When I think video games, I often think of music. No, really. Many of my favorite soundtracks come from the annals of video game history. The Final Fantasy series, for instance, is chock-full of scores by noted composer Nobuo Uematsu that can put any film soundtrack to shame.
Where we are now as a people who consume video games at an exorbitant rate is at the cusp of two niche fandoms coming together: the rush to procure anything and everything that is vinyl and the desire by artists to take advantage of the insane popularity of video games.
Enter Iron Maiden. What a transition! Iron Maiden, stalwart of heavy metal, has jumped into the world of video games with a rather unique take on both new music and retro gaming by releasing an 8-bit, side-scrolling game in the style of Streets of Rage and Contra.
Speed of Light, also the title of its new music video, which inspired the game, pits you as Eddie, the band’s iconic mascot, against the dangers of urban street life á la the 1980s as thugs throw flaming boxes and spare tires roll out of control.
There is no trick to this game other than keeping an eye on the projectiles. Eddie jumps objects and rescues the dame. Very Donkey Kong-ish. The 8-bit theme, to the tune of the title track, will be a treat for Iron Maiden fans excited for The Book of Souls, which hit shelves on Sept. 4.
If you’re the type that has been making the mad dash to collect music on vinyl, then it’s high time you turned your attention to the Internet, where classic video-game soundtracks are being released in spades.
At this year’s Comic-Con, lines began forming in the wee morning hours to procure a limited-edition version of the soundtrack for the insanely difficult arcade and Nintendo action game Battle Toads, which, of course, sold out. Printed on neon-green vinyl, the soundtrack was the stuff of collectors’ dreams. If standing in line isn’t your thing, worry not; there are goldmines online.
Mondo, an Austin, Texas-based producer of all things nostalgia, has gotten into the video-games-on-vinyl business. Its first release was for the cinematic experience The Last of Us, a game in which a man and his protégé attempt to survive a fungus-zombie-infested world, released in 2013 by Naughty Dog. The score, by Gustavo Sanatolalla, came on four colored vinyl records with unique, original artwork.
Data Discs, a UK- based retailer, got into the business with a promised series of releases based on classic video game titles. Its first, the Sega side-scrolling fighting game Streets of Rage on red vinyl and the second, Shenmue, progenitor of the open-world RPG, also from Sega, on blue vinyl.
At around $29.99 each, the Data Disc releases rival your standard record price, with the exception of something like The Last of Us, which, with four discs, can get a bit pricey.
Is this the beginning or the middle of a musical revolution or is this a symptom of the saturation of vinyl in general? Have the 1980s resurfaced via an outdated format that is more cumbersome than CDs and not as sharp as the MP3? Who knows? What I do know, however, is that it’s pretty sweet to pull out a copy of the Shenmue soundtrack when you’re trying to impress your friends.
Chris O’Neal is also known as Mix Master Chris. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.