This hour-long video on YouTube, whose title roughly translates to “One hour corridor ‘Chrono Trigger,’” plays the same three-minute “Corridors of Time” track from the game over and over again. It has over 1 million views, and it also has one of the most pleasant comment sections I’ve seen, full of viewers devoted to celebrating the music and the game it’s from. Some people replay games, others watch replays on Twitch, and others—like me—enjoy collectively remensicing to a 16-bit tune.
“Am I butterfly dreaming I’m a man? Or a bowling ball dreaming I’m a plate of sashimi? Never assume what you see and feel is real,” reads one of the 759 comments currently under the video. It’s a quote from Doreen, one of the characters who lives in the Kingdom of Zeal where the Corridors of Time music plays. This line of dialogue is a reference to the writings of the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi, and it perfectly captures the vibe of the music and the original location. Another person responded with the quote “All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu. This is the truth! This is my belief!...At least for now.”
Dozens of highly trafficked gaming music videos were taken off YouTube earlier this week following copyright claims by Nintendo. An entire channel, BrawlBRSTMs3, was taken down by its owner who cited concerns over Nintendo’s new crackdown. While a lot of video game music has moved to Spotify, where it’s officially distributed by the game publishers that own it, there’s no easy replacement for the experience of listening to beloved soundtracks on YouTube.
One of the special things about listening to video game music on YouTube is users’ ability to upload customized tracks, specifically looped versions of tracks that extend the listening experience uninterrupted (with the exception of the occasional rogue YouTube ad). Most video game music is designed to be played in perpetuity. Who knows whether you’re going to finish the dungeon or beat the boss in a few minutes or a few hours. In arcades, the music loops until the lights shut off. Even at home, with endless distractions only a few swipes or clicks away, video games provide soundtracks for more than just what’s happening on screen. More than once I’ve let the Persona 5 song “Tokyo Daylight” loop for hours after I’ve fallen asleep on my couch.
Game soundtracks on YouTube lend themselves well to late night study sessions, ambient background music for work, or in my case, falling asleep. But they’ve also become home to some of the loveliest gaming communities I’ve ever encountered. Far away from the snark on Twitter, the toxicity on Reddit, or the outrage across so much of the rest of gaming YouTube, soundtrack pages tend to be a place where you can fall in love with something all over again and share it with others simply by listening to a few tracks.
In the comments section under a 12-minute version of Silent Hill 2's “Promise Reprise,” people quote letters found in the game. Some share stories of their own losses that they’ve coped with while listening to this music.Others offer one-off lines of improvised poetry. Others just want more. “Make a 10 hour version,” asked one person.
On the page for an extended version of “The Opened Way” from Shadow of the Colossus, people share stories about listening to this music as they waited for school to be over so they could go home and play the game. On the page for a 10-hour version of “Zora’s Domain” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, people share stories about the passage of time. “This brought a tear to my eye. All the sad memories of being a child. Loving my parents. Enjoying the serenity of the game, while not having a care in the world,” writes one person. “Played this game as a kid. Zara’s domain was always my favorite song. Now it’s my 8-month-old’s lullaby. Amazing,” writes another.
The hour-long cut of Corridors of Time video is still my favorite. The looping graphics of a city floating in the sky, the music, and the people who have converged there are one of the more beautiful social happenstances I’ve ever witnessed. Some of the commenters have been around long enough to remember posting on earlier uploads of the video that were subsequently taken down. Hopefully they will always keep coming back.