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Adam Corn Jan 11, 2014

Now that 2013 has passed let's have a look back at everyone's favorite VGM releases of the year.  Any game soundtrack released in 2013 is eligible, whether original or arranged, official or fan-made.  For soundtracks that have an album release, please use the album title where possible.  Otherwise mark unreleased soundtracks with (game rip) at the end.

I've integrated comments into the poll system this time around.  For any of your picks that you'd like to write comments for just type them in the comment fields and they'll automatically be included in your forum post if/when you decide to post.

You can go back and edit or re-order your answers and your comments any time you like.

As always, looking forward to seeing everyone's picks!

Results will be tallied February 9, 2014.

Judgment Day Jan 12, 2014

I actually bought a few soundtracks this year, but most of the release dates were pre-2013. I will nominate the one that I feel is worthy for now.

1. Spectrum of Mana

LiquidAcid Jan 12, 2014

01. FFCT-0027 | Ciel nosurge Original Soundtrack ~Oto to Sekai no Jushinkiroku Sec.1~
02. FFCT-0026 | Ciel nosurge Genometric Concert Vol.1 ~Keihan no Uta~
03. GUSTCD-10011~3 | Atelier Escha & Logy -Alchemist of Dusk Sky- Original Soundtrack
04. FFCT-0037 | Ciel nosurge Genometric Concert Vol.2 ~Soukai no Uta~
05. GUSTCD-10014 | Twilight Sky Atelier Escha & Logy -Alchemist of Dusk Sky- Vocal Album
06. GUN-0025 | Karanoshojo The Second Episode. Original Soundtrack
07. STR-001S1 | Raggio di sole nostalgico Original Soundtrack
08. k-music-54 | Eikoku Tantei Mysteria Soundtrack "Mysterious Symphony"
09. KSLA-0089 | Little Busters! / Kud Wafter Piano Arrange Album "ripresa"
10. KDSD-00619 | Soul Sacrifice Original Soundtrack


Gust is clearly leading the field with Ciel nosurge and Atelier Escha & Logy for me. Giving Akiko Shikata a composer role was probably their best decision ever. But Yu Shimoda isn't half bad either. Would really like to see him becoming a regular on the Atelier soundtracks.


Honorable mentions:
OCRC-0001 | For Everlasting Peace: 25 Years of Mega Man
CPCA-10313~4 | Gyakuten Saiban 5 Original Soundtrack
TSCM-0008~12 | Fire Emblem: Kakusei Original Soundtrack

Albums I have yet to listen to:
SQEX-10384~5 | Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter Original Soundtrack
CPCA-10317 | Onimusha Soul Original Soundtrack
AQMC-017~8 | Dungeon Travelers 2 Original Soundtrack
CPCA-10322~3 | Monster Hunter 4 Original Soundtrack
SQEX-10392~5 | Lightning Returns:Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack

Noncompetitive original works:
Feedback / Michiko Naruke
Feedback 2nd / Michiko Naruke
Feedback 3rd / Michiko Naruke

Smeg Jan 12, 2014

Judgment Day wrote:

I actually bought a few soundtracks this year, but most of the release dates were pre-2013. I will nominate the one that I feel is worthy for now.

1. Spectrum of Mana

Pretty much this.

Adam Corn Jan 13, 2014 (edited Feb 15, 2014)

It was a slow year for official releases but a pretty great one for the indie scene, led by very good independent arranged albums for Square's trifecta of classic SNES RPGs.

1. Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin - The cynic in me would like to say this is over-hyped, but no, this five-disc collaborative fan effort arranging every single piece from Uematsu's masterwork is worth the hype.  It reminds me a little of Square's SQ series in its wide variety both in style and quality, but Square themselves would never attempt anything this ambitious, and even factoring out the missed attempts there are easily a couple hours of great FFVI arrangements, featuring everything from piano sonatas to raging rock, poignant instrumentals to quirky electronic pieces (and even a Tom Jones parody that somehow works).

