1. Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version
2. Sekaiju no Meikyuu II: Original Soundtrack
3. Rockman 9: The Ambition’s Revival!! Original Soundtrack
4. Silent Hill Homecoming Soundtrack
5. No More Heroes Original Sound Tracks
6. BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED
7. Valkyria Chronicles Original Sound Track
8. SoulCalibur IV Original Soundtrack
8. Soulcalibur IV
Formulaic? You bet! Do I still love it? Absolutely!! The "epic orchestral" with eastern elements thrown in on occasion strikes again, with works thrown in by Iwata, and a surprising rock fusion on "Thanatos." This one (disc 1 at least), although easy to overlook, is worth an earnest listen.
7. Valkyria Chronicles
Just as formulaic as the above, why does this one get all the love? Never having played either game, you could perform a blind listening test between this and A.S.H. with me as a subject, and I would fail miserably. But, there's always a "but". The tracks up front really stand out in this one, with a memorable main theme that's worked into tracks from time to time and an infectious main battle theme, making this stand above an otherwise formulaic effort from Saki.
6. Bionic Commando: Rearmed
In a year when retro stormed back with the availability of digital distribution (and really using that niche as a means of survival as well), came a download-only remake masterpiece. A Swedish-developed remake of the cult-classic NES game, the music took a European electronic style. Simon Viklund did an incredible job at mixing the old 8-bit sound with a club electronic sound. What I see as a testament to this, is that I never liked the original BC music, until I heard these arranges.
5. No More Heroes
The king of thematic albums. I haven't heard this many versions of the same song spanned across multiple discs since FF9. Every other song is the same melody, and somehow, it never gets old over three discs. This is what I would consider this year's "breath of fresh air" from a relatively new composer that put a new, unique style on the map to look out for in future efforts.
4. Silent Hill: Homecoming
Yamaoka continues to impress. After a relatively mediocre effort in 0rigins, he came back with a main-series gem. This album has some of the best "eerie" piano use (for melodic gems like "Witchcraft" and "Cold Blood") I've heard from a game in a while. Combined with the best SH vocals since SH3, you have a winner.
3. Rockman 9
Being a 25 year-old who grew up with the blue bomber's quality iterations through the SNES, I have a special place in my heart for this effort, so it might be just a tad skewed. Kind of an ironic title, "The Ambibition's Revival!!" has nothing ambitious to it. Rather, it is a worthy throwback to the days when quick-moving upbeat melodies worked through less than a handful of sound channels and the music lost instruments (literally) in favor of the sounds of robot carnage. Tracks like Hornet Man bring me back to the glory days of my childhood. How can that not not deserve a top 3 finish?
2. Sekaiju no MeiQ² *shoou no seihai*
Another soundtrack with intentionally retro sound. Living through multiple generations of video game music, I've come to believe that some of the best creative efforts were a result of the limited sound hardware capabilities of the 8 and 16 bit eras. This album adds some compositional sophistication over efforts such as Mega Man 9, but still keeps the instrumentation limitations to really let the composition shine. And its a damn good thing the music is as quality as it is, because EO2 game is a grinder, of which I love every second.
1. Super Mario Galaxy
To me, an obvious choice. Funny how the best albums of the year always seem to come out at the very beginning. Mario finally had the musical transformation to accompany the graphical and gameplay advances that emerged in Mario 64. Don't get me wrong, this album did not brave uncharted musical territories like an album like maybe NMH, but what it did do is update the unquestionable face of video-gaming to a new style of music that worked perfectly with the game. Light-hearted synth orchestral tracks dominate the best of this album, and you can't help but smile when you hear some of these tracks and be happy that Mario finally has had the transformation he's been deserving for 12 years now. And while they are finally moving on from Koji Kondo (a process that took far too long and stunted Nintendo musically for a full generation of consoles), I find it funny how the two original tracks that he actually did do are among my favorites on this album.