Monday, 15 April 2013

M - Musical Marvels! My Top 10 OST of Video Games

Since the dawn of the 8-bit systems, the music that makes a good game a great game has been always developing. Original compositions are the best, because it shows the developer has really put the effect in. Too many games merely have a selection of popular tracks by established artists just to appease the gamer. I prefer a soundtrack that had been carefully selected or purposefully written to enhance the game playing experience. This is my top 10 of video games with the best music, the music which is unforgettable and gives the game a stamp of uniqueness and quality. Some are a full collection of music written for the game, while others are a mixture of this and released artists tracks that fit the game like a glove.
Iron Man in his medieval days
#10 Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts - With cues from the original score from the first game, this Snes exclusive made one of the hardest games a joy to listen too. With some fitting creepy and dramatic ghoulish themes, atmospheric tracks followed your journey and made the endless deaths much more bearable. Lots of piano, strings and wide organ work made the BGM quite superb  This is one of many Super Nintendo games that feature in this list, because the Snes had a talent for great 16-bit musical scoring.

#9 Super R-Type - Shooting games have a bit of history with good music, Xenon 2 having the most fame with the track Megablast. R-Type's BGM is a cracking selection of tracks, all created for the game specially and sound wonderful. Again, it's that marriage of toughness and top music that works, and brings to back to play again. The title track sets the standard high, but the second stage son "Wet as a Fish" is awesome, calming and fitting to the them of the level. The music also brings an important element of urgent feelings and excitement to the proceedings too.

#8 Grand Theft Auto - With a mixture of specially written tracks and US chart hits, the radio in the car you steal provides a fun aside to the carnage that you are involved in. It adds the much needed drive and thrill to the game, as the top down view can be a little dull at times. It's eclectic mix of various genres that cannot fail to raise a smile or two. From dance, to rock to country, its a wide soundtrack that encapsulates the ethos of GTA. It would not be the same game without it.

#7 Final Fantasy VII - From the title music, to the Midgar escape to the Aerith death theme; all the excellent music contained in this illustrious title is of a high standard. Would you have expected any less? Carefully written and included with need, the music of FF7 adds the effect of drama, mystery and intrigue to the game as you progress. The range of styles is vast too, but all works, even the insanely annoying Gold Saucer track is even accepted as important, and a nod to the memorable battle theme, but none more so than Sephiroth's 'One-Winged Angel' theme. Haunting and appropriate to the climax of the game.

#6 Beyond the Ice Palace - An often forgotten 8/16-bit fantasy platform romp, the game itself was rather mediocre, but the title theme was inspired. It even sounds good on the AY chip of the Speccy and CPC, but the Amiga's PAULA chip made it an epic musical piece that seems to tell the story of the game. It has two distinct parts; an intro of anticipation and a main riff of dramatic suggestions. Playing while you read the scroll at the beginning  it's a theme which outweighs the quality of the game, but also makes you want to play it just for title music. A rousing theme indeed.
#5 Starfox (Starwing) - This groundbreaking sci-fi shooter had it all, and none more so than a typical but accomplished space-motivated soundtrack. The big band sounds are all present, the strings, the drums, everything. The title theme could pass easily for a high budget sci-fi flick, and the stage BGM is all so brilliant, en-rousing and goose-bumping it's sheer class. The opening Corneria track gets things off to a fine start, with it all ending with the dramatic and serious Andross theme. Wonderful space-war audio goodness!

#4 Wip3out - The racing soundtrack to die for! It's dance music frenzy for sure, but nothing would do any less to fit the high speed aggressive nature of the Wipeout format. I must admit, I'm slightly biased here as my favourite band feature in the game, Orbital's 'Nowhere to Run' just underlines everything that is magnificent about this game, and the adopted main theme of the game is Sasha's 'Xpander', a trance classic. The fit of futuristic racing, outstanding visuals and the truly mind blowing music makes the whole package a highly fine game.

#3 Super Castlevania IV - The most famous track of the Castlevania series 'Bloody Tears' appears in one of the final levels, and that tells you how good the music is beforehand. With re-made tracks from previous games and new tracks such as the 'Dungeon' theme, the assisting tunes are excellently conceived and placed within the game. It starts with a hard hitting and tension building theme, and finally ends with the quick paced and dark composition to the final battle. It's full of organs, horns and harpsichord, bringing with it the feeling of the dark forces and other realm settings. Creepy and engrossing, the best castlevania soundtrack ever.

#2 Secret of Mana - From the moment the solemn piano of 'Fear of Heavens' opens the game, you know you are in for a treat in terms of musical excellence. The theme and mood of the game is captured wonderfully with the consistent variety and depth of the tracks, all underpinning the scenes and lands in which you are placed. The minimalistic Pure Land theme sends chills down your spine, the battle music is rampant and exciting, and the final techno-madness of the Dark Lich is stressful and scary. Every piece is vital to the game to enhance the experience, and nothing is out of place. Masterful.

The Mariana Trench diver uncovered some weird surprises
#1 Rez - Few games have such an importance and high priority for the music Rez has; it has it be first class due to the very nature of the 'Synesthesia' gameplay that makes Rez the unique title it is. If the tunes were no good, the game would be awful. However, the music contained is utterly marvellous, cleverly implemented and brings a presence and creativeness out of the player. The outlines of each level BGM flows as the player's actions manipulate the effects, riffs, and beats as they progress. It's very intelligent stuff, making the music fundamental to the game. Due to this originality and relevance to the play, this is my top pick, as it's not merely music, but a key part of the game-playing experience.

With a final crash of the cymbals, that brings the curtain down on another top 10 list. What has been your favourite BGM in video games? Are you a fan of the 8-bit classic or the orchestral masterpieces of the RPG genre? Music in games is often overlooked, but like my number 1 pick demonstrates can be vital to the success of the game. Big one tomorrow, I list my all time top games, ever! N - Novabug's Desert Island Games if you please!



  1. Yep totally agree, the music in Rez makes it the classic it is :)

    Odd choice, but I loved the music in Max Payne 3. Great mix of sexy and haunting synth tunes plus a couple of artist tracks from Health.

  2. I guess I am too far out of the gamin generation because I only recognize Star Fox.

  3. Those are great choices! There are only a few I didn't know. I'll have to check them out.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: