A lot of people don’t lend enough credit to video games. There’s some downright incredible music to be found floating about, even from the hobby’s nascent stages. Even more so now that gaming’s become big business and developers have started bringing in big-name composers.
In many cases, the music is actually the best part. I’m sure everyone remembers such fantastic gems as the Legend of Zelda theme, or the theme from Super Mario World. They’re equal parts catchy and nostalgic. Many people actually do their daily work while listening to music which was composed originally a video game.
As an added bonus, they’re often better than a lot of stuff that’s on the radio these days.
Of course, building up a library of video game music can often be a difficult task. To that end, Internet Radio is the answer.
A number of downright awesome online radio stations have begun to spring up over the past few years, tooled for all your listening needs. Here are just a few of the best I’ve stumbled across. I’m sure there are many, many more yet to be found.
What sets VGM Radio apart from many of the other stations on the list is that it’s a purely in-browser offering, which features a voting system that allows users to differentiate between which songs they like and which songs they don’t.
Every Saturday, the station does a countdown of that week’s top ten tunes. The library is a fairly impressive one, though it doesn’t feature a great many old-school tunes(though it does still have a smattering of songs from gaming’s golden age). Still, the offerings it provides are definitely solid, and it’s been my stalwart companion on many a late-night writing venture.
Notably, it actually features one of the more varied libraries on this list – many of the others are tied to a single franchise or console.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has, as a general rule, had some of the best and most memorable music in gaming (it helps that later titles feature music as prominent – and vital – in their narrative). That’s the reason Radio Hyrule was founded – to allow fans of Link’s adventures to relive them through the best and most beautiful compositions.
Its library features a huge collection of songs from various points in Link’s history, including a number of symphonic and orchestral renditions of classic songs.
In short, if you’re a Legend of Zelda buff, this station is the perfect choice. It’s available on its own website, and can also be accessed through Shoutcast and Last.FM.
Primarily geared towards Final Fantasy fans, Sound-Test provides a stream of songs from games stretching all the way back to the first and all the way up to more recent iterations. Now, at this point, it’s worth noting that although Final Fantasy may be the primary focus of Sound-Test, it’s not the only one. It’s a rather impressive collection of tunes from other RPGs, as well. Most notable, however, is the fact that it’s not just a streaming service. It also frequently spotlights radio programs contributed by site visitors and web-forum members.
Note that you’ll need a Shoutcast-compatible media player to listen.
VGR Live is definitely the most minimalist radio station on the list, but don’t let that fool you – it’s every bit as impressive as the others. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to be using either Windows Media Player, Winamp, Realplayer, or iTunes to listen – there’s currently no support for VLC Media Player, or any such alternative. For some, this may be a deal-breaker. For others, it’s a great choice. Unfortunately, it seems to be down, of late.
Last, but certainly not least, it should be pretty obvious what sort of music Radio Nintendo plays. It features songs from very near every first-party title Nintendo’s ever developed, and a huge collection of radio songs, to boot. It’s definitely worth a look, even if you’re not interested in the music- a lot of the shows and podcasts are pretty high-grade.