The album Video Games Live Level 4 is the result of a second Kickstarter campaign run by Tommy Tallarico that was successfully funded on November 28, 2014. The album was released digitally to funders on February 18, 2014, and physical copies are shipping out in April 2015. I was able to pick up a physical copy at their recent show in Ottawa, Canada. The album offers 12 tracks that are of excellent quality and offers a new take on some classic video game themes. If you haven’t already picked up this album, hopefully my review will make your decision easier.
The first track on the album is an arrangement from Donkey Kong Country and very similar to the version that has been played on tour. The key difference with this version is that David Wise, the composer for the series plays the saxophone for the “Aquatic Ambiance” portion of the track and it sounds sweet.
League of Legends – “The Challengers” is the second track on the album and the music mirrors the sound of the track from the soundtrack of the game. I have never played the game but I really enjoyed this track played live, and was very happy to have it on the recording. It features a blend of powerful horns, strings and vocals that will get your blood pumping.
The new arrangement of Final Fantasy VI “Opera Aria Remix” performed by Jillian Aversa is different. It takes the traditional sound of the opera track and adds a beat to it. Personally I liked it a lot. It is nice to hear a classic track in a new way, one of the things I have come to expect from Video Games Live.
The tracks to Cave Story and World of Warcraft “Magnificent Desolation” are both great symphonic tracks but since I haven’t played the games didn’t move me as much as the League of Legends track.
Metal Gear Solid 3 “Snake Eater” has been a song that has been performed by Video Games Live for years, and vocalist Tia Carrol owns the performance on this track.
Uncharted 2‘s is another of my favorite tracks on the album because I am a huge fan of Greg Edmondson’s music for the series. The arrangement here blends a score track from the game beautifully into “Nate’s Theme” which sounds just as good as the version featured in the game.
“Zelda’s Lullaby” may be the best track on the album. Jillian Aversa once again showcases her vocal talent with music from both The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword and adds vocals to the classic lullaby theme from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
Resident Evil 5 “Wind of Madness” is a darker track, and seems a little out of place on the album but I am sure I will appreciate it more with additional listening time. I have found myself skipping it to favor the music of other tracks.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and Bioshock are also great tracks but they are both a little short running at 2:58 and 3:44, it would have been nice to have more.
Earthworm Jim is a solid track and should be considered as one of the top tracks on the album. It is the same arrangement that has been played as live shows, and contains themes from the first and second game, and ends with Jim saying “Groovy!” taken right from the game audio, a nice touch.
What sets apart the Video Games Live albums from the growing arrangement albums is that they know the music featured inside and out. There have been other arrangements in the past couple of years like ‘The Greatest Video Music’ by the London Philharmonic that have been technically sound, but lack the heart of these albums. With Video Games Live you’re getting an experience, and at times a new take on some classic game music.
I recommend this album to all fans of Video Games Live, it’s a great time. If you just want to check out a few tracks “Zelda’s Lullaby”, Donkey Kong Country and Earthworm Jim are a must.
What music do you think Video Games Live should record on the inevitable Level 5?
Personally, I would love to hear their take on more obscure titles like the Panzer Dragoon series, Blast Corps, and maybe a little Mario Paint (Tommy if you’re reading this, the arrangement in Super Smash Bros. Wii U is worth a listen)!
Tags: Arrangement Album, Game Music, Kickstarter, Reviews, Tommy Tallarico, Video Game Music, Video Games Live Level 4