VGChartz's Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks (50-41) - ArticleTaneli Palola , posted on 07 February 2018 / 5,112 Views
Time to begin the countdown for the top 50 best video game soundtracks of all time, as voted by the VGChartz community. The list will be split into five parts and published over the next week or two. However, before we begin, here are a few notes about the voting process:
73 people participated in the voting, with 339 different games getting at least one point.
Of the 73 games given ten points on people's lists, 15 received only that one vote, leaving them at ten points overall in the end.
Finally, to actually get into the top 50 the game had to get at least 20 points. The next 15 games were all within 5 points of making it into the list, and in total 89 games scored more than 10 points.
Next time we'll take a look at some honorable mentions that just barely missed out on making it onto the list, but for now let's get started with the first part of the countdown. With each soundtrack I have also mentioned a few song recommendations from the scores, with links included for anyone who may be interested.
#50 Secret of Mana
(Composer: Hiroki Kikuta)
The first game to make it into the top 50 (by 1 point) is Secret of Mana. This SNES classic is often fondly remembered as one of the system's best JRPGs, and its soundtrack is definitely one of the reasons for that. Composed by Hiroki Kikuta as his first ever video game score, the music in Secret of Mana is nothing short of stellar. It captures the game's atmosphere perfectly, from the solemn, almost dreamy ´Fear of the Heavens´ that plays in the game's intro, to the ominous piano piece ´The Dark Star´. There are even upbeat and playful tunes like ´The Color of the Summer Sky´, each wonderfully complementing the game's story and gameplay.
Kikuta even went so far as to create his own sample instruments for use with the SNES sound chip in order to create the kind of score he would be satisfied with. This is, to this day, Kikuta's most well known score, and while his later work was still often excellent, it could very well be that his best work was also his first.
#49 Metroid Prime
(Composers: Kenji Yamamoto and Kouichi Kyuma)
The music in Metroid Prime was designed to not only stand as its own thing within the game, but also serve as a reminder of the series' past. As such, the game contains many arranged versions of songs from earlier Metroid titles. These include the likes of ´Magmoor Caverns´ (being a reimagined version of Super Metroid's Lower Norfair area music) and ´Tallon Overworld´, which is a new version of the Brinstar music from the original Metroid.
Naturally, there are also many original pieces composed specifically for Metroid Prime, and these often carry on the classic ambient and atmospheric style of music the series is well known for. Metroid Prime was a huge gamble when it was first announced, but as we now know that paid off in spades, with the score playing no small part in its acclaim.
#48 F-Zero X
(Composers: Taro Bando and Hajime Wakai)
The F-Zero series has remained largely dormant for nearly 14 years now, placing it firmly in Nintendo's second tier of franchises. Outside of appearances in crossover games like the Smash Bros. titles, Nintendo has shown no interest in F-Zero for years. However, despite its long absence, fans have clearly not forgotten about the series or its excellent music.
Much of F-Zero X's soundtrack actually consists of updated versions of songs from the original F-Zero, with fan favourites such as ´Mute City´ and ´Big Blue´ being the most obvious examples. However, the entire score, with its melodic rock style tracks, is an absolute joy to listen to.
#47 Lost Odyssey
(Composer: Nobuo Uematsu)
The first of many appearances by Nobuo Uematsu on this list, Lost Odyssey was his second collaboration with Hironobu Sakaguchi after both had left Square (Uematsu to go freelance and Sakaguchi to found his own game studio). While his scores after leaving Square have never received quite the attention and recognition as his work with the Final Fantasy series, his talent has most definitely not suffered in the slightest, and Lost Odyssey is perhaps the prime example of this.
The score in Lost Odyssey is instantly recognizable as Uematsu's. From classical orchestral compositions to modern jazz and metal tracks, it has Uematsu's style all over it. Among the numerous highlights are the eerie ´Wanderer of Darkness´, the beautiful flute and guitar piece ´Neverending Journey´, and the hardhitting and fast ´Battle Conditions´. The whole soundtrack is well worth a listen, but these are good starting points.
#46 Assassin's Creed II
(Composer: Jesper Kyd)
Jesper Kyd is a composer who over the last 20 years has been slowly building an impressive body of work, crafting music for a large number of video games. He first gained fame working with IO Interactive on their Hitman games, and has since composed music for the Borderlands series, as well as games such as Forza Motorsport 4, Darksiders 2, and Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide. However, he is most likely best known for his wonderful work on the first four Assassin's Creed games, out of which the second stands as perhaps the best of all.
