Music has got to be one of the most overlooked components within video games. They have the power to trigger emotions, generate feelings of nostalgia and enhance gameplay. In order to properly honor the developers who have made the effort to incorporate quality music within their games, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best video game soundtracks. We hope that this list will give you a new appreciation for the brilliant composers and musicians who have worked hard to enhance our gaming experiences.
Michel Ancel's 2003 gem may feature questionable make-up application (we get it, your name is Jade), but there's no question about it having of the most varied and reaching soundtracks in any medium. Eastern/techno/aborigine/rap/David Lee Roth on mechacrack is about 1/10th of the way to adequately describing it. Just do yourself a favor and legally download it for free (thanks, Ubi!). If Beyond Good and Evil 2 makes it out the door, we'll be treated to another soundtrack composed by Héral. If it's cancelled, I'll be too busy eating an entire Carvel ice cream cake by myself.
Traditional Japanese and regal orchestral music set the mood for this epic BioWare action-RPG (I suppose saying epic BioWare action-RPG is triply redundant). If you enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect, go pick up this game. I'm sure there's a Hollywood Video liquidating near you that would be happy to give you an old rental copy for a few bucks.
When Blazblue was announced many fighting game fans held their breath with anticipation. Would the spiritual successor of Guilty Gear come to disappoint us or give us the game we’d been waiting so long for. I think its safe to say that three iterations later, Blazblue has secured itself as the best thing to Guilty Gear itself. But besides the eclectic characters and stupid fast gameplay, one of things most noted from Guilty Gear was the music itself. Not only did Daisuke Ishiwatari create the characters, voice the main character but he also composed the entire score AND did the guitar work himself. The intricate and amazing guitar riffs from Guilty Gear are only amplified in awesomeness in Blazblue. The hard hitting rock/metal sounds of the soundtrack can’t help but get you pumped up for battle. Every character has their own theme song which once you’ve learned them are immediately recognizable. Even specific matches between characters that are story relevant have special theme songs. The obvious passion Daisuke has for the music of Blazblue can almost be felt in every track. Each characters theme fits their persona perfectly, from Rachel’s elegant organ work, to the crazy twang of bass guitar in Tager’s to Taokaka’s comical mix of piano and flute. Each track has the feeling of individual love and care. And the guitar work is just so good, so so good. The soundtrack for Blazblue in my opinion goes down as the best fighting soundtrack ever (sorry Tekken fans)
Fresh off the success of Donkey Kong Country, Rare designed a more dark and expansive sequel — Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest. David Wise returned to score the title, this time entirely alone, and was also responsible for all the sound design and programming. He used the soundtrack as an opportunity to experiment and explored all sorts of different styles and influences for the game. The resultant work is not only his finest game score to date, but also one of the most compositionally and technologically accomplished examples of game audio on the Super Nintendo. The score was released in similarly comprehensive albums in both the United States and Japan.
Thanks to Game Boy-wielding 8bit rockers Anamanaguchi, the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network side scrolling beat ‘em up couldn't have received a better soundtrack. It’s so good that I was disappointed when I found out the film itself didn't share the same soundtrack. If you missed the game then there’s no need to miss out on this OST as well, especially when you can stream it by clicking on the link below.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of my favorite games of last year and a shining example of how to bring a franchise back with dignity and grace. It brought back everything that made the original Deus Ex’s memorable and shined it to 2011 perfection. I gladly explored every nook and cranny of the three cities you visit and a smile never left my face. However the thing I remember most was how good the music was. The opening credits is what did it for me. The slow and haunting electronic tune that played while Adam was being ripped apart was almost intoxicating. I was sucked in with the scene as I watched him scream in agony as his body was merged with machine in an effort to save his life. The music helped bestow this tragic scene as Adam’s mind flashed to his lost girlfriend and their tender moments together as he was sawed and stitched together into a cyborg. I don’t know how others felt during the scene but I was truly sold on the story and character at that point. And while the high quality CG helped paint the picture it was the music that really sealed it for me. After the scene played I quietly prayed to myself that the rest of the soundtrack was of the same quality and I was not disappointed. While none of the tracks struck me as hard as the opening credits every piece of music helped paint the picture of the futuristic world of Human Revolution. The music in many ways reminded me of the classic movie Tron, really the whole tone of the game was akin to it. In a move similar to Assassins Creed, Human Revolution creates a style unto the franchise itself, and gives a sense of setting, locale and even time. The music felt futuristic but also hopeless. As you walk around cities like New Detroit City it felt like their was no hope, as if humankind had given into to the trappings of cybernetics. While I know the philosophy of the game is far outside the purview of this article, I have to comment that the soundtrack itself feels like a message. It takes a tremendous soundtrack to elicit a feeling like a message and Deus Ex: Human Revolution does that.
Cluck your tongue if you must, but do you remember how amazing this was at the time? Before the franchise got Kotick'd, it was a groundbreaking game that made rock and roll god dreams a quasi-reality. Meant for a plastic peripheral that was ridiculed by befuddled dormmates before everyone realized how awesome it is, this soundtrack was a magical primer in the dark rock arts: Ozzy, Cream, Pantera, Hendrix, Bowie, Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughn...we're not worthy.
A proper space opera needs a proper space soundtrack. As is often the case in the world of video game soundtracks, Jack Wall (who also composed the Jade Empire soundtrack) is the right man for the job. This music conveys the loneliness and darkness of space, at times almost sucking the oxygen from the room, then turns around and inspires our sense of dominance and mastery as the one true commander of the Normandy.
To compliment the parallel worlds depicted in 'Chrono Cross,' composer Yasunori Mitsuda (who previously worked on the prequel 'Chrono Trigger') created alternately dark and bright tracks. The theme of the score was centered around old world cultural influences, such as Celtic, Mediterranean and percussive African music.
This soundtrack is present even when it cannot be heard. The music, which plays during the epic battles with the Colossi, is made more powerful by the virtual silence players experience while traveling across the barren landscape. After being isolated visually and aurally, the appearance of each behemoth is made even more epic as the orchestra swells. And yet, somehow, we are more alone than ever. For the use of the soundtrack in the game as well as the music's ability to stand on its own, we pay respect to composer Ko Otani and the Shadow of the Colossus original soundtrack.
The moving orchestral score by Kow Otani was only used during the battles with each colossus and during cut scenes. The rest of the game used no music while the protagonist traveled the vast landscape searching for the next colossi. In 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the game's soundtrack album, titled 'Shadow of the Colossus: Roar of the Earth,' as soundtrack of the year.