Indie game music highlights of 2012


2012 was marked as a year of incredible growth in the independent gaming marketplace. We’ve had some hit releases that really change the way gamers can interact with digital media, such as Thatgamecompany’s Journey, or Polytron’s Fez. Both titles offered experiences that players had not yet witnessed in the decades of which came before them. Moreover, these titles and numerous others brought along incredible and engaging soundtracks to further engross users into their worlds.

With that in mind, we felt it was about time that we highlighted some of 2012’s best soundtracks from independently developed games.


 Composer: Disasteriece (@Disasterpiece)

Fez’s soundtrack was reminiscent of the 1980’s synth and keyboard era, marked by a period of pop hits by artists like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I couldn’t help but picture the cast of an 1980’s film such as The Breakfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High dancing along as I closed my eyes and took in this piece of aural desert.  Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreeland’s soundtrack was a an excellent compliment to an already distinct game, which allowed it to stand out by visually, aurally, and mechanically in 2012.


 Composer: Austin Wintory (@Wintory)

Austin Wintory’s orchestra driven soundtrack for the PSN exclusive Journey made history this month by becoming the first video game soundtrack to be nominated for a Grammy, music’s most coveted award. This monumental feat should continue to assist in breaking down the divide between games and film as being seen as equal forms of digital entertainment in the eye of a modern culture.

The soundtrack serves as one of the principal elements of the title’s gameplay, always encouraging players to continue just a bit more their uncertain and otherwise silent adventure. Amidst the shifting landscapes, whether draped in the evanescent white  glow of snow or the fine-grain sand that comprises the desert environment, the score is there to accompany the player and guide them along the way.


Double Dragon Neon

Composer: Jake Kaufman (@VirtJK)

Jake Kauffman nailed the 80’s vibe that the Double Dragon series was so well known for during its heyday. The score as a whole, from beginning to end, is worth playing on repeat as gamers mercilessly beat foes in to the ground in stuck from an era long gone by. One of the highlights of the album is City Streets 2 (Mango Tango), of which is sang by one of the development team’s very own artists,  Jessie Seely, who also performed on Wayforward’s Bloodrayne: Betrayal soundtrack.

The synth-pop inspired score covers many of the familiar tunes of previous Double Dragon games, albeit with somewhat of a more modern and polished feel. Fans of the NES era games will find themselves right at home with this excellent score, as it drives you from scene to scene. Mix-tapes can be picked up along the way too, which offer brief clips of an alternative soundtrack, also inspire by the time.


Street Fighter X Mega Man

Composer: A_Rival

This fan made project is a celebration of Mega Man’s 25th anniversary, and an excellent party it was. Combining the well recognized soundtracks of the Street Fighter  franchise with that of Mega Man’s classic 8-bit soundtracks, composer A_Rival seamlessly blended these audio treasures to create one masterpiece.

While some of the stages or characters are not as recognizable as others, fans are sure to get a kick out of Ryu’s motivating stage score, or Guile’s “Goes with anything,” a popular meme in recent years. Enthusiasts of either series are sure to reminisce their childhood when making their way through the Street Fighter inspired stages as the blue bomber. This of course begs the question: Why hadn’t Capcom thought of this sooner?

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Features

About Dave Voyles

Dave is located in Philadelphia, and works as a Tech Evangelist at Microsoft. He's coordinated the Indie Games Uprisings on Xbox Live, wrote the UnrealScript Game Programming Cookbook, Made an XBLIG game, and is currently doing JS / HTML5 dev for browser base games. You can follow him on Twitter, at @DaveVoyles

  • Levi D. Smith

    Double Dragon had one of the most memorable theme songs for the NES. I’ve always liked listening to the remakes by bands like the Neskimos and Minibosses.

  • DaveVoyles

    I agree. Vomtron did an incredible cover of it too recently. Not sure if I can share links on here, but I know it’s easy to find on YouTube.

    Bands like the ones mentioned are really what keep old school gaming alive for a lot of people. MAGfest next week!