When people rate video games, what they often pay attention to are the game’s graphics, storyline, and game play. The music used in video games often falls behind and dismissed, barely getting any recognition, and when it is noticed, it’s usually because players feel that the musical accompaniment just didn’t work. As with any other industry, music is often pushed to the side-lines.
This is true for most games, except of course, when the function of the game is to bring attention to the music itself. Many games, such as Ubisoft’s Just Dance series and the Kiss slot game on Betfair, make music part of their game play and rely on the popularity of the songs used in their games. But when music is used for nothing but atmosphere-building, it’s easy to overlook it.
The same cannot be said for the illustrious Final Fantasy series, however. With over a dozen games under the franchise, Final Fantasy has become known not just for its great stories, graphics, and game play, but also for the inspiring work done by their composers, with music arranged for their games now spawning cover bands and various remixes.
Of all the cover bands out there, there was probably none quite as famous as The Black Mages. They were known not just for their skill, but also for their composition – the band was formed by three composers working for Square Enix, the publisher of the Final Fantasy series itself. Headed by Nobuo Uematsu, whom every Final Fantasy fan has heard of, the band performed together and covered songs from the series and composed their own music for eight years, before disbanding in 2010. Their work involved rearranging the songs from the series into a style reminiscent of progressive rock, and they inspired many fans to see video game music in a new light.
After the band formally disbanded, Uematsu and several of the former members of The Black Mages moved on to form the Earthbound Papas, a tribute band that has since moved on to perform at various conventions and concerts. Last year, they performed at Naka-Kon with Critical Hit, a band that is headed by World of Warcraft composer Jason Hayes.
The Earthbound Papas have released two albums, with beautifully arranged progressive rock pieces that are still reminiscent of songs from some classic video games. Uematsu says that the group plans to release an album of original songs in the future, but he fears that it wouldn’t sell if there are no game-related songs in it.