When A Single Song Defines An Entire Video Game

I have very fond memories of Crackdown, one of the earliest Xbox 360 exclusives and a game that, in many ways, still stands strong today. I'd love to say those memories are thanks to the collecting of orbs, of jumping over buildings and driving stupidly large trucks, but they're not. They're thanks to a single song, played at the game's opening menu screen.

Crazy, right? Menu music. Whatever. But what Scottish developers Realtime did when selecting the track to play at Crackdown's opening was a stroke of genius.

Rather than composing their own theme, they licensed a track by Japanese artist DJ Krush. Now, it helps here that I'm a big fan. I've seen the guy live and own a ton of his records. But in the track they chose, the instrumental version of Paradise Bird Theme, they picked what I think was one of the most perfect game songs of all time.

Why? Because it is the polar opposite of Rihanna x Battlefield 4. It is absolutely perfect for the game, and the world the game is presenting, as though Pacific City's skyscrapers popped into the recording studio and wrote a ballad. This helps get your understanding and immersion in the game world off to the best possible start before you've even started.

It's more important than simply enjoying a song, though. I literally cannot separate this track from the game, and I can't think of the game without the track. Even when listening to the album it appears on, 2001's Zen, I get flashes of Crackdown, and can hear the gruff Agency announcer's voice in my ear.

It seems reckless, maybe even a little rude to be saying a song - one that wasn't even written with the game in mind - can so define an interactive experience for me, when so many developers spent so many years toiling away on programming, animation and design.

But hey, that's what's happened.

Other songs have done similar things - Magnus Birgersson's work on Mirror's Edge, for example - but for me none have been as inseparable as Krush and Crackdown's team-up.

What about you guys? Ever hear a song in a game that becomes such an important part of the game itself that you can't split the two?


    do more stories on music in games PLZZZZZ! I totally forgot about this song. Thanks for throwing it back in the ole noggin. Good read.

      Yea after reading this i went and re bought crackdown at gamestop. Guess how much! $2.89.
      LOVE IT!

    BlastCorps for N64. The cotton-eye joe style music on the very first stage just defined the irreverence, addictiveness and fun of the game while simultaneously acknowledging how frigging irritating it could get. Also, The World Ends with You on DS.

      Gotta agree with you on The World Ends With You. That game had an awesome soundtrack. Not to mention the game play was so different to what was available at the time. I love that game.

      Also I'd say Borderlands with Ain't No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant. The opening to that game was pretty good and that song really made it that much more better.

      Last edited 26/06/13 4:06 pm

    Hell March from the original CnC: Red Alert and all of it's subsequent remixes.
    I was in a club one night and the DJ dropped in the "10 HUT" and then that midi bassline ... I lost my socks.

    Crackdown is my favourite new IP of this generation.

    Such an amazing game. Fun printed onto a DVD.

    Also Crazy Taxi - YA YA YA YA YA!!!!!

    Last edited 26/06/13 11:12 am

    The start of battlefield 2, every time I hear it I get ready to kill.

    Late Goodbye in Max Payne 2.

    'Nuf said.

    How could you go past Goldfinger - Superman and Tony Hawk.

    The first "OMG the MUSIC!!" moment was the BG music done by Trent Reznor of NIN for Quake. That was amazing.
    Also Propellerheads "Bang On!" on Wipeout 64.

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