Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Megavolt Jan 9, 2009

No, it's not my list, but another IGN feature for you guys to analyze:

http://music.ign.com/articles/937/937683p1.html

Good list?  Bad list?  Okay list?  You decide.  If you don't feel like reading through the article or you just want a quick reference for discussion, here's the ranked list: (highlight to see)


10. Takeharu Ishimoto
9. Yoko Shimomura
8. Masashi Hamauzu
7. Motoi Sakuraba
6. Shoji Meguro
5. Hiroki Kikuta
4. Hitoshi Sakimoto
3. Koichi Sugiyama
2. Yasunori Mitsuda
1. Nobuo Uematsu

The article actually came out a month ago, but I never saw it until recently, and so I thought I'd share it with you guys.

Cedille Jan 9, 2009 (edited Jan 9, 2009)

I don't dislike him as almost everybody does, but am I only the one who laughed after seeing who's #10?

As for the ranking, it sounds valid (although many people would prefer Shimomura higher, Sakimoto much lower, Ishimoto out, Kondo and Koshiro in). I'm not a big fan of most of them, but have little complaint.

allyourbaseare Jan 9, 2009

Well, at least my boy's on the list (#8).  But really?  Behind Shoji Meguro?  So I'm assuming this list is based more on # of works done/exposure to the field, correct?

Wanderer Jan 9, 2009

Surprisingly respectable for IGN. I'd move Mitsuda back (who hasn't written anything particularly interesting since Chrono Cross) and move Hamauzu forward (who, unlike most of the people on this list is still on a roll).

Ishimoto and Meguro wouldn't have made the cut.

Chris Jan 9, 2009

It's good to see that IGN have checked Wikipedia and fan discussions enough to have a decent idea of the most popular composers out there. The album isn't too bad and better than most of their top tens. However, I couldn't help but feel sad the untalented Takeharu Ishimoto and unprolific Hiroki Kikuta were put above many other greats. I think Yoko Shimomura should have been higher too.

If I did a list, it'd probably go something like this, based on both personal taste, objective factors, and their influence and legacy. I think some like Hamauzu and Koshiro have the potential to be higher with more RPG projects:

10) Noriyuki Iwadare
9) Kohei Tanaka
8) Masashi Hamauzu
7) Kenji Ito
6) Yasunori Mitsuda
5) Hitoshi Sakimoto
4) Motoi Sakuraba
3) Yoko Shimomura
2) Koichi Sugiyama
1) Nobuo Uematsu

With honourable mentions to Tenpei Sato, Yuzo Koshiro, Yoshitaka Hirota, Hayato Matsuo, Miki Higashino, and Hiroki Kikuta who have all done great and influential works but probably aren't quite prolific or significant enough in RPGs to be in my top ten. There are a lot of other good composers but nobody else I can think that is really worthy against these giants. I'd really love to commemorate the Gust and Falcom sound teams more, but I think it'd be difficult since most of their works are collaborative and their leaders have changed a fair bit.

Ramza Jan 9, 2009 (edited Jan 9, 2009)

it's too S-E dominated. And this from someone who loves most S-E games and their composers.

First of all: Ishimoto needs to go. He only made the list because IGN doesn't have enough staff who are truly knowledgeable of the full spectrum of VGM. He's okay, but he's both too new and not well enough accomplished to be anywhere near a top ten.

agreeing with most people here: Hamauzu needs to be closer to number one, and Mitsuda needs to be further away. Mitsuda's written 2, maybe 3 INCREDIBLE OSTs. And then a whole lot of ...meh...

IMO, the list needs Yuzo Koshiro.

Overall, it's certainly not a bad list. I'm glad they're giving love to 'em. And I'm glad they ranked Sugiyama as high as they did, especially considering the *relative* unpopularity of DQ (compared to in Japan).

Ramza

Bernhardt Jan 9, 2009 (edited Jan 9, 2009)

Hamauzu, Sakimoto, and Sakuraba are my favorite top-ranking composers.

Meguro, I dig if only for Persona 3 and Persona 4. I'm also liking Digital Devil Saga 2's soundtrack now that I'm playing more into the game. I'd swear the man's specifically trying to appeal to my own style...it just hits me spot on!

Uematsu and Mitsuda have since fallen out with me, though Mitsuda IS sort of trying to make a comeback with Soma Bringer.

Shimomura's FFXIII Versus will probably be something to behold; her more recent Heroes of Mana score and Drammatica orchestral arrange, I'm liking more that I'm giving them more of a chance.

