We are now living in an unprecedented time of musical plenty: anyone can access a vast reservoir of music online, placing a premium on anything which can help steer us to the good stuff. Through licensed and original soundtracks, the video games have exposed players to various styles of jazz, perhaps without them even realizing this.
So, to celebrate the composers and games that have succeeded in getting gamers in the swing of things, there’s a smattering of the soulful, the smooth, and the downright stylish.
“Diggsieland” by Jim Fowler from Diggs Nightcrawler
Style: Dixieland, trad jazz, Big band,
Influences: Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Duke Ellington
Wonderbook, the augmented reality peripheral of PlayStation, was pretty short-lived, however, one of the best things resulted from it was that the Principal Composer of PlayStation, Jim Fowler, had the chance to record an incredible live jazz score for Diggs Nightcrawler.
Sony teamed up with Moonbot – the Oscar-winning animators – to create a noir adventure for kids and jazz was a natural fit.
“Inkwell Isle One” by Kristofer Maddigan from Cuphead
Style: ragtime, Dixieland
Influences: Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway
Composer-arranger Kristofer Maddigan, by the admission on Music Respawn podcast of himself, went overboard in terms of the music he wrote for Cuphead – the ‘classic run and gun action game’ looked like the 1930s Fleischer and Walt Disney animations.
Kristofer Maddigan also committed to writing and recording tracks which were tidily finished compositions, meaning that the album is more famous for the complete pieces than looped cues which fade out after a while.
“What’s Your Poison (The Bar)” by Tim Cotterell and Matt Bonham from The Sexy Brutale
Style: Swing, electro swing
Influences: Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Caravan Palace
The Sexy Brutale of the year 2017 is a beautiful story-based puzzle game which looks a little like a mash-up of Luigi’s Mansion, Overcooked, Grim Fandango, and Final Fantasy VII. The striking look of The Sexy Brutale is matched by a quirky, distinctive soundtrack which sometimes sounds like a small swing ensemble while employs more electro swing grooves and modern hip-hop beats to spice things up.