Video games have seen more improvements than most media in the past decade. Graphics have improved, gameplay has improved (well, depending on who you talk to), and online play is a world past where it was in 2000 (sorry, EverQuest). But there's one major step-up that gaming hasn't gotten credit: The songs they use in ads.

Sure, car commercials are the standard bearers for resurrecting great songs and giving them new context—the VW ad that used Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" and the Suzuki Grand Vitara spot with Mooney Suzuki's "Alive and Amplified" come to mind—but video-game ads actually pick some pretty nice joints to help sell their titles. We were gonna pick 10, but we couldn't narrow it down, so put down the sticks and click through our 15 favorite songs used in video game ads...

super smash

GAME: Super Smash Brothers (1999)
SONG USED: The Turtles, "Happy Together"

COMPLEX SAYS: This ad serves as one of the few examples of using a poppy song in a funny way without crossing the line into cheesy—or at least acknowledging the cheesiness. The song itself was the Turtles' first and only hit, but it was quite a hit: It's been covered dozens of times by acts like Weezer and Simple Plan, used in films like Happy Together and Naked Gun, and featured in many other ads for products like Twix and Heineken.



GAME: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003)
SONG USED: Sia, "Breathe Me"

COMPLEX SAYS: When a game utilizes balletic acrobatics and the ability to rewind time, it's only right you play some beautiful music in the background. Australian pop singer Sia's career really took off in the States after this same song was used two years later for the outro montage of Six Feet Under's series finale (half-hearted spoiler alert!). Not that we're calling Alan Ball a biter or anything...



GAME: Gears of War (2006)
SONG USED: Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, "Mad World"

COMPLEX SAYS: At some point, it occurred to the ad wizards at Microsoft that the best soundtrack to intense, animated violence isn't death metal growling but soft-spoken musings. This ad was a watershed moment in video-game advertising and spawned an army of imitators, but nothing beats the OG usage. The song, a subdued cover of a 1982 Tears for Fears record, first caught fire after Donnie Darko (which it appeared on the soundtrack for) became a DVD cult hit.



GAME: Assassin's Creed (2007)
SONG USED: Massive Attack, "Teardrop"

COMPLEX SAYS: Possibly taking the lead from Gears of War, the AC spot gives Altair's rampages a melancholy feel that's suprisingly fitting. Fans of FOX's House will recognize this tune as the show's theme song. Although the song is by British trip-hop production duo Massive Attack, the vocals are sung by Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.


army of two

GAME: Army of Two (2008)
SONG USED: Mastodon, "One (Is the Loneliest Number)"

COMPLEX SAYS: After this ad came out, Mastodon fans were clamoring to know if the band's cover of the late-'60s Harry Nilsson/Three Dog Night hit would be on their upcoming album Crack the Skye. It wasn't, and the song was never released in an official capacity, but still comes off as a completely badass rendition, especially when paired with Salem and Rios' usual antics.


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