5 September 2016

KataWolf's Top 10 Video Game Soundtracks

No banner cuz I suck at making them.

It is near impossible these days to have a game without an accompanying musical score. This has gone to the point that several video game songs have reached a status of being pop culture staples, like the Mario or Zelda themes, and many scores have been engraved into people's minds and hearts for years. For this list I want to take a quick look at my Top 10 Game Soundtracks. But first, a few rules:

  • No Shadow of the Colossus. If you know me, or if you read my review of it, you know that I love the hell out of this game, especially its soundtrack. However because of that, it would be too much of a no-brainer inclusion.
  • Only games that I have played.
  • No licensed soundtracks. This means Tony Hawk, Burnout, Need for Speed, SSX, GTA, and almost all rhythm games are out. Original scores only.
  • One entry per franchise. However, multiple entries from the same franchise can share the same spot.
  • I will also be including a small list of my favorite songs from each game on this Top 10.
  • Honorable Mentions list at the end. This list will ignore the rules, except for the licensed soundtrack one.
  • Remember, THIS IS MY OPINION.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get on with the show.


10:

Composer: Power Glove
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Oh, Blood Dragon. A standalone Far Cry experience flooded with retro sci-fi, pop culture references, humor, 80s cliches, and cheesy one-liners. This game had no right to be as fun as it turned out to be, and its music sure helped with that experience.

Sure, it has like 3 licensed songs (most notably Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally"), but it still has a hell of a soundtrack of its own. The music, in a good way, reeks of 80s full of synths and even a few hints at other famous themes (most notably The Terminator's), all of which just added to one of the most hilariously fun shooters of the last several years.


9.


Composers: Josh Sanderson & Nadeem Daya
Platform: Wii, PlayStation 3, PC
No full soundtrack available

Here's another shooter that had no right to be as fun as it is, and also one brimming with personality. Overkill is a homage to grindhouse B movies, and a damn good one at that. Filled with f-bombs (at the time it was the most profane game ever made), strippers because why not, lots of violence, and some of the funniest dialogue I've ever heard in a game, the presentation alone is enough to keep you coming back, despite the generic gameplay.

The music perfectly fits the silly over the top grindhouse style, covering a wide range of genres such as rock, funk, country, pop, and even disco. A lot of the songs even have versions with lyrics which play only during the menus. It's funky, energetic, mostly upbeat, and surprisingly effective in assisting at killing zom-- mutants.

8.


Composer: Josh Mancell
Platform: PlayStation

Of course I just had to include one of my all-time favorite games on this list. This game is damn near 3D platforming perfection. Everything from the level design to the bosses to of course the soundtrack is top notch. This was the last great Crash game before the series went multiplatform and went to hell (still looking forward to the PS4 remasters, though).

The music captures the silly yet adventurous spirit associated with the jeans-wearing marsupial. Every song nicely fits each time period that Crash and his sister Coco visit throughout the game. Whether its medieval, middle east, prehistoric, or even the far future, the songs all match the fun and frantic action of Crash.



7.


Composer: Jeremy Soule
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Massive world, tons of quests, dragons, racist vikings, stealth archery, bugs and glitches out the ass, and being able to tell the main quest to go fuck itself and instead focus on shouting goats off a cliff. That's Skyrim in a nutshell, and while combat is crap, the game as a whole is fun and damn addicting.

Jeremy Soule's score is masterful. It resonates with obvious Nordic influences and at times can be extremely soothing. I must admit that I dislike most of the combat music and the main theme, but I adore the ambient music.

6.


Composers: Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ohta, & Koji Kondo
Platform: GameCube, Wii, Wii U

It's a Zelda game, and my favorite one at that. Do I really need to explain anything? My only issue is that the score would've been so much better if all of it was orchestral.



5.



Composer: Jesper Kyd
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Good ol' Assassin's Creed, several years before Unity drove a bullet into its heart. Me along with many others consider the Ezio trilogy to be its highest point, with 2 being the best overall. Sure, Brotherhood may have had a more fun environment and overall better gameplay, but 2 was better in pretty much every other department.

Jesper Kyd is honestly one of my favorite game composers and it was difficult to pick one game that he has worked on, but in the end I had to go with this one. The music is gorgeous, suiting the Italian Renaissance while still having several hints of electronic music to remind you of the fact that you're playing a sci-fi game. I am honestly sad that Kyd didn't return to score future instalments after Revelations.

4.


Composer: Motoi Sakuraba
Platform: Game Boy Advance (also on Wii U via Virtual Console)

DOUBLE DIP CUZ I CAN. I already briefly talked about these two GBA gems in my Top 10 Disappointments list. Arguably the best RPGs available on the system, these two games brought out pretty much the GBA's full potential. Both were massive games (especially The Lost Age), brimming with content, a solid story (yet flooded with dialogue), lots of class customisation, and of course a killer soundtrack.

It is honestly difficult for me to describe the music. It just does a flawless job of fitting whatever situation pops up. Dark caves, frozen towers, ancient ruins, epic boss battles, peaceful towns, etc. And the music itself is just of such a pretty high quality for GBA standards.

3.


Composers: Mahito Yokota & Koji Kondo
Platform: Wii

I obviously had to put in a Mario game somewhere, so might as well go with the one that is not only arguably the best 3D Mario game, but also the one that has the most beautiful soundtrack.

The first Mario game to use a full (or almost full, I'm not sure) orchestral score, and by the mighty gates of Valhalla did it work. Not only was the music perfect for the space theme, it also helps that a lot of the songs kept away from the usual silly or lighthearted Mario style of music, further helping to fuel the fact that you are on a grand adventure across the universe to yet again save Ms. I Dunno What Personal Security Is. Sure, Galaxy 2 may have had the better Bowser themes, but as a whole this game's soundtrack is far better.


2.


Composers: Masayoshi Soken (main composer), Nobuo Uematsu, & others
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
No full soundtrack available

I must admit that I have never played a Final Fantasy game before. I own 7, but haven't played past the opening bombing mission. After a friend convinced me, I decided to give A Realm Reborn a shot, despite being well aware of the awful conditions of the original Final Fantasy XIV. And you know what? I ended up loving it.

MMOs aren't exactly renowned for their music, since despite being good tracks, they are usually little more than background flair (The Old Republic doesn't count cuz Star Wars). FFXIV is an exception to that rule. Most, if not, all of the songs in the game do not fall under background flair. They greatly assist in giving life to the world, dungeons, and boss battles that you will encounter. Not to mention that the genres are pretty varied, including several rock-influenced songs. Hell, there are even several songs which are rearrangements of classic FF themes, and even a song that sounds a lot like "This is Halloween".



1.

Composers: Ryan Amon, Tsukasa Saitoh, Yuka Kitamura, Nobuyoshi Suzuki, Cris Velasco, & Michael Wandmacher
Platform: PS4

COP OUT! TOTAL FUCKIN COP OUT. I intentionally leave out one of my all-time favorite games, and instead replace it with another all-time favorite game. Ain't I a stinker?

While I recognize that me putting Bloodborne at #1 is a bit of a cop out, I genuinely love its music. Hell, it's one of the very few game soundtracks that I've actually bought (Pro tip: Do not buy it off iTunes. Overpriced). The soundtrack is a damn near perfect embodiment of gothic horror + action, and it beautifully matches the horrific yet gorgeous scenarios of boss fights and what few areas have music in them. Also, the ever-cliche yet surprisingly effective creepy Latin chorus is always a plus.

This is a soundtrack that took roughly 2 and a half years to produce, and the amount of effort gone into it shows. This is a score that will take me a very long time to forget.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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