What's Your Favourite Video Game Soundtrack?

Whenever I got a new Sega Genesis game, I used to plug in the earphones to the console’s headphone jack to play it. I felt an invisible bubble form around me as the game started and I listened to the music in stereo sound. It was like I’d jacked into my own private universe.

There’s a weird JRPG on the Genesis called Super Hydlide that I loved mainly for its outstanding soundtrack. Shining in the Darkness felt even more labyrinthine and onerous with the music flowing through my ears. I really enjoyed the music from Sonic the Hedgehog as I sped at sonic speed from stage to stage. The Phantasy Star games stood out for their breadth of tracks and the way the OST ran the gamut from exhilarating battle songs to plaintive reflections on an ominous fate. I’d often write stories or do my homework with the game music on, letting the songs loop until I wanted something else to listen to, in which case I’d move to another area. I appreciated games that included sound tests and would let you readily access any of the tracks.

That enjoyment of gaming music continued throughout my life. I still remember the first time someone gifted me a game soundtrack; it was while I was working at my first game company and a colleague got me the tracks for Mega Man 2 and 3. I was blown away and listened to them while I was working on entirely new games. I’d sometimes drive down to Japantown in the city where they had a music store (remember those?) with video game music CDs. I bought a bunch of them back then, even if they were really expensive. I discovered Final Fantasy Pray, a vocal collection I still cherish.

Another of my most treasured discs is a Castlevania soundtrack that drew from the entire series and came as a preorder bonus to anyone who ordered Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I listened to the music so many times, I had bloody tears of my own.

Neuroscience has explained how music becomes associated with memories and how listening to familiar tunes evokes past emotions and events. Playing game music makes me remember all sorts of things from my years of gaming. This past year, I’ve listened to a whole lot of the music from the Persona game, Nier:Automata, and Ghost Trick (if you haven’t already, please check out the interview I did with GT’s composer earlier today). Sometimes, the music just helps me to chill. Sometimes, it helps me get in the groove for some deadline I have to hit. Other times, it provides solace from something that’s been troubling me. When I put on my earphones and listen to a good music track, I become that kid again, lost in a parallel video game universe.

So Kotaku, what’s your favourite video game soundtrack?


Comments

    Most recently the soundtrack for Death Stranding, it's not my usual choice of music but it complements the game so well.
    It's a shame you can't play it while walking around the world.

    Over the years I've collected and recreated a lot of licensed soundtracks for various extreme sports games like Tony Hawks, Dave Mirra, SSX etc and my favourite radio stations from games like GTA.

    If I had to chose a favourite it would be the many FFVII related soundtracks, I've gotten a lot of use out of them and they made fantastic lullabies when my little fella was still a baby.

    Last edited 01/12/19 11:25 am

      Special mention to nearly every PS1 game that let you fire up the music in the CD player.

    Homeworld would rank right at the top for me

      Imperial battle music

      Fucking unreal. Goosebumps flatstick.

    Shadow of the Beast comes to mind when this question gets asked. Any version really, but mostly for the Amiga. Nothing I've heard since has had quite the same haunting otherworldliness to it, and I still listen to it regularly today.

    Otherwise, Shining Force 2. One of the few OSTs for the Mega Drive that doesn't rely too much on the crunchiness it's sort of known for, and is really just enjoyable to listen to.

    I always thought most Final Fantasy games had great soundtracks but my favourite would probably be Final Fantasy 8.

    Easy, Assassin's Creed II, it's OST is a masterpiece, not just as a video game soundtrack, as a work of music on it's own.

    Runner-up would have to be Transistor.

    The first soundtrack that really drew me in was Shadow of the Beast on the Amiga. The soundtracks to the first two Donkey Kong Country games as well as the original Killer Instinct blew me away though.

    Xenogears, followed closely by Chrono Cross

    Mirror's Edge. Solar Fields' work on that soundtrack is the reason I got into the rest of his music, as well as associated artists like Carbon-Based Lifeforms, Aes Dana, Cell, HUVA Network and many others.

    Plus Lisa Mikovsky's Still Alive is by far the best song named Still Alive to be associated with a video game.

    A close second would be the Nier Automata soundtrack, which is just astonishing, especially the song "Weight of the World - The End of YoRHa" which plays over the final credits of the game.

    Grand Theft Auto Vice City by far.

    Close second is THPS2

    Star Wars Battlefront from 2015 has an amazing soundtrack.

    - Hyperlight Drifter
    - Super Meat Boy
    - The Witcher 3
    - Persona 5
    - Beat Saber
    - Breath of the Wild

    I got hold of the perfect dark soundtrack somehow and had that on high rotation for ages.

    My 2 favorite soundtracks are compilations:
    1) Capcom 30th Anniversary Music Best - Original & Arrange
    2) Best of Nintendo Music (NES) 1 & 2

    They rock!!!!!!

    I thought Tony Hawks Pro Skater was the only answer LOL.

    Morrowind.

    Oh, no. I can hear it in my head, and now I'm about to lose the next few months...

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