Have videogames finally evolved to the point where
soundtracks are something to look forward to?
While I don't normally groove to the techno beat, I have a wider musical
appreciation than most. This came in handy recently, as I had the opportunity
to listen to the soundtrack to Mad Dash Racing. Filled with top name artists
such as Fatboy Slim, Moby, The Crystal Method, and Meat Beat Manifesto,
the song collection also had several artists that I had never heard of,
such as Overseer, Juno Reactor, Mephisto Oddysey, and Uberzone. I wondered
what sort of auditory experience I was in for when I placed it my CD player,
and let my Mad Dash screensaver kick in.
The first song was Acid 8000 by Fatboy Slim. I imagined myself racing down
a cartoon path in control of a cartoon boar. Frankly, it was a bizarre
experience, and I decided to just listen to the music instead of trying
to contextualize it. That seemed to work better. The main reason why I
am not a devotee of techno/electronica (or whatever you want to call it)
is the repetitive nature of many songs. I can't stand listening to the
same synthesized drum riff over and over. Thankfully, this collection of
tunes doesn't follow that pattern.
After a while, I decided that listening to the songs in an office setting
just wasn't doing it for me. I decided to put the soundtrack to the test
in a situation a bit closer to the actual experience. Firing up my copy
of Mario Kart 64, I turned the television way down, and turned on my boom
box with the soundtrack. This was a much better experience, and oddly,
enhanced the gameplay. I had stopped playing Mario Kart 64 solo a while
back, but this gave me a good long period before I realized that nearly
an hour was over.
The music didn't detract from the game, which is going to be essential
when Mad Dash Racing is released. However, the music does stand on it's
own as well. The next day I placed the CD (along with several others) in
my primary CD player at home and hit the "random" button. I then proceeded
about my day as normal. These songs fit right in with everything else that
is on the market today, depending on your musical taste of course.
Eidos doesn't have definite plans to release the soundtrack commercially
yet, but is also hasn't said that it won't happen either. While a commercially
available Mad Dash Racing soundtrack may not burn up the sales charts,
it would be a great introduction to the genre for beginners, or as a neat
collection for fans of electronica/techno music. Game enthusiasts should
keep an open ear (and mind) when listening to the songs. You just may find
yourself that much more absorbed in the game.
One of the features of the Xbox is the ability to rip songs onto the hard
drive, and (depending on the game) play a selection of songs of your choosing
while playing the game instead of listening to the tracks included on the
game disc. Most people have decried most game soundtracks as simplistic,
or without variety. One such example is Crazy Taxi, where the same songs
get played over and over. There are only so many times before you get tired
of hearing the same Offspring song.
The reason I bring this up, is that now, I plan on having the Mad Dash
Racing soundtrack reside in my Xbox hard drive along with several other
key artists, because when I'm looking for some high energy music that won't
detract from the on-screen action, I'm going to be sure to include some
of these tunes.
Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Still looking for a copy of Valley Girl on DVD.