s a mix of industrial (Nine Inch Nails, Fluke, Oxide & Neutrino) and electronic artists (Chemical Brothers, Moby, Fatboy Slim). A lot of it is a good example of that late ‘90s-early 2000s style of pop/industrial and hip-hop/rock sound. A lot of these are artists I’ve heard of, but the only song on here I was familiar with prior to listening was Basement Jaxx’s “Where’s Your Head At.” Which is so early 2000s it hurts. That song felt like it was everywhere around this time!
The only thing I’m saddened by is no portions of the film’s score by Graeme Revell. That was released on a separate CD – It was common to release a soundtrack of the licensed music and a separate CD for the film’s score – but even having one or two tracks on here would’ve been a nice surprise to me. Film scores are something I find appealing, if anyone who’s seen me talk about the music kits for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Wipeout 2097 (aka Wipeout XL)
This was an interesting release. You’d think it’d feature the music from the hit racing game Wipeout 2097 — Wipeout XL if you’re like me and from the states — right? Well, it does and yet also it doesn’t.
It does feature tracks from The Future Sound of London, Fluke, The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy, which do appear in the PlayStation version of the game proper. Presumably as a suggestion from the record label, the soundtrack CD also features songs from artists like Leftfield, Orbital and the then relatively unknown Daft Punk, all of which did not contribute music to the game. It also omits any of the in-game music from Tim Wright, aka CoLD StoRAGE.
This soundtrack CD is a weird release, because Wipeout XL was one of several games from the era that uses Red Book CD audio — something I’ve gushed about in the past — so if you wanted the music you could put the CD in a CD player to get the game’s music, making this album pretty redundant. Oh well, it’s still a good album regardless.
The copy I own is in fairly poor condition with lots of scratches on the disc and a slightly damaged case. It doesn’t help that I accidentally dropped the case once when I did a blog post featuring me getting the thing, breaking the cover and chipping off half of the teeth in the case that keeps the disc intact. I’ve considered in the past finding an empty or unused clear plastic CD jewel case and replacing it, but I don’t listen to this album enough to really justify it.
SiN: The Movie CD Soundtrack
SiN was a game that was pretty cool for its time, a spiritual successor to the Duke Nukem formula with some other cool features. Unfortunately it came out the same time as Half-Life, and like other games that came out around that period (such as Blood II: The Chosen), got its lunch ate by Valve’s debut. It didn’t help that Activision pushed the game out before it was ready, resulting in a whopping 130MB patch being released not long after release, during the days when dial-up internet was king.
Yet, SiN was modestly popular enough that it also got an anime film adaptation. Back in that weird period when the closest the US had heard of “anime” was Sailor Moon and Samurai Pizza Cats, but before the anime invasion on Toonami that blew up in the early 2000s, Sin: The Movie came out… and was pretty much forgotten, except for a VHS/DVD release by ADV Films. If you were around watching anime in the late ’90s to early 2000s, ADV was one of the more well-known localization companies for anime, releasing a lot of stuff like this, including the rather passable Sonic the Hedgehog anime.
I was honestly expecting an electronic soundtrack much akin to the games, or even similar to the two CDs I just mentioned above. But no, it’s an actual film score. Probably the closest you’ll see in this collection. Composed by Masamichi Amano, it’s actually a very heartwarming and dramatic score. I never thought an anime based on a freakin’ late ‘90s video game would have such a cool score, but this is from the guy that also made music for Melty Lancer, and amusingly, the rather not-work-safe Urotsukidoji. Oh well, gotta make money somehow.
Compilation Gamestop Vol. 1
Okay, this is a weird one. This is another compilation, oddly sold by GameStop. It features an EA Sports logo in the back, so I assume this was made as a pre-order incentive for some EA Sports game, likely a FIFA title. There’s not much online about this, I couldn’t even find the cover on Discogs, thus I resorted to taking a picture instead.
The track listing consists of bands from EMI Records, so there’s the notable global musicians like KT Tunstall, Duran Duran and Deep Purple. But the rest of the album has a bunch of unknown artists I hadn’t heard of. After doing a bit of research, it turns out this CD was originally released only in Italy. I’ve found foreign CDs constantly at thrift stores, often times a lot of albums from Asia, and have found Japanese copies of Hot Shots Golf 2 and Puyo Puyo Sun, so this is common. Still weird to see a CD make its way from Italy to the United States. Unopened, even.
The music hits a lot of that 2000s era pop-punk/rock sound that you expect, but then there’s a few weird choices like KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”, Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World”, even a live version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” There’s also a lot of Italy-specific artists on here that are probably familiar to Italian audiences, but not an American like me. The songs in question are alright, just not to my taste.
Still a cool find, regardless. I honestly wish I knew what this was made for, because it just feels like a strange soundtrack that GameStop was merely selling to promote a specific. I guess it beats getting a silly hat, t-shirt, or DLC download code, at least.
Carmen Sandiego: Out of this World
I’ve saved the best for last. This is an album made for the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego game show, which there were several of them released. This is the last one they made.
I bet you’re expecting to hear nothing but a bunch of awesome a capella by Rockapella, right? Sadly, you’d be disappointed. As the cover shows, this album stars Greg Lee, the show’s host in the majority of the tracks featured. Don’t fret, as there is at least one Rockapella song, and a few guest acts from XTC, They Might Be Giants, even a song by The Chief herself, the late great Lynne Thigpen.
I snagged this album as well as an Intel radiation suit guy plush advertising the Pentium II about a few years back, and I was absolutely surprised when I found both of these. I’ve been collecting a fair share of stuff over the years, and this is a rather interesting album, more so than the others.
Honestly, I might write more about this album, because it’s just a bizarre curiosity. People remember the game show, and Rockapella’s amazing a capella, but don’t tell me you were ever expecting a soundtrack album featuring the host, were you?
Honorable Mention: NHL Rivals 2004: Music from the Xbox game, Vol. 1
I’ve written about this before, which you can read here; but it’s still one of those strange thrift store finds I’ve always been fascinated with. It’s a soundtrack that feels like all like licensed music they could easily get for cheap, which probably falls in line with the short-lived XSN Sports brand. Two of the tracks have an interesting little tale to them, more than the rest of the album does.
I have a few other CDs I didn’t mention here, so maybe I’ll write a volume two sometime. Video game soundtracks are just one of those unusual curiosities that’s begging me to get super nerdy on.
(Covers courtesy of Discogs, except for Compilation GameStop, which is my own picture.)
Updated 7/23/2020 for paragraph adjustments and updated links.