Uematsu, though? I Can't Forgive You / Anata wo Yurusunai soundtrack was definitely my taste, but he didn't go into that alone. Blue Dragon is bland, but I guess Lost Odyssey is still decent, if not nice.

Iwadare? What's done lately, other than maybe Grandia III in 2005? I'm definitely really digging the soundtrack now that I've heard a lot of it in game, but is he just gone now, or what?! It's sad that he's practically dormant now, after I've preferred him over Uematsu, if only for his Grandia and Lunar scores.

Amazingu Jan 9, 2009

Bernhardt wrote:

Meguro, I dig if only for Persona 3 and Persona 4. I'm also liking Digital Devil Saga 2's soundtrack now that I'm playing more into the game. I'd swear the man's specifically trying to appeal to my own style...it just hits me spot on!

Did you try the first DDS? I really loved its soundtrack, but couldn't quite get into the sequel's music.
How's DDS2 as a game though? I stopped playing the first one because it was too frustrating and required too much grinding for my liking, but I absolutely loved the atmosphere, graphics, story and music.

Zorbfish Jan 10, 2009

Amazingu wrote:
Bernhardt wrote:

Meguro, I dig if only for Persona 3 and Persona 4. I'm also liking Digital Devil Saga 2's soundtrack now that I'm playing more into the game. I'd swear the man's specifically trying to appeal to my own style...it just hits me spot on!

Did you try the first DDS? I really loved its soundtrack, but couldn't quite get into the sequel's music.
How's DDS2 as a game though? I stopped playing the first one because it was too frustrating and required too much grinding for my liking, but I absolutely loved the atmosphere, graphics, story and music.

DDS2 starts to fall apart midway through the disc because it tries to patch up too many of the plotholes as it races to its finish. Perhaps if DDS1 and part of 2 were released as the first installment and more work was done on the sequel to polish its conclusion it would have been better. Can only recommend it to those who enjoyed the first all the way through and really want to see how it all turned out (otherwise just read a plot synop and youtube the ending).

As for the topic at hand, I agree on the Koshiro inclusion. This list seems to be battling with recent name noteriety and warm-fuzzy nostalgia.

the_miker Jan 10, 2009

For the most part, my Last.fm stats reflect how I feel about this list:

http://www.last.fm/user/the.miker/chart … pe=artists

Bernhardt wrote:

Iwadare? What's done lately, other than maybe Grandia III in 2005?

You should check out his two tracks on Elvandia Story Original Soundtrack.  He did the opening and ending themes, both performed by a full orchestra, which is where Iwadare really shines.  All of Hibino's in-game tracks are awesome too.  I'm definitely gonna be throwing this little CD in my next Amazon order.  Let's see.. he also worked on those Gyakuten Saiban jazz and orchestra CDs recently, he just had a track on that "message" vocal CD, and the soundtrack for a PS2 game called True Fortune came out back in October.

-Mike

Carl Jan 10, 2009 (edited Jan 10, 2009)

Bernhardt wrote:

Iwadare? What's done lately, other than maybe Grandia III in 2005? I'm definitely really digging the soundtrack now that I've heard a lot of it in game, but is he just gone now, or what?! It's sad that he's practically dormant now, after I've preferred him over Uematsu, if only for his Grandia and Lunar scores.

Iwadare just had a new OST release a month or two ago, PS2's True Fortune.
http://vgmdb.net/album/10172

Just because it's not work for a high-profile RPG doesn't mean someone is dormant or out of work. 
Take a listen to the Title track.

Cogo Jan 10, 2009

I think one man worth mentioning here is Koji Kondo, otherwise the list was quite alright.

tri-Ace Super Fan Jan 10, 2009 (edited Jan 10, 2009)

I didn't even know who Takeharu Ishimoto is until I clicked the link. Somebody that new shouldn't be on the list when there are other composers they left out that have been making amazing soundtracks for decades.

Seeing Uematsu at number 1 is totally predictable and I'd be surprised if he wasn't (and IGN would probably have to deal with massive amounts of hate mail), but I don't think he'd be on my personal list at all.

I agree with including Mitsuda, Sakimoto, Kikuta, and Sakuraba, although I'd probably shuffle the order. I'm a little iffy on what's left after that, and I'd probably ax Meguro.

For some composers as replacements, I'd consider Iwadare, Sasai, Sekito, Ito, and Koshiro (not necessarily in that order).

