Video Game Music |OT| - Not just Robot Farts and 5-Second Loops!


Speaking of recently discovered soundtracks, I stumbled upon Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness (PS1, N64, Dreamcast) by accident and what a pleasant surprise the soundtrack was. A nice mix of synth and real instruments. Listened to the whole thing and it’s so nice. I believe the composer is also the guy who did Vectorman.

A few highlights:

Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness: Menu
Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness: Cleopactra
Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness: Crystal Caves 2
Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness: Pac Ping Harbor 2

I don’t know what it is, maybe the happy atmosphere is what it’s doing it for me considering I’m a big fan of Racydm’s music (Snowboards Kids, Critical Blow, Trap Gunner). I’ll try to track down the CD if it exists.


It was because of Video games I ended up building a hi-fi system. My first was a Marantz pm 66SE stereo amp, an Aiwa F450K cassette player and a pair of Mordaunt-Short Speakers. Also purchased a turntable and a Pioneer PD-S703 CD player, it was from the Amp, cassette deck and CD player I was able to connect my consoles and record game music and take it out onto the streets via the Walkman. I still enjoy those tracks even today but now I can enjoy them on my mobile music apps and thanks to Youtube apps but also from the help of game capture devices. I much prefer the “chip” sound that comes direct from the hardware rather than emulation.

Out of the many Walkman models I went through I’ve only kept this one but sadly I need to replace the rubber band inside to get it working.

my small game audio CD collection


The Legend of Xanadu is a PC-Engine game - it’s just that, as far as we know, these tracks were composed first on PC-88/98 hardware before being arranged for PCE, because that was what Falcom’s sound team was used to at the time. The versions from the J.D.K. Special album aren’t used in the game itself at all, but they are the originals.

I did notice a lack of a mention of Falcom in the OP, so I’m here to rectify that with a brief(?) history of some of their work in the pre-Windows era - mostly on Japanese PCs like the PC-88 and 98, but also including some console games. I won’t be mentioning every single game or soundtrack, but I’ll go over many of them, and provide samples so you can follow the evolution of their sound.

While they were founded in 1981, it was in 1985 with Xanadu (composed by Toshiya Takahashi) on PC-88 that they really got their start musically - while its soundtrack was small, it was the genesis of a main theme that would continue to be used in several later games in the series. (If you’ve played Xanadu Next, you may recognize it.) Its 1986 expansion, Xanadu Scenario II: The Resurrection of Dragon, is especially notable for featuring the first work of the legendary Yuzo Koshiro, alongside Takahito Abe.

The Resurrection of Dragon (Koshiro)
Mapleford (Abe)
Klepsydra (Koshiro)
Triumphal March (Abe)
Postlude (Abe)

The following year, in 1987, Falcom released Ys I, with Koshiro as the lead composer. He was joined by newcomer Mieko Ishikawa, with director Masaya Hashimoto contributing a single track as well. Falcom also released their very first arrangement album, All Over Xanadu, this year. The soundtrack release for Ys I would mark the beginning of Falcom’s relationship with arranger Ryo Yonemitsu, who would later provide arrangements for the PCE versions of Ys I to IV, as well as for various albums.

Feena (Koshiro)
Fountain of Love (Ishikawa)
Tower of the Shadow of Death (Koshiro)
The Morning Grow (Koshiro)

To Altel (Abe)
Scenario II Ending Theme aka Triumphal March (Abe)
Beat of the Terror/Palace of Destruction (Koshiro, arranged by Yonemitsu)

Unfortunately, after this point, Falcom stopped officially crediting their composers by track, so all we’ve had to go on to figure out credits since then has been whatever information composers reveal in interviews, social media and the like, a few games that were released with telltale composer codes still remaining in the data, and our analysis of their styles based on this info.

