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Retro games' tunes nostalgia

Hot on the heels of TolkienWhiteboy's retro article, the boss and me somehow got started on old computer game intro tunes, which ones got stuck in your head, and hearing the jingle, just got you into nostalgia mode. We started talking about obscure games, popular games, probably games you may have never heard of. So here is a bunch of old games that may bring out remembering the good old days.

I'm going to be listing PC-specific games here, and wherever possible linking the original PC version of the intro. They are in no particular order, but they're all awesome. Also, these will be pre-millennial (pre 2000). I'm also not including console or arcade games here, there are so many of those that this could potentially turn into a top-ten by architecture AND genre, spanning several weeks' worth.

Test Drive 1

Although not the first racing game by a long shot, this was one of the first games along with its Grand Prix to really break onto the PC scene. Featuing a whole 16 colours and no real sound other than PC beeps, this game had you racing along a cliffside, with some oncoming traffic. hitting the wall,falling off the cliff or hitting traffic meant race restart. Test Drive would go on to define the racing genre, but eventually it was surpassed by the Need for Speed series.


We've all played it - its been ported to everything. Developed in the USSR by Alexey Pajitov and imported to the US by Spectrum Holobyte in the mid-80's, this is one of those games that has stood the test of time. This was a the closest to the original I could find for the intro tune

Space Quest 4

While some may argue about the merits of this Space Quest versus the others, as opposed to ANY other classic Sierra adventure game, I chose this one as it was a personal revelation for me when I first saw it. This was one of the first 256-colour games I had seen on PC, plus the first time seeing it, this demonstration really was hooked up to a Roland MT-32 MIDI thingy, making the entire experience, simply WOW. Seriously if I knew what sex was when i saw this the first time, Space Quest 4 was better than that! The tune still haunts me every other week...

California Games 

Surfing, BMX'ing, half-piping, it was all there. This was an awesome sports game, even though this made my machine do some funny things though. Possibly the ping-pong virus that came with it, getting it from my buddy... <ahem> Still an awesome game, with very good use of the 4-colour CGA palette, and still great, considering what you could do with a mono beeping speaker

Winter Games

We were thinking of a decathlon game for the ZX Spectrum series, but then the boss and me klicked - Winter Games! Came out a bit later than Calgames, but still an epic play, but the tune still stuck with me. Always was fun to see how badly you could wreck the ski-jump session! I couldn't find the PC version, but the C64's tune is close enough.

Deus Ex

With Deus Ex - Human Revolution recently out, I thought back to playing the original Deus Ex - again. I've replayed this game so many times, but I still come back to it. Awesome use of music to convey emotion, adjusting on the fly according to situation. While not new (the Lucasarts games had been doing it for at least 5 years prior to it coming out) it worked very well with the dark level design. 

Dune 2

I would consider this game to be the grand-daddy of all RTS games, although there would be purists out there who would disagree. This was standing out as one of the first games I played where i had my own soundcard in my own PC. Good intro, if a bit (read: very) cheesy, even the PC beepy one was awesome, although I'm inlcuding the Soundblaster'ed edition...



It's DOOM - need I say more??

Homeworld 1

The surprise 3d sim of 1999, this game came out of no-where and propelled Relic Entertainment to the forefront of the 3D RTS genre. Although the tune from the games intro is Samuel Barbers Adagio for Strings it is so well placed, that I cannot divorce the tune from the game, they just go hand-in-hand.

Wing Commander 1

This game went on to spawn several sequels, as well as fan-made sequels, and while all of them stood up in their own right (Wing Commanders 3 and 4 were practically their own movies with actors like Mark Hamil, John Rhys-Davies, Malcolm Mcdowell in the intro and cut-scenes), this stood out to me, and still does. I tried to trade my whole XT computer for a soundcard to try and get what I saw here running at home!


Leisure Suit Larry 1

I lied when I said I'd only include Space Quest 4. This jingle should be recognisable to anyone. Did you know that more hintbooks for Leisure Suit Larry were sold than actual copies of the game? 

The Secret of Monkey Island

I couldn't finish off this little walk down memory lane without including this gem. This generation has Captain Jack Sparrow, our generation had Guybrush Threepwood, and we like it that way!


I'd like to hear from you - which old games tunes still bring back that awesome nostalgia? I've more than likely missed some games. Personally I would have added Starflight 1, Starseige and Total Annihilation to the list, but they were generally more obscure games than most. 

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