Monday, March 02, 2015

I listen to a lot of music from video games. Here's some of my favourites. I've avoided picking more than one track from a game, so although "One Winged Angel" is good, it's not in the list because I chose a different track.

13. "Guile's Theme", by Yoko Shimomura / Isao Abe - (Super Street Fighter II)

Yoko Shimomura has worked on many video game soundtracks over the years, and is currently working on Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. Out of all of his work, my personal favourite is "Guile's Theme" because not only does it go with everything, it's also upbeat and I defy anybody who listens to it and says they don't feel happier afterwards.

12. "Leaving Earth", by Clint Mansell - (Mass Effect 3)

One of only two tracks credited to Clint Mansell on the OST "Mass Effect 3: Original Videogame Score", Leaving Earth is melancholic and lonely. I'm a sucker for a piano based theme, and the accompaniment compliments it perfectly. This track highlights the helplessness of the world during a dramatic section of the game.

11. "Build That Wall (Zia's Theme)", by Darren Korb & Ashley Barrett - (Bastion)

The first of two tracks composed by Darren Korb to feature in this list. The sound is somber and almost romantic. It's a minimalist acoustic track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Damien Rice album.

10. "Korobeiniki", by Hirokazu Tanaka - (Tetris)

Originally a Russian folk song Hirokazu Tanaka rearranged this song for the GameBoy version of Tetris after it had already appeared on earlier versions. Tetris is the best selling video game of all time, which means so many people know this soundtrack, which later led to a 1992 euro-pop cover which reached number 6 in the UK Singles chart in 1992.

9. "Dragonborn", by Jeremy Soule - (The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim)

This track made it into the Classic FM 2013 "Hall of Fame" where Jeremy Soule was described as the "John Williams of video game soundtracks" and said he bases his work on Debussy's exploration of harmony, Wagner's grand operas and Mozart's form and composition. This track might not be "Clair De Lune" but it's 30 piece choir sings the track 3 times and are layered on top of each other to produce an epic sounding 90 person strong choir.

8. "To Zanarkand", by Nobuo Uematsu - (Final Fantasy X)

Another composer with multiple tracks in the Classic FM "Hall of Fame" and regularly compared to Beethoven and John Williams. As I said before I'm a sucker for a nice piano, and this certainly qualifies as that. The melody is amazing and evokes a strong emotion regardless of it's context within the game.

7. "Boss the Boss", by Akinori Minami - (Sonic & Knuckles / Sonic the Hedgehog 3)

This track starts out with a sound that is instantly recognisable as a Mega Drive (Genesis) soundtrack and sounds more like Streets of Rage than Sonic The Hedgehog. The track then encourages urgency and tension and sounds so classic Mega Drive that i'm instantly filled with Nostalgia.

6. "One Final Effort", by Martin O'Donnell / Michael Salvatori - (Halo 3)

This track is very cinematic and really gets the adrenaline going. Whenever I'm rushing forward in a first person shooter I hear it in my head. The orchestra is constantly building to a crescendo and when playing Halo it helps to make you feel like the badass hero himself.

5. "The Spine (feat Ashley Barrett)", by Darren Korb - (Transistor)

The second outing in this list for Darren Korb. His music combined with the artwork in Transistor made it a really enjoyable game to play. This track in particular is almost juxtaposed from the gameplay creating a soundtrack dissonance during a boss fight. Ashley Barrett's vocals are amazing and make the track sound almost like a Bond theme.

4. "Aerith's Theme", by Nobuo Uematsu - (Final Fantasy VII)

What can be said about this track that hasn't already been said? It reached number 16 in Classic FM's 2012 "Hall of Fame" and rose to Number 3 in 2013. The piano version of this theme is my favourite but any version is great. It was great move to have such a good song tied to Aerith in the game for obvious reasons, and that helps this track stand out of the crowd. The version I've embeded here is the Distant Worlds performance which I was lucky enough to see at the Royal Albert Hall. 

3. "Under Construction", by Jerry Martin - (The Sims)

I said that I was sucker for piano tracks, and this is the epitome of that. Almost Einaudi like, this piece is so interesting and stands alone without the game. It's probably one of the most underrated soundtracks in video games. It's sooooo relaxing.

2. "Bubble Bobble Theme", by Tadashi Kimijima / Zuntata - (Bubble Bobble)

So repetitive, so joyful and so memorable. Whilst this track, perhaps, doesn't stand alone outside of the game, it's almost my favourite soundtrack ever. It brings back so many memories and it's an earworm. Play half hour of Bubble Bobble and you'll have this track in your head for the next 20 years.

1. "Variations on Canon and Gigue in D", by Johann Pachelbel - (Lemmings)

My number 1 pick, is so underrated it's unreal. The entire Lemmings soundtrack is amazing but none of the tracks are mentioned when the question "What's your favourite video game soundtrack?" is asked. Well I'm gonna change that! My Favourite track from Lemmings is the variation of Pachelbel's Cannon, specifically the Mega Drive version. It's upbeat, fun and catchy as well as being great technically with the voices and channels used. Try and listen to it without it adding a spring to your step.

Is there any soundtrack missing from this list that you think belongs here? Let me know in the comments or via Twitter.


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