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Jukebox Heroes: Meridian 59's soundtrack


There's a lot of general distaste and dislike out there for video game music that comes in MIDI or chipset form. Many gamers have simply never really experienced eras when the sound for computers and consoles were limited in such ways, so to go back to listen to them seems downright painful. For MMO players, there are only a handful of games that came out during the MIDI era, and pretty much all of them have since updated to MP3 versions.

Yet I have a fondness for older-style game music. I agree with what Ryan Shwayder once wrote when he said, "I think MIDI composers had to become masters of capturing the real core or heart of what made a song feel right. They had to take a minimalist approach to the song because they had a limited number of channels and potential sounds to work with. And it is my belief that some of the best creative works come out when an artist has to work within constraints."

That said, most of Meridian 59's soundtrack out there is of the remastered variety, so that's what we'll be listening to today. By the way, the original soundtrack by Composer Gene M. Rozenberg is available on the official website for free!

1. Main Theme

I'm including this track for the sake of completion, but it's probably my least favorite of these six. It does the job of conveying generic fantasy although I could easily get it mixed up with Wizard101 if I weren't paying close enough attention.

This must be a remake track because it's certainly not MIDI (it is, however, all synth up in here). The background notes are of more interest to me than the sappy harmony. I like how the notes keep bouncing off of the main tune and give it more energy than it rightfully should have.

2. Guild Hall (Little Girl)

You know how some games have that "one" track that everyone knows and loves and references, even if they couldn't identify any other tune from the OST? Guild Hall is Meridian 59's "one" track. Man, people seem to be in love with this one... and probably for a very good reason.

It's a slow, enchanting, even haunting track that plays like a music box spinning out a final few notes before it runs down. There's this Danny Elfman-sense of beautiful sadness to it. I guess you know a track like this has made an impact when folks are recreating it on guitar and piano.

3. Cor Noth

I have a particular fondness for the tone of this track, which is undeniably one of warmth and home. It's a quick-moving piece that has notes dancing all over the place. Strangely, I have a hard time picturing this in the game because it's so fast. If it was drawn out a little more, then sure, this would be an apt city theme, but as it stands it's something more appropriate to twirl and skip to.

4. Riija Temple

Here's some mood whiplash for you, as we go abruptly from bubbly to depressing. It's hard to recommend Riija Temple for a catchy melody, as it lacks one, but sometimes you need a good moody piece to coat a structure in atmosphere. This, I believe, it does very well. It feels ancient and sad without getting sinister.

5. Hall of Heroes

This track is quite appropriate for a fantasy setting, even if it's not terribly complex. It's got a "sacred ground" tone that tells me without words or visuals that where I'm visiting isn't a place to be taken lightly, so I should tread lightly while I explore it.

6. Graveyard

In lieu of the original, here's a remix of the graveyard theme. You'd think this would be a very downer track considering the name, but I find it quite the opposite. I feel uplifted while listening to it, so perhaps it's a very happy graveyard. Dancing fairies and midnight skeleton raves and all that.

I'd love to hear favorites of those few who did (or perhaps still are?) play Meridian 59 and have the tunes burned into their memory sockets.

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!

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