Later that year, Falcom would also recruit Hideya Nagata and Reiko Takebayashi for Sorcerian:

The Lost King’s Scepter - Dungeon (Koshiro)
The Cursed Oasis - Sand Castle (Koshiro)
The Thieves’ Tower - The Seal (Takebayashi)
The Cursed Ship Queen Mary - Aboard Ship (probably Ishikawa)
The Mystery of the Red Jewel - Giant Moth (Nagata)
Medusa’s Head - Village (Koshiro)
Beautiful Day (Ishikawa)

Takebayashi would soon leave Falcom for Quintet (founded by Tomoyoshi Miyazaki and Masaya Hashimoto, the creators of the Ys series), but the others would stay around for Ys II in 1988:

To Make the End of Battle (Koshiro)
Ruins of Moondoria (Nagata)
Tender People (Ishikawa)
Subterranean Canal (Ishikawa)
Termination (Koshiro)

Termination (arranged by Hiroyuki Namba)

Symphony Ys, released in 1988, is Falcom’s first orchestrated arrange album. 1988 would also mark the beginning of the Falcom Special Box series of albums. And perhaps most notably, both Koshiro and Nagata would leave Falcom not long after the release of Ys II, leaving Ishikawa as the sole composer for a year and a half. During this period, she would compose for Sorcerian Utility Disk and Additional Scenarios volumes 1-3 in 1988 and Star Trader and Ys III in 1989. As with Ys I and II, the soundtrack releases later on would contain a few arranged tracks.

(All of the following songs are Ishikawa)
Demonic Isle
Snow on the Gojo Ohashi Bridge
Castle Keep of Sorrow
Ninja Mansion
Evil Spirit
Grievously Shrine
Good Luck! Good Bye!
Angel Dust
Moon Scape
A Premonition =Styx=
Steeling the Will to Fight
Morning of Departure
Wanderers from Ys

Second Movement (Symphony Ys, 1988, Koshiro, arranged by Kentaro Haneda and performed by King Symphonic Orchestra)
Templo del Sol (Falcom Special Box '89, 1988, Abe, arranged by David Matthews)
The Seal (Falcom Special Box '89, 1988, Takebayashi, arranged by Takeshi Yano)
In the Memory (Falcom Special Box '89, 1988, Ishikawa, arranged by Hiroyuki Namba)
Snow on the Gojo Ohashi Bridge (Sengoku Sorcerian, 1989, Ishikawa, arranged by Hiroyuki Namba)
Ninja Mansion (Sengoku Sorcerian, 1989, Ishikawa, arranged by Hiroyuki Namba)
Mobile Satellite Mjölnir (Star Trader, 1989, Ishikawa, arranged by Keiichi Oku)
Star Trader (Star Trader, 1989, Ishikawa, arranged by Keiichi Oku)
Oath on a Starry Sky (based on Feena, Falcom Special Box '90, 1989, Koshiro, arranged by Keiichi Oku)
Protectors (Falcom Special Box '90, 1989, Koshiro, arranged by Anthem)


In late 1989, a new sound team member, Masaaki Kawai, would join Falcom. Although he and Ishikawa are both credited for The Legend of Heroes, because that whole soundtrack sounds like Ishikawa, I think he probably didn’t actually start composing until the following year, with the new tracks in the X68000 version of Ys III. Dinosaur also released in 1990.

Opening (probably Ishikawa)
Field (probably Ishikawa)
Dungeon (probably Ishikawa)
Pirate Island (probably Ishikawa)
Dear My Brother (Kawai)
The Theme of Chester (Kawai)
Believe in My Heart (Kawai)
The Lost Ones (could be either)
Charge! (probably Kawai)
A Temple (probably Kawai)
Burning! (probably Ishikawa)

Endless History (based on The Morning Grow, Perfect Collection Ys, 1990, Koshiro, arranged by Hiroshi Shinkawa)
A Still Time (Perfect Collection Ys II, 1990, Ishikawa, arranged by Naoki Watanabe)

Though Kawai would leave after this point, a new member would join - Atsushi Shirakawa, who would later become better known as the anime and VN composer Tenmon. Over the course of 1991, he and Ishikawa would compose for games such as Lord Monarch, Brandish, and Popful Mail, with The Legend of Heroes II following in 1992. (Lord Monarch was Falcom’s first game to be developed natively for PC-98, rather than being a PC-88 port.) The legendary J.D.K. Band, headed by Tomohiko Kishimoto, would also finally take full shape during this period with the release of the eponymous album.

