VGChartz's Top 50 Video Game Soundtracks (20-11) - ArticleTaneli Palola , posted on 07 March 2018 / 4,344 Views
Welcome to the penultimate part of the countdown for the top 50 greatest video game soundtracks of all time, as voted by the VGChartz community. Now, for the final time, let's take a look at a few more honourable mentions - games that just barely missed out on making it into the top 50. The following three games were in fact numbers 53 – 51 on the overall list.
The latest entry in the long-running Mario Kart series is also quite possibly the most critically acclaimed one. Together with every other aspect of Mario Kart 8 the soundtrack received a lot of praise after its release. It missed out on the top 50 by just two points.
One of the greatest RTS games of all time, Total Annihilation also boasts an amazing score composed by Jeremy Soule, who is likely best known for his work in The Elder Scrolls series. Perhaps the only real drawback for the score is that it's relatively short, with just 17 tracks in total lasting a little over 34 minutes. Total Annihilation was just one point short of making it into the top 50.
In terms of its music, Xenoblade Chronicles X is quite different from the other two entries in the series, as its soundtrack was composed entirely by Hiroyuki Sawano and he had no involvement with the other two games. One distinctive trait of the score is its abundance of vocal tracks.
(Composer: Toby Fox)
In addition to basically creating the entire game by himself, Toby Fox was also responsible for composing Undertale's excellent musical score. Taking inspiration from titles like Earthbound and other SNES RPGs, as well as his own earlier work, the music in Undertale is at once both familiar and unique in its style.
With this score Fox has managed to create one of the catchiest, and most memorable soundtrack in recent years, and while catchiness alone isn't a mark of great music, there's a lot more to Undertale's music than that. This can easily be seen in tracks like ´Ruins´, ´Heartache´, ´Spear of Justice´ and ´Another Medium´, among many others.
#19 Halo 2
(Composers: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori)
Following on from the success of the first Halo and its now iconic themes, the score for the second game was intended to build upon the first one's best aspects. Martin O'Donnell also decided to create ambient sounds so as to ensure that no part of the game would be completely silent. This allowed him to build up the atmosphere of each of Halo 2's locations.
The music itself wasn't composed with specific locations or character themes in mind, but rather it was built around the tone and feel of moments found within the game's various levels. The soundtrack uses a suite structure, with each track essentially covering one of the game's chapters. This makes tracks like ´Mombasa Suite´, ´Sacred Icon Suite´ and ´High Charity Suite´ feel almost like miniature concerts by themselves.
#18 Donkey Kong Country
(Composers: David Wise, Eveline Fischer and Robin Beanland)
The Super Nintendo is known for providing us with some of the greatest video game scores of all time, and one of the games that often come up in discussions about the platform's best example of this is Donkey Kong Country. More or less the title that made Rare a powerhouse developer for the latter half of the 1990's, DKC also served as Rare's musical team's ascent to fame.
Donkey Kong Country's score combines strong percussive elements with memorable melodies and environmental sounds, covering a wide variety of different musical genres. Many of its themes are among the SNES's most iconic pieces of music, with the likes of ´Aquatic Ambiance´, ´Mine Cart Madness´, ´Fear Factory´ and ´Forest Frenzy´ still being etched into gamers' minds all these years later.
#17 The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
(Composer: Marcin Przybylowicz)
Based on the excellent book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher franchise has over the last 10 years become one of the most popular video game series in the world. But it's the third entry that stands as the peak of CD Projekt Red's work, both in terms of critical as well as commercial success. The same holds true for the title's score, which is the most ambitious project undertaken by composer Marcin Przybylowicz thus far in his career.
Taking a wealth of influence from Polish folk music, the score manages to sound both epic and intimate in scope at the same time. A lot of this is thanks to its masterful use of orchestral sections in conjunction with traditional folk instruments like the lute, fiddle, and gusle. This gives the music in Witcher III its own unique quality - one that is difficult to describe, but easy to recognize while listening to tracks like ´Aen Seidhe´, ´Silver For Monsters´, ´The Vagabond´, and ´Cloak and Dagger´. I strongly recommend listening to the entire soundtrack if you can.
#16 The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
(Composers: Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi and Koji Kondo)
With every new The Legend of Zelda game there are always certain fan expectations, and perhaps never more so than in the aftermath of Ocarina of Time's massive success. People expected Nintendo to give them more of the same when the series made the jump to the GameCube. With this in mind, it's no surprise that when Wind Waker made its debut the reaction was mixed, to put it mildly. These days Wind Waker is seen as a genuine classic and one of the high points in the entire franchise, but initially there was a massive backlash, mostly centered around the cel-shaded visuals.
