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Adam Corn Jan 1, 2015

With 2014 now behind us, let's have a look at everybody's favorite game soundtracks of the year past. Any new game music album release from 2014 is eligible - CD or digital, OST or arranged, official or fan-made. Comments are optional but encouraged!

Results will be tallied January 17, 2015.

Adam Corn Jan 1, 2015 (edited Feb 2, 2015)

The top three soundtracks on the list are interchangeable, each representing the best of their respective genres for the year. The remaining entries similarly could likely move up a spot or two depending on the mood of the day - all are in their own way impressive musical efforts.

1. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Original Game Soundtrack - "Vampire Killer" and "Bloody Tears" it most certainly isn't, but as a cinematic orchestral approach to Castlevania, Oscar Araujo's trilogy-capper nails the thematic heart of the series - gothic action-adventure. The battle themes are dramatic and relentlessly intense, while the more somber compositions establish not only the Gothic mood but also some crucial emotion. The closing 25 minutes are one fantastic cue after another - probably the most satisfying series conclusion I've heard in an orchestral score since Return of the King.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shell Shocked - OverClocked ReMix lovingly dedicate 90 minutes of melodic and energetic '80s-style guitar rock arrangements to Konami's classic SNES and Genesis beat-em-ups. Interestingly it's the same approach Konami themselves took in their early '90s "Battle" series of arranged albums, and to say that this free fan effort could pass as an official followup is a compliment of the highest order. The arrangers make great use of some distinctive synth sounds from the OSTs (as well as the theme from the old series), and the album as a whole is one of OCR's most consistent productions yet.

3. Shuttle Rush OST - Coming into 2014 I wouldn't have expected a soundtrack for an indie Wii U eShop game to be one of my top soundtracks of the year, but Shuttle Rush OST is that surprisingly, delightfully good. The chiptunes and more upbeat melodies have all the qualities of a retro game soundtrack, while the more chilled dance grooves could easily pass for modern pop-electronica. Emery "DaMonz" Monzerol's perfect combination of the two is what makes Shuttle Rush OST such an enjoyable album.

4. Harmony of Heroes (Super Smash Bros.) - This collaborative fan project offers a whopping seven-plus hours of arranged music for Super Smash Bros, which in turn means themes from Nintendo series like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Kid Icarus, Pikmin, and Earthbound, along with some third-party guests like Metal Gear. There's a huge variety of styles on tap, and though the quality varies widely, it's very much worth sorting through the entirety to score some fantastic (and free) takes on favorite themes.

5. Legend of Zelda: Lime of the Season - This arranged album for the Game Boy Legend of Zelda title Oracle of Seasons boasts the most creative chiptune arrangements of the year, accompanied (sometimes in the same track) by some nice acoustic instrumentals. The generally lighthearted and often quirky tone seems well suited to a Game Boy Zelda title, and as with the other two fan-arranged albums on this list, it's free to download and enjoy.

6. Journey: Transfiguration - Even being only a modest fan of the OST, I've found myself enamored with this arranged album from the first listen. The solo piano is well suited to the lonely atmosphere of the game, and Laura Intravia's arrangements add a steady emotional pull that for better or worse was only occasionally found in the original. Even the short running time is something of a virtue - with not a minute of filler to be found, every moment feels like an important part of this almost spiritual musical journey.

7. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack - Among 8-bit game soundtracks this is most certainly the album of the year, if not the decade thus far. Though the genre generally isn't my own cup of tea, there's no denying the excellence of Jake "virt" Kaufman's NES-authentic soundtrack, with several tracks showing vintage VGM energy and melody at its very best. Old-school game music fans, party likes it's 1989.

8. Halo 2 Anniversary Original Soundtrack - Having never jumped on the Halo bandwagon I can't say how this remake soundtrack compares to the original, but I can say in comparison to the first Halo Anniversary OST I've found it a more impressive score on its own merit. The orchestral arrangements cover the action sci-fi bases nicely and have a surprising, almost classical gravitas in places, while the electronic pieces offer some nicely done ambient music and several interesting combinations with chorus.

