Nearly a year ago, I started cutting back on the number of albums I'd keep. Pretty much a year later, I believe I've finally come to terms (for good this time) and am able to walk away happy and satisfied with what I have. It's not much, but what is there counts in every way.
Akumajo Dracula Best 2
Hands down, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania : The Adventure and Castlevania II : Belmont's Revenge were the games that got me hooked on the series. Part of it obviously had to do with the music. I recall vividly being mesmerized by the "Cave" theme in SCVIV the second I heard it, it was unbelievably beautiful. When I first got the original Game Boy system, the first two Castlevania games were amongst the games I wanted to own ASAP. I was able to beat both of these (after much practice and trial & error) without dying once ! Of course, I got a lasting impression of their music given I played these games so much back in the day.
Here's a case of curiosity... I was aware it was one of many import titles to never see release overseas from SquareSoft. I decided to play the ROM to see what the game was about. It seemed pretty neat, but the language barrier was hampering my progress a bit. All the while I savoured the music... It was during a certain cutscene that "Friendship" was playing that made me want the soundtrack SO BAD. I couldn't believe my ears how amazing the theme was. It's only a shame how Noriko Matsueda has been criminally underrated during the majority of her carreer. She had definite potential. Shame she quit the VGM business after the backlash that FFX-2 received.
Border Down -Sound Tracks-
When I first started to shop at CocoeBiz in '04, I've seen this soundtrack aplenty but never really considered a purchase given the name Yasuhisa Watanabe meant absolutely nothing back then. After having experienced Metal Black -The First- through SlightlyDark several months later, I knew I had to look it up eventually. I beleive it was in '05 that I received it from a trade with Chudah. I haven't looked back since. Not only is the original music by Watanabe outstanding, but the arrangements by Saso, Hosoe and Yasui make the album a definite keeper.
Capcom Music Generation Famicom Music Complete Works Rockman 1~6
Around the same time I discovered Castlevania, Mega Man was already a favoured series. I adored 2 and 3 and was caught off guard when 4 got released. I often would boot up the NES just to hear the music, even considered recording it on tape, but hesitated. I can't really add anything else aside that it's 100% quality music, regardless of sound quality.
Cho Aniki -Aniki no Subete-
I think it was in '05 when I had started to look into Koji Hayama's works and managed to see this album on eBay. Nothing, nothing would have prepared me for the crazy yet awesome music within. After watching a Superplay video of the game, I was able to finally relate the music to the game, but also made the conclusion that the music is completely innapropriate at all times, yet it was fitting given the bizzare imagery.
Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
This is the game that got me hooked on RPGs in '95. I didn't want to play it despite digging the battle and boss themes. A friend insisted I try it. So I did. On my first evening with the guidance of my friend, I made it as far as the Opera House. By then, I was hopelessly hooked. And the soundtrack eventually found a permanent home in my mind. There was no avoiding this, I HAD to have the soundtrack no matter what. Before I even knew that actual CD albums existed, I had downloaded the entire soundtrack (and many others) from Impressario's Sounds of SquareSoft page. (God that brings back happy memories) during the summer of '96 when I first discovered the Internet. I had even gone as far as recording the mp2 (not mp3 !) files on a cassette tape ! Fast foward to '98, I ordered the FFVI OSV from Game Music Online. Alas, it came out to be a bootleg copy by SonMay. Fast foward a year later, I got smarter and eventually got the opportunity to purchase the real deal at last around the same time I ordered Akumajo Dracula Best 2. 11 years later, I still have my copy which is playing beautifully. This is one soundtrack I truly cannot see myself without.
Perfect Collection Ys I & II : Complete Works of Ryo Yonemitsu
Never honestly being big on Falcom, but I was able to appreaciate what they had with several Ys and Ys II arrangements. I think I purchased this from VGM World back in '06 or '07. At any case, I knew I would be pleased given the high praise this set has received over time. Even after owning and digesting the Ys I & II Chronicles OST, this older version impressed me more regardless of its lower production values.
S.S.T. Band Live -G.S.M. Sega-
Arguably the best part of the Game Music Festival in '90. This set has all the Arcade classic by Sega such as After Burner, Out Run and Golden Axe, all performed by the in-house band of composers. It would have been something to be there back in the day. Oh well, it still gives me goosebumps about how good the recording is.
Tommy Tallarico Virgin Games Greatest Hits Volume One
The sole western representation is a definite standout as it shows that not all western VGM needs to be orchestrated to be good. It also showcased the Sega CD's sound capabilities with the use of live instruments and crisp sound quality. Easily Tallarico's best work during his entire carreer thus far, despite being the first album he released.
Wizardry Llylgamyn Saga
Composed by the late Kentaro Haneda and arranged by Tamiya Terashima, this album had a lot of expectations to meet. Thankfully, I have been very pleased with the results. While the tracks may be somewhat on the short side, I tend to find them quite good. Another major factor is that the sound quality is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, which should say a lot.
So there we go. To supplement these 10 VGM albums, I also have 10 non-VGM albums which I'll discuss at a later date.
I honestly believe I've picked out the very best as keepers. Thoughts and comments are definitely welcome.