Besides the visual style, the music was another notable departure from the past, taking influence from traditional Irish music and being generally more upbeat. This suited the overall adventurous tone the game took with its narrative, with Link traversing the massive ocean world, discovering new locations on his journey to save his sister and defeat Ganon once again. The soundtrack is filled with excellent pieces of music, with standouts such as ´Windfall Island´, ´The Great Sea´, and ´Farewell Hyrule King´ serving as examples of the score's wonderful variety.
#15 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
(Composer: Michiru Yamane)
When creating the music for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Michiru Yamane put together one of the most varied scores of her entire career. Featuring elements of classical music, jazz, techno, metal, and many other genres, the soundtrack successfully gives each of the game's numerous locations their own unique identity and style. Her music alone is enough to make each new area instantly recognizable and memorable, which is a testament to the strength of the score.
While most of the soundtrack consists of themes composed specifically for Symphony of the Night, it does feature some remixes of themes from the series' past, such as the track ´Dance of Illusions´. Curiously, there are also a handful of tracks that only appear in the Saturn version of the title, including the perennial fan favourite ´Bloody Tears´. Besides those two tracks I strongly recommend listening to others such as ´Dracula's Castle´, Festival of Servants´, ´Rainbow Cemetery´, and ´Heavenly Doorway´.
#14 Kingdom Hearts
(Composer: Yoko Shimomura)
A curious mixture of original pieces and rearranged versions of well-known Disney and Final Fantasy songs, the score for Kingdom Hearts stands as quite possibly the best work Yoko Shimomura has ever done. Over the course of the entire series she has done a wonderful job at both creating her own pieces of music as well reworking famous themes to fit into the many worlds found within each title. However, it is the music in the first entry that is still often the most fondly remembered.
What makes this score so exceptional is the skill with which Shimomura uses such a wide variety of musical inspirations and makes each of them her own. The fact that she was able to take quite literally decades worth of music from Disney movies and make all of those highly disparate musical styles fit together seamlessly is a true indicator of her talent as both a composer and an arranger. Just listen to a few wonderful tracks like ´Dearly Beloved´, ´Traverse Town´, ´Kairi II´, ´Destati´, or any of the arranged pieces from the various Disney films to see what I mean.
#13 Final Fantasy IX
(Composer: Nobuo Uematsu)
The score that Nobuo Uematsu himself has called his own personal favourite out of all his works, Final Fantasy IX has a very different feel to its music compared to the previous three games in the series. As the whole game was something of a return to the series' roots, as well as a monument to its long history in general, the music also harkened back to the sound and style of those earlier games.
Not only did the soundtrack contain numerous callbacks to tunes found in previous entries in the long-running series, but the gloomier, more serious tone of the previous three Final Fantasy titles was replaced by a generally more lighthearted sound, although naturally the score still contains its fair share of darker themes as well. Among the many excellent pieces found within the score I can easily recommend the likes of ´Melodies of Life´ (the game's main vocal theme), the world map theme ´Crossing Those Hills´, the beautifully melancholic ´Unforgettable Silhouette´, and the rousing ´Not Alone´.
#12 Persona 5
(Composer: Shoji Meguro)
The Persona series is perhaps one of the most unlikely video game success stories over the last two decades. Beginning as just a sub-series to an already niche JRPG franchise, the Persona games have slowly turned from cult favourites into one of the biggest names in the genre. As the series has grown in popularity, so has the recognition for its music, often composed by Shoji Meguro who has more or less become synonymous with the Persona games as a result.
The sound Meguro went for with the Persona 5 soundtrack feels like a continuation of his earlier work with the series. It retains many familiar elements, but pushes the overall tone to some new places with the incorporation of acid jazz. This mix of familiar and new can be heard in tracks like ´Life Will Change´, ´King, Queen and Slave´, ´Regret´, and ´Days of Sisters´.
#11 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
(Composer: David Wise)
To many fans, the score in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is David Wise's finest work to-date. He had already created much of the previous title's excellent music, and yet somehow he managed to create something even better with the sequel. Stylistically it's very similar to the score in the first DKC, just even more memorable and varied.
For example, in many people's eyes this game features quite possibly the best SNES theme ever composed in ´Stickerbrush Symphony´, and that is just one of the many excellent pieces of music found in the score. The entire soundtrack is essential listening, but ´Krook's March´, ´Forest Interlude´, and ´Flight of the Zinger´ are a great place to start.
That's the second-to-last part of this countdown finished. Next time we'll finally get to the top 10 greatest video game soundtracks ever composed.