Plants vs. Zombies interpreted by a string quartet

Symphonic version of popular video game music

There is something special when you listen to a video game melody out of its natural context. Those notes engraved in your brain from hours playing do resonate when you hear the crazy a cappella YouTube guy — Smooth McGroove — or a random passerby hum te Angry Birds theme song.

Despite the huge trend that chip tune music is, there seems to be a collective that like to go the opposite route: interpreting cult video game music with classical music instruments. This is the case of Dren McDonald and Jason Poss, a composer / video game sound designer and orchestrator who launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to record a set of their favourite video game songs. Instead of just playing, the music has been arranged specifically to be interpreted by a string quartet — two violins, one viola and one cello.

The result of The String Arcade project is a selection of 17 tracks touching all the ages of video game history. The compilation begins with a nostalgic visit to the arcades, the sounds of the 8 and 16-bit console generation during the eighties, the PC point-and-click adventures of the nineties, arriving at current commercial hits, a touch of indie development, and — of course — mobile gaming.

I was going to pick the games I could have played on iOS just to realise that most of them are present on the App Store, either as ports or as original releases for iOS. The album includes covers from Plants vs. Zombies, Ecco the Dolphin, Pettington Park, FTL - Faster Than Light, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Outlaws, Ravenshire Castle, Scurvy Scallywags, The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Altered Beast, Portal 2, Minecraft, Tron Arcade, graBLOX, Galaga and The Legend of Zelda.

If you want to get a taste of what Plants vs. Zombies sounds like arranged for a string quartet, you can now listen to the free preview track before the album releases on the 11th of February. The String Arcade is available for preorder from iTunes and there's a CD version including two bonus tracks now included on the digital download at BandCamp. I just ordered mine.