VGChartz's Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks (40-31) - ArticleTaneli Palola , posted on 15 February 2018 / 5,285 Views
Welcome to part two of our top 50 video game soundtracks countdown. This time we'll be covering the games from #40 to #31, but before we get to that I think it's time to quickly look at the first batch of honourable mentions. These are some of the games that just barely missed out on the top 50, but which still deserve to be recognized for their exceptional music.
Twilight Princess is the 5th highest ranking Zelda title on the list and the second that didn't make it into the top 50. Still, the score is of the usual high quality fans have come to expect from The Legend of Zelda, and being #59 out of 339 games isn't a bad result at all.
The score in Child of Light differentiates itself from most other games by being beautifully understated and melancholy in tone. The game's quiet atmosphere seeps through every facet of its music, and definitely deserves to be mentioned here. If you haven't done so yet, check it out.
This is the highest ranked Sonic game from the voting, losing out on the top 50 by a mere 3 points. It's an excellent score, produced on a console that is not as often mentioned when it comes to soundtrack discussions, especially in comparison to its competition at the time.
That's it for the first part of the honourable mentions, next time we'll cover a few more, but for now, let's continue with the main countdown. If you haven't seen the first part yet, you can check it out here.
(Composers: Keiichi Okabe, Kakeru Ishihama, Keiho Hoashi and Takafumi Nishimura)
Yoko Taro has always had a talent for creating games with beautifully melancholic atmospheres and bittersweet stories that constantly manage to take the player by surprise, tackling subjects and themes that most other developers often wouldn't even think about delving into. In NieR one of the most important elements in bringing the tone and themes of the game to the forefront and emphasizing their importance is the music.
The soundtrack consists largely of acoustic pieces with vocals sung by Emi Evans. Evans wrote her own lyrics for the game in a fictional language made specifically for this title, and was inspired by a number of different real world languages such as Gaelic, French, Japanese, and Spanish, among others. Tracks like ´Emil/Karma´, ´Hills of Radiant Winds´, ´Kaine/Salvation´, and ´Temple of Drifting Sands´ are a good place to start listening, but the entire soundtrack is worth going out of your way to experience in full.
#39 Doom (2016)
(Composer: Mick Gordon)
In many ways the new Doom is basically a loving tribute to the originals of the 90s. Even when it modernizes elements that made the original Doom so great 25 years ago, it is still instantly recognizable as a Doom title, and the music plays a big part in achieving that. Mick Gordon set out to create a score that would not only work by itself within the reboot, but also serve as a homage to the original's soundtrack, and in my opinion he achieved this goal flawlessly.
#38 Kingdom Hearts 2
(Composer: Yoko Shimomura)
There are comparatively few female composers working in the video game industry, but perhaps the best example of an excellent one is Yoko Shimomura, who over the last 30 years has composed music for a huge number of games, including the likes of Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana, Final Fantasy XV, and many others. Over that time she has also developed an instantly recognizable sound present in nearly all of her work.
Yoko Shimomura is likely best known for her work on the Kingdom Hearts series, and the second main entry has some of her best compositions ever. Shimomura's scores have a tendency be highly varied, with numerous different genres represented in them, and Kingdom Hearts II is no different on that front. Tracks like ´Reviving Hollow Bastion´, ´Organization XIII´, ´Hazardous Highway´, and ´Sacred Moon´ show off this great variety perfectly.
#37 Metal Gear Solid
(Composers: Kazuki Muraoka, Hiroyuki Togo, Takanari Ishiyama, Lee Jeon Myung, Maki Kirioka, Tappi Iwase and Rika Muranaka)
When it comes to the music in the Metal Gear Solid games, arguments can be made for each in regards to which of them has the best soundtrack in the series. However, on VGC there was no question as to which of them was the favourite, with the original Metal Gear Solid being listed more often than any other entry.
The score for the game was composed by a team of Konami's in-house musicians, perhaps most notably Tappi Iwase, who was responsible for the iconic ´Metal Gear Solid Main Theme´, and Rika Muranaka, who wrote the game's main vocal theme ´The Best Is Yet To Come´. The music that plays during gameplay moments, such as ´Rex's Lair´, has an almost industrial feel, while the cutscene music is much more cinematic in style, as heard in the track ´Introduction´, for example.
(Composer: Darren Korb)
Supergiant Games, the studio behind Transistor, Pyre and, of course, Bastion, has one very specific talent that often separates its work from that of other developers, namely the skill to marry gameplay, story, and music together in such a way that each complements the other two. Bastion was the team's first game, but even from the very beginning the company's use of music in conjunction with every scene and moment in the game was masterful.
