Video games have given us some of the greatest melodies ever written, from "beep beep bop beep" to "bop beep beep bop." But seriously, when future scholars study the best music of our time, they'll have to learn names like "Super Mario," "Master Chief," and "L-Shaped Piece from Tetris." The only problem is ... a lot of those beloved compositions aren't exactly what you'd call original.
Let's start with Mario himself. Everyone remembers the underground theme that plays when he starts to get down and dirty in the sewers:
Fewer people know the song "Let's Not Talk About It" by the band Friendship, even though the intro has a strikingly similar chord structure. We dare you to listen to this and not picture Mario casually murdering turtles underground:
Koji Kondo, the composer for Super Mario Bros., also did the soundtrack for the original Legend Of Zelda, including the trippy dungeon theme:
Man, that bit with the escalating notes is almost like a prog rock song! Wait, no, it's exactly like a prog rock song. Specifically "April" by Deep Purple:
But we don't want to give you the impression that Kondo is the only one doing this. Ken's theme from Street Fighter II is extremely iconic ...
... despite being extremely inspired by the soundtrack of an also-iconic movie, Top Gun. But who wouldn't be inspired by watching Tom Cruise play volleyball in tight shorts?
Guile's theme from the same game "goes with everything," as the meme says:
But it especially goes with the song "Travelers" from Japanese jazz fusion band T-Square, which predates it by several years:
And before anyone gets the idea that this is just a Japanese thing, here's the original Doom theme side by side with "Master Of Puppets" by Metallica:
For 2004's Doom 3, they actually got Chris Vrenna from Nine Inch Nails to write some original music! Well, it sounds original if you haven't heard "Lateralus" by Tool, anyway.
And remember the main theme from Metal Gear Solid? When creator Hideo Kojima heard this classical Russian composition by Georgy Sviridov, he initially thought he was listening to a cover of his game's soundtrack. The realization that the Russian song came out before his game left him as confused as the average person after playing a Hideo Kojima game.
That's not even the most unlikely of musical influences in gaming. Double Dragon II, a game in which you brutally beat up people on the street to avenge your murdered girlfriend, has a main theme that's clearly influenced by the gritty sounds of ... "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins.
The Donkey Kong Country games are famed for having unexpectedly beautiful and atmospheric soundtracks for a series about a gorilla who dresses like a Chippendales dancer. For instance, check out the first 30 seconds from Donkey Kong Country 2's "Bayou Boogie":
Wait, why do we have a sudden urge to see a game in which Donkey and Diddy are narcotics officers in 1980s Miami? Probably because those 30 seconds sound a lot like "In The Air Tonight" by, you guessed it, Phil Collins.
To be fair, the series has since stopped taking too much inspiration from famous musicians ... and started taking it from other video games. "Mountaintop Tussle" from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sounds so similar to "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII that you could pretty much lay the vocals from the latter on top of the former. This being the internet, someone already did that:
But hey, maybe the Final Fantasy series had it coming. The song for the moment in Final Fantasy VIII's demo when players go on a mission to invade an island ...
... sounds way too much like Hans Zimmer's theme for The Rock, a movie about Nicolas Cage doing that same thing. (This was before Zimmer's "BWAA" period.)
Chrono Trigger's composer says he'd never even heard of Rick Astley, meaning that he's also never ever clicked a link on the internet. And yet there's a song in his game that makes it seem like he's been rickrolling players all this time.
We don't think we need to show you "Never Gonna Give You Up," so here's a link to something completely different.
And finally, there's the time the composer for Vampire: The Masquerade -- Bloodlines admitted that the developers straight up told him to rip off a Massive Attack track because they "couldn't get the rights." So he did that:
The company behind the game then masterfully avoided any possible lawsuit by going bankrupt before it could have taken place. Well-played.
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