When compared to older games, newer scores seem to be less memorable and lack that “unique” feel, Deus Ex composer Alexander Brandon said today in a Q&A on Reddit.
The issue, he feels is that many 8 bit samples can be considered as standing out and being unique compared to the more instrumental tones of orchestra.
I think there’s great music out there in games but yes, our brains aren’t able to process or differentiate it compared to the utterly unique older scores because… it’s not unique anymore. Even Bioshock‘s score, action music with a string quartet..?? as unique as it is, doesn’t stand out as much as an 8 bit sample.
However Brandon does note that it is possible to achieve a balance between the vastness of orchestra and the memorable themes of classic 8 bit tunes. Doing so however is much more difficult.
I think that there’ve been some great themes with modern techniques, but admittedly they’re harder to achieve. Halo for example. I think audio directors and music supervisors need to look beyond the rich texture of an orchestra or power of a big electronic drop (or look BEFORE those things) and make sure themes are used more and especially where they’re appropriate.
He also notes that while many 8 bit tunes are memorable and can often be hummed to, one of their issues is their repetition. Often he notes, after playing for too long he can get tired of hearing the tune.