Near the beginning of the year I bought a ticket to a Video Games Live concert, a one-night-only performance that had finally scheduled an evening near my home. I had a seat all ready to go, front row center, but ultimately missed the show thanks to an unexpected last-minute long afternoon and evening at my doctor's office. As excited as I had been to experience the raw power and raging volume of some of video gaming's most timeless tunes performed orchestrally, in the end my poor health won out and I found myself wondering just what I'd missed that night. Time heals all wounds, however, and now eight months later a copy of the concert's first album, Video Games Live - Volume One, has landed on my doorstep. This CD may not be a front row seat, but it's got to be the next best thing.
This first album from the Video Games Live team features eleven tracks, each of which consists of medleys, montages, and suites of (for the most part) games from the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation families. Music from Kingdom Hearts, Medal of Honor, God of War, Advent Rising, and Halo make up the bulk of the CD, and while the Live portion of the title may imply that the tracks were recorded in the presence of a pumped-up audience, only three of the album's tracks are marked as indeed being recorded live.
While everything on the album sounds fantastic, I found that it didn't excite me as much as I'd expected, and I think this is where Volume One's overall appeal may take a hit. Longtime PTB readers know that I am primarily a Nintendo gamer with a special fondness for games from the 1980s and early 1990s, and while Video Games Live concert performances feature music from the Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid games, there's none of that material to be found on this CD. Plenty of other comparatively older tunes from the concerts that also send pleasant shivers of nostalgia down my spine are also missing: no Sonic the Hedgehog, no Contra, no Earthworm Jim. The sole exception on the album is the final track's Castlevania rock medley. It's one of the aforementioned live tracks and is my absolute favorite selection on the disc. I wish that I were as familiar with the other games represented on the album so that I could feel the same chilling tingles of awesomeness on the other tracks that I enjoy with Castlevania.
So, in the end, here's how it all lines up. Anyone with games like Halo, Warcraft, and God of War flowing through his or her veins will get a lot of enjoyment out of Video Games Live - Volume One. People like me, however, would do better to just hit Amazon.com, buy the individual Castlevania track for $0.99, and hold out for some more familiar selections on the eventual Volume Two.