Opening (Lord Monarch) (probably Ishikawa)
Battle Camp (Normal) (probably Ishikawa)
Fantasy Pastel (Immediate Victory) (Shirakawa)
Opening (Brandish) (probably Ishikawa)
Cave (Shirakawa)
Menu (probably Ishikawa)
Volcanic Zone (Exploration) (Shirakawa)
Opening (The Legend of Heroes II) (probably Ishikawa)
Ending (Shirakawa)

To Make the End of Battle (Falcom J.D.K. Band 1, 1991, Koshiro, arranged by Tomohiko Kishimoto)
Major Demon (Falcom J.D.K. Band 1, 1991, probably Ishikawa, arranged by Tomohiko Kishimoto)
Trading Town of Redmont (Perfect Collection Ys III, 1991, Ishikawa, arranged by Keiichi Oku)
Sand Castle (Perfect Collection Sorcerian Vol. 3, 1991, Koshiro, arranged by Rei Atsumi)
Provincialism Ys (Virtuality Mix) (Provincialism Ys, 1991, Koshiro, arranged by Yuji Muto)
White Magic X’mas (based on Opening from Lord Monarch, Falcom Special Box '92, 1991, probably Ishikawa, arranged by Etsuko Yamakawa)
Opening (Brandish) (Perfect Collection Brandish, 1992, probably Ishikawa, arranged by Tamiya Terashima)

After this, four new members would join - Naoki Kaneda, Masaru Nakajima, Takahiro Tsunashima, and Hirofumi Matsuoka. This team of six would remain relatively stable going forward, with the only changes within the period I’ll cover being that Satoshi Arai would join in 1994 (starting with Brandish 3) and Tsunashima would leave the composition team to serve as a sound programmer in 1995 (starting with Ys V). Many games and albums came out during this period, so I won’t describe each one in detail.

Stranger ~ Wandering Swordsman (probably Matsuoka)
Wood (probably Nakajima)
Laboratory (Shirakawa)
Gadobadorrer (Kaneda)
The Dawn of Ys (Kaneda)
The Great Forest of Celceta (Shirakawa)
A Great Ordeal (Nakajima)
Ancient Legend (Shirakawa)
Prison House (probably Tsunashima)
The Legend Begins (probably Matsuoka)
Ikthia ~ The Summer of Youths (Shirakawa)
One Who Disturbs the Slumber (remember Xanadu Scenario II?)
The White Witch Gueld (Shirakawa and Kaneda)
Another Tale of Heroes
Boss Battle (LoH III, unused)
Captain Thomas’ Feelings
Sorrowful Melody (probably Tsunashima)
Legend of the Lone Wolves (Kaneda)
Boiling Metal (Kaneda)
Coast (probably Nakajima)
Sanctuary (probably Tsunashima)
Burning Darkness (Kaneda)
Comrade -Ares- (Kaneda)
Memories of Battle
Title (The Legend of Heroes II Gen/MD) (Matsuoka)
Errer -Stray-
Existence -Real Existence-
La Valse Pour Xanadu ~Lachei~ (Kaneda)
Invitation for the New World
Scattered Islands (Kaneda)
Down to the Abyss
Level 8 (Revival Xanadu 2) (probably Nakajima)
Lost Kingdom (Kaneda)
Field of Gale (Shirakawa)
Primal Rave (Arai)
Theme of Lovers (Shirakawa)
Sand Castle
Forgotten City (Kaneda)
Turning Death Spiral
A Tear of Vermilion (Kaneda)
Leaving the Nest (probably Nakajima)
Stepping Lightly (Kaneda)
Riding the Ocean on the Wind
The Holy City (Shirakawa)
Seeking the Truth
Chance Meeting -Overture-
Prologue -Blue Moon-
Labyrinth -Roar-
Fight to the Death -Trigger-
The Restoration of Tower -Retribution-

