The High NotesAs those of you in the Northern Hemisphere might have noticed by now, we are currently going through the last stage of summer, just before things start to get a bit cooler as we head into fall. However, as someone who lives in Florida, I can assure you that the sun isn’t going down without a fight, and it is still blisteringly hot. This has inspired me to put together some of my favorite gaming music relating to deserts, which I’ve been told are also quite hot. However, instead of our normal list format, I would like to tie all of these songs together into a bit of a story.


Journey – The Call

There really is no other way to start our story, is there? You’re not sure why you’ve awoken in the desert; could you be embarking on some sort of spiritual quest, or have you been transported there by some monstorous foe for no explained reason? In the end, it matters not, for as the strings fade into the background, you gaze out over the oceans of sand before you. The heat causes visions to flicker before your eyes, and you slowly make your way toward what seems to be ruins in the distance. The starkness of this tune drives home just how alone and small you are against the vast expanse.


Final Fantasy XII – The Sandsea

Upon entering the ruins, a chill slowly starts creeping up your spine. As you wander amidst the broken stone columns, you can’t help but feel like something is watching you, a feeling which the low horns of the Sandsea does nothing to abate. The chaotic tempo of the piece, which at times stutters between instruments and volume,  makes things that much more unsettling. However, even with this uneasy feeling, you cannot deny that the ruins are beautiful. The soft harps help to ease your mind as you pick your way to the other side. With nothing left to discover here, you press onward, back out into the desert.


Golden Sun – Burning Sands

As you continue to walk, you become fully aware of how hot it is. It feels like the sun itself has grown angry and is actively attacking you. If you are to survive much longer, you’ll need to find some water somewhere. This fast paced melody makes your situation seem all the more desperate, as it builds in intensity and complexity. Just as you feel like the heat will overwhelm you, you literally stumble into a hidden oasis. You couldn’t care less about your wet clothes, though, as you drink your fill and pack up as much as you can carry. Don’t ask me where you got the water bottles from, this is your story, remember? Thus revived, you continue your trek.


Super Mario Galaxy – Dusty Dune Galaxy

Now that the threat of death isn’t as immediate a concern, you take a closer look at your surroundings. Go ahead, take your time; walking through all of this sand, you’re not going anywhere fast. The  dunes all around you are massive, and they seem to shift as the wind blows across them unhindered. It looks exactly like what you would expect of a desert. Really, all this needs to complete the stereotypical image would be some background music made up of exotic string and woodwind instruments. In fact, if you listen closely, you could almost swear you hear that music right now. The soft drum keeps an up-tempo beat, which matches your recent lift in spirit, while the echoing sitar and synthesizer provide a mysterious, almost otherworldly aura to your surroundings. Its a very calming piece, and it makes you feel at home with all of the sand and sun.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Gerudo Valley

As the Spanish guitar smoothly starts up, you can tell immediately that you’ve entered a new area. It’s hard for you to be certain, but you’re pretty sure that there is something off in the distance. At this point, that grayish mass could be a mirage, or a series of rocks, or a mirage of some rocks. As you get closer, though, the shape holds, and becomes more defined. You quicken your pace, and you can hear the music in your head quicken in response. Your feet fall in time with the castanets as you slide down the last dune. You can now see that the blob in front of you is actually a small cluster of houses. There is no sign identifying it, and you don’t see any signs of movement, but it does not appear abandoned. It looks more like an outpost of some sort. Regardless, the sense of triumph you feel as you finally walk into the settlement is accompanied by a choir of trumpets. At least you’ll be able to rest for a while, and perhaps find some food.


Team Fortress 2 – More Gun v. 3

As night falls, you’re treated to a spectacular view. The sky turns a deep crimson as the sun sinks below the sand far off in the distance. So far, there is still no signs of the owners of these buildings, but you don’t think they will be gone for long. For now, you enjoy the flickering light of the campfire, along with the peaceful guitar of this song. The rougher plucking mirrors your exhaustion; its been an eventfully day so far, and you desperately need a bit of shut eye. Even when the melody turns a bit more foreboding with addition of the electric guitar and strings, you’re content; surely there is nothing to worry about. After all, you only helped yourself to a few of their provisions. I’m sure they’ll be fine with it. Despite the tuba throbbing in the background, you finally manage to close your eyes for some nice, peaceful…


Sunset Riders – Stage 3

Ok, so they’re a little upset. It turns out that the settlers were actually a group of bandits, and they did not take kindly to having things taken from them. You were forced to make your getaway using a horse that was conveniently waiting nearby. A heroic tune fills your ears as you make your escape in the most exciting way possible. Really, if the story-teller wasn’t so lazy, everyone reading would be enthralled by your many exploits as you lose your pursuers. To make a long story short: having triumphantly broken free, you ride off into the sunrise, ready for anything that might be ahead in your strangely musical journey.

Well, what did you guys think? Was this format more fun and interesting, or should I stick with my day job? Please let us know, and feel free to share ideas for more themed adventures, in the comments below.

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