Heroes of Might and Magic Soundtrack, Paul Romero, 1995
Few game scores start with a gesture as confident as the Heroes of Might and Magic soundtrack. Opening “Barbarian (Theme for Louis XIV)”, a harpsichord presents an almost rushing motif that already creates a dense soundscape. But clearly, the composer wants to take things further. Soon, a growing number of instruments join the harpsichord figure, playing the motif or variations of it as a fugue. This continues until a whopping five different voices simultaneously perform in counterpoint. The resulting passage is of a structural complexity previously unencountered in Western game music.
On a purely musical level, it makes for a striking start to the album. But this display of compositional bravado is even more important from another point of view. This is a composition that wears its ambitions proudly on its sleeve. The piece doesn’t waste a minute to proclaim that this is music of substance, demanding to be taken seriously. In other words, this is a game soundtrack that self-consciously styles itself as “Art” – one of the very first to do so.