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VGChartz's Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks (30-21)

VGChartz's Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks (30-21) - Article

by Taneli Palola , posted on 25 February 2018 / 4,433 Views

Welcome back to the countdown for the VGChartz community's greatest video game soundtracks of all time. As with my previous article I'll just take a brief moment to go through a few honourable mentions of games that just barely missed out on making it into the list.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Composers: Hajime Wakai, Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota and Takeshi Hama)

Skyward Sword is often overlooked within the Zelda canon in favour of the other more popular entries in the series, but that doesn't mean there aren't things in the game that deserve recognition. The game's score is one such thing.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (Composer: Shoji Meguro)

The game that for many people was their introduction to the entire Shin Megami Tensei-series, and the title that popularized the franchise outside of Japan. It also made Shoji Meguro's music synonymous with the series.

Stardew Valley (Composer: Eric Barone)

Essentially a one-man project, Stardew Valley was made almost entirely by Eric Barone, and that includes the game's excellent soundtrack. It's an amazing achievement.

Next time we'll cover the final three honourable mentions, but for now let's get on with the countdown. If you haven't seen the first two parts yet, you can check them out here and here.


#30 Super Metroid

(Composers: Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano)

When it comes to building atmosphere and emphasizing the feel and style of a specific in-game location, there are very few soundtracks to do this better than the one found in Super Metroid. From the moment the disembodied voice announces that ”The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace”, and the game's main theme kicks in the mood is set.

A lot of the tracks are inseparable from the locations in the game. The two aspects complement each other so well, that simply taking one by itself and analysing it is a disservice. There's no question that the score is exceptional, but it's best experienced by playing the game itself. Still, to get a glimpse of the excellence that is Super Metroid's soundtrack take a listen to tracks like ´Crateria – Space Pirates Appear´, ´Brinstar - Red Soil Wetland Area´ and ´Norfair – Ancient Ruins´.


#29 Street Fighter II

(Composers: Yoko Shimomura and Isao Abe)

Despite being one of the most frequently ported video games of all time, Street Fighter II's music has largely remained the same throughout its various iterations, though naturally the compositions have had to account for various hardware limitations along the way.

Yoko Shimomura was responsible for the vast majority of the game's themes and Isao Abe composed a few additional tracks for the score. Following Shimomura's departure from the company in 1993, Abe took over as the main composer for later ports of the title, but tracks like ´Ken Stage´ ´Chun Li Stage´ and ´Vega Stage´ are as great today as they were when the game was first released.


#28 Super Mario Galaxy 2

(Composers: Mahito Yokota, Ryo Nagamatsu and Koji Kondo)

When Super Mario Galaxy 2 began development the plan was to actually just reuse the first game's compositions, but as the project grew larger and included entirely new elements not found in the first Galaxy, the decision to make new music was made. Most of the soundtrack was composed by Mahito Yokota, while Nagamatsu and Kondo provided nine and five pieces for the score, respectively.

The soundtrack is a mix of original concepts and arrangements of older pieces of music from the series' past. This makes for a highly varied score, especially when combined with the fact that three different composers worked on it. Naturally, with this being a Mario game, the music is overwhelmingly positive and vibrant, but there are more than a few darker themes included as well. ´Starship Mario´, ´Puzzle Plank Galaxy´, ´Cosmic Cove Galaxy´ and ´Shiverburn Galaxy´ give a small glimpse of the wide variety of music found in the soundtrack.


#27 Ori and the Blind Forest

(Composer: Gareth Coker)

Few games in recent years have captured gamers' hearts quite like Ori and the Blind Forest did with its gorgeous visuals, heartwarming (and breaking) story, fun metroidvania style gameplay, and absolutely beautiful score. The orchestral music fits perfectly into the game's haunting atmosphere and bittersweet narrative, enhancing the experience wonderfully.

Ori and the Blind Forest was inspired by many classic animated films such as The Lion King, The Iron Giant, and the work of Hayao Miyazaki. The music often seems to evoke the style found in Miyazaki's films in particular, with numerous superb tracks such as ´Up the Spirit Caverns Walls´, The Spirit Tree´ and ´Climbing the Ginso Tree´ sounding like they would feel right at home in a Studio Ghibli film.


