Yes officer, these Battle Bards were well above the speed limit and violated many noise complaints in the local neighborhoods. But it was for a good cause, sir! This music from vehicular MMOs is just way too good to keep quiet! What’s that? You’ll let them go with just a warning? You only know they’re going to peel out and look for another score to settle!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 114: Vroom vroom! (or download it) now:
When you take a step back and look at the broad MMO genre, you see some common threads that run through most games. One of these is that pretty much every character we control is a humanoid, albeit in many shapes, sizes, and ear configurations. This makes sense, as we ourselves are human and have the easiest time strongly identifying with an avatar that correlates to our own bodies.
Yet there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, and I’m not just speaking of fantasy races that give you four legs instead of two or two heads instead of one. Some MMOs plop you into a nuts-and-bolts vehicle as your primary avatar, encouraging you to bond with this hunk of soulless machine over the course of incredible adventures.
Today we’re going to count down — or count up, or count sideways — through 10 MMORPGs that stuffed your brain into a machine and then encouraged you to live your new life as a ship, car, or very violent automatic can opener.
When a beloved MMORPG is canceled, it doesn’t entirely vanish without a trace. After all, there are thousands (if not millions) of eyewitnesses with long memories, screenshot folders filled to the brim, videos, articles, and — of course — music.
The way I see it, the enduring soundtrack is one of the most pure aspects of the late game. It can be enjoyed today the same way it was back then, albeit with fewer visuals and furious mouse-clicking. This orphaned score holds a torch for the game that was by triggering memories and keeping the atmosphere and story beats alive.
Today I’m going to look at great tracks from deceased MMOs, some of which aren’t even that cold in the ground. I’m also going to try not to rehash the most popular (and perhaps overplayed) tunes from these games but instead branch out to others that are terrific if not as recognized.
I have often thought it grossly unfair that a video game soundtrack is linked, for better and for worse, with the popularity of the game in which it appears. Sure, music is a crucial part of the experience and in many ways emblematic of it, but only recognizing an OST because the game has hit it big is a burr in my saddle.
Let me put it plainly: There are terrific MMOs with terrific soundtracks. There are great MMOs with subpar soundtracks. There are plenty of terrible MMOs with what I can only assume is a serial killer’s recording of chalkboard scrapings for a score. And — in light of today’s topic — there are quite a few incredibly good soundtracks that came from MMOs that are somewhat forgettable.
Maybe these games are far past their prime or only really took root in a certain region, but I keep coming across titles that have surprisingly robust soundtracks that get (pardon Rodney Dangerfield) no respect, no respect at all. Today I want to share with you six scores I’ve unearthed from games that have been all but forgotten by the modern MMO community.