Play It Again, Manny: Grim Fandango Remastered OST

Can you hear the sound of us not talking?

Rare’s the day we post about game soundtracks here, because by sheer coincidence every member of RPS was born without the ability to enjoy music at the same time as watching pixels flash, but I’ll make an exception. Why? Oh, a combination of this one being a little bit special and my being hopelessly mired in the past, I guess.

In two weeks’ time, the re-recorded orchestral version of Peter McConnell’s Grim Fandango score will see a standalone release. The big, characterful music was one of the highlights of the recent Grim Fandango Remastered to my mind, especially given it was such a mixed bag on the visual front. Brass bands, jazz, Mexicana, there’s all sorts in there, and it’s a genuine companion to the visual flair and variety of the game’s art.

The original soundtrack was partially MIDI based, a victim of digital compression and generally not as big as it could have been, but for the new one McConnell brought in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as well as assorted jazz players. It sounds marvellous. A 37-track cut of the soundtrack will be available from “standard digital retailers” (me checks Spotify anxiously; feels guilty about how little this may help the artists), while Sumthing.com will have a Director’s Cut with 14 extra tracks. Wot, no vinyl?

The week prior to that – i.e. next week – Broken Age is getting the same treatment. I can pretend to be excited about that if you like. Really? You sure? OK, well, uh, wheee, yay? (I’m sure Broken Age’s music is perfectly fine, but because I didn’t especially connect to the game I guess it didn’t make anything like the impression Grim’s did).

So there we are, a soundtrack post on RPS. Stranger things, and all that. What are YOUR favourite game soundtracks, soundtrackineers?

54 Comments

  1. simbo says:

    Small correction, the original soundtrack wasn’t MIDI based, it was proper studio-recorded stuff with real musicians and everything. And it was good.

    Still, yay if it’s even better now.

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      basilisk says:

      Not all tracks and not all instruments, though, which is what the remaster was trying to fix. It’s largely the same thing, just subtly better throughout and more grandiose where it should be.

    • salty-horse says:

      Yay.

      Here’s a lengthy interview with Peter McConnell about the LucasArts days (and the Grim soundtrack recording): Super Marcato Bros. Episode 50.

      And there’s an extended interview I haven’t listened to.

  2. Text_Fish says:

    I loved the soundtrack for Quake 1 and it’s mission packs. Not sure I’d feel quite the same if I heard them for the first time now, so I guess they’re more of a guilty pleasure these days. I remember quite enjoying the Incoming soundtrack too, but again it’s probably aged quite badly!

    • Ross Angus says:

      I’m pretty sure the soundtrack to Quake was CD music files on the CD. If you own the game, you own the soundtrack!

      (unless you bought it digitally, I suppose)

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      Mungrul says:

      Quake’s OST has actually aged quite well, as it was recorded as proper CD audio. If you’ve got an original Quake CD, you can stick it into a CD player and listen to the music.

    • ElElegante says:

      Fun fact: that soundtrack was in large parts composed by Trent Reznor of NIN fame. I was never into the game, but back in the day I owned a copy just for listening to the soundtrack.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    Little Big Adventure 1 & 2, Mass Effect, Outcast, Bastion, Beyond Good & Evil, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines, Phoenix Wright, Sands of Time, Shadow of the Colossus and that song at the end of Portal.

    Honourable mentions: Red Dead Redemption, Deus Ex Human Revolution, plus Brutal Legend for introducing me to a bunch of cool music I didn’t know.

    • simbo says:

      You forgot Interstate ’76 maaan!

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Let me be That Guy and say I cannot for the life of me understand the fascination with the Phoenix Wright soundtracks. Mediocre elevator music, the lot of them. Kirk Hamilton (Kotaku) seems like a nice enough guy, but his banging on about this rubbish baffles me. Next to Grim Fandango especially it’s like night and day.

      Nothing new, I suppose. I used to hang around a fair few VGM fan communities and I quickly realised I thought the majority of what everyone raved about was rubbish (Nobuo Uematsu has never written an actual decent soundtrack in his life, Megaman music is terrible, Overclocked could vanish off the internet tomorrow and nothing much of value would be lost, The Black Mages is godawful, etc., etc.). But Phoenix Wright still sticks out.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Yes. I’d go to Mammago’s or the bar with the Propaganda song just to hear the music. (And I now keep it in my iTunes library).

