Musical Montages in Video Games

by Darius Kazemi on May 9, 2008

in design,games

So today at lunch I was discussing 80′s movies with Jeff. In particular, I watched Real Genius last night and noted that there are 2 (maybe 2.5) musical training montages in that movie. That led to a pretty cool concept for advancing in a game.

So let’s say your game gets to a point where your character has to become extremely badass in order to advance through the game. In RPGs, this sometimes means grinding for hours to become badass. In action games it may be an uber powerup that you get for a level. But what if you went through an 80s-movie musical training montage? It would play like WarioWare: tons of minigames, sometimes repeated, getting progressively harder, all to a tune like, Chaz Jankel’s “Number One”, or perhaps The C.S. Angels’ “I’m Falling”? Make it all the way through the song a BAM you’re a super-whatever-it-is.

This is mostly tongue-in-cheek but would be pretty awesome in a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I could even see it working in an RPG, where there’s a totally optional one-time item you can use where you summon a montage and gain three levels when you’re done. Great for skipping the grind when you’ve lost your patience!

Also of note, Craig Perko first introduced me to the idea of musical montages in games as part of a LARP he wrote a few years ago called METEOR! Every character had one musical montage token to spend to do… basically whatever they wanted once during the game. As long as they role-played it!

And finally, I discovered this website,, which is basically a database of musical montages. Yep. Wow.


Dan Allison May 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Oh man Darius, this idea is just great. I’m jotting it down in my idea notebook.

Joe Ludwig May 10, 2008 at 3:21 am

Real Genius is the Best Movie Ever. (Oh, and your idea was good too. :)

Jeff May 12, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Just watched Real Genius again last night. There are definitely 3 musical montages in that movie.

Anyway, I’m still totally for this idea.

Bradley Momberger May 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm

This idea has tons of potential for diverse inclusion into games. I can conceptualize one possible evolutionary path thusly:

1) Rhythm sequences a la PaRappa, Space Channel 5, and Shenmue testing the player’s ability to follow instructions from the on-screen teacher; a very literal interpretation of training with a basic interface, but a solid mechanic. Victory conditions involve passing a threshold of perfect repeating over a progression of discrete sections.

2) The implementation of WarioWare-style tasks expand from the previous simple timing exercises to a battery which measures speed, precision, smoothness, and timing. Test batteries are set to songs, victory conditions generally depend on completion alone.

3) No set limitation to how much you can stat-up. Adaptive music which adjusts to your prowress and speed in completing the montage tasks. Stylized presentations such as walking past panels of museum pieces or shop windows with a task in each.

4) It gets entrenched and tie-in games start using it. You make Rocky pound on sides of beef and run up the stairs.

Christine May 13, 2008 at 4:10 am

This is what I wish I could do with real life. Big test on Wednesday? No problem. I just get my friends together and film a montage of me studying my rad notes and outlines. Oh yeah, that’ll teach you, Dr. Professor thinks I’m from the wrong side of the tracks. My three minutes of video awesomeness set to popular music will demonstrate my mastery of civil procedure. Psssht.

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