#26 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(Composer: Jeremy Soule)

One of the many surprises of this top 50, for me anyway, was the fact that Jeremy Soule's work is only represented by a single entry - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Soule has been working in the industry as a composer since the mid-90s and during that time has created some of the best video game scores of all time, including every main game in The Elder Scrolls series since Morrowind. Of course, for many his best work to date is his score for Skyrim.

It's a massive soundtrack, containing over 3½ hours of music. Naturally with this much content it's impossible to mention all but a fraction of the excellent tracks found within, but I'll list a few recommendations nonetheless. Obviously, the famous ´Dragonborn´ theme is worth listening to, but tracks like ´Ancient Stones´, ´Death or Sovngarde´ and ´The Jerall Mountains´ are just as great.


#25 Mega Man X

(Composers: Setsuo Yamamoto, Makoto Tomozawa, Yuki Iwai, Yuko Takehara and Toshihiko Horiyama)

By the time the SNES came around many people felt that the Mega Man series was already past its prime. Mega Man 2 and 3 are often considered among the NES's best games, but later entries have generally received a decidedly more mixed reception. This was mostly because every new game felt too similar to the previous titles, both in gameplay and style, so when it came time to make the jump to the SNES there was a definite need to freshen things up a bit. Mega Man X more than delivered on that demand.

The title takes advantage of everything the SNES sound chip offers, creating what is one of the system's most exciting scores in the process. The ´Intro Stage´ theme perfectly sets the tone for the entire game, and tracks like ´Spark Mandrill´, Launch Octopus´ and ´Flame Mammoth´ make for an excellent follow-up to this.


#24 Mega Man 2

(Composers: Takashi Tateishi)

The oldest game on this list, and the only one from the pre-16-bit days of the industry to make it into the top 50, Mega Man 2 contains some of the most iconic tunes ever composed for a video game. Its placement on the top half of this list is a testament to the quality of the score the composers managed to pull from an undeniably limited NES sound chip. The melodies found in Mega Man 2 have stayed with people for nearly 30 years now, and for good reason.

Naturally tracks like ´Dr. Wily Stage 1/2´ and the classic ´Title Theme´ are widely known and regarded as some of the best themes ever produced on the NES, but in addition the game is filled with other excellent, memorable, and thoroughly enjoyable pieces like ´Metal Man Stage´, ´Quick Man Stage´ and ´Flash Man Stage´.


#23 Super Mario Odyssey

(Composers: Naoto Kubo, Shiho Fujii and Koji Kondo)

The newest game in the Mario series quickly became one of the most highly regarded entries in the franchise as well. Among its many highly acclaimed elements are the soundtrack, which is once again a highly varied, upbeat score, but for the first time ever it also contains two vocal tracks.

The most well-known track from the game is naturally the main vocal them, ´Jump Up, Super star!´, sung by Pauline in-game and her voice actress Kate Davis in real-life. It's a wonderfully catchy jazz piece, but only really the start of what is an all-around excellent score. Among tracks I would strongly recommend listening to are the likes of ´Tostarena: Ruins´, ´Steam Gardens´ and ´Shiveria: Town´.


#22 Final Fantasy X

(Composers: Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano)

The music in the Final Fantasy series was for a long time associated with the work of just one composer – Nobuo Uematsu, whose music essentially defined the sound of the entire series for well over a decade. For that reason alone Final Fantasy X was a huge departure from the past, as it was the first time ever that Uematsu wasn't the sole composer of a mainline Final Fantasy title.

Regardless, the music of Final Fantasy X is still in large part influenced by Uematsu's touch. That is not to say the other two composers' work isn't great, but they are often overshadowed by Uematsu's compositions. Some of the most beloved themes in the entire series came from Final Fantasy X, and considering how highly regarded the music in the series is, that's saying a lot. Tracks like ´To Zanarkand´, ´Suteki Da Ne´, ´A Fleeting Dream´, ´Battle Theme´ are a few examples of this.


