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Game Music Influences – A List by AF THE NAYSAYER

Posted on October 1, 2012 AT 06:43am

Video game music as an influence hasn’t had much of a life yet – a mere 20 years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a single active musician whose influences grew from video games. Now, years later, a flood of game-influenced musicians are making their mark, and one of those is the Louisiana-based AF THE NAYSAYER, music producer.

We recently sat down with Amahl Abdul-Khaliq, the man behind AF THE NAYSAYER and talked to him about his favorite video game music, and demanded a list from him. He’s currently riding high on a wave of exposure due to his track done by AF THE NAYSAYER x Luke St. John,  in Tap Tap Revenge Tour on iOS–the game and track are both available free on the App Store. The title of the track is “The A.M.” and is also free, so take a moment and check it out after you read this list. AF THE NAYSAYER is also about to gear up for the Southern Suite Tour with Beautiful Bells and  Spirituals. Below is the flyer for the tour, and if you’re in the Southern US, I highly recommend checking the show out if it’s in your reach. AF THE NAYSAYER is a music producer, whose work has appeared in several games such as the aforementioned Tap Tap Revenge Tour and Mecho Wars, both on iOS–but Amahl has been a diehard arcade gamer for most of his life, and it shows in his selections.


Let’s get into the list, submitted by AF THE NAYSAYER.

Soul Edge (Soul Blade)
Developer: Project Soul
Publisher: Namco
Release: 1996
Platform: Playstation
Composers: Masumi Ito, Bentenmaru (KHAN), Yoshiyuki Ito, Aki Hata, Taku Iwasaki

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: “Moonlight Shadows”

Runner Up: “P.N.K.N. Coloseum – Asia Stages”

Trying to define the music in Soul Edge left me stuck on one word: epic. The original arcade synthesized orchestral arrangements are outstanding, but Namco truly allows the soundtrack to shine in their Super Khan Session version of the soundtrack. “P.N.K.N.” would make any Soft Machine or Egg fan proud. In the end, no filler tracks are to be found on Soul Edge. It’s all straight, no chaser.

Chrono Trigger
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Release: 1995
Platform: Super Nintendo (Super Famicom)
Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu, Noriko Matsueda

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Corridors of Time

Runner Up: Schala’s Theme

Chrono Trigger is one of Yasunori Mitsuda’s most popular pieces of work, and is quite possibly the greatest video game score ever written. Mr. Final Fantasy himself, Nobuo Uematsu, even contributed to this beautiful game.

Mystic Warriors
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Release: 1993
Platform: Arcade
Composers: Junya Nakano, Yuji Takenouchi

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Majestic Fortress

Runner Up: Life & Lodge

TECHNOuchi (Yuji Takenouchi) and Junya Nakano team up to create the soundtrack masterpiece of this often forgotten gem. In my opinion, Mystic Warriors is the greatest arcade soundtrack of all time.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Fight For The Future
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: 1999
Platform: Dreamcast
Composer: Hideki Okugawa

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Jazzy NYC ’99

Runner Up: Let’s Get It On [Arranged]

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future is Japanese composer Hideki Okugawa’s most popular work to date. His epic pieces combined with Canadian rapper Infinite’s lyrical additions comprise the game’s soundtrack. All in all, Capcom produced a well-made, hip-hop inspired musical gaming experience that doesn’t become too campy or corny, a difficult feat.

Mega Man 2 (Rockman 2: Dr. Wily no Nazo)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: 1989
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom
Composers: Takashi Tateishi, Manami Matsumae

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Dr. Wily’s Castle

Runner Up: Air Man Stage (Sky Ridge)

No introduction or comment need here.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Developer: Sonic Team, Sega Technical Institute
Publisher: Sega
Release: 1992
Platform: Genesis (Mega Drive)
Composers: Masato Nakamura

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Oil Ocean Zone

Runner Up: Sky Chase Zone

When I think of Sonic the Hedgehog 2′s soundtrack the word funk automatically pops into my head. Nakamura’s pop background shines through every single memorable track in this game. The Sonic the Hedgehog series undoubtedly had some of the best sound designing in the entire Genesis library. It’s a very difficult task to make FM synthesis not sound cheesy.

