In the midst of exam season I decided it would be the perfect time to share with you my favourite chiptune albums, which if you’re a fan of chiptune, won’t come across as any surprise. Chiptune music is iconic of vintage video games, and for many probably brings to mind the incredibly catchy tunes heard in early Zelda and Pokemon games. I’ll admit to having listened to a good amount of the 10 hour loop of bicycle theme music from Pokemon Blue/Red. However, when I am referring to chiptune in this article I am particularly talking about the general trend that has appeared toward modern video game soundtracks that have done a fantastic job at reinventing and reworking the chiptune genre into something pretty neat. I’ll admit that I don’t know a great deal about the chiptune genre so by no means is this a comprehensive guide, but these are just a few albums that I think would be worth checking out whether you care for the chiptune genre or not (in no particular order!!)
This is easily one of my most favourite chiptune albums ever. You might also know this as the official soundtrack from Dustforce, a cute indie game that well, I actually can’t comment on because I’ve never played it. I suppose what I like about is that it’s so light and upbeat. Since it was composed as a soundtrack for a video game, it’s no surprise that the music is ambient which suits me perfectly well since I love listening to music that I don’t have to be explicitly paying attention to in situations where I am studying. The melodies are sweet and charming and I almost wish I could have played the game to have further appreciated how well the music fit the actual game itself. There are some interesting tracks that incorporate strings and piano which really makes this more than just another chiptune album. Anyways, check it out!
Fun fact: Lifeformed has a new album out (check that out as well).
2. FEZ: Side F- Various Artists
I’m a huge fan of Disasterpeace. He’s great at what he does, which is, well chiptune music. He wrote the soundtrack for FEZ, which is an immensely well-known indie game. While I loved the soundtrack for FEZ, the album I’ve chosen to include in this list is one that features remixes of the original songs from the FEZ soundtrack composed by various artists. They’re a lot more funky and exciting than the original soundtrack, so if you’ve liked the FEZ soundtrack I would highly encourage you to check out Side F for some absolutely amazing remixes that are in some cases better than the original (arguably so). It gives you a lot of different kinds of perspectives on the songs too, since you have input coming from a lot of different artists. The sound is a lot different than what you normally hear in chiptune, so I would check out this album to even just hear some really well-done experimental sounds.
3. Cave Story OST- Doukutsu Monogatari
Ah, some classic chiptune sounds. Finally. So as you probably could have heard from the title, this is the soundtrack written for the indie game, Cave Story (which you can download free online!). So this is a pretty standard example of chiptune, and it’s absolutely fantastic for that reason. It gives you those warm, happy-go-lucky feelings inside that seem to be the staple of many classic chiptune songs. If you’re not a fan of the chiptune genre, this won’t really offer you anything new to change your mind, but if you do enjoy some good old chiptune I would recommend listening to the cave story soundtrack.
4. Rogue Legacy OST- Tettix & A Shell in the Pit
Oh wow, another album from a video game I haven’t played (er..). So unlike many of the other albums I mentioned, this one isn’t as ambient and chill, and rather makes use of electric guitars for a really groovin’ and thumpin’ kind of sound (I can only hope this makes sense). I imagine that this album would suit the video game it was composed for rather well, with fast-paced, almost action-like sounds. It has a great mix of both classic chiptune sounds blended in with some really modern-sounding guitar strings. I’d say it’s worth a listen.
5. One- C418
You’ll likely recognize C418 from his work on producing the soundtrack for Minecraft. I particularly like his album “One” which follows with the calm, ambient kind of chiptune that I tend to go for. This album isn’t really too heavy in the chiptune, and features a great deal of soft piano which I really appreciate when I want something nice going on in the background. Certainly, this music is probably best listened to when you’re silently working on your own or enjoying a lazy afternoon with the peaceful atmosphere it creates. I imagine that listening to the album on its own may be a bit boring, but if you’re looking for some great study music, I would encourage you to try this album out.
So that’s pretty much it for this list. I hope that there were at least some good picks from here that you all can take from. Enjoy!!