My Top 5 Gaming Soundtracks

I have a passion for video game music. I don’t know where it came from, I just find it beautiful. When I’m in the right mood I can sit down and chill out to a video game soundtrack for hours on end, preferably one without vocals. Here are my top 5 video game soundtracks, in no particular order.

Final Fantasy VII – Playstation One

This one was a given, considering my insane fandom of the game. Listening to this soundtrack gives me a lot of happiness as it takes me back in time to when I first discovered the world of gaming. It’s very difficult for me to narrow down exactly what track is my favourite, but this is at least one of them;

Shadow Hearts Covenant – Playstaton Two

I adore the Shadow Hearts series. Even the third one gets some love from me, up until the point it got too weird. But the music that stands out the most from this cult-status RPG is from the second game. Without Yoshitaka Hirota’s work on this soundtrack, the game would not be as magical as it is. My favourite track is, funnily enough, from the opening cinematic;

Baten Kaitos – Gamecube

This is one of the more obscure games in my collection, but one with a brilliant composer. Motoi Sakuraba did a really good job with this one. The song that sticks out for me the most is the boss battle music. I remember the first time I heard it and I instantly fell in love with its techno beat and random lyrics;

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time – N64

Koji Kondo, you are a genius. Ocarina of Time has always had some beautiful music in it, and any gamer will know Epona’s Song and Saria’s Song. they are all unique and repetitive little ditties that we all enjoyed playing on our little ocarina as Link, and I think these will stay with us for a long time. Again though, none of the above are in my favourites list. The award for my favourite Zelda song goes to;

Final Fantasy X – Playstation Two

I know, I know. Two Final Fantasy soundtracks in one post. I can’t help it, I just love Nobuo too much. This was really the last Final Fantasy that had a decent soundtrack, at least in my opinion. It’s very soothing and I can listen to it to relax and relive those beautiful cut scenes from the very first Final Fantasy on PS2 and one of the most beautiful. Ironic then that I would choose a quite fast paced song as one of my favourites;

Can Music Make or Break a Game? – Megabits of Gaming Feature

Can Music Make or Break a Game – Posted 16/08/2012 on Megabits of Gaming

The importance of music in a video game is often overlooked. We all have our favourite tracks from our favourite games, but how does music really add to our gaming experience? With the exception of games like LIMBO, I believe it has a massive impact on how we experience each game world.

The music of Tetris and Pacman is something that will remain with many gamers. Play these in a room full of people, and it’s guaranteed that most of them will know what these little midi files are from, and they will even be able to hum along to it. The music is part of the nostalgia for some gamers, part of the playing experience and each game may perhaps not have enjoyed as much fame as they did without these iconic sounds.

If you don't know the music to this, you have clearly been under a rock

If you don’t know the music to this, you have clearly been under a rock

Video game music has become a lot more complex since the early days of arcade machines though. With composers like Nobuo Uematsu, famous for the Final Fantasy series, Koji Kondo, the genius behind The Legend of Zelda soundtracks, or Shoji Meguro, a more obscure composer famed with composing some unique music for the Persona franchise, video games are a land filled with magnificent composition. Of course the magic of video game music is not just limited to JRPGs. The Halo franchise boasts a fan base with a passion for the orchestral music contained within, and Metal Gear Solid fans sing praise to each instalments soundtrack.

Even action games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta have a certain something about their battle tracks that are designed to get you pumped up. I bet you never thought that a version of Fly Me To The Moon could get your adrenaline rushing in order for you to kick some angel butt, but it really works. In typical Devil May Cry style, the main battle music is written and performed by the lead vocalist to heavy rock band, Hyonogaja, and really gets you in a button bashing mood. Without these key songs would you really have had as much desire to pummel those enemies and finish off the game? Perhaps not.

Fallout 3 is a rare example where older songs are used for the soundtrack, and Galaxy News Radio is a pure stroke of genius that left me riveted with every song, no matter how often they were replayed. Fallout New Vegas featured a similar soundtrack, but for some reason it just didn’t hit the same chords for me.

Galaxy News Radio was a unique twist on Video Game Music

Galaxy News Radio was a unique twist on Video Game Music

The true test of video game music though, is when you decide whether you want to listen to it outside of their game worlds. The music of Final Fantasy has its very own concert touring the world at the moment; Distant Worlds. The giant Halo series has even had a concert hosted in its honour, with fans flocking to listen to the live soundtrack and relive some of their favourite moments. If that doesn’t tell you the quality of what we are caressing our eardrums with, then I don’t know what will.

I can personally spend hours playing Persona 3 and not get bored of the battle music. I even listen to the soundtrack in my iTunes library when I start to get a bit of withdrawal. There are however some games that demand you mute them and create your own soundtrack. The music in Blue Dragon was one of these games. Every boss battle had the same annoying heavy rock track on an endless loop. There was no way I could sit through that, so I had to make my own amusement. I also did the same with World of Warcraft whenever I got stuck into a day-long session on the epic MMORPG because chirping birds does get a bit boring after a while.

Halo has a beautiful soundtrack with a plethora of fans

Halo has a beautiful soundtrack with a plethora of fans

MTV has dished out awards for the best video game soundtracks in the past, and of course the BAFTAs have recognized the medium of the game soundtrack in their annual video game awards. Music is just as important in games as it in film and television it would seem.

My point is without the music, gaming may not be what it is today. Without background ditties to hum along to and dramatic battle sounds, games might feel static and lifeless. Sure, some hit the mark where others fall short, but let us take a moment to appreciate what we so often forget is a vital cog in the gaming machine.