It’s 1988 and the backyard is peppered with leaves in shades of brown, yellow and orange.   Mom is cooking some sort of funky casserole downstairs, and Dad isn’t home from work yet.  Some of your neighbors are playing basketball across the street, wearing down the soles of their LA Gears. 

And none of that matters. You’ve finally muscled your way to the Dr. Wily stages in Mega Man 2.  Your heart’s racing not only because there aren’t game saves like we have today, but also because the adrenaline-inducing Dr. Wily stage music just kicked in.  Nothing short of a power outage can stop you from playing at this point.  Not with that music pulsing.

Years later, that stage music is still burned into your eardrums.  It’s been seared into the edges of your brain.   We’ve been lucky enough to have modern-era composers carve their masterpieces out of a few simple bleeps and bloops. Even though the notion of stage-specific music has ceded ground to more ambient orchestral themes that traverse the entire game, many of us remember certain game levels more for their music than the actual enemies. And many composers today have still managed to crank out some classics. 

 

Listen on for some of the best musical compositions ever to accompany - and oftentimes define - a game level.