When my wife and I started dating, I began using the same cologne I wear today. It's to the point now where I can't even smell it anymore. I, apparently, exude a frangracne of apples and selected spices all the time. Either that or my olfactory senses are shot to hell.
My hearing, while dulled by decades worth of music turned up to 11, isn't quite as indifferent. I've shared at least one tale of sound driving me through the depths of emotion, but you can rest assured that music doesn't always drive me to tears. It often sparks a sense of nostalgia tied to games and places from the past, and I'd like to share some of those with you.
A Perfect Circle: Mer Der Noms vs. Vagrant Story
When I was in my mid-teens, I was an awkward beast. The closest I'd come to a romantic relationship were text-based conversations with Aeris Gainsborough, and most of you can guess how that turned out (sniff). I was, however, listening to music written by people who appeared to have the same predilection for the melodramatic that I had developed in my near isolation.
A Perfect Circle's debut album, Mer Der Noms was the perfect accompaniment for the years I spent with Vagrant Story. The brooding arrangements and lyrics loaded with sexual and spiritual undertones and even the album artwork were great matches for the darkened cellars, revealing costumes, and evil magic and intrigue that made Lea Monde such a memorable locale. The swaying rhythm of songs like "The Rose" seemed to perfectly match the game's combat system, which required precise inputs in time with the swing of Ashley Riot's blade. The instrumental piece, "Renholder," mirrored the beauty and mystery of the maze-like Snowfly Forest.
Both Mer Der Noms and Vagrant Story hold up pretty well today. Sure, the former may be linked to feelings of loneliness and desperation to which I can no longer fully relate, and the latter's technical brilliance may have been eclipsed (more on a hardware front than anything else), but I still indulge in the combination today. A few weeks ago, I tweeted that every time I hear vocalist Maynard James Keenan and co. that I have the burning desire to relive my days as a blacksmithing Riskbreaker. To my surprise and delight, a complete stranger replied that he enjoyed the same association.
Fucked Up: The Chemistry of Common Life vs. Blur
In the lead-up to what was a relatively stress-free wedding, I was given the opportunity to work in a senior role for a few weeks to gain some valuable experience and some extra cash. It was a pretty brutal month in an area that offered some truly eye-opening experiences, and with every weekend, there came a nervous energy that I needed to expel.
Unfortunately for me, the Grand Final for the National Rugby League's Telstra Premiership fell on the penultimate weekend of my secondment. My fiancé was watching that game and the day's worth of fanfare whether I needed to escape or not. It also meant the television was claimed to watch the action; it'd be hard to even get my game on. I was getting desperate, so I plunged into the abyss that was our spare room and found an old, tiny TV. Fucked Up on my iPod and Blur on my PlayStation 3: I was going to ram my way out of this feeling of helplessness.
As the raw, throbbing rage of "Magic Word" pulsed through my head, I collided with expensive cars and felt my anger rub off on my opponents along with a great deal of paint. Challenge me and be trashed; I raced ahead of everyone and everything…I was getting the wins I needed. In somewhat of a contradiction, "No Epiphany" was on repeat for the better part of the day; I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Beck: Guero vs. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Despite an abundance of violence and destruction, Mercenaries turned out to be a reasonably light-hearted affair. The absence of color and the epic soundtrack may have had one believing that this was yet another generic sandbox action game, but when Mattias Nilsson mutters about his love for M67 frag grenades and threatens that the Korean DMZ will be even more dangerous upon his arrival, you know there'll be some laughs to be had.
After a few hours of hunting war criminals to a score of lofty orchestral pieces, I decided that Guero would be a more appropriate aural supplement for my adventures. I can remember "Missing" playing as I searched aimlessly for a "card" hidden in a treachorous North Korean valley. "Rental Car" blared through my speakers as I bundled over hillsides in an Allied Nations humvee. "Hell Yes" was a fitting match to some of my more beligerent helicopter flights that saw firey death rain on whomever pulled the short straw with regards to my mixed political interests.
Flushing out the odd warlord with a bunker buster sounds heavy enough, but with the help of Beck and some the best vehicle controls I've enjoyed in an action game, fun was always on the agenda.
Are there any albums you associate with some of your favorite games? Has anyone else tried mashing these combinations together with the same level of success?
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!