Everyone has their favourite gaming themes - from the warm buzz of the 8-bit chiptune to the swirling symphonies of the RPG - these officially commissioned ditties don't so much as stand the test of time as transport us back through it. Hit that play button and observe the average 30-something gamer transform, however briefly, into the wide-eyed child of yesteryear, grinning deeply as they smite Ganondorf, crush Dr. Cortex and boil King Koopa alive for the very first time.
But what of those songs that arent official - those tracks that fans of all ages, skill sets and experience levels have put together in order to celebrate and/or flesh out their fandom? Today's big silly list of stuff takes a look at some of these musical tributes, from the very best to downright bizarre. Good, bad or bonkers, you be the judge I'll just stand over here giggling at random. Begin!
Kabuto the Python - 'Those Minerals'
For all of its scale-enhancing shadow play, Mass Effect's mineral mining mini-game (say that three times in a row when you're drunk) never really threatened to grow into something more interesting. Simply put, it was boring, brain-dead busywork, a trite diversion in what was an otherwise stellar adventure. The Mass Effect franchise may be no stranger to complainants, but few of its accusers are quite so eloquent or talented as Nerdcore sensation 'Kabuto the Python'. With a tongue in cheek style that recalls Bloodhoung Gang's own Jimmy Pop, Kabuto lays into the game's lacklustre sideshow with appropriate venom. It's funny, flowing stuff (opens in new tab) and just one of the songs on Python's N7-themed EP.
Best lyric: "I used to rock microphones rhyming in the stadium, these days I launch probes mining for palladium, slouching at my console, crying from the tedium, I contemplate relations with the slimiest of aliens".
Malukah - 'Frozen Sleep'
Judith de los Santos aka 'Malukah' is a Mexican musician/ siren song enchantress best known for her covers of various TV, movie and gaming themes. Her haunting rendition of 'The Dragonborn Comes', an Elder Scrolls tavern tune - has been viewed over 20 million times since its 2011 YouTube debut. Where original compositions are concerned, Malukah's 'Frozen Sleep' (opens in new tab) - an ethereal little ditty concerning Halo's Cortana, remains a tough ol' track to top. Sung from the perspective of Chief's increasingly nutso companion, Sleep sheds a whole new light on Cortana's crushing loneliness, as well as her continued efforts to stave off madness in the wake of Halo 3. It's a testament to the quality of her writing that Santos generates more sympathy in 3 minutes than did all four of the series mainline titles combined.
Best lyric: "Feel the madness taking over, while you lie in frozen sleep. Though my life's now fading, you're still a promise I will keep".
Brentalfloss - 'Dr Mario with Lyrics'
Deciding which Brentalfloss song to include on this list was a real headache, so I just went ahead and picked the most popular one The high school social system wins again! This particular track focuses on Mario's antics as an unlicensed doctor, with predictably silly results. (opens in new tab) Peach has crabs, Link has hepatitis and Bowser's downing more pills than Pete Doherty at an unguarded pharmacy.
Best lyric: "You've got mononucleosis, halitosis, scoliosis, fifteen days is my prognosis. You need red and blue pill doses!".
Basshunter - 'DOTA'
Well I guess now the hunt for bass can finally be called off. (opens in new tab) It was here all along, right beneath our feet, in a darkened room somewhere next to a couple of blokes playing Defense of the Ancients. Too bad their womenfolk have nothing to do. But wait! Now it seems these super sexy gamers (I know, that phrase does get thrown around a little too often) are out at a nightclub - and wouldn't you just know it - now it's the ladies who are in their element, grinding up on that one bloke who looks a bit like a Square Enix mascot. Good times. Oh and word to the wise: Ventrilo is the name of the group chat system used by the game. Now you know.
Best lyric: "We're sitting here in Ventrilo, playing a little Dota. We push on and we're owning, with the opponents we are toying" x283.
Del the Funky Homosapien - Proto Culture
Given the mammoth, mainstream popularity of today's video game scene, it's no surprise to find MCs handing out habitual shout outs to the likes of COD, Halo and Gears of War. Proto Culture on the other hand, is a track that's entirely obsessed with gaming (opens in new tab), charting Del and featured artist Khaos Unique's nostalgic ruminations on the then state of gaming. There are references to everything from The Legend of Zelda to Samurai Shodown, and even the little-known fighting title Psychic Force. Oh and a killer sample courtesy of Darktalkers' Morrigan - in case you were wondering.
Best lyric: "Yeah, I'll admit PlayStation improved, come visit Feudal Japan with me and Tenchu, Bushido Blade 2 with sword play so accurate, Mega Man Legends but I had to buy a map for it".
