Part of a series I’m writing for an EDM website, I’m going to be exploring the relationship between EDM and video games. This is an excerpt from that story, which begins by chronicling some of the earliest instances of EDM in video games, part of a shift that helped raise awareness of electronic in the US in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Video Games and Electronic music enjoy an intertwined relationship
Electronic music and video games, in some respects go hand in hand. Whether it’s promotional trailers often featuring EDM, locations and dance clubs actually a part of the game, or the game soundtrack, the industry seems to have taken notice. The same feelings that make EDM fun to dance to and get hyped to, are also fun to game to.
Not only can a lot of EDM be found in today’s video games, but even in the past, video games helped give electronic artists and video game music producers a platform for their music to shine. Before we talk about today’s EDM in video games, let’s talk about some of the earliest instances of electronic music in video games.
Many studios out of the UK were already experimenting with EDM in games
Some of my first experiences with electronic music were while playing video games. Back in the era of Nintendo 64, the original Playstation and early 2000s PC games, games developed by British and European studios helped expose Americans to dance music. American studios did eventually catch on, but until the arrival of dubstep, electronic music was still very much a niche genre in the US.
If you were lucky enough to have stumbled across some of the more quirky games of the 2000s era, you would have been treated to some early electronic music, some in-house and some licensed. The frantic RC racer game, Re-Volt, was one of these games that helped cement my love for EDM. Several Nintendo 64 games, especially those developed by European studios featured UK house music, such as the action-adventure game Buck Bumble.
Re-Volt (N64, PSX, PC, later re-released on Android)
Published by Acclaim, this unconventional racer had players control RC cars along small miniature tracks scaled to the small RC cars size. Tracks within the game took you to locales such as the aisles of a local supermarket and its parking lot, or through a child’s room, littered with toys and teddy bears serving as obstacles. Just to add to the craziness, the game also threw in Mario-Kart style items like firecrackers, oil slicks, nitro boosts and even a self destructing bomb that could be passed off in “tag you’re it” style fashion.
As soon as you load up the game, you’re greeted by an upbeat house track with filtered vocals. Re-Volt was one of the earlier games to actually use MP3s in the game, and on the PC version, you could pop the game CD in your computer and the soundtrack would play directly from those files.
Each of the music tracks in the game, presumably created in-house, had electronic music flair, indicative of the UK based game developer’s studio. “Little Toy Carz 2” was one of a few insanely epic tunes for it’s time. Drum and bass, a bit of breakbeat, and techno sounds into a blazing fast BPM definitely set the tone for the lightning fast races within the game. The theme for the supermarket track, “Toys for the Boys” incorporates elements of speed dance, rave and Goa with an intro that I will never forget, some fifteen odd years later.