2. Spectrum of Mana - Hardly any less ambitious than OCR's Balance & Ruin is this independently produced arranged album for fan-favorite Secret of Mana. As another collaborative fan effort the quality varies (especially on the first disc), but there's still a good two hours' worth of excellent arrangements, split almost evenly between peaceful piano, acoustic, and new age music and feisty progressive rock.

3. Chrono Trigger Symphony Volume 1 - Finally a full-length orchestrally arranged Chrono Trigger album.  Though not a live orchestra, the sampled instrumentation on the whole upgrades the SNES OST nicely, and the few parts where it does fall short are compensated by some very tastefully done arrangements. The same arranger's Banjo-Kazooie Symphony might actually be the stronger album, but for me this one wins out on nostalgia.

4. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate Original Game Soundtrack - Maintains the high orchestral production values of the first Lords of Shadow soundtrack, but with some much more potent compositions this time around.  The survival horror'esque boss themes are impressive in their evil intensity (even for someone like myself who usually doesn't care for the genre) and are balanced nicely by a few beautiful event and stage themes.

5. Banjo-Kazooie Symphony - I can't think of a single game soundtrack that achieves the classic-era Disney sound as delightfully as this one (and I doubt whether even any recent Disney scores do). Credit composer Grant Kirkhope for managing such a quirky and creative original soundtrack on the N64, but give equal credit to arranger Blake Robinson for giving them a whole new level of charm and charisma with his surprisingly robust sampled orchestrations.

6. Bionic Commando ReMixed: OK, We'll Groove - A just-right mix of VGM synth and electronic dance powered by driving action anthems.  As a modern update of an energetic  '80s action soundtrack it nails it.

7. Be Aggressive!: A Gunstar Heroes Tribute Album - Stretched a bit thin over two discs, but its highlights boast a combination of guitar rock and synth perfect for the title, and like its OCR sibling Bionic Commando it features some great action anthems.

8. Chrono Trigger Symphony Volume 2 - Though a weaker segment of the OST than the oh-so-nostalgic first volume, an equally strong adaptation, with some beneficial tweaks to the sampled instrumentation, and exciting arrangements in a few unexpected places.

9. Electronic Super Joy OST - Melodic, high-energy trance and techno so remarkably similar to the "cyber trance" music of the early millennium Tokyo club scene I can't help but wonder if composer "enV" was a part of it himself (along with yours truly).  At 35 minutes it's a bit short on substance, but still well worth the $4 FLAC download for fans of club music.

10. Sonic CD: Temporal Duality - The quality of the arrangements is much more mixed and the early impression not as favorable as the other OC Remix albums on this list, but once you sort through the three-plus discs of material there's a good amount of catchy synth-fused funk to be found, along with some bright and energetic pieces in the classic Sonic vein.

Adam Corn Jan 13, 2014

There was a bug where the form to post one's answers to the forums wasn't working properly.  It's fixed now.  My apologies for any inconvenience to any of the people who posted already.

Jodo Kast Jan 13, 2014

I plan to vote later this month, but it looks like Void Gear is my favorite so far. I have Spectrum of Mana, but haven't dug in yet.

Adam Corn Jan 25, 2014

Umm I know it was a slow year for VGM for a lot of people but I do hope to see a few more people's picks. smile  You can come back and change your picks or add comments anytime later, as long as you've submitted some answers before the deadline (which is in a few days).

GoldfishX Jan 25, 2014

1. Blazblue Chrono Phantasma

Shame this is the only 2013 soundtrack I can throw up there (I don't follow the indie scene close at all). I've been listening through too much older stuff. Although I'm tempted to cheat and toss Super Mario 3D World up, even though it's a 2014 release. The music is fantastic.

As for Blaz, it's much improved over the original. Mixing is much stronger and helps the melodies stand out more.

Adam Corn Jan 26, 2014

GoldfishX wrote:

Shame this is the only 2013 soundtrack I can throw up there (I don't follow the indie scene close at all).

