Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Ashley Winchester Sep 2, 2015 (edited Sep 2, 2015)

I'm certain we all have soundtracks we are odds at for some odd reasons. What are some of yours? Here's mine:

Wild Arms Advanced 3rd

While I've only come to realize this, my disappointment with the game years and years ago really skewed my opinion of this score. Wild Arms 3 isn't really a bad game in the slightest... but I did lie to myself for the longest time that I liked it because it was "a Wild Arms game" when it felt insanely mundane to me.

Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

The more I listen to this one the more and more I believe I'm on the cusp of it finally dropping that "it's not done by a in-house composer" thing I use to distance it from the music from the first four games (which isn't without its own faults) but I only think this will only fully happen if I play the game to hear the pieces in context, yet I don't really have any desire to play the game... or any game at the moment.

Super Castlevania IV

I really love the prog-like style of this one and how many of the tracks aren't as straightforward as in past and previous games... but I kind of hate listening to this one out of context for some reason.

GoldfishX Sep 2, 2015

Chrono Cross - hated the game and I found much of the soundtrack to be lackadaisical at first. I still don't think it comes together at the end the way Trigger's 3rd disc does, but the ride through much of disc 1 and 2 is well worth it now.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - So many wasted opportunities with this strange generic electro-rock soundtrack, but it gets about a dozen or so themes right. The ones that are bad...they're legitimate stinkers. Case in point: Nash's Theme. Very little makes this track stand out. But it does. Somehow. I still can't bring myself to properly hate this soundtrack.

19XX/Pop N Twinbee/Xexex - Three exceptionally subpar shooter soundtracks that I've probably listened to over a dozen times each over the years. It's almost like a trio to me at this point. In the case of Xexex and Twinbee, I actually repurchased them after initially selling them.

Ys III Perfect Collection - This was my first Perfect Collection album. I bought it fully understanding it was nowhere near the strongest one and was nowhere near the quality of the Turbo Duo Redbook. It still sounds "right" to me, despite it not quite fulfilling its potential. I think newer Falcom warmed me up to this one. Also see: Sorcerian Perfect Collection Vol. 2 and its weirdo arrangements on disc 1.

Grandia I Original Soundtrack (both parts) - 4 discs of arranged music from the game, about half of each one I detest (aside from the 2nd disc of the first soundtrack), about half of each one I absolutely adore and deem essential to any RPG fan. Just good to know what you're getting into.

Guilty Gear (series) - They can't ever quite get this one perfect. The first one is excellent, but it suffers from compression. The arcade version of X is...balls. Guilty Gear X Heavy Rock Tracks has some serious mixing issues and virtually no "weight" to the music. Guilty Gear XX Original Soundtrack has a bunch of performance issues (the whole band is very subpar, IMO). Isuka is great but too short. Never cared for any of Overture. And Xrd sounds like a garage band trying to make Guilty Gear-esque tracks with no sense of melody. The ones up through Isuka, I'll always have a soft spot for, but the only thing keeping them from perfection was some very minor things.

Ashley Winchester Sep 2, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

Chrono Cross - hated the game and I found much of the soundtrack to be lackadaisical at first. I still don't think it comes together at the end the way Trigger's 3rd disc does, but the ride through much of disc 1 and 2 is well worth it now.

This is more about the game itself, but I find Chrono Cross to be a game with some great aesthetics (music, graphics and battle system) but absolutely horrible when it comes to narrative... and the good parts can't really make up for that.

Jay Sep 3, 2015

Well there are plenty of OSTs I bought on the strength of the games but found I couldn't listen to them for very long on their own: Devil May Cry, MGS games (aside from a few tracks), Resident Evil games and more. Not that I feel they are bad soundtracks, just not the sort of thing I'd pop on for pleasure.

Then some I have never played the game for and yet adore the soundtracks. Final Fantasy XII is the big one there for me. It is one of my favourite FF OSTs and yet I have no context whatsoever.

Over time, I realised that some of my most precious soundtracks, such as the Panzer Dragoon ones, are my most precious because of the experience of tracking them down, torturing over how much I would pay for them, likely discussing them here, buying them, waiting for them to arrive and the thrill of opening and listening for the first time. They are about the experience even more than the music. So they're special.

Ashley Winchester Sep 3, 2015

Jay wrote:

MGS games (aside from a few tracks)

Yeah, I had the soundtrack for the first game at one point... taking it out of context didn't help it a whole lot unfortunately.

Ramza Sep 3, 2015

OK, using the title "weird relationship" but not just "oh I'm disappointed now" ...

STAR OCEAN: THE SECOND STORY

I'll go through phases where I will listen to this full OST and it'll just put a big goofy smile on my face. Sacred Song & We Form In Crystals are personal favs, but I truly love it all.

And then I'll be like "nope, this is over-rated, I don't wanna listen to this." For months. And then I come back to it.

I have this, to a lesser extent, with a lot of PS1 era soundtracks, especially Vagrant Story. But SO2 takes the cake for this love/hate cycle.

jb Sep 3, 2015 (edited Sep 3, 2015)

Jay wrote:

Then some I have never played the game for and yet adore the soundtracks. Final Fantasy XII is the big one there for me. It is one of my favourite FF OSTs and yet I have no context  whatsoever.

