VGM Playlist #3 – ‘Shakespeare’

This is a series of posts and playlists showing off video game equivalents to the themes of Classic FM’s Saturday Night at the Movies shows

Shakespeare is a very popular inspiration for so many arts – the plays have given way to ballets, film and television adaptations as well as works which include strong references to the source material. So many arts, it appears, except for video games – which puts me in a difficult spot with my playlist, as there isn’t really any music in the game which is inspired by him either.

That’s not to say there aren’t games based on, or with heavy references to Shakespeare – there’s 2012’s linguistically challenging title Hamlet or The Last Game Without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement, a point and click adventure game based around the story of one of Shaakespeare’s most famous tales. However, most games only tend to shoehorn in the Bard as an easter egg; occasionally his characters appear as a in-joke, sometimes he’s a hidden playable character (Medal of Honor) but mostly Shakespeare references are limited to a couple of quotes (obscure or otherwise)

I do feel there is one game, though, that does more with Shakespeare than most, and that’s Final Fantasy IX. As well as the obvious name-check reference (Puck), there are two distinct parts of the game that pull directly from Shakespeare’s plays. The first is obvious to anyone who’s played the game. Disc 1 opens with you playing as Zidane, plotting to kidnap the princess; as a guise for this, the thieves of Tantalus act as thespians and put on the play ‘I Want To Be Your Canary’, an amalgamation of King Lear and Romeo and Juliet which you watch and act through as a playable character.

The second, and slightly less obvious example, comes on Disc 3 where a love letter goes astray and culminates in something straight out of The Taming of The Shrew – the Shakespeare angle comes not only with the comedy of errors sequence of events but also having this respite of levity occur in between two more serious storyline events.

With that out of the way, I’ve done the best I can playlist-wise this week. Games which feature Shakespeare in some form is the best I can really go on. Maybe it’s a well worth game developers and writers mining his repertoire for a little bit of inspiration…

With that in mind, my playlist this week is very short – 3 song short in fact Hopefully next week will bring a better theme. What do you think – do you have any suggestions for pieces which show Shakespeare in video game? Let me know below the line.

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