Game music of the day: Chessmaster and more!

Welcome to GamesRadar's daily blast of all things pertaining to the ever-growing field of game music. Each post will introduce new sounds, games, composers and fan-made remixes of gaming's greatest aural achievements.

August 18, 2010

Game: Chessmaster (SNES)
Song: Title Screen
Composer: Unknown

Above: Chessmaster on the SNES getting very... conceptual

Listen carefully - you're hearing one of the worst game tracks ever created. Lovely, isn't it? It takes courage to put your head in a piece of PVC tubing and hum randomly while banging on a piano. I remembered it being bad, but when I heard it again while working on this article I feared that I had corrupted audio. I love it!

OK, I'm just pulling your rook. That catastrophe is just a silly jumping-off point for... a very special chess-themed edition of GMOTD! It's an odd theme, I know. Chess demands silent contemplation, and most sims feature little, if any, audio accompaniment. But several, specifically those on consoles, where not having a soundtrack would be weird, have featured fantastic beeps and boops.

More recent versions of Chessmaster open with relaxing, boring music, so I'll spare you that and jump back to an earlier time... the time of the Amstrad! Amstrad has been building computers since the word was invented - here's a track from a 1988 Camel Micros Amstrad game, GM Chess (right).

Above: GM Chess' uptempo, but melancholy theme music

That's one of my new favorite tunes. It's strangely sorrowful and moving for a song meant to convey strategic battle. Or... maybe there is something sad about chess? 

Next up is a similarly contemplative tune from 1990's Battle Chess on the NES. The 8-bit medieval-themed track isn't anything unusually special, but it doesn't bore. Who could be bored by chess pieces that come to life?!

Above: The theme from Battle Chess (NES)

Alright, enough with the "looking out a rain-streaked window" songs. This next track is from a 1998 Genesis game simply titled "Chess." It's an strong track, if far too bouncy for any board game, especially chess.

Above: A great tune from an obscure Genesis game

I'll leave you with a track that isn't from a chess game, but hey, close enough - it's A-Class Mahjong, a 1988 game I discovered while playing with an MSX emulator. What's an MSX, you ask? Good question. You don't see many in Europe or North America, but oddly, the early computer was conceived in the '80s by the president of Microsoft Japan. And, in Japan, the pre-NES systems were popular gaming machines. Even Konami developed MSX games. Listen a few times and try not to tap your fingers to the Mahjong madness!

Above: Do dadada dooo!

Three GMOTDs in a row, I'm on a roll! I hope you've enjoyed this diversion from the usual format. Leave a comment and let me know what you think... what's your favorite track? Which chess simulators do you remember playing with as a kid? C'mon, we all loved to pretend we were going to be child prodigy grand masters... that wasn't just me, right?

Aug 18, 2010

Game music of the day: Galcon Fusion
Cheesy space music full of indie awesome



Game music of the day: C&C Red Alert
Who knew tank rushes could be so funky?



Game music of the day: Bioshock
Welcome to Rapture. Submerse yourself in some of our favorite tracks from the game



Game music


  • Randomwordcombination - September 2, 2010 1:29 a.m.

  • Fat - August 25, 2010 11:13 p.m.

    GM chess makes me smile every single time. Otherwise the rest are actually quality, which is.. surprising.
  • honkwas - August 23, 2010 7:23 p.m.

    yes, just yes
  • VMPSaberwolf - August 23, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    Excellent article sir. As a former USCF (United States Chess Federation) member I approve. I had Battlechess for the NES and Chessmaster for multiple systems. On a related note, Archon was a great game for the NES, I believe it was based off of something for an older PC. They've recently remade it for the PC. It was the first game I can remember where you could take control of the unit to fight for the square. It's not chess of course, but still noteworthy.
  • sternparez - August 22, 2010 10:55 a.m.

    hahaha Co-STANZA! But seriously why is Gandolph on the cover of Chessmaster?
  • elpurplemonkey - August 21, 2010 12:01 a.m.

    That last song was actually pretty entertaining. I almost didn't click on this article because it looked so damn boring- but it wasn't!
  • DrDevious - August 20, 2010 6:24 p.m.

    Dude! Chessmaster was one of the few games my sister had on her SNES while I was growing up. I never figured out how to play it despite knowing how to play chess
  • Ivan200X - August 19, 2010 1:36 p.m.

    Ironically the music from Chessmaster on PS2 might also be worthy of a game music of the day (but for less sinister reasons, Dr. Wilde).
  • philipshaw - August 19, 2010 12:03 p.m.

    These all sound awful but not without a so bad it's good charm. Is Brett back to doing this tomorrow
  • thedutewaw - August 19, 2010 9:04 a.m.

    GM Chess and Genesis chess were my favorites. GM is weird because chess shouldn't be so sad, kinda reminds me of the NES Golf music from awhile ago. Not so much the actual music but in the feel of the song, ya
  • RonaldRayGun - August 19, 2010 5:14 a.m.

    That was rad!
  • FistfulofPelican - August 19, 2010 3:57 a.m.

    The Chessmaster music sounds like someone tried (and failed) to recreate the theme from Seinfeld in Mario Paint.
  • TheWebSwinger - August 19, 2010 2:10 a.m.

    Oh god, Chess Master ahhaha. Edutainment at its most boring.
  • HumanMeatPuppet - August 19, 2010 12:37 a.m. i shat brix when i went here so many nes songs in one place (just mad they arent in the old school techno beat tho)
  • juicenpancakes - August 18, 2010 11:05 p.m.

    Or Breditor/Brettitor/Brettidor. I decided to go with my instincts.
  • juicenpancakes - August 18, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    @CH3BURASHKA: It is a distinct possibility that the Chessmaster music is what murdered the Child Bredator.
  • CH3BURASHKA - August 18, 2010 10:42 p.m.

    The title sounds like the recording is broken and coming through flimsy Skullcandy headphones. Battle Chess sounds like the ending to Bloodhound Gang's Right Turn Clyde. Barely, but it's there: And yes, Tyler, you're on a roll. I haven't checked to see if Brett wrote any articles this week, but I'm getting worried you actually killed him.
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - August 18, 2010 10:23 p.m.

    @Colicub All I know is that it was created by "BS Comp. Ltd." and "PADIS Ltd." in 1998. The credits show it was programmed by Lesha Bogdanow and Mitry Usatenko. The music was by Victor Chernov. So, unsurprisingly, it appears it was made by Russian developers. It's simply called "Chess" - not to be confused with SEGA Chess on the Master System, which was developed by a division of Acclaim.
  • Colicub - August 18, 2010 10:09 p.m.

    Does anyone have any info about the Genesis Chess game? It's not something I've heard of before.
  • juicenpancakes - August 18, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    Oh dear god, I can't stop laughing. I feel that every single game of chess I have ever played should now be deleted from my memory due to the fact that the Chessmaster music wasn't playing in the background. I need to play chess right now with that tangibly painful music, and I can't accurately express why.

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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