If that constitutes a weird relationship then almost every soundtrack I've bought in the last 15 years qualifies. I play one console game a year if I'm lucky. Most of my purchases are on the strength of a composer, a series or plain nostalgia. I've randomly bought albums simply because I liked the name (Gargantia on the Verderous Planet which I LOVE). I've randomly bought albums based on their cover, too.

I'm probably the weird one, though. wink

Ashley Winchester Sep 3, 2015

Ramza wrote:

And then I'll be like "nope, this is over-rated, I don't wanna listen to this." For months. And then I come back to it.

I have this, to a lesser extent, with a lot of PS1 era soundtracks, especially Vagrant Story. But SO2 takes the cake for this love/hate cycle.

This kind of reminds me of Sonata Arctica's 2003 album Winterhearts guild. At some points I'm like "this is a good album considering it was a rush job..." and then other times I'll be like "this really lags behind most of their other albums." Easily the Sonata album I flip-flop on the most. Both are actually valid opinions yet I think I'm kind of lucky I can see both sides of the coin.

GoldfishX Sep 3, 2015

jb wrote:

If that constitutes a weird relationship then almost every soundtrack I've bought in the last 15 years qualifies. I play one console game a year if I'm lucky. Most of my purchases are on the strength of a composer, a series or plain nostalgia. I've randomly bought albums simply because I liked the name (Gargantia on the Verderous Planet which I LOVE). I've randomly bought albums based on their cover, too.

I'm probably the weird one, though. wink

That's all accurate for me too. I bought Seiken Densetsu 3 OSV because of the cover art. That ranks up there with one my better "blind" (okay, I KNEW it was SNES Square, but still) purchases. I didn't know Legend of Heroes III was even a Falcom album when I first bought it...It just sounded like a cool RPG name.

jayavictory Oct 5, 2015 (edited Oct 5, 2015)

I was this close to posting a near a replica of Ramza's post.. The Sakuraba-love-hate relationship is real!

I used to have an uncertain relationship with FFVII's OST (aha, another PS1 title!). My opinion is now certain. The soundboard throughout is iconic and has a lot of 'presence' (the weight of the notes if felt a great deal more than the SNES chip? I dunno how to descri.. It's similar to Ocarina of Time's impact), but the work itself is too inconsistent. The first disc is brilliant straight through, disc two- a few snags, but holds it together, then three and especially the cinematic music at the end of four loses it. I always want to love it more than I do by the time disc four finishes. So many great highlights, y'know? IV and VI are my go to consistent longplays.

Ashley Winchester Oct 6, 2015

jayavictory wrote:

I was this close to posting a near a replica of Ramza's post.. The Sakuraba-love-hate relationship is real!

I used to have an uncertain relationship with FFVII's OST (aha, another PS1 title!). My opinion is now certain. The soundboard throughout is iconic and has a lot of 'presence' (the weight of the notes if felt a great deal more than the SNES chip? I dunno how to descri.

This actually reminds me of how sick I get of people complaining (all these years later) about FFVII's soundboard. Yes, it's not ideal in the technological sense... but if you hate the sound check out the original MIDI used in the PC version and get back to me.

Zane Oct 6, 2015

One of the things I miss about older soundtracks is the individuality of their programming and sounds. You hear something from FFVII, or Seiken Densetsu 2/3, or FFT-era Sakimoto, and you just know who the composer is based on their sound palette. Find me another song from any game that sounds as good/terrible/unique as "Crazy Motorcycle" from FFVII, and I'll show you a bald guy in pajamas who is surprised.

I have loved/hated Final Fantasy XII OST since its initial release. I've owned two or three copies over the past (and somehow ended up with Jeremy Parish's LE copy in my current collection), but still can't get into it, even after putting in 50+ hours into the game. Don't get me wrong, a decent chunk of the songs are absolutely amazing in and out of context - Eruyt Village, Rabanastre Lowtown, Boss Battle, that beautiful Game Over theme - but when I actually sit down and listen to it, I get exhausted. EXHAUSTED. It's five hours long! This OST is a blessing when it comes up on shuffle (love!), but I've been listening to this for almost a decade at this point and I still can't handle more than 45 minutes of it at a time (hate!).

jb Oct 6, 2015

I think that's a common problem with massive disc released, be it a full OST or a box set of some variety. There's just too much music to reasonably digest for the average listener. And yet you'll still have people complaining about cut tracks or tracks that aren't looped, etc.

I don't listen to a ton of huge albums front to back, usually once or twice. But then again I also don't really pick out favorite tracks since that's now how I digest or listen to music. So they just sit there until I find I'm in the mood again tongue

GoldfishX Oct 6, 2015

I've said before many times, when I dig into a multi-disc album or even a single disc album with 40+ tracks, the liklihood that everything is equally composed with the same amount of care is very low. So my first listen, I'm both looking for tracks to catch my ear and ones I don't need to bother with a second time.