9. The Sailor's Dream Original Soundtrack - Here's something you don't find often in game music - a whole album of quaint, charming folk instrumental and vocal music. True to the title, it's very much akin to what you might imagine of an old-time European harbor town, and though Jonathan Eng's compositions largely forgo drama for simple beauty, as an alternative to the usual action and adventure I think it's a fair trade.

10. From Astral to Umbral ~Final Fantasy XIV Band & Piano Arrangement Album~ - The piano arrangements in this album belong among the best Final Fantasy piano collections - wonderfully, patiently developed and possessing the most fantastical quality of the lot. The rock arrangements that comprise the remainder are utterly disparate and really shouldn't be on the same album, but for people not averse to buying the piano tracks digitally, they make up a 40-minute album on their own and are well worth enjoying as such.

Honorable Mention

- Flower OST (if this weren't mostly a re-release of the PSN edition it likely would have been top 10)
- Dragon Age: Inquistion OST
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy
- Memoria: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura
- Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged
- Gods Will Be Watching OST
- Super Mario 64: Portrait of a Plumber
- Harmony of Heroes: Final Smash

And for comparison's sake, here are most of the other VGM albums I've listened to for the year. Many of them have nice tracks of their own, but as albums they aren't on the level of the ones above.

Assassin's Creed Unity OST 1 & 2, The Banner Saga OST, Broken Age: Act 1, Chrono Trigger Symphony Vol 3, Destiny OST, Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX Piano Opera, Final Fantasy Explorers OST, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, The Floor is Jelly OST, Granblue Fantasy OST, Killer Instinct: Season One OST, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Sound Selection, Persona Q OST, Shuttle Remix, SQ Swing, Super Time Force OST, Transistor OST, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Dreanor OST

FuryofFrog Jan 5, 2015 (edited Jan 5, 2015)

1. Transistor Original Soundtrack - Coming from Darren Korb, the same genius that put together the Bastion OST, this is an absolute must listen to, part jazz, part electric hip-hop, all wondrous music, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. I can't recommend one song. Listen to it all.

2. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack - Another homerun from veteran  Jake Kaufman this OST feels both inspired by our glory NES days yet captures a magic all its own. Probably my favorite track is La Danse Macabre (Lich Yard).

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shell Shocked - A beautiful addition to the Overclocked Remix label, TMNT Shell Shocked is one of a kind remixing all the magic from Turtles in Time and a bit from Hyperstone Heist. Its a wonderful hard rock re-imagining of the soundtrack filled with swanky bass. Stand out tune from me is Casiopizza vs. TMNT-Square (Night Riders [Stage 8 BGM])

4. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Original Game Soundtrack - Beautiful piano swells throughout this entire soundtrack. It is both sad and creepy and to tell the truth I am completely impressed by Óscar Araujo. While all of the classics we know and love from CastleVania are absent this soundtrack has a wonderful thematic singularity that runs throughout the whole OST. The instrumentation is beautiful and the strings and the horns never overstay their welcome. Listen to Dracula's Theme and you will get a taste of what you are in for.

5. Killer Instinct: Season One Soundtrack + Original Arcade Soundtrack Do you love the original Killer Cuts soundtrack? While this OST has no physical release I'm sure returning fans will be glad to have it. Mick Gordon has done a fantastic job taking the base of what Graeme Norgate and Robin Beanland have established and propels KI into the future. Hidden inside every song is a short reprisal of the main theme of Killer Instinct. The brutality and hard instrumentation of the OST is awesome and succeeds in bringing out the hype factor in you. Listen to Warlord (Spinal's Theme) if you don't believe me. Oh yeah, and this release comes with the original soundtrack from Killer Instinct 1.......


I really wish I could say more for 2014 but to be honest I didn't buy that much VGM this year. Very slow indeed.

Moses Jan 10, 2015

1. GRANBLUE FANTASY ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

2. A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy

3. Piano Opera Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX

the_miker Jan 10, 2015

1. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shell Shocked

3. memória! - The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura

4. KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack

5. Live at Symphony Hall / Video Game Orchestra

6. The Evil Within Original Game Soundtrack

7. SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

8. GRANBLUE FANTASY ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

9. LIGHTNING RETURNS:FINAL FANTASY XIII Original Soundtrack PLUS

10. Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged

-----

Didn't listen to yet:

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die Original Soundtrack
FINAL FANTASY EXPLORERS Original Soundtrack
KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 2.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack
Railway To The Future
SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS SOUND SELECTION
The Wonderful 101 Original Soundtrack

GoldfishX Jan 10, 2015

Shoot, I forgot 3D World was actually a 2014 release. It's basically that and Shovel Knight for me, though I need to listen to Granblue and Link Between Worlds at some point.

