The Sounds of Nostalgia

Ah nostalgia. Sights, sounds, movies, and games that take us back to a time of innocence. There are certain songs that I know I’ll hear and say “man, I remember playing that when I was a kid…those were the days.” Everyone has their own nostalgic gaming tunes, but these here are a brief selection of what childhood gaming was for me.

Now, I’m trying to stay away from the more obvious songs (the theme to Super Mario Bros, for instance), so if this seems like a far-out, obscure list, that’s the point.


Mickey Mouscapade – Fun House

One of the first Disney games I’d ever played, Mickey Mouscapades was a tough game, especially for a three-year-old. Lots of different enemies, coupled with always having to worry about where the hell Minnie was, made for many young tantrums. I chose this song because, well, it’s the first level, and it’s the song that I heard whenever I died and had to restart. Hearing it again kinda makes me want to play it again.

Maniac Mansion –  Edison Family/Tentacle Theme

The first video game song to ever scare the living bejesus out of me. Whenever you heard this, you knew that one of the creepers living in the house was in the room with you, and you also knew that if they got you, you’d be locked up. When you only have three people to work with and an entire house to traverse, losing oe of them would be bad, bad news. If you re-live this classic and you hear this tune, RUN.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts – Haunted Graveyard

This tune is one of the more recognizable tracks on this list, but it’s one that brings back a lot of memories. I didn’t actually own this game, a friend of mine up the street did. I remember it taking us a sleep-over all-nighter to go through the game the first time around, and when we found out we had to do it again, we turned it off and went to sleep. The sheer frustration created by this game is enough to make you pull your hair out just thinking about it. Regardless, this tune is the precursor to one of the most difficult games of all time, and it’s certainly one that will live on with me for years to come..

Winter Challenge

I assume the general reaction from anyone who’s reading this right now is “Huh?!” Winter Challenge was the first game I ever owned for the Sega Genesis, and for a while it was the only one. I had such a blast playing it that I didn’t want any other games. Winter Challenge is the Olympics without being the Olympics: multiple events, multiplayer support, and the ability to do single events or the whole shebang. The music is simple, and I’m sure Winter Challenge was the Genesis equivalent of half of the Wii’s library, but I had a BLAST playing it.

Streets of Rage 2 – Go Straight

Everyone played Final Fight, but at the time, I was playing Streets of Rage 2. The music was far better (this track being one of my all-time faves), the storyline was a little more enjoyable, and the gameplay was more suitable to my childhood gaming needs. There’s nothing like seeing a muscle-head wrestler named Max cracking skulls while walking down the street. Or perhaps you’d prefer Skate, the bubble gum-chewing badass on roller blades. Streets of Rage 2 is one of my Top 25 of all time, and this music brings it all back for me.

Tekken 2 – Theme of Roger/Alex

While Street Fighter II was my first fighting game experience way back on the SNES, Tekken 2 was my first foray into arcade competition. My father used to watch in awe as his 9-year-old son used to cream all contenders on the Wildwood boardwalk with his nasty Baek skills. I’ll never forget the high-fives and fist bumps I used to get as a kid, even though my tactics were cheaper than cheap. This song represents my favorite stage in the game, the island that Roger and Alex called home. I loved the upbeat jams that acted as a backdrop to the ass-kicking I’d be dealing.

Pokemon Red and Blue – Gym Leader Battle

I mentioned above that the Maniac Mansion song was the first ever to scare the little poo out of me? Well, this here was the first song to get me pumped. Anyone who has played any of the Pokemon series knows what I’m talking about: you fight your way through the gym, beating Trainer after Trainer, until finally it’s just you and the Gym Leader for all the marbles. There was a tremendous sense of gratitude just being able to hear the song let alone fight the battle, but the tune made me want to kick some Gym Leader ass. Especially Lt. Surge. He was a tool.

Mega Man 2 – Dr. Wily Stage 1/2

This might be the most recognized song on my whole list, but there’s no question as to which game took up the majority of my NES-playing time: Mega Man 2. The thing is, I was never able to get past Quick Man’s stage. I’d always die on the section where you’d had to drop through the beams before they’d kill you. When I finally bested that, killed Quick Man, and made it to Wily’s fortress, it was like winning the 4-Year-Old Super Bowl. When I heard the song for the first time, I was jamming so much that I lost my concentration and died. What other song can do that to you? Not many, I say.

Super Mario RPG – Marrymore

I wanted to represent Super Mario RPG on this list, but there was so many songs to choose from. “Beware The Forest’s Mushrooms” is easily the most liked, and the Mushroom Kingdom song will get anyone’s toe tapping, but it’s the tune of Marrymore that makes me swoon the most. The entire reason you’re in Marrymore is to stop Booster from marrying Peach (who at the time was known as Toadstool, AS SHE SHOULD BE). You enter this town of love and marital bliss just to screw it up for someone else. Of course, Booster kinda claimed his bride because she felt out of the sky, not because she said yes, but I digress. Seeing all the happy people, including a couple you can meet in Mushroom Kingdom earlier in the game, puts a smile on your face despite the circumstances. Oh, and the final boss of the whole Booster saga is an even wedding cake. Score.

Ducktales –  The Moon

Epic is not a word I throw around lightly (mostly because it’s overused) but there are times were it is warranted. This is one of those times. “The Moon” is the best example of how excellent early gaming music could be. It’s a sweeping, majestic tune, just screaming “GO ON AN ADVENTURE!” As YouTube’s brentalfloss points out in his really funny “Ducktales With Lyrics” version of “The Moon,” this song could have easily been the ending credits theme. Instead, it’s an epic (yup, there it is) tune that follows Scrooge during his moon mission. Good stuff here.

Well, that was quite a trip down memory lane. I know now what I’m breaking out this weekend. What are your favorite pieces of nostalgia? I’d love to hear what makes everyone else say “man, I wish I was a kid again.”

Until next time, amigos…

Keep listening. You’ll never know what you’ll miss if you don’t.



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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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