1. Professor Layton and the Curious Village OST
What happened to Nishiura lately? I couldn't care less for his Dark Cloud soundtracks but Layton is pure gold. As if the chip sound itself wasn't enough the OST also treats us several delicious live arrangements, yum!
2. Armored Core: For Answer OST
Booting the AC:FA demo and hearing Someone is Always Moving on the Surface for the first time may have been my gaming moment of 2008. I surely wasn't expecting this from an Armored Core game. And it's not just this track, the OST is filled with memorable tracks that keep the same mood. Amazing.
3. Soma Bringer Original Soundtrack
Another one of those "what happened here" moments: a 3 disk Mitsuda soundtrack (almost) rivaling Trigger and Cross in quality compositions. Got loads of playtime this year as I dig just about every track. Judging from what I heard playing World Destruction (what's taking them so long to release an OST?) Mitsuda is back people.
4. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia OST
Best Castlevania soundtrack in a long while, an awesome supplement to an awesome game. So many memorable new songs, it's crazy!
5. Live Music by Piano and Strings: Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version
While the Sekaiju 2 arrange album failed to grab me, this more than made up for it. Once again shows the genius of Koshiro: his works can be rearranged into oblivion and still be interesting (just look at the plethora of Sekaiju doujin releases).
6. Sekaiju no MeiQ 2 Original Soundtrack
The original. Didn't grab me as much as the first but still pure quality.
7. Drammatica ~The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura~
I'm by no means a Shimomura fan, but this disc happens to contain all tracks I do like. Nice compilation with good (albeit very straightforward) arrangements.
8. Super Mario Galaxy OST
Wow, just wow. Most memorable first party Nintendo soundtrack in a long time. Love everything except the boss battles (boooooring).
Is it just me or was 2008 a year of extraordinary quality? Having lost interest over the past couple of years, 2008 brought my attention back to the marvels of video game music. I had a hard time putting this list together, even though I've had to miss out on some pretty big releases (build quite a backlog over the year).
oh and by the way, I restrained myself to VGM related material for this poll as I found it impossible to compare anime soundtracks to VGM (in terms of anime, Macross Frontier OST 2 is my pick for release of the year).