The 20 greatest PlayStation 1 soundtracks ever
Get ready for a deep nostalgia hit
In September 1995 consoles like the Sega Mega Drive, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) were the household standard. There might have been a GameBoy knocking around but as far as technology went, things were in a pretty safe, habitable place. That is until Sony came in and decided the landscape needed to be changed, that things could and should be better. Enter the PlayStation, a piece of hardware that would alter the way we consumed video games forever and it would change how the world entertained itself.
As a child, there weren't many feelings like it. Christmas Day, you rattle through socks, clothes and some toys that you'd been howling to get your hands on but then there was that big box, the box that you hoped contained what you thought it was. Had your parents actually got it? No, surely not. You rip open the wrapping paper and there is was, in all its futuristic glory. The PlayStation, ready and waiting to transport you to new realms, new planets and new levels of computerised enjoyment.
In the three years before its older, more powerful sibling, the PlayStation 2, came out, the PlayStation offered gamers some of the most legendary titles ever created. Metal Gear Solid started its life on the PS1, as did Resident Evil and Tekken but for us, it wasn't just these games that changed our lives, it was the soundtracks that accompanied them.
There were some truly incredible scores, tracks and soundtracks on the PS1, we'd even go as far to say it has the best music of all the consoles. So with that in mind, we plugged our trusty old friend back in, fired up some Platinum releases and immersed ourselves in the wealth of uncompromisingly good music. We've whittled down our favourites to 20 and below are our findings.
Are you ready for a nostalgia trip? We are.
Funster is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor and he still gets excited thinking about hearing the Metal Gear Solid theme for the first time, follow him on Twitter
The original platformer, the game that gripped us all and caused the first bought of broken controllers worldwide. Crash Bandicoot wasn't so much a game character, he was our friend and one that we guided through lush jungles and temple ruins, collecting fruit and causing trouble in the process. Sure, the soundtrack is super silly and very fun, but look closer and there's some undercover gems. Check 'Heavy Machinery/Castle Machinery' at 35:29 for a decent electro hit. Also the title screen theme is a thing a beauty.
Parappa The Rapper
Another cute little fella who will have played a big part in people's early PlayStation experience, Parappa the Rapper was how we all learned how to rap when we were like 10, right? The hip-hop focused, lyric led soundtrack featured six stages that became increasingly difficult to complete. Above you can actually watch a complete play-through with all the songs included. How the fuck whoever's playing managed to get perfect on every level we don't know. Getting stuck on stage one was a regular occurrence. Wasn't it?
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
One of the weirdest games to ever grace the PS1 and it got released in the console's first year of life. Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee saw you guide Abe through wildly unnerving and bleak environments and was as fascinating as it was infuriating. Even just watching him walk with that weird hunch gives us sharp stings of sentimentality. The soundtrack suited what was on screen so we're talking sparse, percussive and quite haunting backing tracks. 'Paramonia (Slig Encounter)' is particularly dense and eerie. What a game, what a weird, weird game.
Long before Forza Motorsport became an XBOX classic there was another racing game that captured the hearts of millions. Gran Turismo was always marketed as a driving simulator rather than a straight-up arcade racer and that's exactly what it was, a simulator. Passing driving tests, building your car collection and razzing a Suburu Imprezza around speedways became a thing of beauty and the soundtrack was just as satisfying. There was a Chemical Brothers remix of Manic Street Preachers, several Feeder tracks (a crucial part of all GT soundtracks to come) and some pretty interesting proto-house. The actual score featured some pretty nuts electronic music and the Mazda loading screen was a particular highlight. One of the best.
Grand Theft Auto 2
Last week we celebrated the 20th birthday of Grand Theft Auto by going through every soundtrack to bring you 20 of the best tracks. We hear you, that's no easy task but we did it anyway and we're really proud of ourselves. If GTA1 changed the game for violence in computer games then GTA2 doubled-down and also offered up an amazing selection of radio stations. Lithium FM had some bangers as did KGBH but the whole thing made mowing down pedestrians and evading cop cars all the more thrilling if not still completely inappropriate.
Metal Gear Solid
To be frank, we could probably write a 10,000 word thesis about how this game changed ours lives. It was the first game that we completed start to finish and not only did we feel a huge sense of a achievement, but we felt sad. So we'd play it again, and again, and again. For a lot of people, Metal Gear Solid remains one of the greatest series' ever conceived. Tactical Espionage Action at its finest. You had to be sneaky, you had to be silent and you had to be Solid Snake, a front-runner the for hardest action hero in gaming history. It's well documented that the soundtrack has inspired so many artists today in terms of electronica (see Burial's 'Archangel'). The main theme is as passionate and emotion-laced as you can get, imprinted in the minds and hearts of millions and we really like the ethereal, Arca-esque 'Mantis' Hymn' too. In fact, we love it all.
FIFA 99 opened with Dub Pistols and also had 'Rockafella Skank' by Fatboy Slim.
Die Hard Trilogy
'Yippee Ki Yay Mother Fucker', the catchphrase shouted by teens all over the world, usually resulting in a stern telling off by your parents if they heard you bellowing it at your younger brother. Die Hard is still one of the best action movies ever made and the video game trilogy released as one bundle let you play through all three films with your blocky 3D version of John McClane. The Airport Terminal level featured this frankly epic track and the extended version is pure brilliance. It's as huge as the explosion on the front cover of the game to be honest.
Dance Dance Revolution
A staple of any arcade, Dance Dance Revolution is the ultimate party starter. Remember those rubber mats that you could get so you could play in the comfort of your own home? Yeah, so do we, they were pretty lame but it still allowed gamers to dance like a complete moron without a group of people watching on in disbelief. There have been about 235123 versions of the game since but the original edition on PS1 offered up a super jazzy collection of house bangers and although slightly cheesy, we can't help but listen back with an air of happiness.
