Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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GoldfishX Mar 23, 2013 (edited Mar 24, 2013)

There really hasn't been much VGM discussion recently (for a while actually), so I am curious what VGM people have been listening to recently. Feel free to update as often as possible, more discussion about VGM on a VGM forum is a good thing.

I have been going through an entire "re-evaluation" period with all of my old favorite albms and trying to hand out "honest" ratings (minus the nostalgia).

Positive Surprises: Game Music Graffiti, Sorcerian Perfect Collection Vol. 1, Legend of Heroes II Perfect Collection, Final Fantasy IX OST, Star Ocean 2 Arrange Album

Both Game Music Graffiti (mostly the NES cart and Gameboy sections) and Sorcerian Perfect Collection Vol. 1, I never realized how good they were. Thick, satisfying game music arrangements of classic tunes, nothing fancy. I wish the disk-based songs on GMG weren't so damn lousy and the Sorcerian arranges were a tad longer, but both albums produced two of the more enjoyable listening sessions I've had in a long time. Legend of Heroes II Perfect Collection has been largely ignored by me over the years, in favor of the amazing Turbo Duo redbook version of the music. The score has a lot of filler in it that needed to be snipped out and it adheres mostly to the upgrade philosophy without doing too much, but between the PC-98 versions and the upgraded arranges, it turned out pretty solid. I was never a huge Final Fantasy IX fan, including most of the soundtrack, but I have my greatest hits versions of it together (about 22 tracks) and not getting much out of recent Uematsu works makes this one worth going back to and exploring. And SO2 arrange has just held up well, better than VP Arrange, IMO. I snipped out the two non-SO2 tracks on principle (with a score that good, this never made sense to me) and I never understood the popularity of We Form in Crystals, but the other 7 tracks were just begging to be rediscovered.

Negative Surprises: Nazo Nazo's Perfect Selection albums, Phantasy Star Sound Collection 1, Sing!! Street Fighter II

Early on, back in the early-2000's, I was a big fan of the Konami Perfect Selection albums. Now...wow, these have not held up well at all. And I usually love 80's synth-based arranges with recorded guitar parts. Each album (Dracula, Twinbee, Gradius 1 and 2, Xexex, Parodius), about half of it can be thrown away for just kind of sitting there without doing much of anything, while each album also has between 2-3 killer, rocking arrangements that were always my focus throughout the years. But overall, they've slid and half of the tracks on these border on "unlistenable". The two exceptions were Snatcher and SD Snatcher Perfect Selection (which was actually the only one of these albums NOT arranged by Nazo Nazo) and Sound Racing History Perfect Selection, which are both far more consistant despite my lack of familiarity with the original tunes.

I will always regard Phantasy Star Sound Collection 1 as one of my favorite possessions and favorite arranges, but I simply cannot sit through the entire PS3 section anymore. Too many references to the main theme of the game (which is annoying and stereotypical) and I just clipped out Tracks 8 and 12 on my soft copy because they felt redundant. I'm also not thrilled they went for the endings for all 3 games, although I ultimately favorited the PS2 arrange. PS1 and PS2 have so many good tracks that could have been picked for this album. That said, these are nitpicks because the PS1 Dungeon medley and PS2 Field medley are two of the greatest arrangements in VGM history and make the album worth having for those alone.

And Sing!! Street Fighter II was sort of a prelude to the all-star arrange albums that became popular later on. Like most of those albums, it is disjointed, unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying. To be honest, I found most of this album pretty annoying and the only tracks I rated favorably were Chun Li's theme, Ken's theme and Sagat.

brandonk Mar 24, 2013

I've been on a retro kick with NES/Famicom games and making custom edits of tracks from alot of Konami games.

Crysis Force
Contra
TMNT
Castlevania 3
Gradius II

Someone recently re-mixed/mastered these in stereo (on youtube) and I've been blown away by the quality. Those Kukeiha folks knew their stuff.