      Agree completely on Grim too.

      I’d also like to mention Rayman 2. Not only is it slightly unusual, it has some quite nice grooves, and it fits the game perfectly.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I agree on VtM: Bloodlines, let me add The Witcher 1 and Deus Ex 1.

    • jgf1123 says:

      If you like Phoenix Wright’s soundtrack, check out Professor Layton’s.

  4. Firkragg says:

    Monkey Island 3, lots of great tracks that tie in brilliantly with the game. I can still hear the barbershop tune even now.

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    yhancik says:

    Interstate 76. And POD! I loved the music of POD <3

    And on my CPC646, the title music of Hyperbowl by David Whittaker link to yhanblr.tumblr.com

  6. Ross Angus says:

    The Double Fine documentary on the composer for Broken Age was one of my favourites – that guy is amazing. Dunno if it’s for the general public yet though.

    • Jalan says:

      It was the same guy, Peter McConnell. Also composed the score for Psychonauts, a bit of Plants vs. Zombies 2, Sly Cooper and the list goes on and on.

  7. SigmaCAT says:

    Element4l (that thing with the ice cube), La Mulana, Rayman Origins (Legends too) and NEVER FORGET Mad World and its soundtrack’s afternoon thuggishness

    • SigmaCAT says:

      And Spelunky! And both versions of the Binding of Isaac! And Dark Souls! And, oh God, I can’t believe I forgot about it, FTL! And Desktop Dungeons! And everything made ever by PuppyGames. I love these guys.

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    phuzz says:

    The ‘soundtrack’ for DEFCON was fantastic, really atmospheric, although not really music.
    Apart from all the GTA’s for introducing me to a bunch of music, my favourite song specifically made for a game would be this.

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    tigerfort says:

    I bought the original Magic and Mayhem as much for the awesome soundtrack as for Julian Gollop’s reimaging of Chaos through mythic characters.

  10. Asurmen says:

    DX1 and FF7 for nostalgia.

  11. Ejia says:

    I don’t get the love for the soundtrack to Final Fantasy VII. I thought VI and VIII had vastly better music. I will also defend Clash on the Big Bridge from V with my life.

    I also have a soft spot for games that use existing music – Outpost using The Planets, and Brandenburg Concerto 3 popping up in Civ IV.

    Recent ones that I’ve enjoyed were those of Risk of Rain and Shovel Knight.

  12. Cockie says:

    My favourite is Cloudbuilt’s soundtrack, together with anything written by Jeremy Soule.

  13. someoneelse84 says:

    Persona 4… That’s a pc game, right?

    Loved the Diablo 1 music too… Really set the mood of the game.

    An easier choice would be Silent Hill 2… If your nerves can take it.

  14. PostieDoc says:

    The Settlers music is excellent, it is very similar to the music from A Game Of Thrones.

  15. Chaosed0 says:

    Dustforce & Frozen Synapse.

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      Dez says:

      I second Dustforce, and I’m adding Mirror’s Edge and Guacamelee. Someone above’s already mentioned The Binding of Isaac.

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        Dez says:

        Also Sword & Sworcery, and Bit.Trip Runner (and Runner2), and, and, and…

    • Armante says:

      If you like the dust force soundtrack, check out Lifeformed on Soundcloud.com
      Same guy, Terence Lee. I first heard of him via the Double Fine Adventure where he did the score for the documentaries. Check him out. Also on bandcamp I think

  16. ElElegante says:

    Outcast! The score was performed by the Moskow Symphonic Orchestra, a fact which marked the moment where I first realized that games would one day be as big or bigger than movies.

    • Llewyn says:

      Outcast remains my favourite game soundtrack of all time. Although I have the game on GOG, I keep the original disc just to listen to from time to time. GTA & GTA London also stick in my memory.

      Of recent games, Bastion probably stands out most strongly, though I increasingly find I turn music off or down low when playing now so there are probably a number of other contenders that have just not had chance to sink in.

      And finally from the dim and distant past, The Last Ninja – amazing combination of sense of place and good use of available hardware.

      • Viper50BMG says:

        Thirding the Outcast vote; it’s probably *the* soundtrack that made me realize that writing music for games was something beyond beeps and bloops, and, arguably, inspired me to get into game composition myself.