R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Release: 1998
Platform: Playstation
Composers: Asuka Sakai, Hiroshi Ohkubo, Kouji Nakagawa, Kouta Takahashi, Tetsukazu Nakanishi

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Move Me

Runner Up: Lucid Rhythms

The soundtrack to Ridge Racer Type 4 is quite possibly one of the best musical scores in the entire racing genre. I can’t think of too many games with such a solid drum-n-bass (jazzstep, atmospheric drum & bass) soundtrack in general, and there aren’t too many video game soundtracks I can actually use standalone in a DJ set.

Streets of Rage 2 (Bare Knuckle II: Shitō he no Chinkonka)
Developers: Sega (AM7), Ancient, H.I.C., Shout! Designworks
Publisher: Sega
Platform: Genesis (Mega Drive)
Composers: Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: In The Bar

Runner Up: Dreamer

On Twitter I ask this rhetorical question, “Is it strange that a Japanese composer indirectly introduced me to music native of my country and people, Detroit Techno and Chicago House?” If you haven’t figured it out, the composer I’m taking about is Yuzo Koshiro. The game: Streets of Rage II. When I describe Detroit Techno to my peers I tend to say, “Oh, it’s like Streets of Rage music.” I understand how ridiculous that statement is. Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Carl Craig, etc. clearly influenced Koshiro’s soundtrack. Listen to Inner City’s “Good Life” or “Big Fun” for an example of what I’m talking about. Anyway, thank you, Yuzo Koshiro, for exposing me to House and Techno music at a tender age.

Super Adventure Island
Developer: Produce
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release: 1992
Platform: Super Nintendo (Super Famicom)
Composer: Yuzo Koshiro

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Blue Blue Moon

Runner Up: Jungle Chase

Can the drummer get some? Lots of famous drumbreaks have been sampled/recreated on this game. A majority of the songs on this game scream high top fades, gold chains, and dress shoes. Yuzo still manages to add a pinch of Reggae to fit the island theme of the game. It’s hard to believe that the music on this game was intended for a video game in general, it’s simply brilliant.

Blazing Star
Developer: Yumekobo
Publisher: SNK
Release: 1998
Platform: Neo Geo, Arcade
Composers: Harumi Fujita, Seisuke Ito

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Urgent ~ Stage 4

Runner Up: Apocalypse ~ Stage 1A

Hands down one of the greatest games on the Neo Geo—at least as far as the soundtrack is concerned. This game’s funky style is one big concoction of music genres pressed together. I always imagine Casiopea covering a couple of the songs on this game. The one pitfall in the game is how sloppy the looping is! Sadly, this game will always be known more for its Engrish than it’s incredible score.

Honorable Mention:
Donkey Kong Country
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: 1994
Platform: Super Nintendo (Super Famicom)
Composers: David Wise, Eveline Fischer, Robin Beanland

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick:

Developer: Rockstar Games
Publishers: Rockstar Games, Bethesda Softworks
Release: 2006
Platform: Playstation 2

Composer: Shawn Lee
AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: The Setup

Runner Up: Final Showdown

Tekken Tag Tournament
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Release: 2000

Platform: Playstation 2
Composers: Keiichi Okabe, Nobuyoshi Sano, Yoshihito Yano

AF THE NAYSAYER’s top pick: Staff Roll (Arranged)

Runner Up: Hwoarang (Arranged)

If you also have an affinity for the music above, I highly encourage you to check out AF THE NAYSAYER on tour – but if you’re not in the area, you can easily enjoy his music via SoundCloud.

You can follow AF THE NAYSAYER on Twitter, and check out his page on Facebook. His website it as AFTHENAYSAYER.COM and Tap Tap Revenge Tour is available here on iTunes.

Photography by Daniel Castro.

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