Not sure if you mean OSTs or arranged but I do recommend at least giving OC Remix's recent releases a listen.  I downloaded most of their 2013 albums and the quality is pretty high up there.  Specifically FFVI Balance and Ruin (duh), Bionic Commando (dancey electronic, some great action anthems), Gunstar Heroes (some good rock though spread a bit thin), Deus Ex (electronic), and Perfection (ambient).  Their Sonic CD album has some good stuff on it as well though it too is spread a bit thin over four discs.

GoldfishX Jan 26, 2014

I've heard some here and there, but nothing I'm going to revisit. Fan arrangements in general just don't interest me all that much, even with most official arrangements pretty much drying up. They just fail to hit the sweet spot that a lot of my favorite arranges tend to do. I went through the Sonic album earlier in the year and only pulled off about 3 tracks I thought were decent. virt's work does interest me, but the dude needs to seriously turn the recording volume down. Might Switch Force (last year) was downright harsh. A lot of various bandcamp stuff I looked at is similar.

At some point, I'll take a look at the Spectrum of Mana album because of the source material, but I'm not expecting miracles from it. I'll settle for 5-10 tracks worth keeping.

Jodo Kast Jan 27, 2014

1. VOID GEAR

2. Mahou Daisakusen Original Soundtrack

3. GINGA FORCE Complete Soundtrack

4. Nintendo FAMICOM MUSIC

5. For Everlasting Peace: 25 Years of Mega Man

6. SHIN SANGOKUMUSOU 7 ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK COMPLETE

7. TOKI TO TOWA ~TOKITOWA~ ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK


I have yet to hear Dancing Dad and 7th Dragon 2020-II . I didn't care for Spectrum of Mana. There are others I heard from 2013, but I'm not counting them, since I don't own them. (It has to physically be on my shelf in order for me to be concerned with it; it's a new rule that makes this hobby more challenging.)

the_miker Jan 27, 2014

1. Hotline Miami Soundtrack

2. DuckTales Remastered

3. SONIC LOST WORLD ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK WITHOUT BOUNDARIES

4. Dragon's Crown

5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - Official Soundtrack

6. The Music of Grand Theft Auto V - Volume 2: The Score

7. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Compilation Album (Disc 5)

8. FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster Original Soundtrack

9. Fire Emblem Kakusei Original Soundtrack

10. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance Vocal Tracks

Didn't listen to yet:

Before Meteor FINAL FANTASY XIV Original Soundtrack
DEAD ISLAND RIPTIDE original soundtrack
LIGHTNING RETURNS FINAL FANTASY XIII ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Super Mario 3D World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Music of KILLER IS DEAD

James O Jan 27, 2014

1. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST

2. Distant Worlds music from FINAL FANTASY THE CELEBRATION

3. Luxendarc Kikou

4. Before Meteor: Final Fantasy XIV OST

5. Final Fantasy X HD Remaster OST

6. Final Fantasy IV OST Remaster

7. Final Fantasy XI Seekers of Adoulin OST

8. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Compilation Album (Disc 5)

9. Stolen Hearts / Nanaa Mihgo's

10. Nintendo Famicom Music

Zorbfish Jan 28, 2014

1. Little Busters! / Kud Wafter Piano Arrange Album "ripresa"

Best piano album I've heard in a few years. Rivals the Kanon/Air album from years ago.

2. Pastel Bee!!

TwinBee covers by WOODSOFT. Nuff said.

3. AliceSoundAlbum VOL.23 PASTEL CHIME 3 BINDSEEKER

I don't know whether this one will age well over time but for now Shade has me hooked. Reminds me of what I used to love about Tenpei Sato before every one of his releases started to sound the same as the last.

4. STEINS;GATE SYMPHONIC REUNION

A really great 'best of' compilation rearranged with amazing symphonic treatment. Disc 2 is a bit weak, but the fact that this was a re-release of the hard to find enclosure makes up for it.

