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SYFY WIRE Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy's in-game Awesome Mix rocks KISS, Rick Astley & more retro bangers

By Benjamin Bullard
Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel and Square Enix

If you think about it, the Guardians of the Galaxy are sort of like a rock ’n’ roll band. Packed with weirdos each marching to a dementedly different beat, they’re anchored in the middle by an exuberantly funny (and vain) frontman — the kind of guy who can’t stand the life of the party straying elsewhere for too long.

Coupled with Peter Quill’s MCU reputation for keeping the galaxy-spanning fire alive for Earth’s mightiest music tracks, it only makes sense that a healthy helping of sentimental ear candy would play an integral part in Square Enix’s upcoming video game based on Marvel’s misfit band. And sure enough, the publisher is out with a brand-new video feature that amplifies the game’s clever incorporation of the classics you know and love — though it comes with an updated tweak to the MCU movies’ heavy lean on the hits of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Here’s Steve Szczepkowski, the game’s senior audio director, filling fans in on the new glam-infused twist: If you love all things ‘80s, from Culture Club to Rick Astley (yes, they really went there), then the licensed-music backdrop to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will probably hit your ear like a pop culture dream come true.

Did you catch that? KISS's “I Love it Loud” is part of Peter Quill’s awesome video game music mix, as is Gary Numan’s new wave banger “Cars,” along with a ton more me-decade anthems that Square Enix says haven’t been revealed yet.

“Designed to transport players back to the ‘80s, an impressive selection of pop and rock hits from the decade feature throughout the game at carefully chosen points,” the publisher teases in a press release. “Tracks include music from Iron Maiden, KISS, New Kids on the Block, Rick Astley, Hot Chocolate, and more, with plenty still to be revealed.”

While we freely admit to being downright KO’d by the inclusion of NKOTB, the music is meant to do more than serve as neon-tinged window dressing for the game’s action set pieces. When Quill presses “play” on his Walkman at key moments, the tunes spin up as a sort of rallying cry for the gang to squad up and get their battle act together.

“The [game's] unique Huddle feature takes the licensed soundtrack further by utilizing select songs during combat,” Square Enix explains. “Players can hit play on Star-Lord’s Cassette Player to cue up a specially chosen ‘80s hit to inspire the Guardians and spur them on while fighting.” And so what if the slow saccharine pulse beneath Boy George's silky purr seems inappropriate when all galactic hell’s breaking loose? As Szczepkowski explains in the clip, it’s just that kind of silly juxtaposition that injects a bubble-gum smacking dose of delight into all the swirling chaos.

Finally, the video game version of Guardians is having a little bit of fun — all with Marvel’s full creative input — with a small slice of Peter Quill’s backstory. In the game, Quill lets it slip that “Star-Lord” is actually a name he admiringly stole from his made-up favorite band…so naturally, Szczepkowski and the development team at Eidos Montréal set to work fleshing out that idea as a piece of fun extracurricular content.

“An entire album was recorded for the game, featuring original tracks that celebrate the rock and roll, dysfunctional nature of the Guardians family,” says Square Enix — and can you guess the name of the impromptu group the studio formed to record the jam? A little cheddar cheese for your effort is in order if you correctly settled on “Star-Lord.”

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is warming up now for a scheduled Oct. 26 date with PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. A cloud-based version for Nintendo Switch will also release the same day.