Ramza Jan 11, 2015

looks like no one in this thread is listing my fav arranged album of 2014:

Re:Birth II -Sen- / "SaGa" BATTLE ARRANGE http://vgmdb.net/album/43307

I just think it's ridiculously good Falcom rock on Kenji Ito compositions. The SaGa Frontier battle tracks warm my heart.

James O Jan 11, 2015 (edited Jan 11, 2015)

thanks for that reminder Ramza!


1. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Soundtrack - SOKEN!!!!!

2. From Astral to Umbral ~FINAL FANTASY XIV:BAND & PIANO Arrangement Album~ - Saw the Primals live in Vegas!  SOKEN is the man.

3. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack - Great chiptunes!

4. Re:Birth II -Sen- / "SaGa" BATTLE ARRANGE

5. Memoria! The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura

6. A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy

7. Final Fantasy Explorers OST - is nice

8. Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged - pretty good

Adam Corn Jan 11, 2015 (edited Jan 11, 2015)

Ramza I'm quite curious to see your full list of picks actually. smile

GoldfishX wrote:

Shoot, I forgot 3D World was actually a 2014 release. It's basically that and Shovel Knight for me, though I need to listen to Granblue and Link Between Worlds at some point.

I'm not sure if that means you've heard a lot of the other albums mentioned in this thread or aren't interested, but for what it's worth I think several of them are as worthy of your attention.

GoldfishX Jan 11, 2015

Combination of slacking and lack of interest, as well as not paying attention to release dates (I was about to list Blazblue Chrono Phantasma as a 2014 release by mistake, as well as not realizing 3D World was a 2014 release).

I will say Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire and Tecmo Arcade Chronicle have been on my "to order" list for awhile now and I've been mildly agonizing whether or not I want the Final Fight Sound Collection (I want the Super Nintendo soundtrack, the rest is kind of average or I already have). I also noticed an officially released chiptune remix album of Street Fighter II, but I'm debating if it's worth a purchase gamble or not (chiptune arranges vary wildly in quality, I've found). http://vgmdb.net/album/46936

Razakin Jan 13, 2015

This year felt bit lackluster in game music for sometimes, but thankfully there was some really good gems.

1. Transistor - such an brilliant score, and Ashley Barrett's vocals are something special. Can't wait what Darren Korb scores next.
And rest of these are in no order.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
The Banner Saga
Shin Megami Tensei IV OST
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Chipping of Isaac
Songs for the Recently Deceased

And for some reason, still haven't gotten around to listen Shovel Knight, or FF XIV Realm Reborn stuff, or Persona Q, which would all be on my list. And probably Guilty Gear Xrd -The Sign-, if parts I checked from the Vocal Collection are sign of parts to come. And probably forgetting tons fan stuff, like Chipping of Isaac or Songs for the Recently Deceased, which are going to the list ^. Really should start writing up good albums I come up this year, either new or old from my massive backlog.

Adam Corn Jan 13, 2015

I've edited my early post in this thread to include my final list of picks, along with comments. Or check out the redesigned Editor's Picks page to see them all pretty-like. (Reader's picks get the same treatment.)

I've postponed the tally date till this weekend, if anyone else wants to submit their picks!

GoldfishX Jan 14, 2015

Razakin wrote:

And probably Guilty Gear Xrd -The Sign-, if parts I checked from the Vocal Collection are sign of parts to come.

Being a longtime fan of GG, I DO have to comment on this for two reasons:

1. The quality of the files from the current gamerips is VERY low quality. There's a rolloff at around 16 khz, even on higher quality ripped files and it just sounds...bad. Not the rippers faults (I've heard several, all are bad), it's the actual files. Just a heads up.

2. I'm cautiously looking forward to the soundtrack, but I can kind of tell it doesn't have the melodic charm of previous soundtracks. I'm kind of curious to hear how it holds up, but also how it compares to Chrono Phantasma (which successfully ironed out all the various issues I had with prior Blazblue music).

