I really enjoy good music. It can be of almost any style and if its well executed, I'll enjoy the result. An excellent fiddler in concert, or a concert pianist, or an orchestra, or a rock band, smoothly delivered live pop, well DJ'd dance or house music, whatever it happens to be. That's one of the reasons I bought myself a good home theatre system.
Now to be honest, my wife didn't really appreciate the value of this purchase at first. Movies sounded better but she didn't really care. TV was more enveloping but it didn't matter to her. Then we threw in Amplitude for the PS2, her favourite rhythm game, and she was sold. Well maybe not sold (she still wouldn't have paid for a set of speakers herself), but definitely saw value in the result. Her music game sounded exceptional now. Notes were crisp and clear, lyrics were easy to discern and bass beats were no longer just a crackle out of the TV's speakers.
People often review video games on the quality of the graphics and the game play and I'll admit, these are very important aspects (they are called 'video games' for a reason), but sound is a very powerful immersion tool that is sometimes overlooked. The creators of the Burnout franchise, Criterion Games has a little entry on their design of the excellent FPS Black and how they made it sound so good. They went to extreme lengths to get great sound quality out of the PS2 and to make multiple gunfire not just sound like random white noise, but almost melodic.
Shooters aside for now though, the game that inspired me to write this at all is the excellent PixelJunk (now Q Games) Monsters. Monsters is a simple but complex, fun but stressful little tower defense game for the PS3. My wife and I both frequently play it alone, or together, or with friends or family in its two-player co-operative mode. It has simple but discernible sound effects and excellent immersing music. I've had several people comment to me that they wish they could get their hands on the sound track to the game, its just that good.
Well now you can, folks. Yes, the Otograph sound track will soon be available for purchase on the Playstation online store for download, without DRM I might add. If you don't have the game yet, get a copy first (its only about $10, $16 if you include the expansion pack, also in the PSN store). Once you start closing your eyes and seeing little blue gems and blinking coins everywhere, you know its time to download the soundtrack too.
I must say, having read the above interview with Otograph on the Playstation Blog, I really enjoyed their attitude toward creating simple yet immersive music for games, and their leaning toward new and unique games not just big blockbuster titles. I also have to say I grinned a little at Oshima citing Glenn Herbert Gould as their favourite composer, being that I'm Canadian too and one of the studios at the CBC is even named after him.
PS, Q-Games, my cousin would like a fully downloadable version for play on the PSP. She said she'd buy a PSP just to play Monsters on. Remote play is fun too though.