Bluegrass music isn’t typically associated with video games. Very few games have actually featured bluegrass folk music. Off the top of my head there’s Where The Water Tastes Like Wine and a few of the tracks in Gravity Rush intertwined some bluegrass themes with the jazz fusion sounds, but typically it’s not a sound we hear often in soundtracks for video games. Well, The Hit Points’ self-titled album gives a number of recognizable game themes and musical tracks a complete bluegrass overhaul.
I wasn’t initially thrilled to hear Guile’s theme from Street Fighter with banjos and fiddles, but it works… well enough.
If you’re curious about all of the tracks included in the albuym, you can check out the full album list below:
01. Those Who Fight Further (Final Fantasy VII)
02. Guile’s Theme (Street Fighter)
03. Presentiment/Chrono Trigger (Chrono Trigger)
04. Rocket Hideout (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow)
05. Athletic Theme (Super Mario World)
06. Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)
07. Ballad of the Goddess (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
08. Dance of Pales (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)
09. Nascence/Road of Trials (Journey)
10. Taliyah, the Stoneweaver (League of Legends)
11. Double Dragon Theme/Mission 1 (Double Dragon)
12. Streets of Whiterun (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
There’s actually a preview of the album that you can listen to right now from over on the BandCamp page.
While some songs are hit and miss, one song that’s absolutely a hit from start to finish is the Chrono Trigger theme song. It sounds really, really, really good.
The fiddle combined with the rapid-mandolin sounds, acoustic guitar and cello all sound really crisp and natural. The outdoorsy element reminds me a little bit of some new age folklore tunes.
According to Eli Bishop and Matt Menefee from Hit Points, they grew up playing bluegrass and loved video games, so it seemed like a natural fit to marry the two together…
“”Bluegrass was a huge part of our musical upbringings, but we’ve been continually inspired by the music in videogames,”
“While playing videogames, it’d be common to grab an instrument and play along to the music in games like Castlevania or Pokémon. I suppose combining Bluegrass and videogame music seemed like a natural progression under those circumstances. The instruments used in a traditional bluegrass ensemble are extremely versatile and we wanted to demonstrate that by merging our passion for videogame music with those instruments to create a unique project that has never been done before.”
Some songs obviously fit better than others. For instance, the “Athletic Theme” from Super Mario World is absolutely perfect and the band members absolutely nailed it. Other tunes, like the Castlevania track, “Dance of the Pales”, has such an airy waltz feel to it, you might be convinced you’re listening to a small chamber rendition of your favorite song being conducted by Andre Rieu.
Now one of my all-time favorite soundtracks is Austin Wintory’s Journey score. When I saw it on the list I was skeptical about how well a bluegrass version of such a beautiful piece like “Nascence” would sound in any other style than a traditional symphony orchestra, but I have to admit that the somewhat country adagio approach to the song really works.
It sounds more like a thoughtful traveling movement, especially with the consonance during the middle of the piece. It’s really great stuff. In fact, I sort of wish there were a few more tunes from Journey or perhaps Horizon: Zero Dawn or NieR: Automata squeezed into the already jam-packed album.
Nevertheless, you’ll be able to grab 12 tracks for $10 if you decide to pick up a digital copy of the album. Alternatively, you can acquire the compact disc version for $25.
Also, keep in mind that the compact disc version of the album won’t be shipping out until July 14th.