A fantastic soundtrack can elevate a game to greatness. Which titles have brilliant music but underwhelming gameplay?
By Tristan Jurkovich
Published 13 hours ago
It is a miracle that video games come out as often as they do. Sometimes they are glitchy and should have spent more time in the oven, but overall the release schedule is well-defined. What makes it miraculous is that this industry has to go through more moving parts than other mediums and these games still come out.?
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There are the graphics, the actual mechanics of a game, the writing, the music, and so on. Sometimes a game can fail at one thing, like gameplay, but have other things that excel in it like music. The following entries may not be overall bad, but the gameplay in question may be a bit more rough compared to their soundtracks.?
NieR Replicant is a game worth discussing since a remaster came out in 2021. After the success of NieR Automata, it seemed right to re-release the original in some form. While the music is wonderful and something most praised when it came out on Xbox 360 and PS3, that’s where a good chunk of praise stopped.
While the remaster does improve the gameplay, it still remains as repetitive as it did back when Replicant?originally released, making it hard to recommend even to those that liked NieR: Automata.?
This game is a classic PS1 title. Here’s the big question though. Do people remember it for its gameplay or because of the music? Chances are it’s because of the music.
From that opening song with Master Onion to Parappa learning how to drive, Parappa The Rapper?is all very catchy. The gameplay then, while innovative at the time, is a bit dated now next to more modern music rhythm games.?
Deadly Premonition could be seen as the poster child for a game that is so bad that it is good, especially since the reviews were never that high. Most thought the graphics and gameplay were poor.
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However, there was a big reason why a lot of people stuck to it, and that was because of the story. Alongside that was a list of catchy tunes to compliment the narrative, including “Life is Beautiful” or, as some fans like to call it, the whistle theme.?
Before this game came out, it had been ages since a proper entry released in the series. Getting to play again with Billy and Jimmy Lee in a 2D brawler was?exciting?at the time. However, Double Dragon Neon didn’t do too much to push the genre forward in terms of gameplay which didn’t mean it was bad. It just wasn’t special.
The music took old themes and remixed them along with adding in a bunch of lyrical accompaniments to give the game a very ’80s vibe, which was right up a lot of people’s alleys.?
This game is often looked at as a lost gem. If not for the cramped control scheme on the 3DS, which was often noted in reviews, Kid Icarus Uprising?might have been a bigger hit.
Kid Icarus Uprising?is?like Nintendo’s take on Kingdom Hearts in terms of action, aesthetic, and tone. This also means the soundtrack, which is huge, was a big plus. If this game could only get a remaster on Switch, the gameplay problem could be improved.?
There are three major things most players can remember about this original PS2 game. First of all, that musical intro with colors, rainbows, and pandas galore was addicting. The story of basically the king of the universe getting drunk one night and destroying the universe only to force his son to pick up the pieces is also memorable.
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That very idea of cleaning up with a giant ball was weird but innovative at the time too for gameplay. As fun as the game could be, actually controlling the ball could?be frustrating due to the control setup. This aspect got better over time with sequels.?
Star Fox was a triumph for the Super Nintendo. The polygonal graphics, at the time, were mind-blowing. Going back to it now is not as great, and not just because of the graphics. Maneuvering around in the iconic starship is not as fluid as one remembers.
That soundtrack though is still great, SNES sound chip distortions and all.?That’s one of the big reasons why sitting down with it decades later can still be enjoyable on some level.
Another SNES game that broke new grounds was Donkey Kong Country. This came out after games were already in, or at least advertised in, 3D. Nintendo and Rare proved that there was still plenty of power left on the console.
Like Star Fox, the graphics don’t hold up today and neither does the gameplay. Donkey Kong has a hefty weight to him, making it tricky to maneuver the character unlike Nintendo’s bigger platformer icon, Mario. The sequels improve upon the original game in nearly every way.
Gravity Rush?was a launch game for the PS Vita and, in turn, one of the system’s standout hits. The soundtrack was bombastic and made this handheld game at least sound like a more epic console experience.
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There is plenty to like about the game but the gameplay tends to be polarizing. Some liked controlling Kat through gravitational shifts while others found the mechanic tedious and would have preferred a more normal combat style.?
This entry may be praising Pictionary specifically, but it is more about praising the composer’s entire work.?Tom Follin got stuck on a lot of what most deem as bad NES games.
The one thing that was commonly praised though was his music. This includes the title screen music for Pictionary and the ending theme to?Elemental Master as well as the entire soundtracks for?Silver Surfer and Treasure Master. Those are just some examples of great music from his work amongst some of the most panned games of all time.?
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About The Author
(365 Articles Published)
Tristan Jurkovich began his career as a journalist in 2011. His childhood love of video games and writing fuel his passion for archiving this great medium’s history. He dabbles in every genre, but he’s particularly fond of RPGs and portable consoles. Aside from writing, Tristan also produces a plethora of videos on his YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer. Check it out!
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