Summer is finally here, and that could only mean one thing: its time to give Steam all of my money during their annual Summer Sale. Wait, what? That’s just me? Well, for most people, the word summer means vacation. Whether that be to the beach, an amusement park, or just taking it easy, summer is a time for people to relax and unwind. Video game characters are no exception: in between saving the world, rescuing the princess, or slaying monsters, a little well-deserved time off is in order. That’s why, for this weeks The High Notes, we’re going to take a look at some of the best music from video game vacation spots.
Super Mario Sunshine – Gelato Beach
When Mario, probably the most overworked person in the video games industry, tries to take an island vacation, it comes as no surprise that trouble follows him. Instead of getting to chill by the beach, he instead has to run around cleaning up the entire island. Luckily for us, the beaches and towns that he sanitizes feature some of the most relaxing music in franchise history. “Gelato Beach” is a perfect example; the steel drums and saxophone make for a smooth tune that would sound appropriate on any beach.
Chrono Cross – Voyage (Another World)
I am a big fan of tropical settings in games; being from Florida has given me a natural kinship with the beach and ocean. That’s why Chrono Cross, with its archipelago world map, has one of my favorite settings out of any JRPG. The game’s overworld themes fit the setting, and give off an appropriately tropic vibe. This theme, with its soft guitar and piano, captures the idea of a boat smoothly gliding across the ocean.
Dragon Quest VIII – Casino Theme
What’s a good vacation without a little family-friendly debauchery? Nothing says a good time quite like losing your life savings. Casinos in RPGs have to work hard to distract players from their quests to save the world, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a catchy tune while they’re tossing around their coins. The Dragon Quest franchise, which passes most of its music from game to game, has just the ticket. The loud intro, full of jazzy horns, is instantly catchy. Rather than burn out listeners with just the one melody, the second half of the song is softer, and allows a bit of recharge between repeats. It’s the perfect song to keep a player in their seat, playing “just one more hand” until the wee hours of the morning.
Final Fantasy X – Spira Unplugged
When on vacation to an exotic place, it can be tiring if every moment of the day is spent running from one tourist trap to the next. There are times when I just want to sit back and relax, or just go out for a walk to take in the sights. “Spira Unplugged”, the acoustic version of “Suteki Da Ne”, is the perfect song for just that type of thing. The song takes on a much more peaceful tone without the full orchestra and vocals, and the guitar work is clean and precise, which makes it a pleasure to listen to.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 – Summer Air
This one was a no-brainer; after all, it has the word “summer” right there in the title. The biggest attraction about Roller Coaster Tycoon series is the ability to design and ride any coaster you can think of. Of course, the actual design process is a bit more complicated than that, and players can spend hours hand-crafting a ride to their liking. In order to keep people from going insane, the franchise needs some great music to keep them calm. A perfect example of this is “Summer Air”; the piece feels light and airy, and the guitar helps keep the mood calm and serene. Of course, that didn’t keep me from leaving sections out of my coaster, thereby condemning my patrons to a gruesome heap of twisted metal, but hey, at least I got to listen to some catchy music while I worked.
Got any other great examples of music for the summer? Please share them in the comments below.