5. scandal II

Doremiontan's blend of orchestral samples makes this collection of golden-era Square covers amazing.

6. Mega Music Mix

3 Discs chock full of Rockman electronica courtesy of Colis Records. If that's not your thing, EtlanZ released 4 Rockman albums last year which are a bit more faithful to the sources

7. RCT ALBUM remixes & covers

Mega Rock Fan Festa was last June and this one slipped by silently. Mostly mixes of pre-X Rockman by famous chippers.

8. Brave Adventure

Acoustic unit sweez doing medleys from Dragon Quest 2, 3, 4. A bit meatier than their first release of the year, Dash to the Victory! (a Mario Kart cover)

9. Erste

Newcomer circle Lunatic Mixture doing rock covers of Rockman and Pokemon.

10. Danmaku Unlimited 2 / Storm Strikers Original Soundtrack

warinside doing something other than friggin Touhou for a change. Decent, although at times unbalanced, shooter soundtrack


Overall
Weak year for officials. Doujins dominated my ear time.

Qui-Gon Joe Jan 28, 2014

1. Super Mario 3D World - Does this count?  The album didn't get shipped until 2014!

2. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - The Original Soundtrack - 2 disc version was new this year

3. Before Meteor: Final Fantasy XIV

4. Rayman Legends Original Game Soundtrack

5. Professor Layton vs. Gyakuten Saiban Magical Mystery Music

6. Magical Chase Original Soundtrack - Not a new game, but super surprising release.  I actually have the game, too!

7. Ys Zanmai

8. Falcom Field Zanmai

9. Soul Sacrifice Original Soundtrack

10. Crimson Dragon

Adam Corn Feb 5, 2014

Thanks for the responses.  I'll wait a few days to see if any of the VGMdb folks want to pitch in then tally the results.  Feel free to modify your own results at any time.

Qui-Gon Joe wrote:

1. Super Mario 3D World - Does this count?  The album didn't get shipped until 2014!

Probably not but I'm not gonna make a fuss about it. smile  People can vote for it again next year.

GoldfishX Feb 5, 2014

Sadly, as much as I love VGMdb as a resource and how much work people put in, one thing that drives me crazy is the lack of discussion over there on the forums. Half the time I see a new post there, it's someone promoting new VGM they wrote. Most of the comments about albums are just discussions over translations. With so many familiar names in the scene, I would think there would be more activity.

Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I wouldn't wait around too long for them.

I kind of want to give the Nintendo Famicom Album a boost here, but most of the games already had soundtracks released and the format is terrible (break the tracks up!). I think Pro Wrestling and Famicom Wars are the only new ones on the compilation. Sloppy release, quality content. Of the others listed so far, I need to hear Sonic World and Rayman Legends.

Am honestly surprised no one has put down Blazblue Chrono Phantasma, it has my hopes high for the new Guilty Gear game's music. They really did fix the main issue that plagued the music up to this point (the mixing).

TerraEpon Feb 6, 2014

VGMDB drives me nuts because any time I go over there I *have* to check the forums or else it marks everything as read. It's idiotic.

Jodo Kast Feb 6, 2014

GoldfishX wrote:

Sadly, as much as I love VGMdb as a resource and how much work people put in, one thing that drives me crazy is the lack of discussion over there on the forums.
I kind of want to give the Nintendo Famicom Album a boost here, but most of the games already had soundtracks released and the format is terrible (break the tracks up!). I think Pro Wrestling and Famicom Wars are the only new ones on the compilation. Sloppy release, quality content. Of the others listed so far, I need to hear Sonic World and Rayman Legends.
Am honestly surprised no one has put down Blazblue Chrono Phantasma, it has my hopes high for the new Guilty Gear game's music. They really did fix the main issue that plagued the music up to this point (the mixing).

  Part of the problem with the lack of discussion, from my point of view, is that I tend to discuss albums that either I exclusively own or are owned by very few people. Many of them are old, obscure, and expensive.