DJ Jazzy Jeff - 'Human Video Game'
Before he was a father to mankind's greatest ever brother/sister philosophers, Will Smith spent his days recording all sorts of family friendly ditties alongside frequent collaborator - and human Frisbee - DJ Jazzy Jeff. This 1988 effort found Smith reminiscing about his misspent childhood, dropping quarters into arcade machines, snapping at other players and generally being a bit of a proto-troll. As The Fresh Prince tells it, life was going positively nowhere, until one day he was accosted by a strange man performing beatbox versions of top gaming anthems. He invited Will to watch him perform - definitely not in a nondescript grey van somewhere- and it all worked out fine. Alas though, the internet seems to have no aural record of the result. Post it in the comments if you find it.
Best lyric: "Any machine, I was out of control, I didn't need quarters I brought 10 dollars bank rolls. Bags of quarters, I was insane. People thought that I worked there, and asked me for change, but I would get defensive and yell, "Leave me alone, these are my quarters stupid, go get your own".
Eiffel 65 - 'My Console'
From the same europop outfit that unleashed 'Blue (da ba dee da ba die)' onto an unsuspecting populace comes 'My Console (opens in new tab)', a trancey four-minute love letter to the original Sony PlayStation. Seemingly unburdened by the need for basic coherence, My Console just winds up listing a bunch of random PSone related titles, before handily reminding us to spell the name of said machine seven or eight times. Cheers guys.
Best lyric: We're gonna play the game the PlayStation all day, with Metal Gear Solid to Tekken 3, and from Omega Boost to Resident Evil. Just play for the fun, 'cos we got it going on. Ridge racer, Oddworld, Winning Eleven. The game on the PlayStation".
'Weird Al' Yankovic - 'Pac-Man'
Somehow, you just knew there'd be a parody track on here somewhere, and who better to bring the software-based satire than the clown prince of pastiche: "Weird Al" Yankovic. Ribbing on the classic Beatles track 'Taxman' Yankovic tells the tale of a bright-eyed Pac-Man enthusiast (opens in new tab) turned jobless runaway. Sounds like something Phil Collins would belch out before breakfast, right? Well, it isnt. This cheery lampoon is all about the laughs occasional, brief laughs.
Best lyric: "At the game arcade, they say I'm hardcore. I can play all day 'til my hands are sore, and I quit my job just to play some more, but I won't give up 'til I break high score".
Black Dahlia Murder - 'What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse'
What better genre to encapsulate the mood of Castlevania than Grandpa's old favourite: Death Metal. Admittedly, this one's a bit of an acquired taste, but it can be hard to argue with the sheer artistry on display here. Stunning solos, thudding drum beats and a shriek to shame even the shrillest of banshees, 'What a horrible night to have a curse (opens in new tab)' may cause the uninitiated to run in terror, but its grim evocation of the Castlevania nightmare will delight many-a devotee. Just be sure to have that lyric sheet handy.
Best lyric: "into the tower never g,o the horrors multiply, gears can mince the strongest ones leaving heroes paralyzed. The rivers flow with poison, the sands swallow you whole, the ghouls that roam this darkened wood are thirsting for your throat".
Ludacris - 'Press the Start Button'
If, as Bioshock Infinite would suggest, our reality is but one of many parallel universes - similar and yet distinct in a quintillion different ways - then it stands to reason that there must also be a world in which every PlayStation start up screen greets the player with the Ludacris lyric "Let the muthafuckin games begiiin!". Never mind all that swooshy, crackly PlayStation noise, what we really need is some expletive-heavy rap, that would no doubt sound really lame should Kaz Hirai ever misguidedly yell it on an E3 stage. Aside from this timeless nugget of intent, 'Press the Start Button (opens in new tab)' spends the vast majority of its run time chastising hoes and listing off Luda's game-themed personal abilities. His "Resident is evil", and his "Metal Gear is solid". Whatever that means.
Best lyric: "I'm liver than NBA, Luda's Super like Mario. Thats PlayStation 4 shit, you older than Atari, ho!".
MiSex - 'Computer Games'
Mocking the straight-faced fashionistas of the 1980s music scene is almost like gravity-hammering fish in a barrel. Fish with fantastic hair and cheekbones, mind you, but fish nonetheless. And while I can forgive the majority of their cocaine-addled antics, it's the era's strange understanding of video games that invites real derision. Take the video for Mi-Sex's 'Computer Games (opens in new tab)', for example. What exactly does a fantastically f'd up printer, entertaining though it is, have to do with gaming? Its as if the set decorator suddenly decided that all technology was somehow the same, before stuffing his CDs into a toaster and taking his baseball bat to a nearby waffle iron. If you love yourself some good old dad dancing, Adam Ant-style whoops and classic deer-in-headlights overacting, then Mi-Sex's Computer Games is for you.
Best lyric: "Compu pue pue pue pue pue pue pue pue pue pue pue, computer games!".
Frank Black - 'Whatever Happened to Pong?'
