Tower of Heaven OST: Music for Writing
To be honest, I first picked up Flashygoodness’s Tower of Heaven OST out of iiMusic’s library because I liked its cover. I started it playing as I tried to do some writing, and before I knew it, the album had finished. I tried again and did the same thing, so I decided to turn off the monitor and just sit and listen. Now it’s one of my favourite albums; it’s a great example of a chiptune soundtrack for a platformer, and as such it’s perfect background music for coding (or writing reviews of soundtracks).
First of all, the point of a soundtrack (or score) is to augment what the player is watching, but not to distract from it. Halo is augmented by the soundtrack that is quiet and natural in the background, but steps in with swelling inspiration for the quiet moments when the characters are taking stock or marching off to battle. Soundtracks for platformers are a different style, needing to loop nicely while not being obviously repetitive. Generally, due to the nature platformers, the music doesn’t rise and fall based on plot, but rather by section or level (like the difference between Super Mario Bros’ Overworld and Underworld themes). This is why I find these soundtracks to be ideal for background music when I’m writing or coding – I never feel like I’m missing out on a moment because I’m not watching the cutscene, but it still changes enough on a song-to-song basis to be interesting.
This is where the Tower of Heaven OST excels. It’s always relaxing, with a happy yet pressing backbeat that comes and goes throughout the album, keeping a good variety. If you’re paying attention, you can get a very good impression of the game and its plot just from the music; the main character’s theme is repeated throughout the album, but the pacing and style will change based on what the character is doing.
The initial impression shows a simple chiptune that would be great background for any game – very clearly a beginning to an adventure. As the songs progress, they keep the upbeat chiptune but start to slow down, revealing a peaceful piano solo when the character has made it “Atop the World.”
Having played bits of the game (which is devilishly hard and playable here), the music does a great job augmenting without distracting – it’s an ideal soundtrack for a platformer. The important thing to me, however, is that the album does not require the game to be a good experience. It can be as shallow or complex as you want – you can sit and listen to it, or you can keep it on the backburner as you multitask. Flashygoodness has done a great job with this album, and it’s permanently on my work playlist.