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on November 7, 2011
Listen to the samples, you will know immediately if this is for you. The real standouts are the classic 8-bit tunes, Zelda, Mario, and Tetris, but the rest are fun too. The bonus Dead Space track is very spooky (wait, there was music in Dead Space? I just remember screaming and metal clanking sounds.)

I'd love to see the London Philharmonic do an album of CLASSIC video game music someday, just focusing on great 8-bit tunes; Castlevania, Megaman, Metroid, Ghosts n' Goblins etc.
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on November 7, 2011
I've listened through the entire album, and while it's actually not bad overall and worth the 2.99 I paid, I do have some problems with it. Entitling an album Greatest Video Game Music would seem to imply that it features the Greatest Video Game Music, and while that is certainly something that is hard to examine objectively, I just don't think this fits the bill. I think the album better sits somewhere between Most Recognizable Video Game Music, and Video Game Music From the Best Selling Games ever. This is a bit of a problem, as some of this music just doesn't translate well into something that can stand on it's own. There are probably 3 groupings I'd put the music into.

Music that shouldn't be there but works.
The angry birds theme normally wouldn't fall anywhere near my list of greatest video game music ever, but the version included in this album is very well done, and is played around with enough that, while I dislike the game, I really enjoyed the piece. The Tetris theme is the only other song I'd put into this category, although it likely has some more merit in it's own right, the version included is surprisingly fun to listen to.

Music that should be included.
While this is just my opinion, the pieces from Advent Rising, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mario, Uncharted, Mass Effect, Halo, Elder Scrolls, and metal Gear all work fine. They are either iconic enough, or simply translate well enough into orchestral pieces to work, although some work better then others.

Pieces that just don't fit.
These are the problem pieces, the pieces from Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, Battlefield, Bioshock, Fallout, and Dead Space. I actually enjoy some of the games these pieces originated in, but the pieces just don't stand up that well on their own. Many were simply too repetitive to be that entertaining, and even though I've played the games they were sourced from, listening to them they just sounded like generic video game background music and I'd be hard pressed to know where they came from.

While I understand that these pieces were included because their source material is so well known, it would have been much better if the album contained either some of the slightly more obscure, but far superior video game pieces, or had simply loaded up on more iconic pieces, like some sonic or castlevania medleys. As is the album is okay at best.
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on November 7, 2011
The Tetris arrangement is worth $3 all by itself. Don't even think about it; just buy it. Unless you really need those $3 for an order of french fries today.
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on November 7, 2011
The tracks on this album are from an extremely diverse library of games. In lieu of staying to a complete classical theme, elements such as synth and a drum set (adding snare and hi-hat noises) are utilized to give some songs a more modern classical feel. The arrangement of Angry Bird's theme, the Super Mario theme, and the Uncharted theme are worth the $3 by themselves. Really.

All in all, an amazing collection. There will be people griping about whats missing, such as a track from Shadow of the Colossus in my opinion, but that just gives you a chance to check out buying that album on its own!
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on November 7, 2011
The most exciting songs are those where the original version was not already symphonic in nature (i.e., Super Mario Bros, Zelda, and Tetris) and thus are given a new spin. Songs like those from Call of Duty and Uncharted don't sound terribly different from the original and in fact, as is often the case with movie soundtracks, even lose some of their magic when listened to outside the context of their source. Such songs can be exciting to listen to in a live performance, similar to what the Video Games Live tour has been doing, but many of them seem rather dull on their own.
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VINE VOICEon December 1, 2011
I suppose I should begin by clarifying that there is nothing wrong with the performance of the pieces on this album: the London Philharmonic nails it. The reason I give it four stars is that despite the stellar performance, the selection of songs leaves something to be desired.

You can read the album title two ways: the greatest music to come out of video games, or the music from the greatest video games. The album tries to incorporate both, and is weaker for it.

For example, there is a track from Splinter Cell: Conviction. Great, popular game, but forgettable music. Then you have a track from Advent Rising: pretty good music, but I don't think I'm remiss in calling it a buggy game with niche appeal that did not do well commercially.

Some popular games that had good music have it enhanced by an orchestral performance - the selections fo Metal Gear Solid 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV, for example - and even the Angry Birds theme gets a nice turn here. But just as often you get a forgettable piece, like the renditions of Modern Warfare's title screen.

All in all, for eight bucks (or less if you take advantage of some of Amazon's MP3 credit offers) this is a very good album, but its odd selection keeps it from greatness.
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on December 20, 2011
Overall, the quality of the recording is fairly good, and it's quite enjoyable and even a bit nostalgic to hear some of these pieces again.

That being said, some of the tracks on this album simply don't stand up to their original versions, most notably Liberi Fatali (FFVIII) and Reign of the Septims (Oblivion).

The arrangement for Liberi Fatali left me very much disappointed. Originally a bombastic, intense and sweeping work of art, this version comes across as rather "tinny" and very much lacks the punch. Some of this was due to the choir being severely understaffed for this kind of piece, and the arrangement which took the liberty of exchanging instruments for certain parts (tuba/trombone/french horn where there should have been piano, etc). Not that these things ruin the rendition, but while listening to this version I'm expecting it to at least equal or surpass the original in scope. Definitely not hitting the mark, and this piece was one of the primary reasons for purchasing this album.

Reign of the Septims from Oblivion... this arrangement exhibits the same symptoms as stated above, and again this is the other track on this album I was most excited about. I would listen to the original version over this one any day of the week.