Dais Jan 10, 2009 (edited Jan 10, 2009)

That'd be true if anyone cared about Touhou music besides Touhou fans.

Carl Jan 10, 2009

it seems that every gamer in Japan *IS* a Touhou fan.
ZUN's music is just so malleable and easily adapted into all kinds of forms.

Ramza Jan 10, 2009

Bernhardt wrote:

Uematsu, though? I Can't Forgive You / Anata wo Yurusunai soundtrack was definitely my taste, but he didn't go into that alone. Blue Dragon is bland, but I guess Lost Odyssey is still decent, if not nice.

You're my hero for lovin' up on Anata o Yurusanai.

Bernhardt Jan 10, 2009 (edited Jan 10, 2009)

Amazingu wrote:
Bernhardt wrote:

Meguro, I dig if only for Persona 3 and Persona 4. I'm also liking Digital Devil Saga 2's soundtrack now that I'm playing more into the game. I'd swear the man's specifically trying to appeal to my own style...it just hits me spot on!

Did you try the first DDS? I really loved its soundtrack, but couldn't quite get into the sequel's music.
How's DDS2 as a game though? I stopped playing the first one because it was too frustrating and required too much grinding for my liking, but I absolutely loved the atmosphere, graphics, story and music.

Funny thing is, I never played the first DDS because it was all-limited-edition like, and rare and what-have-you; I got the 4-disc soundtrack set for DDS that includes the OSTs for both DDS and DDS2, but have only checked out the soundtrack for DDS2.

DDS2, I can only assume the battle system is just the same as in DDS. It's turn-based, and...it really reminds me of Xenosaga in a few ways. I've only played up past the first boss battle. I'm looking forward to getting through the rest of the game, though.

Ramza wrote:
Bernhardt wrote:

Uematsu, though? I Can't Forgive You / Anata wo Yurusunai soundtrack was definitely my taste, but he didn't go into that alone. Blue Dragon is bland, but I guess Lost Odyssey is still decent, if not nice.

You're my hero for lovin' up on Anata o Yurusanai.

Heh, almost anything that's jazz, lounge, or lounge jazz I pretty much warm up to immediately, especially if it's got good melody, or SOMETHING I can follow, after all, jazz isn't necessarily known for being melodic. I dig chic factor.

Jodo Kast Jan 10, 2009

I don't see any Falcom composers on the list, such as Yuzo Koshiro (Ys, Sorcerian) or Mieko Ishikawa (Ys, Sorcerian, Star Trader, Brandish). The fact that they have been ignored stems from the age and the relative unfamiliarity of the games they composed for. Plus, it is not easy to find out who the Falcom composers are. I still don't know who composed The Legend of Heroes or Legend of Xanadu, for example. The IGN list is based on common, easy to find knowledge. If all knowledge were considered, including the obscure and difficult to obtain, then the list would be quite different.

Some others:

Nobuhito Koise (Emerald Dragon, Zavas, Vain Dream)
Ikki Nakamura (Emerald Dragon , Vain Dream, Ragnarokkr)
Tokuhiko Uwabo (Phantasy Star)
Kohei Tanaka (Bounty Sword, Paladin's Quest, Sakura Wars)
Kentaro Haneda (Wizardry)

I'm surprised that Yoko Kanno wasn't at least mentioned, although I'm not sure if her KOEI works are in the RPG category. If those strategy games by KOEI could be considered RPG, then many more composers would be available to choose from. For example, the composers of this have produced music on par with Uematsu in terms of composition quality (ease of recall, invokes emotional response), although the amount of music pales in comparison.

Chris Jan 10, 2009 (edited Jan 10, 2009)

I compiled a list of Falcom composers last Easter here: http://www.squareenixmusic.com/companie … ames.shtml I never officially released it so it's crude and doesn't list a few recent works. Hopefully that'll change later in the year when I get round to releasing the Falcom discography too.

You can get the general idea from that list anyway. Most projects have been collaborative and generally all members of the current team work on each project. I personally love what Hayato Sonoda has done with the new team. He's the current leader with Atsushi Shirakawa (now big anime composer Tenmon), Mieko Ishikawa (now publicity staff), and Yuzo Koshiro leading in eras before that.

Yuzo Koshiro sure has done some important RPG works like Ys, Sorcerian, Oasis, 7th Dragon, Shenmue, and Etrian Odyssey if you classify dungeon crawlers. I'm still not sure if he's done enough RPG scores for me to list him but he's at least worthy of a big honourable mention.

