Music is an essential part of every game. It impacts directly into our emotional connection with a title, and many times it does not get the praise it deserves. Composers like Koji Kondo or Nobuo Uematsu defined the industry and their influence is legendary. However, they are not the only ones that have contributed to the excellence of video game music.
Many compositions are overlooked in the lists of top video game soundtracks, where we are used to find Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, etc. In this piece, you will find five video game soundtracks from the last decade that deserve recognition for its impressive quality.
5. Phantasy Star Online Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution
Back when Sega took care of their IPs, Phantasy Star Online was one of the best franchises they brought to the West. During the GameCube era, PSO was released to the console in an episodic format, very different from the one we are used to nowadays. One of these episodes, which were usually full games, was C.A.R.D. Revolution, which departed from the gameplay of the previous installments, focusing on card turn-based combat instead.
However, the atmosphere of Phantasy Star Online was still very present, including its music. Hideaki Kobayashi, a recurrent Sega composer, worked with Fumie Kumatani and Kenichi Tokoi to bring us this unique soundtrack, full of synthetic sounds, energetic rythms, some piano pieces and the ocasional vocal song. Kobayashi knew how to complement Phantasy Star Online’s futuristic tone and delivered one of his best compositions.
4. Hitman: Blood Money
Hitman: Blood Money is one of the many games of the Hitman franchise, and released both for the sixth and seventh generations. The Hitman series has a very powerful music department thanks to its main composer, Jesper Kyd, who also worked on Minority Report and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, among others.
In the case of Hitman: Blood Money, Jesper conducted the Budapest Symphony Orchestra to create a fully orchestrated soundtrack with lots of choir performances, something that was not usual back in the day. The result was impressive.
3. World of Goo
World of Goo is a cute, logic-based video game with a strong emphasis in physics. The game consists in building structures using Goo Balls to reach different objectives. It was very well received for its uniqueness and originality. However, the gameplay wasn’t the only aspect of the game that stood out.
Kyle Gabler is the writer, designer and composer of the game, a multi-talented man that took heavy inspiration from Tim Burton. From the style to the music itself, World of Goo feels like it belongs to Alice in Wonderland or Nightmare Before Christmas. The soundtrack impregnates World of Goo with a magical touch, which fits it like a glove.
2. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarazustra
Xenosaga was one of the many JRPGs franchises that appeared on PlayStation 2. Episode III was the end of the trilogy, even though many of its fans demand a fourth game. Its complex narrative and scale was complemented by a wonderful soundtrack, composed by the famous Yuki Kajiura.
Yuki Kajiura is well-known in Japan for her work in multiple areas, including anime, movies and, of course, video games. She has a very recognizable style: strong melodies supported by strings and female choirs. In the first two Xenosaga games, she worked with other composers, but in this case, she was the only one, leaving her complete creative freedom.
1. Baten Kaitos Origins
Baten Kaitos is one of the best JRPGs of the Nintendo GameCube, a gem that didn’t sell as much as it should have. This prevented its prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, to reach Europe. Thus, a great portion of the world missed both the game and its soundtrack. A masterpiece created by one of the most talented composers of the industry, Motoi Sakuraba.
Motoi Sakuraba has worked in many games, including Dark Souls, Tales of or Star Ocean, among many others. However, this soundtrack stands above all of them for many reasons: its quality, depth and, most importantly, personal involvement. “Le Ali del Principio”, the final boss main theme (which you can hear above), was written by his wife and is sung by Sakuraba’s daughter in italian. The result is one of the most emotional songs ever.
Which are the best video game soundtracks you think are usually overlooked? Let us know in the comments below!