I try not to feed the nostalgia beast too often. I think 80s retreads — your Ready Player One, your Stranger Things — are a poison inflicted on my generation by older white dudes that think their bedroom posters were the height of art. And I fear becoming that which I hate most, but for 90s and early 2000s pop culture instead. But I like to think there’s room to appreciate certain aesthetics, rather than just vomiting the things we liked as children into the mouths of those that follow us. That’s where the Startup Serenade comes in — a one hour and seven minute collection of video game console and PC startup, menu, and logo music from the last several decades.
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The whole thing is currently available on the invaluable Archive.org for your listening pleasure. The playlist was compiled by Retro Game Champion, a project created “to preserve the classic gaming experience,” and run by the individual known as MadHatter. And the whole result really whips the llama’s ass.
All your favorites are there (assuming you were born before the year 2000). You’ve got Y2K classics like the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Dreamcast startup tunes. There are also the more… experimental ones, like the original Xbox console menu music. I’m also weirdly partial to the ones with “vocals”: like the American Laser Games logo, the Atari Games arcade logo, and the Dreamcast disc warning — an audio clip that only played if you tried to put a Dreamcast disc into a CD player. That is unless you tried to play Shenmue. That actually had a whole host of custom audio warnings recorded by the English and Japanese voice actors from the game.
Startup Serenade does not include those blurbs, sadly, but you can hear them all in the video below. Video games used to just be full of secret shiposts like this and I do miss that. Nostalgia be damned.
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire hour-plus playlist yourself on a loop, like I just did all day, I can also offer some suggestions. The longer tracks in particular work well as just solid background music. Maybe you’ll find something you’d to add to your daily rotation! If you do, you can actually download each and every track from the “album” at the website itself. You just have to view the files themselves right here.
Some songs I highly recommend:
- “Menu – Nintendo Power Cartridge”
- “Welcome Music – Windows XP”
- “Logo (Microsoft Windows Version) – Maxis Software Toys”
- “Startup – Mega CD”
- “Startup – Windows 95”
- “Logo (Sega Genesis Version) – Capcom”
- “Menu – Neo Geo Pocket Color”
- “Startup – Windows ME”
- “Menu – PlayStation 2”
- “Logo – Interplay Entertainment”
“Startup – Game Boy Advance”
Thanks for letting me improve your afternoon with this. Please let me know if you now decide to become the next hit vaporwave artist of the decade.