Other than that, "Ginga Force" OST has been in the mix as of late. 

Had alot of stuff I've discovered thx to "No-life" radio, but the music is all over the place..hoping to make a playlist of favorites (I write them down as I listen)

Dragon God Mar 24, 2013 (edited Mar 24, 2013)

For me, it ain't hard. It's the FF6 OSV (1994 SquareSoft print FTW) as its the only VGM album I'm left with. I finally decided to call it quits with collecting VGM and looking into the other stuff out there. The reprints that I bought last fall quickly lost their "fresh" listening experience, so I decided to pawn them off. Somehow I knew that eventually I was going to step out of the scene and keep the one album that I won't get tired of listening to anytime soon. Plus it's accompanied by fantastic albums by Genesis (A Trick of the Tail), Yngwie Malmsteen (Rising Force), Bill Conti (The 1st Rocky film score) and some '80s Pop/Rock by various artists via the Cobra soundtrack.

We all know FF6's strong points, so I won't bother bringing them up. The nostalgia factor alone is priceless. Plus the fact that I managed to snag a GBA SP and FF6 Advance (one reason why I can't fully fault Square-Enix for their recent downfall overall) and given the sound is terrible on the port, the Snes sound version makes everything complete for me. I had thought about keeping Grand Finale since I love everything FF6, but the track selection bothered me.

So with this, it was a great ride while it lasted folks, but everything comes to an end at one point or other.

LiquidAcid Mar 24, 2013 (edited Mar 24, 2013)

Karanoshojo The Second Episode: Excellent album by MANYO. First disc is very acoustic/ambient, while disc 2 and 3 have some more "substance". Also it has Reiko Tsuchiya performing violin and erhu (this Chinese string instrument). One of my newest (blind) purchases, which turned out to be really good.

Some more albums which I did listen to recently:
> Grand Knights History (loving these violin tracks with Teisena performing)
> Time and Eternity ~Tokitowa~ (gamerip) (offers some nice laid-back field tracks)
> Sigma Harmonics (often overlooked work by Hamauzu)
> The Ciel nosurge preview disc from the AT box

Plus some anime and film scores, which I won't list here.

Jodo Kast Mar 24, 2013 (edited Mar 26, 2013)

Everything that I love in chronological order! Let me explain. I have to spend 5-7 hours per week in my car, due to my new job. Coincidentally, the price of 256 GB flash drives suddenly dropped into affordable territory. I couldn't stand using a meager 16 GB drive because I had to constantly delete albums to make space each time I got something new. But now, I can start in 1986 and work my way up to 2013. By the time I fill up this first drive, it will be even cheaper to buy another one. I definitely will not need a full terabyte, even for WAV. Two 256s should be able to hold everything I already know is important and allow space for evaluating new arrivals.

The last album I listened to was Blue Almanac. It is so much better than I remember.

I listened to Dracula Perfect Selection yesterday, after a decade break. I had forgotten how atrocious the lyrics were in the vocals, along with the mispronunciation of "Simon" as "Semen". The arrangements themselves are actually decent. Mad Forest would be much more enjoyable had they not decided to have a guy go "ugh ugh ugh ughughughugh" "OWW OWW OWW OWW" "bip". What the hell?

Smeg Mar 24, 2013

I've been on a big Sunsoft NES kick lately (Batman, Blaster Master, Gimmick, Hebereke, Journey to Silius etc). Shin Contra has also been in fairly heavy rotation.

Things that don't hold up so much? The Super Mario World arrange album comes to mind. Once you get past the novelty of nostagic themes performed by a live ensemble, the arrangements themselves are trite and pedestrian. Big yawn.

GoldfishX Mar 24, 2013

Smeg wrote:

I've been on a big Sunsoft NES kick lately (Batman, Blaster Master, Gimmick, Hebereke, Journey to Silius etc). Shin Contra has also been in fairly heavy rotation.

