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Soundtrack review: Starcraft (various artists – 1998)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: Starcraft (various artists – 1998)


StarCraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment and released for Microsoft Windows on March 31, 1998. The game later spawned a franchise, and is the first game of the StarCraft series. Set in a fictitious timeline during the Earth’s 25th century, the game revolves around three species fighting for dominance in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy known as the Koprulu Sector: the Terrans, humans exiled from Earth skilled at adapting to any situation; the Zerg, a race of insectoid aliens in pursuit of genetic perfection, obsessed with assimilating other races; and the Protoss, a humanoid species with advanced technology and psionic abilities, attempting to preserve their civilization and strict philosophical way of living from the Zerg. The score for the first game was written by Derek Duke, Jason Hayes, Glenn Stafford and Tracy W. Bush.

The score for this first game is structured by race; each of them gets three themes plus a ready room theme, a defeat and victory theme. The victory and defeat cues are merely half a minute long inserts usually. Before all that though comes the main title which sounds wonderfully retro Sci-fi and I connect instantly with the score. I am surprised that the “First contact” that follows is a country music song.

The Terran section of the score begins again with a gorgeous retro wave piece. As a huge 80s and synth wave fan a cue like this is heave to me. The composers seem to keep this sound for the exiled and confused humans and I find myself listening to a few very nice electronic cues. I like the nostalgia they give me and I like the ambient moments that make me dream.

The Protoss race gets a more atmospheric sound probably to suggest their superior technology and capabilities. Their music sounds eerie and even ominous at times. Even so the composer keep the retro sound I am so fond of and the electronic edges of the sound remind me that this is a computer game and add to the nostalgia.

The Zerg race cue get a clever little touch as their “Ready room” music has some sound effects that make me think of insects moving. Their music is also the most electronic of them all, almost not at all melodic. It reminds me in some moments of the early Jean Michel Jarre compositions.

From the rest of the cues I liked the most the beautiful piano theme “Dearest Helena”. It sounds as if it was written for a drama and not a computer game. With all this “Starcraft” is an uneven but enjoyable score. For me the retro element is what sold it.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 28 / 64

Album excellence: 44%


Main Title

Terran One

Terran Two

The Death of the Overmind

Protoss One

Protoss Ready Room

Zerg One

Dearest Helena

Fury of the Xel’Naga

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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