Review: The String Arcade Project

What started out as a Kickstarter project back on August 2013 has turned out to be a pleasant surprise in the form of a fully stringed collection of several classic gaming themes which include games such as “The Legend of Zelda”, “Plants vs Zombies”, “Galaga” and even “Sonic the Hedgehog”. The String Arcade is the creation of Dren McDonald and fellow composer Jason Poss that combines a carefully curated collection of classic video game music and arranging them in a full stringed quartet. Made up of 15 different tracks (17 if you backed the project or purchase the album from Bandcamp) from various games, The String Arcade is a pleasuring and relaxing journey that spans several era’s of video gaming music, from 8-bit to 16-bit, even taking glances at the golden age of gaming and finally bringing it back to the present day.

While I’m a fan of video game music arrangements such as “Video Games Live”, the “Orchestral Game Concert” series, “London Philharmonic Orchestra” and several others that I find my self listening to over and over I have never experienced anything remotely similar to what I’ve  experienced with “The String Arcade”, as this is truly the first time I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a arrangement created with only string instruments. In fact I found it more of a task than I orignially thought it would be as I kept going back and listening to the same track multiple times, especially the “Galaga” and “Tron” arrangements. This is definitely without a doubt one of the best collections of video game music that isn’t tossing chip-tuned or dub-step (Not that I have any issues with either one of those, they have their uses) in your face and instead is something that takes a step back, embraces you and seems to radiant with a surreal yet pleasing sound, something that one can only benefit by hearing it for themselves.

The only negative thing and this is more of a wish more than an actual issue is that there are several tracks that would have been right at home on this album. Tracks such as Town from the Super Nintendo’s Simcity, Big Blue from F-zero or even the Title Theme from Journey to Silius. Hopefully if there is a continuation of the String Arcade project that these tracks or others will be explored. Perhaps a vote next time? Please say yes!

Full Track Listing:

  1. Grasswalk (Plants vs. Zombies)
  2. Echos of Ecco (Ecco the Dolphin)
  3. Ferdinand Wanders Out For a Late Night Haircut (Pettington Park)
  4. Engii (FTL – Faster Than Light)
  5. Sonic 2 Scherzo (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
  6. Outlaws Title Theme (Outlaws)
  7. Medicated Cow Walks the Cobbled Streets with Disgruntled Goat (Ravenshire Castle)
  8. Scurvy Scallywags Theme (Scurvy Scallywags in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty)
  9. Scabb Cemetery/International House of Mojo (The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge)
  10. Altered Beast Title Theme (Altered Beast) CD bonus track
  11. Optimism For an Improvement in The John Situation (original composition by Dren McDonald)
  12. Turret Suite (Portal 2)
  13. Minecraft Title Theme (Minecraft)
  14. TRON Arcade Medley (TRON) CD bonus track
  15. Tango Down (graBLOX)
  16. Dance of the Space Bugs (Galaga)
  17. The Legend of Zelda Title Theme (The Legend of Zelda)

The String Arcade is available  for purchase at Amazon.comGoogle Play,  iTunes, Bandcamp (17 tracks), Loudr and all proceeds will be donated to the Alameda Music Project, which is a after-school project that provides tuition free music instruction for children throughout K-5.

For more information regarding  such as the String Arcade head on over at the official website.

Should you purchase the String Arcade Project?

Summary

Simply put if you enjoy listening to either video game music, classical music or orchestral music then this is worth a listen to. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll either keep going back to a specific track which will end up being you favorite for years to come (Which is a good thing this isn’t the days of the cassette tape) or you’ll end up with a bunch of new songs that get so embedded in your psyche that you’ll find yourself humming them over and over.

Now that’s not such a bad thing, is it?

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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grind. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Yes, I'm a black guy!