Bastion's most well-known theme is likely ´Build That Wall´, with vocals by Ashley Lynn Barrett, but the entire soundtrack is filled with great songs. It relies heavily on acoustic instruments, and this can be heard in tracks such as ´In Case of Trouble´, ´Twisted Streets´, ´Spike In a Rail´, and the beautiful ending theme, ´Setting Sail, Coming Home´, which combines two of the game's earlier vocal tracks into a duet.
#35 Xenoblade Chronicles 2
(Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, ACE, Kenji Hiramatsu and Manami Kiyota)
The first of four 2017 releases on this list, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was notable for its inclusion of Yasunori Mitsuda as the game's main composer. He had previously provided the ending theme for the first Xenoblade Chronicles, but was now in charge of the entire soundtrack, including the audio budget and recording schedule. Working together with a team of composers, Mitsuda ultimately created around 25 of the 120 tracks composed for the title.
Although Mitsuda's style is definitely different from the music found in the first game, thanks to ACE and the rest of the composers it still sounds like a Xenoblade game. Regardless of the style, however, the score is excellent, with each contributing composer providing some great pieces. A few tracks I would recommend are ´Fonsa Myma (Night)´, ´Where We Used To Be´, ´The Ancient Vessel´, and the ´Unique Monster Battle Theme´.
#34 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(Composers: Manaka Kataoka and Yasuaki Iwata)
The score for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was somewhat divisive among series fans. Some loved the new, more ambient style of music, while others said it didn't sound like Zelda at all, missing the melodic and generally more upbeat style found in most previous titles in the franchise. Much of this new sound was thanks to the two composers - Manaki Kataoka and Yasuaki Iwata.
Kataoka had previously only worked on one Zelda game, namely Spirit Tracks, while Iwata actually had just two prior Nintendo games to his name in general. Many of the tracks are quite minimalistic as well, often only featuring one or two instruments in total, as the game tends to let the sounds of the environment itself take over. Still, there are certainly a number of beautiful tracks to be found here as well. A few recommended pieces would be ´Stables´, ´Prince Sidon's Theme´, ´Zora's Domain (Day)´ and ´Attack On Vah Ruta´.
(Composers: Keiichi Tanaka and Hirokazu Tanaka)
This is quite possibly the most eclectic of all the soundtracks in this top 50, which to be fair fits perfectly within the context of EarthBound. The score took influence from a massive number of different bands and artists, and even directly references many classical and folk songs. Tanaka actually composed over 100 tracks for the game, but naturally most of them weren't actually used due to the SNES cartridge's memory limitations.
The composers have cited artists and bands such as The Beach Boys, John Lennon, Frank Zappa, and many others as having influenced the music in EarthBound. Overall the score, while highly varied, does lean heavily towards jazz music with many of its tracks. It is quite unlike any other video game score I can think of - in a good way. The music almost seems to delight in not doing what one would expect it to, going in weird directions and taking sudden shifts in tone, sometimes even becoming genuinely disturbing. You can hear this yourself in tracks like ´Onett Theme´, ´Battle Against a Weird Opponent´, ´Sanctuary Guardian´, and ´The Lost Underworld´.
#32 The Last of Us
(Composers: Gustavo Santaolalla, Andrew Buresh, Jonathan Mayer and Anthony Caruso)
The decision to hire Gustavo Santaolalla to compose the original score for The Last of Us came about when Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley realized that a lot of the music they had been compiling as an inspiration for the game's score has been composed by Santaolalla. They felt his style would be perfect for the game's narrative and setting, and after hearing what the title was all about Santaolalla agreed to compose the soundtrack.
Overall it's actually quite low-key, even during the game's action sections, fitting the sombre apocalyptic setting. If I had to describe the score's overall tone, it would be beautiful and quiet melancholy. Many tracks also have a certain unsettling quality to them, sounding just slightly out of tune. The score is filled with excellent pieces, but tracks like ´The Last of Us´, ´The Path´ and ´The Way It Was´ are a good place to start listening.
#31 Dark Souls
(Composer: Motoi Sakuraba)
One of the biggest surprises I had in regards to Dark Souls was realizing that its music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba. His usual style, found in series like Tales and Star Ocean, is so different from his work in Dark Souls that I never would have guessed he was behind it. Yet he was, and the end result is quite possibly the best overall score he has ever created.
While the compositions in the soundtrack vary from quiet piano pieces to bombastic symphonic themes, there's always an undercurrent of sadness and feeling of finality in practically every one of the game's music tracks. The score perfectly complements the decaying world of Lordran, filling every moment with a sense of foreboding and danger, as if you're always just one step away from certain death. Tracks like ´Ornstein & Smough´, ´Crossbreed Priscilla´, ´Dark Sun Gwndolin´, and ´Gwyn, Lord of Cinder´ all embody this wonderfully.
Next time we'll get past the halfway point in the countdown, so look forward to that in the near future. Until then, thanks for reading.