If you are a fan of jazz music, you probably don’t really think of video games as a great place to hear your preferred style of music. On the whole games have evolved through bleeping 8-bit soundtracks (Super Mario) to fast paced guitar driven runners (Sonic Adventure), licensed popular metal and hip hop (The Tony Hawk series) to the modern orchestral epic (Alan Wake) that successfully simulates the score of big budget films. Jazz however is featured few and far between in the back of video games, but there are a handful of titles that make sure this storied and impressive genre isn’t absent. Here are some notable games which feature soundtracks pleasing to a jazz lover.
As you may have guessed by the title of this well received Rockstar game, the story here takes place in the late ‘40s and players enter an environment that matches this perfectly. Here you will find yourself cruising the big city streets to some mellow jazz pumping from your car radio. Though the original soundtrack features new music by Andrew and Simon Hale, those eager to flip stations in-game will hear tracks by T-Bone Walker, Hank Williams, Dizzy Gillespie and more. This game is great for aimlessly driving, taking in the sights of a bygone era and virtually living a life of a music loving detective.
Donkey Kong Country
Though it may not seem like it really fits the list, the music that accompanies this beloved Nintendo title is surprisingly jazz inspired. Lovingly created by David Wise who himself is a saxophone player, this jungle themed collection of melodies has several obvious jazz elements. The tribal drums that start up quickly move into a jazzy formation as the rousing and funky bass lines sneak in underneath, what seems like rainforest noise rapidly bursts into a head bopping number you won’t forget. Additionally, you have one of the most soulful themes in video game history here – Aquatic Ambience. This soft and sensual theme can be heard on the bonus levels and is clearly a creation of a bluesman, which is even more blatant in the jazz cover by the OneUps.
Another game noir, this skeleton led game sees you solving puzzles in the land of the dead. Though much of the gameplay can become slow and frustrating, especially for younger audiences the soundtrack is anything but static. Jazz horns, pounding drums and soothing strings deliver a fun and curious feel despite the dramatic appearance of its characters. While your brain is trying to figure out how to progress here your ears will be delighted by the short and sweet themes repeating.
A brand-new title in comparison this inventive 2019 title has you play as a gorilla escaping captivity to an intense jazz rhythm. What makes this games music so noticeable is its dynamic interaction, hit someone and you will hear a drum thump, break glass and cymbals will crash, here you play a game while you freestyle some jazz at the same time. Though the art style is minimalistic, the rousing and constant jazz that blares out makes you play more aggressively, run faster and enjoy it even more.