Qui-Gon Joe Jan 18, 2015

1. SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK - (if this counts - the CD came out this year!)

2. Memoria! The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura

3. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Soundtrack - Still mad this is on a stupid blu ray, but good music!

4. Child of Light - (Despite not having the vocal parts of the battle themes... grrr)

5. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS SOUND SELECTION - Most of the music from LttP performed by real instruments?  Neeeeeat.

6. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack

7. Piano Opera Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX

8. Tengami Original Soundtrack - The David Wise soundtrack from this year that got an album release - if DKC Tropical Freeze had been released outside of game, it would've topped my list.  This one's a little different, but still great.

9. KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 & 2.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack BOX - I like almost every new version of tracks better here EXCEPT Riku's Theme, which was one of my favorites from the original and I think suffers here a lot.

10. A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy - Hit or miss, but the good stuff is goooood.

jb Jan 18, 2015

In no particular order, overwhelmingly disappointed with this years releases.  Particularly impressed with the Nobunaga 30th Anniversary Box set from Dec. 2013 and the Nobunaga live concert release from late 2014.

1. Kirby Triple Deluxe Sound Selection

2. Piano Opera Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX

3. SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK

4. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Soundtrack

5. A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy

GoldfishX Jan 18, 2015

1. SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK

2. Rockman Sound Box 2 - How can I not? This thing could land #2 just for the Gameboy titles alone. Very nice-sounding transfer, was pleasantly surprised.

3. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack

4. Tecmo Arcade Sound Chronicle

5. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS SOUND SELECTION

6. KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack - Generally pleased with the upgrades to the handful of tracks I care about from this soundtrack.

"Sampled" most of Granblue Fantasy and honestly can't give it a vote of confidence. It's not the return to classic Final Fantasy style Uematsu one can hope for. Forgettable game melodies drenched in layers of sound (the samples are very nice) Very disappointing.

Ashley Winchester Jan 19, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

Rockman Sound Box 2 - How can I not? This thing could land #2 just for the Gameboy titles alone. Very nice-sounding transfer, was pleasantly surprised.

This was the main thing I got this year that was released in 2014... but didn't really want to nominate it since all the music was from games prior to 2014.

Adam Corn Jan 19, 2015

Well I'm glad I left this open past the deadline. smile

As far as what's eligible and what's not, if the soundtrack gets its first album release (ie it's not a reprint) during the year then it's good, even if the game came out before. That includes Rockman Sound Box 2 since as I understand it a lot of the music was previously unreleased.

If there's anything I'd be hesitant about it'd be only voting for one or two albums if you haven't heard several others from the year to compare to. Not planning to be a huge stickler about it in any case though.

GoldfishX Jan 19, 2015

The last 3-4 years, the amount of retro releases has really ramped up. I thought it would slow down this year, but...nope. They've been really pumping them out. Sometimes they record the treble too high, which is essentially death for chiptunes, but thankfully is not the case with the Rockman GB music. It's actually a really recent purchase (thank you, dollar to yen exchange), so those two discs are all I've listened to.

I could arguably put Rockman above Mario, considering the nostalgia and sheer quantity, but the "newness" factor carries some weight, so I'm comfortable putting Mario on top.

STC Poll System Feb 2, 2015

Top poll results out of 35 unique answers submitted, as calculated by Soundtrack Central's poll system.  In parentheses are the percentage of respondents who selected that answer and the average ranking it was given.

1. Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack (67%, 3)
2. Super Mario 3D World Original Sound Track (44%, 2)
3. A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy (44%, 6)
4. A Realm Reborn: Final Fantasy XIV Original Soundtrack (33%, 3)
5. Memoria! The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura (33%, 3)
6. Piano Opera Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX (33%, 4)
7. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Sound Selection (33%, 4)
8. Strike the Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged (33%, 8)
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shell Shocked (22%, 3)
10. Rockman Sound Box 2 (22%, 4)
11. Granblue Fantasy Original Soundtrack (22%, 5)
12. Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5 Remix- Original Soundtrack (22%, 5)
12. Transistor Original Soundtrack (22%, 5)
14. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Original Soundtrack (22%, 9)

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