SonicPanda Jan 11, 2009

I'll throw in some I think have been overlooked:

Yasunori Shiono, from Lufia 1&2 - it might be all he's done, but it's enough.
Yoshino Aoki, Breath of Fire 3&4 - BoF4 isn't as fresh as it was 9(!) years ago, but it's still very good.
Junya Nakano - best ambience man at S-E, I want to try Last Remnant just to hear it.
Tomohito Nishiura - Dark Cloud series is lovely.

But yeah, that list is awfully S-E heavy. In my cut, Hamauzu and the Crisis Core guy take a hike, Shimomura gets the top, and Mitsuda rounds out the bottom.

GoldfishX Jan 11, 2009 (edited Jan 11, 2009)

I didn't read past Ishimoto on the list...I really didn't need to.

I would definitely need to have Michiko Naruke, Miki Higashino and Yuzo Koshiro in there. Yasunori Shiono (Lufia) and Akihiko Mori (Mystic Ark, Gokinjyou Bouken Tai) would get consideration, as would Tokuhiko Uwabo (classic Phantasy Star + Sorcerian Megadrive). A lot of the "usual" suspects from today would neither make my list or would come in lower than I would have had them in the past. Not touching the Falcom JDK mess (outside of Koshiro), but as a whole, they probably make up my favorite group of JRPG soundtracks. Always finding great, new tracks from these guys in both their old and new soundtracks.

So let's see what I come up with...

1. Nobuo Uematsu

-His classic-era stuff is just that good. For my purposes, this is a no-brainer.

2. Yuzo Koshiro

-Life without Ys and Sorcerian music would seriously be awful. Yuzo fills that void and tops me off with Etrian Odyssey and Actraiser.

3. Michiko Naruke

-I generally like Wild Arms music when she's doing it. A lot.

4. Yasunori Mitsuda

-Probably moving him up, because of Soma Bringer and Inazuma recently. Xenogears and Chrono Trigger were definitely beasts and Chrono Cross is pretty good, as long as I seperate it mentally from the game it accompanies. I appreciate his sense of melody more now than I have in the past.

5. Hiroki Kikuta

-Always rediscovering stuff I like about him. Seiken 2 and 3 and Soukaigi are a pretty potent line-up (especially Seiken 3!). I like his overall quirkiness.

6. Miki Higashino

-The two Suikoden games she did was enough to get her up this high. Shame she didn't stick around longer.

7. Tokuhiko Uwabo

-Phantasy Star's music is classic and Sorcerian Megadrive is just as good as the original Sorcerian. Need more, but those 5 games are enough.

8. Motoi Sakuraba

-Valkyrie Profile (1), I CHOOSE YOU!!! I still check out his stuff because of his potential and past works, but the yays have been in the minority recently. At least his Star Ocean 4 battle theme has promise for the rest of the score.

9. Yasunori Shiono

-Lufia 1 and 2 have very good music.

10. Noriyuki Iwadare

-REALLY had to think here, him, Mori or Shimomura. Like Sakuraba, he's fallen way off, but the excellent tracks he did from the Grandias, Lunars and Langrissers justify a spot over the other two.

SonicPanda Jan 11, 2009

GoldfishX wrote:

3. Michiko Naruke

-I generally like Wild Arms music when she's doing it. A lot.

Aw, crap. Now I feel like a jerk for forgetting her.

Chris Jan 11, 2009

SonicPanda wrote:

I'll throw in some I think have been overlooked:

Yasunori Shiono, from Lufia 1&2 - it might be all he's done, but it's enough.
Yoshino Aoki, Breath of Fire 3&4 - BoF4 isn't as fresh as it was 9(!) years ago, but it's still very good.
Junya Nakano - best ambience man at S-E, I want to try Last Remnant just to hear it.
Tomohito Nishiura - Dark Cloud series is lovely.

But yeah, that list is awfully S-E heavy. In my cut, Hamauzu and the Crisis Core guy take a hike, Shimomura gets the top, and Mitsuda rounds out the bottom.

The Last Remnant was by Sekito but he did a surprisingly good job IMO. I've never liked his compositions before, just his arrangements, but he really matured on this work and offering a lot of variety. Junya Nakano is interesting and all, but would I call him a top RPG composer? Not really as he's had few works, not much influence, and isn't that versatile. I guess I really need a composer to be all those things to be on my top lists.

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