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Best Video Game Music

The most memorable video games are usually paired with the most memorable video game music. Who thinks of Final Fantasy and doesn’t have the end of battle fanfare pop into their head? Who doesn’t recognize the Super Mario Brother’s theme song, or even Tetris’ Russian folk music? These memorable sounds are a part of the iconic and timeless nature of these games. Increasingly, video game makers are recognizing the need to create beautiful soundtracks with their video games, often including a collector’s CD with limited edition releases. Here is a list of some of the most recent notable video game soundtracks, in no particular order of preference. There’s much more out there but this list should wet your appetite for more.

Assassin’s Creed 2

When thinking of Assassin’s Creed 2 one of the most memorable aspects of the game is the beautiful landscapes and dynamic cities. But what may not be obvious at first is that the music really contributes to the overall feel of the vast and wonderfully rendered settings. As I listen to the Assassin’s Creed 2 soundtrack, I can picture hopping across the rooftops of Venice or riding my horse along the dirt trails outside the cities of Florence. The music manages to wonderfully capture the past and future, blending a range of sounds that suck the player into the atmosphere of the game.

The Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword

Because of the Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, Nintendo released a complimentary music CD with symphonic compilations from a number of the Legend of Zelda games. Since Skyward Sword is the first of the Zelda series to use an orchestra for its music, the experience of listening to all your favourite Zelda classics remastered is simply too amazing to pass up. Nintendo has always done beautiful things with music, and if you are a Zelda fan this soundtrack is definitely something you need to add to your collection.

Final Fantasy XIII

I used to listen to this soundtrack quite often, enjoying the wide range of melodies for every mood. I don’t have much to say about the game, but this soundtrack definitely made the experience of playing Final Fantasy 13 more enjoyable.


4 thoughts on “Best Video Game Music

  1. Interesting that you put Assassin’s Creed 2 at the top of your list. Since I haven’t listened to too many modern soundtracks outside of those that I’ve played, I’m going to need to check that out.

    By the way, regarding your statement of “video game makers are recognizing the need to create beautiful soundtracks with their video games,” you may find it interesting to know that, while game music may increasingly be utilizing instrumentation and arrangement techniques that help make it sound more beautiful to most (I say that because even crummy samples or chiptunes sound beautiful to many people, though I understand why most would not think so), I was at a panel where Grant Kirkhop, composer for most – if not all – of the old Rare games, blatantly stated that the large game companies “couldn’t give a @$*” about the music in the games. Indie game designers or programmers themselves may care, but even Nintendo, long known for its games with excellent VGM, doesn’t really care. That being said, I imagine that objectifying the substance within the music is often thrown away when faced with samples that make the music very passable. Luckily, Nintendo already has great VGM composers on their staff, so…

    Posted by Muuurgh | February 7, 2012, 8:16 am
    • Thanks so much for your informative comment! Just to throw in there I actually wasn’t listing in order of preference, it was just the first that came to mind. I will admit I am not very knowledgable about music quality, and I can definitely see your points! I know for certain at least that a lot of smaller Japaneae game developers have cared a lot about their music. There are plenty of good soundtracks out there. (For example Shining Force EXA as surprising as that sounds). It is sad to hear that a lot of bigger game developers don’t really care. Perhaps they are just hiring good composers? Just out of curiosity, do you think Ubisoft would be one that cares? I have always respected the quality of their games. Thanks again for your input and for leaving a comment!

      Posted by renaemc | February 7, 2012, 8:58 am
      • Yeah, there are definitely developers out there that really care about the music for sure. I think with the big companies that don’t care, they can settle with either going with people they’ve used for a long time or go by name only. I think in the end everything sounds good, but if the latter idea is true, a lot of people out there can definitely be overlooked. Then again, I’m just hypothesizing off Grant Kirkhope’s disdain for some of his past employers. That being said, regarding Ubisoft, who knows! I would expect Nintendo to have been an advocate, based on what I hear, yet…… It’s interesting.

        Posted by Muuurgh | February 15, 2012, 8:07 pm
  2. When I think of good video game music I think of Megaman Classic. I realize chiptunes aren’t for everyone, but in my opinion Capcom’s musicians pushed the NES to its limits to make the greatest-sounding beats possible on the hardware. There are so many catchy tracks in the eight 8-bit games that I’d have a hard time narrowing it down to even ten.

    Posted by Courtney | February 11, 2012, 11:07 pm

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