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    Thirith says:

    Three of my favourite recent soundtracks:
    – Transistor (e.g. link to youtube.com)
    – Machinarium (e.g.link to youtube.com)
    – Sword and Sworcery (link to youtube.com)

  18. Skeletor68 says:

    Diablo 2, Super Metroid, All Jeremy Soule, Austin Wintory, Darren Korb.

    Everyone should listen to the Top Score Podcast with Emily Reese where she interviews all these composers.

  19. petrucio says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Full Throttle yet, that game’s soundtrack by the Gone Jackals is AMAZING!
    link to youtube.com

    And I still hear the original soundtrack of the original Grim Fandango, and that shit is far, FAR away from midi quality.

  20. Stopsignal says:

    My favourites are:

    -Hotline Miami 1 and 2 (specially 2)
    -Shadow Of The Colossus
    -Journey
    -Okami
    -Machinarium
    -Binding Of Isaac (not rebirth)
    -OFF
    -Castle Crashers
    -Battleblock Theater

    Really, really varied!

    • Fenix says:

      Have to second Ōkami, the soundtrack for that game is masterful.

      Others are enjoy are everyhing by Micheal Land, the original UT music, Half-Life, 999 soundtrack (Morphogenetic Sorrow might be my favourite piece of game music ever).

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    Serrit says:

    Super Hexagon of course :-)
    RPGs tend to cheat by having music associated with emotive story elements (Planescape:Torment, Neverwinter Nights 1+2, Knights of the old Republic, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc). Fallout 3 and New Vegas have a good mix of original music, and old music that I’d never really get into outside the Fallout world but fit great within in.

    I loved LeChuck’s theme from The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition – great bit of dirty trombone. King’s Bounty has some good serene tracks. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfare is for when I want some action-movie-heroism cheese. And Homeworld’s a capella version of Barber’s Adagio still brings back harrowing memories of fleet destruction.

  22. unit 3000-21 says:

    “Put on a trenchcoat and fight some conspiracies”
    But seriously, my favourite soundtracks would be the ones from Hotline Miami, No One Lives Forever (the sequel even more), a few (admitedly camp) Diablo 1&2 songs, and that moment when you parachute into a penthouse in Saints Row 3 with Kanye West’s “Power” blazing. What really brings me down is the “Zimmerisation” of games’ soundtracks, shallow, bombastic orchestral dreck, ripping Williams ripping Holst. Bleh.
    Also I am drunk.

  23. welverin says:

    I almost always turn the volume of in game music down, and in all the years I’ve played games I can only come up with a couple games I actually like the music: Ultima 7 & 9.

    • Jalan says:

      I tend to get tired of some music rather quickly depending on the type of game it is being played in. For example, the “it’s hard because retro was hard” type of games, where I find myself dying so often that my frustration hits such a peak that I’d rather puncture my eardrums than have to listen to the same tune on loop as I try to pass a tough level (and it was the same way back when I used to play on consoles).

  24. Jalan says:

    I could write forever, but a few of my favorites:

    Myst III: Exile
    Outcast
    Kairo
    They Bleed Pixels
    Gunpoint
    Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
    Splice
    Ether One

  25. somnolentsurfer says:

    * The Banner Saga
    * The Banner Saga
    * The Banner Saga

    (Also Dreamfall and Hotline Miami)

    Very much looking forward to Sunset, just ’cause it’s another game on PC with an Austin Wintory soundtrack.

  26. apa says:

    I didn’t even remember I liked so many game soundtracks reading the comments above! My favourites and also the ones I still listen to: Far Cry 2, Interstate 76, Quake 1, Hotline Miami, Commando (C64). A few other games had awesome soundtracks too of course but not on any playlist any more.

  27. aerozol says:

    Various Grand Theft Auto stations (including advertisements), Interstate 76, Jet Set Radio, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Silent Hill 2, L.A. Noire, David Carney (flash game soundtracks), Lone Survivor, TES: Morrowind, Dustforce, Halo 1, Diablo II, Frozen Synapse, Cave Story.
    And Resident Evil Safe Room music for relaxing times :)

  28. poppycock says:

    The Neverhood soundtrack with bleeps and bloops. And yelps.