Wing Commander Soundtrack, David Govett / George Sanger, 1990
Very few games foreground their music as much as Wing Commander – and that’s only one way in which it proved to be a watershed moment for game music. Before the player gets to see the game’s intro or even title, game producer Chris Roberts inserts something else, something remarkable: the sight of a pixelated orchestra and conductor, set against the backdrop of a blue planetoid and star-speckled outer space. The orchestra tunes for a few seconds, before the conductor gives the signal to launch into a brief fanfare.
Roberts’ vision for Wing Commander was to create a full-blown space opera à la Star Wars. The orchestra intro in Wing Commander shows that Roberts knew how hugely important music was for his dream project to play like a swashbuckling space opera. The intro also serves as a curtain raiser that heightens expectations. The show is about to start, and it’s going to be of grand proportions. And of course, the sight of the orchestra announces the composers’ symphonic ambitions – a rarity for a 1990 video game. Rarely has a 25-second game intro carried so much meaning and context.