Think about it: World of Goo. Simple game, simple premise. Move the goo, stack the goo, get to the ending point. There was some kind of narrative, but that didn't matter so much, did it?
The game is good. Really good, really fun. But my favorite thing about it, hands down, is Kyle Gabler's flabbergasting soundtrack. It combines the superheroic, soaring choral melodies of Tim Burton with all kinds of various ethnic and cinematic influences to create a musical pastiche that is at once epic, driving, hilarious and surprisingly emotional.
What possessed Gabler and 2D Boy to imbue their silly puzzle game with such a grand soundtrack? We may never know. We can just be glad they did. Best of all, you can download the entire thing for free at Gabler's website.
He talks about the process he used to make the soundtrack:
The majority of the instruments you'll hear are computer instruments, with a few live performances on top to add a bit of warmth. For the older music, I used one of those Sound Blaster cards that let you load samples into memory. More recently, I've been using the freeware sfz soundfont sampler. I have an m-audio keystation 49e midi keyboard for picking out melodies. Influences include Danny Elfman, Vangelis, Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, and all the big movie guys. I grew up listening to them, and they remain a big influence in everything I write.
Man, anyone who cites Danny Elfman, Vangelis and Ennio Morricone as influences is cool in my book.
Here are some of my favorite tracks from the World of Goo Soundtrack. Though they're all favorites, really.
"World of Goo Theme"
Beetlejuice meets, well, Beetlejuice—you can just picture the gears spinning, the goo flying, the oddly cheery, sinister world welcoming you.
This track reminds me of nothing so much as the noble "Agent Cruller's theme" from Psychonauts. Epic in its own way, but I love this kind of stuff. Another one with a killer modulation.
Man, this is an easy favorite. Spinning, cycling, growing, changing, tumbling.
This is like, some extreme superhero music, straight to the epic build at the end.
"My Virtual World of Goo Corporation"
This one deserves a spot just for variety—suddenly, out of nowhere, we've got a chippy freakout. Perfect.
"Best of Times"
Such drama! Such emotion! Again, I remind you: This is a game about goofy little balls of goop.
"Red Carpet Extend-O-Matic"
I mean, what is this even? Part club-jam, part aria, part I-don't-even-know-what. I would dance my ass off if this played the next time I was out dancing. (What? I totally go dancing sometimes.)
There are a bunch more, and they're all good. And as a reminder, you can download the whole soundtrack for free at Gabler's website.