  I greatly prefer medley tracks, so the recent Famicom album was perfect for me. Back in 1999 and 2000 I used to seek out medleys at vgmusic.com before I had a game music collection.

   I haven't liked any of the Blazblue albums I've heard and I can't even remember which ones I've heard or what the music was even like. I formed only a mere wisp of a bad memory. I put the Chrono Phantasma in my shopping cart at AMZ JP, out of hope I may like it, but it will be several months before I can order game music again, due to my adventures of YJA.

GoldfishX Feb 6, 2014

Jodo Kast wrote:

Part of the problem with the lack of discussion, from my point of view, is that I tend to discuss albums that either I exclusively own or are owned by very few people. Many of them are old, obscure, and expensive.

Your knowledge of these over the years has been greatly appreciated. I definitely credit you with bringing Game Music Graffiti, Double Dragon II Arrange, Ninja Gaiden II Arrange and the Dragonball Z arrange albums to my attention, among others.

Blazblue basically sounds like Guilty Gear music, but with more of an orchestral power metal vibe than a classic heavy metal vibe. Calamity Trigger basically had no low end, so it was a relentless assault of high frequency electric guitars that I always found fatiguing to listen through and overall unsatisfying, despite some fine melodies. They addressed this in Chrono Phantasma...it's not perfect, but it doesn't sound like the bass and the drums are two studios away from the guitars either. And there's a shit ton of themes on it, those discs are packed to the brim. I think it'd be hard to not find at least 10-15 amazing tracks on it (I have around 30 or so highlighted from my own listening, which is a really good percentage for me, nowadays). Well, unless someone REALLY hated electric guitars.

Adam Corn Feb 6, 2014

As far as VGMdb is concerned, as a site admin I'll be the last to fault a site with that much content and functionality and that large a community. smile  It's true most the discussion seems centered around technicalities like credits and translations but it is a database site after all.

Anyhow for these polls especially the more the merrier, so if anybody else does decide to participate then great.  If not no harm done.

GoldfishX Feb 6, 2014

Oh yes, I'm not faulting it. I just find it strange that there isn't more discussion, is all.

The one, lone, extremely minor fault I have with it is the marketplace and allowing people to list albums as "negotiable". That is one thing I'm openly critical about on VGMdb, but that is also because I hate haggling over stuff. At least I want to see a ballpark figure price. I'm just thankful I have an idea what a lot of stuff is worth.

Jodo Kast Feb 7, 2014

GoldfishX wrote:

Your knowledge of these over the years has been greatly appreciated. I definitely credit you with bringing Game Music Graffiti, Double Dragon II Arrange, Ninja Gaiden II Arrange and the Dragonball Z arrange albums to my attention, among others.

  Thanks. I do recall being the first one in this (outside of Japan) community to get Game Music Graffiti. It would be interesting to know how many other people outside of Japan had a physical copy (and why they were quiet). I actually found Double Dragon II arrange on Quasi's server, in mp3 format. Once I got the original, I shared it here (why no one else talked about or shared that one before me is a mystery). Carl sent me a cd-r of Ninja Gaiden II arrange, but I eventually found an original. I originally sought the DBZ albums out of misinformation. Kenji Yamamoto was credited as the composer, and he worked on Super Metroid. But there are two different Kenji Yamamotos, which wasn't understood until much later.

STC Poll System Feb 15, 2014

Top poll results out of 65 unique answers submitted, as calculated by Soundtrack Central's automated poll system.  In parentheses are the percentage of respondents who selected that answer and the average ranking it was given.

1. Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin (22%, 1)
2. Before Meteor: Final Fantasy XIV Original Soundtrack (22%, 4)
3. Little Busters! / Kud Wafter Piano Arrange Album ~ripresa~ (22%, 5)
4. Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Original Soundtrack (22%, 7)
5. Nintendo Famicom Music (22%, 7)
6. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Compilation Album (22%, 8)
7. Soul Sacrifice Original Soundtrack (22%, 10)

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