Things that don't hold up so much? The Super Mario World arrange album comes to mind. Once you get past the novelty of nostagic themes performed by a live ensemble, the arrangements themselves are trite and pedestrian. Big yawn.

Here's hoping that Batman makes it to one of those Sunsoft compilations. I recently came across Shounen Ninja Sasuke and it's really well done. Lot's of good old-school, action themes. It made the first volume of the Sunsoft soundtrack collections worth having...It was fairly lackluster overall compared to the second volume (which has Blaster Master, Journey to Silius and the NES versions of some Sega classics...Fantasy Zone and After Burner).

And yeah, Super Mario World only had two arrangements that really caught my attention. The Cave/Underground theme (track 4) and the SMB 1 main theme (track 6), and the SMW opening was okay. This was never really a favorite. Plus, IIRC, the NES tracks are in mono. I could be wrong on that.

Smeg Mar 25, 2013

GoldfishX wrote:

IIRC, the NES tracks are in mono. I could be wrong on that.

NES/Famicom music should always be in mono. I don't want to hear the channels mixed each with their own stereo position because that's not representative of what the music sounds like on the actual hardware.

Idolores Mar 25, 2013

Can`t get enough of the Shadow Hearts 1 ost. It brings fond memories of what I waanted Koudelka to be flooding into my mind.

Yotsuya Mar 25, 2013

I recently picked up Sigma Harmonics and Policenauts F/N, so been listening to those. Sigma is really cool, though its a LOT of violin. Also been listening to various stuff, Synthesized 4 + bonus disc quite a bit. Synthesized is clubby but varied, I like both but prefer the bonus disc. Also listened to Fortissimo Katamari a good bit as well as Nights Perfect Collection.

The new Jet Set Radio re-release is getting a good amount of playtime, as well as Aka. Also Gaiopolis/Lethal Enforcers 2/Mystic Warriors bundle: Amusement Sounds 93 is enjoyable. Command and Conquer 1-4. Tail of the Sun. And.... thats more or less it recently. I just cycle through my collection, but those are what I go back to the most.

As far as the Mario World arrange, I enjoy it. I am a big jazz fanatic and over time have come to enjoy smooth jazz, almost as a guilty pleasure, but with the mario themes its just really cool, it kinda legitimizes the smooth jazz if that makes any sense.

Ramza Mar 25, 2013

I've been intensely listening to / studying / enjoying the entire CAVE music collection. So basically, a lot of Basiscape / Manabu Namiki, and a bunch of other cool people too (esp on the arrange albums).

I think my favorites right now are:

Akai Katana Shin Arrange Album (composed/arranged by the late Ryu Umemoto, includes awesome guitar performance)
Deathsmiles for iPhone/iPod Touch OST (despite it being the in-house CAVE composer Kizakura, this has some AWESOME music. Lost Forest is beautiful)
Dodonpachi DaiFukkatsu (Resurrection) Black Label OST
ESPGaluda II Black Label (Umemoto arrangements)
Guwange Arrange + OST (for the arrange part ... Michiko Naruke and Maki Kirioka have my fav arranges)
Mushihimesama Double Arrange Album

But I really like just about everything. I have a special project forthcoming with Don Kotowski from SEMO on these albums. They've taken up 90% of my listening time and I love it. smile

Zane Mar 25, 2013

I've been kickin' it old school recently. My two most recent purchases were a first print copy of Chrono Cross OST (rebuy) and the Ocarina of Time OST. I almost always have my VGM collection on shuffle in my iTunes, but those two albums have been in heavy rotation.

brandonk Mar 26, 2013 (edited Mar 26, 2013)

Smeg wrote:
GoldfishX wrote:

IIRC, the NES tracks are in mono. I could be wrong on that.

NES/Famicom music should always be in mono. I don't want to hear the channels mixed each with their own stereo position because that's not representative of what the music sounds like on the actual hardware.

