If you’ve never heard of Video Games Live! before; you are not alone. Last week I was watching TV when I saw a (rather poorly made) commercial promoting Video Games Live! at a local theater. On a whim, I bought my father (begrudgingly) and myself tickets and suddenly: I had something to do on a Friday night.
Video Games Live! Is a show created and hosted by Tommy Tallarico. Tallarico has worked on many video game scores including: Prince of Persia, Earthworm Jim, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Advent Rising. Tallarico presents a local orchestra and chorus to play famous video games themes. Behind the orchestra are three large screens that show gameplay videos of the game whose music you’re listening too.
***I snuck a camera in ’cause I’m a badass***
Prior to the show, there was both a cosplaying contest (Does a Chun Li always win all cosplay contests?) and a Guitar Hero contest (the winner came on stage later and showed off her skills with Tallarico playing a real guitar).
Tallarico emphasized the importance of music in video games (which I think we all understand) and how the medium has evolved since he broke into the business in the early ’90s. He said game music is much more than “bleeps and bloops” and wants the world to see how music makes games exciting. The concerts aren’t meant for kids exclusively. He wants the world to see both the evolution of video game music as well as its importance.
Tallarico is a funny, likeable host. He announces each upcoming soundtrack or introduces the creator of the game whom then introduces the next song (i.e Hideo Kojima presenting Metal Gear Solid). The first few tracks were from classic 8-bit video games such as Castlevania and an operatic version of the Tetris theme. A moment that really made me laugh was when the chorus stood up to (seemingly) begin a song and they simply sang “SEGA” before the Sonic theme began. The chorus just sat down after belting out the classic intro to old school Sega games. Throughout the night however, many more recent games we’re featured. Some of my favorite included: Journey, World of Warcraft, and Chrono Trigger. Each song was a medley. For example, you hear a combination of several classic Mario earworms before the Mario segment is over.
In between each song they show various quick sketches that highlight terrible voice acting in games or blending two games together to see how they’d play. For example, if Sonic was the lead character in Pac-Man. A Pac-Man board is shown and Sonic blazes through the level before two ghosts are even able to leave their home base.
The concert lasts roughly two hours and every song was beautifully well done. Even my Dad, who is far from a gamer and went with no expectations, enjoyed himself immensely. He wanted to buy a CD afterwards (In case you were wondering: his favorite music was from World of Warcraft). He even had a few questions about Journey after seeing the visuals from the game. Tallaricos goal of showing the importance of video game music succeeded. My father had no idea “there was so much music in a video game.”
Overall I had a great night. The show was a blast, the music was amazing (the Halo music actually made me want to play Halo again) and everyone there was very friendly. I’d even argue the people there were more nerdy (in a good way) than the people I met at Comic Con. Sure some things weren’t perfect. Some of the lasers went directly into your face blinding you and sometimes the visuals started late and seemed out of sync. Overall the experience far exceeded my expectations after seeing a crummy promo for it on public access TV.