Personally, I must admit I had largely forgotten the music in Assassin's Creed II, simply because it had been such a long time since I last played the game. However, going back to listen to the soundtrack as I was putting this list together reminded me of just how amazing many of the game's themes are. With great tracks like ´Venice Rooftops´, ´Florence Tarantella´ and ´Darkness Falls In Florence', Kyd put together an excellent score for what is for many still the best game in the entire series.
#45 Chrono Cross
(Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda)
When work began on Chrono Cross, director Masato Kato specifically requested that the game's score be composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, who had previously composed the soundtrack for the SNES masterpiece Chrono Trigger. What eventually came out of this was one of Mitsuda's finest works to date, rivalling any of his other works before or since. The music in Chrono Cross contains some of the most haunting and often most memorable melodies in video game history.
It was naturally going to be a massive ordeal trying to match the heights of Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, but arguably Mitsuda pulled this off wonderfully. The game's mood is set perfectly from the moment the first notes of the opening theme ´Scars of Time´ are played, and the rest of the soundtrack never once drops in quality. The contrast between the music in the game's ´Another´ and ´Home´ worlds are beautifully represented in their respective music choices, the first being dark and ominous, while the latter carries a feeling of positivity and happiness. Among my favourites are ´The Dream That Time Dreams' and of course the gorgeous ending theme ´Radical Dreamers ~ Unstolen Jewel´.
#44 Tales of Symphonia
(Composer: Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura and Takeshi Arai)
One of the most prolific video game composers of all time has to be Motoi Sakuraba, who during any given year seems to compose music for anywhere between three and ten different video games. Over his long career he has scored every single Star Ocean game, all three Dark Souls games, and countless others, but he is still perhaps best known as the main composer for Namco's Tales series of RPGs, of which Tales of Symphonia is often remembered most fondly.
Sakuraba's musical style is all over the music in Tales of Symphonia. He has a habit of mixing elements of symphonic music with an almost 80s style of progressive rock, and even incorporating jazz into many of his compositions. Over the years he has developed a very recognizable sound and style of instrumentation, and although he shares the credit for the music in Symphonia with two other composers, it is undoubtedly his work that stands out the most. Among the many standout tracks are the likes of ´Standing the Pain´, ´Town of a Wind and Ruins´ and ´Deepest Woods´.
#43 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
(Composer: Jamie Christopherson)
When it comes to the Metal Gear series, Revengeance is definitely the odd one out, not just in terms of gameplay or story, but also with regards to its style of music. Naturally, the fact that it was developed by Platinum Games instead of Kojima Productions has a lot to do with this. In addition, the main composer, Jamie Christopherson, had never before worked on any of the other Metal Gear games. This lead to a vastly different experience compared to any of the other prior titles in the series.
The soundtrack is filled with fast-paced tracks, often mixing metal and electronic music and featuring vocals sung by a number of different artists. The style of music is far removed from almost anything found in the other Metal Gear games, helping the game carve out its own identity within the series. For a few recommendations for anyone interested in hearing more, give a listen to ´I'm My Own Master Now´, ´The Stains of Time´ and ´Collective Consciousness´.
(Composer: Austin Wintory)
From a purely audiovisual perspective, Journey is one of my favourite experiences of all time. The minimalistic story comes together beautifully with the artistically distinct world, and the score composed by Austin Wintory perfectly accentuates the atmosphere and tone the game tries to achieve. This is pushed even further by the fact that the music in-game actually reacts to the player's actions and the world around him, changing dynamically as the environment changes.
Some of the tracks in Journey are just breathtakingly beautiful. For example, ´Nascence´, which plays during the game's opening, perfectly encapsulates the tone of the entire experience. Other wonderful pieces you should definitely check out include ´Threshold´, ´Apotheosis´ and ´Atonement´. In Journey Austin Wintory successfully created a score that was genuinely emotional. It accentuates the moments of sadness and triumph, as well as those of contemplation.
#41 Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald
(Composers: Go Ichinose, Junichi Masuda, Morikazu Aoki and Hitomi Sato)
The Pokémon games have always contained excellent pieces of music that many still remember fondly years after playing them, but their scores are seldom brought up as examples of some of the best music in video games. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not overly familiar with the series, having only played one of them extensively. Fortunately, we do have one representative from the series that made it into the top 50 in the end, that being the third generation of Pokémon titles - Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.
Composed by a team of four (although Hitomi Sato only worked on Emerald's score), the soundtracks are very upbeat, as one would expect from any Pokémon game, but there is still some nice nuance found within as well. Themes like ´Oldale Town´, ´Cave of Origin´ and ´Verdanturf Town´ showcase the variety found within these soundtracks.
And so we come to the end of the first part of the countdown. Look forward to Part 2 in the near future.