Final Fantasy VI Original Sound VersionNot only is this my favorite game of all time, it's my favorite game soundtrack of all time. Period. Nobuo Uematsu outdid himself with this score, and honestly it's been hard to dethrone. It is, in my honest opinion, his masterpiece. The character themes, opera sequence, thunderously powerful "Dancing Mad" and equally epic Ending Theme all amount to three discs of pure musical perfection.
ActraiserAlthough this game was released back in 1991, this is one that I hold close to my heart. It was the game that caused me to take a new look at videogame music with a new eye. I became a fan of Yuzo Koshiro ever since. Whoever would have thought that a cartridge-based game could produce such rich symphonic sounds? For my money, it remains a classic to this day.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Original SoundtrackWith the exception of the final battle, this is a very worthy follow-up to the original "Xenoblade", and in many ways it surpasses it. It helps to have the participation of Yasunori Mitsuda for most of the work, as well as returnees ACE+ and Manami Kiyota. The production values are even greater for this score, and the variety of compositions and orchestrations are fantastic. The hauntingly melancholy opening theme "Where We Used To Be" sets the tone for the score, and many others rival their previous counterparts. The ending song, "One Last You" is every bit the equivalent of XB1's "Beyond the Sky." A modern masterpiece.
Xenoblade Original SoundtrackA staggering achievement of a score for an equally outstanding game. Veteran Yoko Shimomura turns in fine work, but the real bulk of the score is by ACE+, and their compositions really define the score as a whole. The decision to weave night and day variations of the locations make for a nice touch as well. The ending song is hauntingly beautiful as well.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Original SoundtrackWhy it took this one to be released on CD at all is a mystery, but that wait was worth it. Predecessor "Twilight Princess", although notable for its melancholy tone, only used one track with a full orchestra. "Skyward Sword" is truly the first ZELDA soundtrack to take advantage of a full orchestra, and is all the richer because of it. Particularly amazing cues are the epic "Sky" theme, Ghirahim's Spanish-flavored battle theme, a booming Polka-style mini-boss battle, and the breathtakingly beautiful seven minute finale.
Seiken Densetsu 3 Original Sound VersionHiroki Kikuta's "Secret of Mana" comes close, but ultimately this is the richer and more balanced work. A beautiful continuation of the musical style Kikuta provided us with his predecessor, "Trials of Mana" offers superior sound samples (which is saying a lot) and a rich library of compositions. It's a great companion piece to have with its 1993 counterpart.
Seiken Densetsu 2 Original Sound VersionUp until I heard "Final Fantasy VI", I was convinced that this was some of the best videogame music of all time. Today it still holds up, the compositions are as memorable and crisp as ever, and the sound quality holds up as well. This is another keeper.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time SoundtrackWith "Ocarina of Time", Koji Kondo created one of his most massive, at the time, scores yet. Despite the somewhat lacking sound samples of the N64 (a problem that would be rectified with other soundtracks), the score as a whole still holds up. Particularly outstanding tracks include "Temple of Time", "Last Battle", and "Gerudo Valley." Pony Canyon's album treatment of the score disappointingly cuts short some of the songs' lengths (including the great "Fire Temple", which is unfortunately chopped to 42 seconds), but the score is still highly recommended.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Original SoundtrackAlthough edged out by "Ocarina of Time", "Majora's Mask" still has its charms. Adopting a darker, Chinese-flavored style for its basis with a jaunty, nearly Celtic "Clock Town" theme, this soundtrack matches the mood of the game's warped, darker world very well. The return of the Overworld theme (whose omission was a sour disappointment for the otherwise superb Ocarina of Time) is a major plus as well. The sound samples are still not that different from Ocarina, but for what it does, "Majora's Mask" handles itself well.
Dragon Quest VI Symphonic Suite (London Philharmonic)I truly like all the Dragon Quest scores, really, I do. But for some reason, the sixth entry stands out as being one of the strongest thus far. Its battle themes, in particular, are among the series' best. "Beating Shimmering Heart" is also very spooky and esoteric in its own way, and the compositions are very solid. Capping off the package is the magnificent, Stravinsky-flavored "Eternal Lullaby", one of DQ's finest ending themes.
Symphony Ys '95Soothingly beautiful and epic simultaneously, this terrific "synth-phonic" treatment of Yuzo Koshiro's now iconic score for "Ys" is nothing short of an unbridled delight. Tamiya Terashima does an outstanding job of translating the score to this format, without it ever losing its essence.
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