Music Inspired by Video Games

Written by Jonathan Steele

If you are anything like me, then you have browsed the Internet in search of your favorite video game soundtracks a time or two. And I don’t mean Halo or Mass Effect, though those games do have fantastic music. I’m talking about the good old fashioned stuff. I’m talking about Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, etc. Those games just had a distinct sound to them that was instantly recognizable and brought back so many memories. I eventually discovered that this sound is called “chiptune.” I started searching for original music that included that chiptune sound, and to my dismay, what I found was disappointing. There was almost none at all, and the stuff I could find had terrible quality. Eventually I gave up and just kept listening to whatever electronic music I could find.

Then, years later, I downloaded a little game on my iPhone called Extreme Road Trip 2.

I immediately noticed that this game’s soundtrack was exactly what I had been looking for. It had that chiptune sound, but it also had a wide range of other “normal” instruments mixed in as well. I was impressed. It didn’t take me long to discover that the artist was Jimmy Hinson, aka Big Giant Circles. Almost immediately, he became my favorite musician. His first full album, Impostor Nostalgia, captivated me with its incredible sound that was simultaneously nostalgic and original. Instead of writing music that was 100% chiptune, which could quickly get boring, he brings in all sorts of instruments with chiptune at the forefront. It’s beautifully executed, and his music is a joy to listen to.

But here’s the best part: Big Giant Circles just released his second full album, The Glory Days. I was part of the Kickstarter campaign, so I’ve been listening to it for the past week, and I can honestly say it’s everything I’d hoped it would be. Jimmy does it again with a gorgeous array of styles and sounds, only this time he kicks it up a notch with even more variety than before. No single song is anything like another, and that is truly a feat for any artist. One of my favorite things about this album is how skillfully he embeds classic video game themes into his music. Most people just take a game’s theme song and change the rhythm up or turn it into dubstep. Not Jimmy. He writes a fully original song and then weaves that classic theme in with it. In fact, he does it so well that I didn’t recognize one of the most well-known video game themes in history until I listened to the track for about the fifth time. Then suddenly it just hit me, “Oh my gosh! That’s the theme from Super Mario World!”

If you are a fan of classic video games, and you love hearing the sounds that take you right back to the glory days, you need to buy this album. And yes, please buy it on Bandcamp or iTunes. Don’t go download a torrent. This guy has worked tirelessly on this album and his skill is unparalleled. He deserves every penny. So what are you waiting for? Get to listening! Here are just a few of my favorite tracks from The Glory Days to get you started.

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