Travellin’ Heart (based on Peace from LoH II) (Shirakawa, Tomohiko Kishimoto arr.)
A Teary-Eyed Young Swordsman (Shirakawa, Ryo Yonemitsu arr.)
Illusion (Shirakawa, Ryo Yonemitsu arr.)
A New Beginning (Kaneda, Michio Fujisawa arr.)
Legend of the Wind (Kaneda, Tomohiko Kishimoto arr.)
The White Witch Gueld (Shirakawa and Kaneda, Tamiya Terashima arr.)
Afternoon on the Beach (Shirakawa, Tamiya Terashima arr.)
Morning of Departure (Ishikawa, Tomohiko Kishimoto arr.)
Field of Gale (Shirakawa, Tomohiko Kishimoto arr.)
Soldier Blue (based on Riding the Ocean on the Wind, Hironari Tatsumi arr.)
Stepping Lightly (Kaneda, unknown arr.)
Victory!! (based on See You Again from Ys I, Koshiro, Akira Odakura arr.)

This got a lot longer than I initially intended. Falcom has kept on producing lots of great music to this day, but since they moved development to Windows in late 1996, I don’t know that it can be called “retro” much past this point. I hope you enjoyed my summary and weren’t too intimidated by its size.


Thanks @preta for the clarification regarding LOXanadu. And wow that’s a lot of info on Falcom composers! I’ll check out some of the recommendations. :slight_smile:

@Piggychan Did you draw those covers for the tapes yourself? Looks great!


it was a long time ago I drew those… anyway happy 30th pc engine!


@preta fantastic posts dude. I’m going to go through that bit by bit for my workout music!


I am always on the hunt for dope obscure VGM, this has been one of my fav discoveries. The PSF’s have been ripped for it too.


Got some great records in the mail today:

Maybe not the most legit releases, but the quality and packaging on these are amazing. Metroid has 2 covers, and is a dual LP with OSTs to the first three games on it. Donkey Kong Country just has the first one.


Some new vinyl releases coming this winter:

Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 from Brave Wave, both 2xLP sets with booklets featuring character art, interviews with Sonic Team, and new liner notes from our very own @Dark1x (John from Digital Foundry).

Portal from Mondo, with a really cool gatefold which opens two ways, and an exlusive variant for their MondoCon.

My wallet am cry.


Where do I get those farts?


New video from the amazing Game Hut channel about how they accomplished multi-channel samples in Toy Story for the Sega Genesis. I got about halfway trough the explanation before I was lost, but it’s super cool how it was accomplished.


This channel on Youtube has a lot of good OST’s ripped from NES/FAM games

I love Shadow of the Ninja. I really want to replace this game.

Also I didn’t know there was a FDS version of Mario.

The first track is in Mario Maker too IIRC.

Also a lot of people hate Zelda II but I love it. I never heard the complete FDS version of this game.

Dang, I think I need to get a FDS now. @Socksfelloff did you mention to me that there was a FDS usb adapter at some point? I think i just need to get the FDS attach that thing to it somehow?


Most of you have probably seen it, but if not, this will eat an entire afternoon or evening and it’s worth every second of your time…

Diggin’ in the Carts

I’ve probably watched it 100 times now because it resonates so much with my lifetime of gaming and music and how it totally touches me when these tunes come on. Hearing from the composers and how they arrived at some of these gems is something I’m indebted to the creators of this series for forever. These people are heroes.

Whenever someone can’t understand why I’m listening to VGM or why I’m streaming from all day, I point them at this series. Awesome.


you’re looking for the FDSstick

RGB OT's Mega Thead

Robocop 3 of the NES is such a great sound track. That title track <3


I see you watched the recent AVGN episode too :wink:

This is on my playlist for the treadmill today. Also on the playlist is the amazing Ai Senshi Nicole for the Famicom Disk System, as I mentioned it in the Metroid FDS vs NES thread and now have a craving to listen to it.


Yup! I’ve heard the title track many times over the years but never knew where it was from!


Check out the C64 version of Robocop 3, too.


Ship to Shore Phono Co has preorders for Kid Dracula (Famicom) and Rocket Knight Adventures available now on their website!

Shipping is horible for those outside the US, but I preordered both. Expected to ship in December.