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Music is an incredibly important factor in making a video game enjoyable, and it’s one that we often overlook. A great soundtrack will make an otherwise middle-of-the-road game more memorable, while a weak soundtrack will drag down even the best games.
What about your own music though? A surprisingly small number of video games let you bring in your own music, which is why we’ve gathered a handful of the best examples here.
The tagline of both the original Beat Hazard and its sequel are “gameplay powered by your music” and it is telling the truth. This is a twin-stick shooter (or keyboard and mouse shooter, if you’re playing without a controller) but the intensity of both your weapons and the enemies are driven by the music.
You might want to start off with a few mellower tracks, because things get hectic quickly. Both games are great, but the “Open Mic” mode in the sequel that pulls in music from streaming services makes this the version to play.
Like Beat Hazard 2, this is a shooter that is driven by the music you give it. Where Symphony differs is that this is a top-down shooter in the vein of Galaga instead of a twin-stick shooter like Beat Hazard 2.
This game recently got a permanent price cut, making it cheaper than ever to try out. If you want to use it with iTunes and m4a files, however, you’ll need to spend a little extra.
3. Audiosurf 2
While Beat Hazard 2 and Sympony take a shooter approach to music-powered gameplay, Audiosurf 2 plays more like a combination of a racing game and an endless runner. As you can imagine, both the track layout and the speed are powered by the music.
No matter what type of music you pick, this isn’t a mellow experience. That said, it’s bound to make you appreciate your music in an entirely new way.
Crypt of the NecroDancer is a great game, albeit one that is largely known for the fantastic job that its composer, Danny Baranowsky did on the soundtrack. And that is rightfully so, as the music in this game is top notch. Something people often forget about is that you can import your own music as well.
Making your way through a dungeon, being sure to attack on the beat to make sure you’re at your best is a fantastic experience no matter what the music. Add in your favorite songs, and it becomes just a bit more personal. That said, be sure to play at least a little bit with the original music, because it’s hard to overstate how well done it is and how well it fits the game.
Bonus Game: Dangerous Driving
Modern music—i.e. the kind you’re finding on YouTube—doesn’t make its way into many games, but for a long time one genre has bucked that tradition: the racing game. Okay, skateboarding and similar games have also had that kind of music, but how many of those are there these days?
Dangerous Driving comes from developers formerly behind the Burnout franchise, and plays every bit as well as those old games. The only problem is the soundtrack because, as an indie studio, they couldn’t afford to license awesome songs. The solution? Link your Spotify account and create your own soundtrack to listen to as you race.
This may not sound like much compared to the above games, but tearing around corners while your favorite songs play is a more satisfying experience than you may imagine.
Appreciating Video Game Soundtracks
While it’s great to bring your own music into a game, and better still to play a game that evolves around it, don’t forget the hard work that video game composers put in to make games sound their best. If you’re ever looking for background music while you’re getting some work done, video game soundtracks are an excellent companion.