I guess listening to an album, with the intention of finding tracks to throw away is a bit of a weird, abusive relationship. But that's how this hobby rolls sometimes. Trying to give every damn track an equal chance was wearing me out!

Ashley Winchester Oct 6, 2015

Zane wrote:

I have loved/hated Final Fantasy XII OST since its initial release. I've owned two or three copies over the past (and somehow ended up with Jeremy Parish's LE copy in my current collection), but still can't get into it, even after putting in 50+ hours into the game. Don't get me wrong, a decent chunk of the songs are absolutely amazing in and out of context - Eruyt Village, Rabanastre Lowtown, Boss Battle, that beautiful Game Over theme - but when I actually sit down and listen to it, I get exhausted. EXHAUSTED. It's five hours long! This OST is a blessing when it comes up on shuffle (love!), but I've been listening to this for almost a decade at this point and I still can't handle more than 45 minutes of it at a time (hate!).

I don't think this is that strange... I can think of many albums I like where I like to hear the songs one-by-one (e.g. on shuffle) than one long experience. This even applies to certain non-VGM music albums I have.

Jodo Kast Oct 24, 2015

MIDI Power Pro7 ~GRADIUS~

I thought this was terrible for over a decade. I even deleted it from my hard drive and discarded my CD-R. When I saw this regularly being listed at more than 15,000 yen, I wondered why. When I saw one at 4,000 yen, I decided, why not? If something suddenly decreases in price by a huge percentage, then that gets my attention as well. I think this is a great album now. There's something about having the actual album on my shelf that gives me more respect for it, as well as more patience.

Dragonfish Dog Nov 4, 2015 (edited Nov 4, 2015)

Soundtracks that I have "Strange Relationships" would be soundtracks that I think, believe, and know are good soundtracks, but I somehow don't end up listening to them very much, or soundtracks that I have "love-hate relationships" with, and have to be in "a certain mood" in order to be able to enjoy them. They would also be those soundtracks that sound good in-game, but when listened to outside of the game, just don't provide good background music for reality.

The Final Fantasy Tactics and Stella Deus soundtracks were not such soundtracks; I loved those soundtracks quite a bit, and "burned holes" through them listening to them so much. I rather like Hitoshi Sakimoto's work.

That why it's ironic when you consider that, while I did like the Breath of Fire V soundtrack, I don't listen to it much at all - it's a very moody soundtrack, evocative of an inner city industrial hell-hole, when you get down to it.

Final Fantasy XII I also thought had a good soundtrack, but a lot of the music blends together, and you have to really consciously listen to tell one piece from another - the Vagrant Story soundtrack is the same way for me. Both games, I keep looking at them, and wishing they'd just made them action games like Kingdom Hearts; I hate the battle systems for both of those games.

Xenosaga Episode I, at first, I didn't really care for the soundtrack when I first listened to it, but after sometime, somehow, I ended up listening to it more often, and liking it quite a bit.

Guacamelee!'s soundtrack was one that just sounded hectic, and really got on my nerves until I actually played the game.

GoldfishX Nov 5, 2015

Saga Frontier II...I'm sure a lot of people can identify with this, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Why I first bought it. Why I originally sold it. Why I listened to it off and on afterwards. Why I bought it back. I never hated it, I just kind of sort of respected it, but never loved it. If there's a weird relationship I have with a soundtrack, this is most definitely it. And I'm glad I have it around when I get the urge to listen to it. One of the ultimate "acquired taste" albums I have.

Ashley Winchester Nov 5, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

Saga Frontier II... I never hated it, I just kind of sort of respected it, but never loved it. If there's a weird relationship I have with a soundtrack, this is most definitely it.

No, I don't feel this is a weird relationship.

You perfectly encapsulated how I feel about this one. Outside of two tracks ("Theme" and "Possession") I don't really love this one either... but I do respect it. I'd never buy it because for me it'd be pointless.

At the end of the day the music is great... but I think the sound programming is the more impressive element. Damn does it sound good.

GoldfishX Nov 5, 2015

But one thing I forgot to add...I don't have the same connection with anything else from Hamauzu. So it does SOMETHING right. I just can't pinpoint what. lol

And yes, the layering of sounds is something that really shines on good headphones. It's definitely audiophile-grade stuff.

Dragonfish Dog Nov 9, 2015 (edited Nov 9, 2015)

GoldfishX wrote:

But one thing I forgot to add...I don't have the same connection with anything else from Hamauzu. So it does SOMETHING right. I just can't pinpoint what. lol

And yes, the layering of sounds is something that really shines on good headphones. It's definitely audiophile-grade stuff.

SaGa Frontier II OST, for me, was one of those OSTs I felt I could just let run in the background, and it didn't distract me; it seemed like all tracks blended together, and each track lead into the next one. The battle tracks stuck out, yes, they were the fastest, most action-packed tracks in there, but the rest was just either really relaxing, or passively ominous or ethereal classical-styled chamber music.

Unfortunately, today, it is one of those soundtracks I don't even listen to anymore, as I basically ran it into the ground after a few years - listened to it way too often, and became disinterested in it after awhile.

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