What is there to say about Pong that hasn't already been said a thousand times before? Paddle A murdered paddle B's fianc and now they're engaged in an unending Promethean-esque struggle through eternity. That's practically gaming knowledge 101, so what exactly can Frank Black, alias Black Francis, aka lead singer of alt. rockers, The Pixies have to contribute? Not a lot as it turns out. Clocking in at just over a minute-and-a-half in length, 'Pong' is a madcap, genre-bending blast of rock (opens in new tab) that speaks more to the dizzying confusion of an hours-long play session than to the particulars of the game itself.
Best lyric: "Paddle the paddle to the side to the side to the side to the side to the paddle the paddle. Paddle the paddle the side to the side. Pong. Ball in the machine".
Uncle Vic - 'Space Invaders'
Definitive proof that older generations were just as, if not more obsessed, with gaming than their 'dangerously addicted' offspring, Uncle Vic's 'Space Invaders (opens in new tab)' details the highs and lows of one passionate fan. Rocking the catchy refrain/timeless parental slogan - "He's hooked, he's hooked, his brain is cooked!", Space Invaders the song met with middling success upon its 1980 debut, a date that aficionados will recognise as being just three years prior to the great gaming crash of '83. Coincidence? I think not Despite being liable to bleed your eardrums dry, this hokey old ode to gaming's gaudiest genocide at least has the wherewithal to speed up at the end. Yanno, like the game. How's that for knowing your audience?
Best lyric: "Well, there it is in the corner of the bar. I tried to run, but I didn't get far. Those weird little men; I blow 'em away. I'd sell my mom for a chance to play".
Dazz Band - 'Joystick'
I dont know about the rest of you people, but I'm beginning to suspect that this funky little number is actually a thinly veiled allegory for mating. Human mating! *stunned silence*. Shocking, I know, but we must collect ourselves and move on with our lives. I suppose compared to a modern song, 'Joystick (opens in new tab)' is actually a rather tame metaphor. You can bet if Rihanna was singing it, it'd be called 'SexBox' or 'Lend me your PenisStation'. While it doesn't exactly feature much in the way of video game know-how, the track's 'early 80s release likely precluded references to much but the aforementioned controller and occasional 'score' pun.
Best lyric: "I know what you're looking for, and all I want to do is score, yeah. I just want you to be mine. Just take control. I'll let you play me all the time. Take control of the stick, of the stick, of the stick".
Heath McNease - 'Nintendo Thumb'
'Nintendo thumb (opens in new tab)' - that most painful and debilitating of afflictions - now in rap form. Well, not exactly - Heath McNease's lyric-spitting take on the phenomenon is less concerned with repetitive strain injury as it is with issuing disses at any would-be player 2s mad enough to challenge him. It's a fairly straightforward, though no less entertaining boast-beat from start to finish, buoyed on considerably by the use of that timeless Zelda Overworld theme.
Best lyric: "I mastered the 8-bit masterpiece, when I was a little kid I was bound to be a digital athlete, it came naturally, I didn't ask to be, gifted when I'm kicking it with Kid Icarus, I'm victorious or I won't play at all, I won't take a loss, I won't push pause".
Alex Day - 'Sonic Doesn't Need a Story'
Talky-singy songwriter Alex Day shares his deep misgivings on the state of the Sonic franchise in this unusual anti-SEGA tirade. (opens in new tab) Targets include Amy Rose, Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat, as well as Eggman's absurdly overwritten back-story. It seems poor old Alex made the mistake of playing Sonic '06 - before immediately breaking into angry, Disney villain-esque song.
Rise of lyric: "June 23rd 1991, let loose, I knew you were born to run. Six zones, one boss, it was all I needed, dashing, ring collecting, unimpeded".
Sam Hart - 'Mario Kart Love Song'
For all of his smooth crooning, it's unlikely that Sam Hart has ever actually contested a game of Mario Kart up against a loved one. If he had, he'd know that those sweet ideals of sacrifice, togetherness and friendly competition (opens in new tab) have absolutely zero place on the means streets of Rainbow Road. This is kill or be killed territory, replete with blue shell blackmail, last second losses and 'accidental' nudges galore. Still, his competitive navet makes for a charming little tune, a number so darn popular in fact that Selena Gomez herself deigned to strangle the life out of it on national TV. Don't lose hart, Sam.
Best lyric: "No one will touch us, if we pick up a star, and if you spin out, you can ride in my car. When we slide together, we generate sparks, in our wheels and our hearts".
Play it again, Sam
So, which tracks did you dig, despise and/or feel totally indifferent about? On second thoughts, maybe it's best that no one comment on that latter category. It'd be only be really, really boring. As usual, you can post your wild-eyed rants and helpful hints in the comments box below. Adios.
But before you toddle off, are you in the mood for more music? If so, check out some of our other, melodically related stuff. The 8 worst rap songs in gaming (opens in new tab) is a good, excruciating bet, and for something (potentially) better, why not join us as we ponder What if... video game characters wrote songs? (opens in new tab)