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Alex Mar 22, 2006

Let me first say that I'm extremely glad that Double Fine released a Psychonauts soundtrack.  I bought two copies (one to listen to and one to keep sealed), and I'd do it again.  But, yeah, the soundtrack wasn't all I had hoped for.  I don't blame Peter McConnell since the music works pretty well in the game, but the album just doesn't work for me.  The quirky/deranged aesthetic is perfectly captured, but that doesn't make for very good listening outside the game.  And the ambient area themes don't really stand out -- which, again, is fine in the game.  The only music I wholeheartedly enjoyed was played in Ford Cruller's Lab, and that's stuck together with other music in the Title & End Credits track for some reason (why?!) instead of getting its own track.  And what's up with the track order being completely random?

I guess part of what disappointed me about the Psychonauts soundtrack was my deep and abiding love for McConnell's Grim Fandango soundtrack.  That's one of my all-time favorite game soundtracks, and I often find myself whistling some of the genuinely catchy tunes from it even when I haven't listened to it in awhile.  The 1930s/Mexican aesthetic is brilliant, the arrangements are great, and you just can't help wanting more when you're done.  On the strength of that, I'd continue to buy McConnell's future soundtracks without hearing a note beforehand, just like I'll continue to buy Tim Shafer's games without playing a demo first.  I'm looking forward to hearing what's next for both of them.

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