Wow, talk about a soundtrack that leaped up and bit me on the... earbuds! Sometimes I'm surprised how the smaller MMOs get treated to such lavish score releases while big-name games hoard their music to themselves, but in the case of Spiral Knights, I'm sincerely glad that this two-volume set was put out there for the world to enjoy. It truly is a kickin' project.
Spiral Knights was composed and arranged by Harry Mack (Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, Braid). Mack likes the smaller indie projects, so tackling this was one of his more high-profile works. For this album, Mack said that he was inspired by retro games: "It pulls a lot from the 'sound' of an earlier era, coupled in with more modern, easier-on-the-ears instruments."
The end result is a chirpy, peppy ride through a clockwork MMO, and trust me when I say that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just six picks. I hope that by the end of this column I'll have convinced you to listen to the rest of this terrific score.
1. Crash Course
We're going to begin with an almost-mellow, gothic-lite track. Crash Course definitely brings out the Castlevania vibe, with a pulsing bass and a touch of harpsichord from time to time. It's not the most catchy of melodies, but I think it'd be a standout background track if you heard this while playing through a dungeon or solo area.
2. Encounter Clockwise
I've listened to enough MMO soundtracks to have had my fill of scores that operate under the theory that the more noise they're making, the more they're winning. So I latch on gratefully to peaceful tracks like this one that are content with making music instead of being center stage at an imaginary MMO rock concert. It's a tranquil piece that has such a good vibe to it.
3. Main Theme
You really can hear the retro stylings in Spiral Knights' main theme. It's not hard to imagine it with much simpler chiptunes music instead of the fuller sound that's present here. I think it's because it has a simple, catchy melody that helped to define those earlier games and is sadly lacking in many modern video game scores.
4. Lucky Knight
I know that I shared this a couple of weeks ago, but there was no way I was going to write up this column without including it. If I ever get around to making a top 10 MMO tracks list, this has to be way, way up there. It's not epic -- it's not even that typical for an MMO -- but it is this jamming little tune that gets in your head and won't leave. I've listened to it dozens of times since first hearing it and it hasn't gotten old yet.
5. Mission Complete
Now there's something we don't hear too much of in modern video game scores: the good ol' mission complete theme. I always liked these little tunes because it was as if the game was celebrating with me while patting me on the back: "Well done! Your princess is in another castle, fool!"
6. A Dangerous Game
I want to leave you with one of the more energetic entries from this soundtrack. A Dangerous Game revs up the synth beats and keeps it going throughout its entire two-minute runtime. It's not going for anything more grand than giving us some snazzy music to game by, and you know what? That's exactly what we need sometimes.
For those of you who did listen to Spiral Knights, which tracks stood out to you as your favorites?
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!