I was hoping to hear a fresh take on the Zelda theme, however the one on this album is the same orchestrated arrangement we've heard for years and years (and not as effective as the original recording of it). Suffice it to say no (or very little) effort went into this one, they simply printed the sheets and played it.

On a different note, I have no idea what some of this music is doing on an album titled "Greatest Video Game Music". The Angry Birds theme for example, is one I would have certainly left off to make room for a more iconic piece.

Altogether, it is an enjoyable album, but personally I did not find it overly so. As a musician, it's difficult NOT to notice some of these glaring differences. My expectations were not unrealistically high, in many ways some of these performances just failed to deliver.
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on November 8, 2011
An album with the title of "The Greatest Video Game Music" is never going to be a smashing success unless it is broken up into dozens of volumes. Video game music has evolved from simple bleeps and bloops to fully-orchestrated works on par with the best of film and television, with styles that vary widely. And while "The Greatest Video Game Music" doesn't cover all of its bases, it does a good job of mixing some of the more recognizable classics with the more modern hits.

The songs you grew up with, namely the themes of "Super Mario Bros.", "The Legend of Zelda", "Tetris", and "Final Fantasy" are all here, forming the backbone of the album. The classics aren't represented as well as they could have been (Sonic, Phantasy Star, Chrono Trigger or Cross, and countless others have been neglected), but a collection of 22 songs that is trying to cover 30 years of gaming music can be forgiven if it doesn't hit every major contribution. It is to be expected.

Games from the past ten years, and the last five specifically, fill out most of the album. These tracks cover modern classics like "Halo 3", "Fallout 3", "BioShock", "Uncharted", and "Oblivion", but also include a few of the better tracks from the generation prior, such as the stirring "Sons of Liberty" theme from Metal Gear Solid 2, and a track from the ambitious but flawed "Advent Rising". The newest wave of gaming, those played on mobile cell phones, also receive a nod with a charming and surprisingly loving rendition of the ubiquitous "Angry Birds."

The arrangements are universally wonderful, playful when called for while suitably dramatic at other times. Since most people who buy this album will know the melodies, the quality of the works is what most of the value comes down to, and it is without question a wonderfully executed body of work. There is a bit of sameness to some of the tracks, as military-themed games (and their patriotic, stirring themes) dominate the cash register as well as this collection, and the collection could have been more well-rounded (Kirby's Epic Yarn would have been perfect here, and fighting games don't show up at all), but it's a fun collection that shows off how good game music can be. The target audience for this collection will likely already own at least a handful of these songs, but the album is still a good a value for cherry-picking some of the more outstanding themes from soundtracks one might not want in entirety. It is my hope that this album does well, because this could become a great series for game and score fans alike, and there is still so much yet to cover.

PS - Amazon is also offering a $1 credit off the album through the end of November 2011, so don't forget to claim this before purchasing
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 4, 2011
A songwriter friend in Nashville recently told me that the REAL money in the music writing business is now in the field of composing music for video games. After all more video games are played than CDs or albums purchased and video games are international in their scope. I'm not sure if there have been similar released to this album but this one will be hard to top in the genre.

First off, I must admit that I don't play video games and nearly all of the 20 games represented here were new to me. Surely everyone has heard of "Grand Theft Auto" and "Super Mario Brothers" (presented here twice - with the original "themes" and score from "Super Mario Galaxy". Regular "gamers" will know more of the titles - and I encourage you to add your knowledge to the comments here. I'll just concentrate on the music and the performance.

Much - though not all - of the music on the CD sounds like the score from a John Williams-scored film. And, as expected, it's energetic. No, you won't find novelties like the music from "Pong" or "Pac Man". Much of it is "serious" with a few pieces of light humor (The two "Super Mario"s and "Grand Theft Auto". I'd love to tell you who composed these "scores" but the package - which has no liner notes - omits ALL the composing credits! (How'd that happen? Don't these guys deserve credit? Even classical music standards give composers their due.).

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded many other "soaring" film scores and so they are a good choice to record this one. The sound is full and yet you can hear clearly the percussion (wood blocks, chimes) that is so essential to this music.

As a symphonic album of music that sounds both a bit familiar (that Williams thing again) and new, I enjoyed it. There are virtually no slow sections and each piece is just long enough to be considered an "Overture".

While "gamers" will be attacted to it, I think those who like soundtrack scores will get a lot from it too.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on November 7, 2011
I came across this album when I was searching for the "Suicide Mission" mp3 for "Mass Effect 2" (to which the score is no longer available on amazon). The sample for "Suicide Mission" impressed me enough to consider buying it for $0.99, so I clicked the album link to see what the rest sounded like in case the album proved worthy of purchase.

That's when I saw the price ($2.99!) and the numbers of tracks (21! plus a bonus track for purchasing the mp3 album so a total of 22!) and my reaction went from, "I'm interested" to "OMG I HAVE TO PURCHASE THIS NOW!"

If you enjoy video game music and have bought soundtracks in the past, there's nothing here to dissuade you from purchasing it for three bucks. Even the CD format is modestly priced at $9.99; if the mp3 album wasn't such an incredible steal, I probably would have bought the CD since I prefer to own hard copies when the price difference is less than a few dollars.

Personal favorites include "Advent Rising: Muse," "Legend of Zelda: Suite," "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion," "Mass Effect: Suicide Mission," "Final Fantasy: Main Theme," "Bioshock: The Ocean on His Shoulders," "Fallout 3: Theme," and "Bonus Track: Dead Space: Welcome."
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