Sing Us a Song, You’re the Piano Man

Hello, and welcome to COGConnected’s Top 10 Pianos in Gaming. This list came to me when I learned about the nearly fully functional piano in Overwatch’s new Paris map. I thought, “Wow. This is a sweet edition and attention-to-detail feature.” Players used their weapons to play real songs on it. Then I wondered about how other pianos are used in games. From that thought came this list. The criteria I used when selecting the following pianos included Is it cool?, Is it ridiculous?, and Is it memorable? But the pianos cannot be too prevalent in the game or too obvious, meaning you will not see the keyboard instrument from Rock Band 3 or any of the 107 piano apps/games. That being said, here is my list of Top 10 Pianos in Gaming. Enjoy.

Top 10 Pianos

10. Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker – Any Generic Piano

In Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, MJ dances his way through levels, Chamone!s and Aow!s enemies to death, and rescues children. Hopefully next year, we can see a 30th anniversary edition where you can also play as Alien Ant Farm. Trust me, they are not busy. But why is this game on the list? Meet the 1990 version of Overwatch’s piano. There are pianos in some of the levels that, if jumped and (moon)walked on, the keys sound in all their 8-bit glory.

Top 10 Pianos

9. MediEvil – Phantom of the Opera’s Organ

If you’re looking for the guy with the half-face mask, you’re going to be disappointed. This is like the off-brand Phantom of the Opera. This guy is actually like an astral being. Anyway, the Phantom in the Hilltop Mausoleum level of MediEvil has this crazy looking organ. In this level, the player must find some sheet music for the Phantom in order to reveal three chests of gold and the Chalice for that level. This piano does not rank very high but is included because of the Phantom’s dance/play-style of the instrument that is even crazier than the organ itself.

Top 10 Pianos

8. Final Fantasy VII – Tifa’s Piano

The player has a few opportunities to mess with Tifa’s piano in Nibelheim throughout Final Fantasy VII. It’s actually essential for getting her ultimate Limit Break Final Heaven. In a flashback sequence, Cloud can choose to “jam” on the piano. If he does this, then when he returns to it later, he can pick up an Elemental Materia. If he plays the World Map theme with Tifa in the party, she gets the item for her best Limit Break. Who knows how people figured that out before the internet though.

Top 10 Pianos

7. Fortnite – Season 7 Pianos

Oh, hey, it’s Fortnite. The most popular game of all time or something. Truth be told, I’m not crazy about Fortnite, but I can’t deny that Epic did something pretty cool with their piano-themed challenge. For Fornite’s 7th Season, a bunch have challenges have been set for players, one of them being this piano challenge. Throughout the map, there are two pianos. One plays Jingle Bells and the other plays Twelve Days of Christmas when played properly. Other than being part of the season’s challenges, there isn’t a cool reason why they are there. For that these pianos earn the 7th spot.

Fortnite Piano

6. Final Fantasy VIII – Ultimacia’s Organ

If you’re going to say “But this is an organ, not a piano”, first of all shut up. Second of all no one cares. A Piano is an organ is a keyboard. Like the piano in FFVII, this one is part of a puzzle. Instead of playing a melody, the player does what anyone does the first time they interact with a piano: push ALL the keys! By pressing all the buttons on the controller at once, Squall presses all the keys, because as we all know pianos only have 12 keys. If the player is successful, a passage opens up somewhere else in Ultimacia’s Castle. At the end of this passage, the player can pick up the item Rosetta Stone and learn as many languages as you want for 24 months for only $5.99 a month! Actually, it teaches a GF Ability x4, which is like super good.

Top 10 Pianos

5. Batman: Arkham Knight – Wayne Manor Piano

This piano is part of a nice little easter egg. During one of the optional missions in Wayne Manor, if Batman interacts with the piano, a hidden wall is revealed. This wall contains hints of the Batman: Arkham VR game that succeeded Arkham Knight. The clues on the wall actually outline the plot of Arkham VR. At the time of the discovery, Arkham VR was not even announced, so this was a great mystery to behold. This mission is not available in the base game, it is DLC which also includes a mission in the Batcave. The piano might also be a reference to Batman Begins wherein the Batcave was accessible by playing certain notes on the piano.

Top 10 Pianos

4. Splinter Cell: Conviction – Kobin Mansion Piano

Nobody on this list plays a rendition of KA-DUNK quite like Sam Fisher. Splinter Cell: Conviction uses an interrogation system where the player can interact with objects in the environment to *ahem* persuade someone to give information. One of these objects is a piano. Smashing someone’s head on the keys is an experimental play-style if I have ever seen one.

Top 10 Pianos

3. Resident Evil – Spencer Mansion Piano

From the first Resident Evil game in the Spencer Mansion, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield can both encounter this piano. Jill can play it, but to Chris, the sheet music looks like moon-speak, so he cannot play it. When he returns with Rebecca, she can play it, revealing the Gold Emblem in a secret room. This piano has a legacy in the series as it returns in the 2002 remake and in the Resident Evil 5 DLC Lost in Nightmares.

Top 10 Pianos

Top 10 Pianos

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2. Max Payne – All the Pianos

“What? Hey! You can’t choose ALL the pianos for an entry!” Actually, I can because, uh, I make the rules to this dumb Top 10 list. In all three Max Payne games, Max has opportunities to play the games’ theme. In Max Payne 3, there are four different pianos to be played. Each time, Max gets a little better until the fourth time where he plays the song without messing up. I could have made three different Max Payne entries here, but the legacy of Max’s piano playing is bundled into one.

Top 10 Pianos

Top 10 Pianos

1. Super Mario 64 – Mad Piano

This damn piano. This was one of the scariest moments of my childhood gaming experience, up there with the Redeads in Ocarina of Time. In Boo’s Mansion, there is a room with a piano lit by the moon. At first, you think “Yay! A unique piece of geometry to jump on!”, but no. As soon as you get close, this piano starts chomping and shambling towards Mario with a jarring and intrusive noise. The pseudo-fixed camera angle adds to the creepiness of the encounter in a classic Resident Evil sort of way.

Top 10 Pianos

Honourable Mention: Grand Theft Auto IV – Piano Mod

I’m making my way downtown, walking fast, faces pass and I’m home bound. You all know this piano. While it is not part of the official game, this mod gave the internet a great meme. The only reason you should not know about this is if you are not from this planet. That being said, if you are not from this planet, welcome and allow me to explain this video. A GTA IV mod allows the player to “drive” a piano as if it was a car. The original video is by the YouTube user taltigolt and the music is added by Matthew Jackson. The song is A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton and in its music video, she plays the piano as it seemingly drives down the road, just like in Jackson and taltigolt’s video.

Top 10 Pianos

Well, that concludes COGConnected’s Top 10 Pianos in Gaming. I hope you’ve learned a bit about pianos and a bit about yourself. If there is a piano that you think should be on this list, definitely do not hesitate to bomb the comments with your corrections and tell me how stupid I am. If you want to see more lists like this, also bomb the comments.

Thanks to Aaron, Andrea, Dan, and Monika for bringing some of these to my attention!