Before Ableton and Logic, Fruity Loops was one of the first major pieces of production software but a few years after its release, Music 2000 dropped on the PS1 and a whole new generation of producers were born. The game allowed you to program in all of the components you'd need to make a track and some people actually took it to the next level. See above for someone's rendition of 'Children' by Robert Miles. Impressive to say the least.
Street Fighter may have started it all but if you were a loyal Sony gamer, it was only really ever about Tekken. The franchise is still going strong now and has become a staple of the beat 'em up genre. It brought in more characters, more scenarios and even introduced the tag team formula once it moved to PS2, a revolutionary step for the game, especially as it meant you could bring in a fresh pair of legs if you were getting decimated by your mate playing as Devil Jin. The soundtrack on Tekken 2 is fucking incredible as well. It has its standard rock guitar sections, sure, but some of the cut scenes and tracks once you'd complete the game with your respective character were nuts. In particular, skip to 51:09 for Nina Williams' 'Silent Assassin' track, that's some house shit that we'd play now, hell it sounds like something from a Palms Trax set. Also check the synths on 'Quiet Interim Report' at 1:13:0. Madness.
Familar with Soichi Terada, the Japanese electronic music producer who's had music released via Rush Hour? Thought so. His super energetic live sets have earned him a huge reputation as one of the most fun artists to go and watch play. He's been making a lot of music but his most recognised achievement? That will be the Ape Escape soundtrack. The classic game where you go around capturing monkeys with your magic net was the first game that made the use of the DualShock joysticks as a compulsory element. The soundtrack is a complete joy from start to finish and at nearly four-hours long, it's hefty to say the least. There's house, there are synths and we're pretty sure it's the most successful use of jungle and breaks in a children's computer game. One of the best soundtracks on this list, easily.
Gex: Enter The Gecko
Crash Bandicoot was cute and cuddly, Spyro the Dragon had a little bit more fire to him (get it?) and Abe, well as we said earlier, he's just plain weird but Gex, he was the cool customer. Voiced by Leslie Phillips in the British version and Dana Gould in the US release, the super spy Gecko was a little more raunchy and darker than your average platformer character and the music was aimed just as much as the dancefloor as the console. See 'Rez' above to see what we're getting at. Absolute banger.
Colin McRae Rally 2.0
If you played Gran Turismo to hone your professional driving skills then you more than likely spent hours on Colin McRae Rally hurtling round bends and getting air in your supercharged rally cars. Basically, it was all about gnarly race tracks, monster acceleration and of course, a slamming soundtrack. The man responsible for the sequel's acid house extravaganza was Jonathan Colling and it's all out big beat mayhem really. It's got a very clear direction and that direction takes you straight into the belly of the acidic beast. Colin and his son tragically died in a Helicopter accident in 2007 but his legacy in the racing and gaming world lives on.
Syphon Filter 2
The original Syphon Filter dropped in 1999, two years after the PlayStation launched and the third person shooter pitted gamers against a terrorist organisation looking to deploy a biological weapon. The original was such a success that the sequel rolled around a year later and once again you returned to spy mode to take zero names while taking down all the bad guys. The soundtrack was mixture of spy-esque strings, deep, emotive bass hits and a few techno-inspired cuts that helped ramp up the pressure when you're saving the world. No Metal Gear Solid, but still fucking solid.
We'd probably go as far to say that the Wipeout 3 soundtrack is the best on this whole list on the basis Sasha was the man behind it. Yes, that Sasha, the god-like being who ruled the 90's like the king of the world. It's by far the most dance-music focused soundtrack because it's mainly Sasha tunes with the odd Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Paul Van Dyk track thrown in for good measure. The high-octane, pulverisingly intense soundtrack acted as a backing for the most insane, intergalactic racer ever made. It's fast-paced, it's relentless and it takes your breath away. Even playing it now gives you that same rush as before. Still one of the best out there.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was an undercover gem of the PS1-era and although it may have got overshadowed by its larger, more established adventure counterpart, The Legend of Zelda, it was still the darker, more ghoulish option. We remember getting freaked the fuck out playing it and that was largely down to the music creeping out of the stereo alongside it. The soundtrack bared a Burial/Hyperdub-like score, one that gives off eerie vibes that focus on setting the mood. The mood was of course bleak but it's a really good hour and half of scene-setting music.
Completely mad, really silly but if you knew, then you knew. Street Racer was like Crash Team Racing before Crash got behind the wheel of the car and this classic arcade racing game encouraged knocking your opponents out of contention at every turn. The soundtrack featured a mix of styles depending on the racer's course but Raph's house banger filled with horns and a naughty beat will forever hold a place in our hearts.
This one gets an inclusion mainly because of the title theme. If you played Driver, and forgot you played Driver, give the menu track a spin and wait for the good times to crash straight back into your life. Evading the cops in San Francisco never felt so stylish. A stone cold classic.
Resident Evil 2
The game that sent kids running and screaming to their parents and also the game that had parents questioning why the hell they let their children talk to them into buying it for them. It's just a game they said, it can't be that scary they said. They were all wrong, so fucking wrong. Resident Evil 2 is potentially one of the best horror games ever conceived and the series itself still reigns terror to this day. If you put the dodgy film franchise to one side, Resi 2 stands the test of time and even listening to the soundtrack gives us chills. It's dark, it's menacing and it's full of weird, electronic twangs that go bump in the night. If you can make it through the full two hours of the score without feeling even a little bit freaked out, then fair play to you, you did better than us.