#21 Okami

(Composers: Masami Ueda, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Rei Kondoh and Akari Groves)

Okami is one of those games that has never quite received the attention and success it deserves, yet among those who have played it, Okami often ranks high among their favourites. Its soundtrack is similarly acclaimed, and often brought up in discussions about the greatest video games scores of all time. Case in point, this countdown.

Just as the game's narrative and characters were influenced by Japanese legends and folklore, the music in Okami took its inspiration from classic Japanese music. As such, the soundtrack makes use of many traditional Japanese instruments, which is shown wonderfully in tracks like ´Exorcising Evil´, ´Cursed Shinshu Field´, ´Lake Harami´ and ´Kushi's Ride´. 


That's it for part three. We're getting close to the very best video game soundtracks of all time now - just 20 more to go.

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Ultrashroomz (on 25 February 2018)

I really hated how we could only vote one game per franchise; while Persona 3 isn't my personal top pick when it comes to its soundtrack, the game still had several amazing pieces of music, including "Burn My Dread", "Want to be Close", "When the Moon is Reaching Stars", "Joy", "Mass Destruction", "Master of Shadows", "The Battle For Everyone's Souls", "Kimi no Kioku" and of course "The Poem for Everyone's Souls" which is probably the most iconic track in the entire Persona series.

  • +4
OTBWY (on 25 February 2018)

Super Mario Odyssey's soundtrack is just so good.

  • +4
TruckOSaurus (on 25 February 2018)

Uematsu = love.

  • +3
StreaK (on 25 February 2018)

I'm just waiting for SotC to pop up, and BETTER do so!
I must say, from this list I have just discovered a new game - Ori and the Blind Forest. Wow, what a magical soundtrack! I had to look the game up right after on youtube and it's beautiful. Microsoft actually has a beautiful game??? Looks like I won't be playing this one but man, looks terrific!

  • +2
TruckOSaurus StreaK (on 25 February 2018)

It's on PC too.

  • 0
StreaK StreaK (on 25 February 2018)

Don't have a PC either. I have a iMac.

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Mar1217 (on 25 February 2018)

The top 10 sounds like a lot of surprises will be found there.

  • +2
Darashiva Mar1217 (on 25 February 2018)

Depends on your expectations I guess. There are a few games I didn't expect to make it that high, but I can't speak for other people.

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Mar1217 Mar1217 (on 25 February 2018)

Well, I was a believer that FFX would actually make it into the Top 10 :P

Did SM Galaxy or Ocarina of Time already charted ?

Also Kirby 64 is sooo underrated soundtrack wise. It should have made the Top 50 list at least grumpy

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Darashiva Mar1217 (on 25 February 2018)

Plenty of FF still to come, and no, Galaxy and OoT haven't shown up yet.

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shikamaru317 (on 25 February 2018)

Ori and Skyrim are lower than they deserve to be, but I'm glad they made it in at least.

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The_Liquid_Laser (on 27 February 2018)

Heh, I haven't seen one of my games make the list yet. Although I did have Undertale as #3 on my list and I saw that appearing on several other lists as well. Guess, I'll just have to wait and see.

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CaptainExplosion (on 25 February 2018)

So glad to see Super Mario Odyssey here! :D

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Stuart23 (on 25 February 2018)

Looking forward of what will be the top 10,a lot of my choices already appeared so far.

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Rob5VGC (on 25 February 2018)

No Kingdom Hearts 1 and Birth by Sleep. That means both or one of the two will be in the top 20. Nice.

  • 0
BraLoD (on 25 February 2018)

Good, still no SotC.

  • 0
Luke888 (on 25 February 2018)

I expect the first Galaxy to be in the top 10,that game's score is just insane for how good it is

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Azzanation (on 25 February 2018)

Ori at #27? That's a top 5 for me. I was also expecting Mario Galaxies to be #1. Curious to see the final 10 now.

  • 0
bettergetdave (on 25 February 2018)
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