This is a matter of taste, so I respectfully disagree..I've honestly never heard the Contra Stage 1 / Jungle theme sound better, then after it has been carefully per track stereo mixed, and sample rate increased (about as much as surmise has been done here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m81koYhgc5o&t=1m12s).   Not really sure what secret sauce was applied to these rips, but I like it.

Also - this Castlevania 3 track sounds great in stereo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdlOdjd1DMo&t=22m58s

GoldfishX Mar 26, 2013 (edited Mar 26, 2013)

For me, it's just having the stereo feel to it and stuff in both sides. I'm just not a mono fan, although I know some vinyl fans swear by it. Even stuff like old-school Van Halen (vocals in one side, guitars in the left) is annoying to listen to sometimes. It's because my ears aren't equal (my left ear hears better than my right one).

Went through more classics today: Both Salamander soundtracks (awesome stuff, I much prefer these over Gradius...now I almost want to give Salamander Pro-Fusion another try), Chrono Trigger (the "roots" of Mitsuda's style are pretty apparent, but I still love Uematsu's contributions to this one a lot...the only tracks I felt didn't hold up were Wind Scene and Zeal Palace) and Gate/Lords of Thunder...Gates only had about 5 tracks I really like and I dropped it from my "elite" albums, but Thunder held up great, despite some annoying sound quality quirks (cymbals, can't really hear the backing riffs too clearly).

Crash Mar 26, 2013

The last couple days, I've been listening to Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki Alternative Saga (great hard arrangements) and Ryu*'s first album, Starmine.  That album is so incredible, it creates an almost impossible standard for his later albums, and sadly they don't really measure up.  Ageha has a couple decent tracks (especially Korobushka), but is uneven overall.  The first 3/4 of Rainbow Rainbow is disappointing (which is what happens when electronica artists start adding vocals to all their songs).  Sakura Luminance is a little better, but it's just not the same.

XLord007 Mar 26, 2013

Currently been on a Falcom kick and listening to the newish Celceta and Zero no Kiseki Second Evolution OSTs. The first is fantastic, the second is very good.

Yotsuya Mar 27, 2013

Just got Shining Ark Tenshi no Fandisc today, halfway through and it is really enjoyable, epic, inspiring and lots of melodies. Also recently got the Kirby Dream collection soundtrack compilation a little while ago and it is a great set, I love cute, pixelated stuff like that.

Also on relistening to Sigma Harmonics, its not that much violin, but several tracks feature it prominently, so it can stand out at times, but I would say its a very balanced and enjoyable soundtrack.

Jodo Kast Mar 27, 2013

I hereby solemnly swear that The Legend of Heroes Super Arrange from FSB '92 is one of the greatest achievements in all of arranged game music.

Amazingu Mar 27, 2013

It's interesting to see that pretty much everyone seems to be listening to old(ish) VGM.
Perhaps that's why there hasn't been a lot of discussion recently?
No interesting new releases?

I can't even remember the last new album I picked up.

brandonk Mar 28, 2013 (edited Mar 28, 2013)

Jodo Kast wrote:

I hereby solemnly swear that The Legend of Heroes Super Arrange from FSB '92 is one of the greatest achievements in all of arranged game music.

Yuji Toriyama arranged some of this ...have to track down

Update - he wasn't on the 2nd disc so disregard...

Found some it on Youtube...Voice of God track is EXCELLENT just cuts off early (ack!!).  Also really like "Ship"

This music reminds me of Infinite Circle / A Room with a view (http://vgmdb.net/album/14048).  Only relationship appears to be the same bass player.

Thx for tip!

tri-Ace Super Fan Mar 28, 2013

It's a bit of a stereotypical response, but outside of the random VGM that family plays in the car, I recently listened through the Chrono Trigger OSV beginning to end. Still one of my very favorites and never gets old.

GoldfishX Mar 28, 2013 (edited Mar 28, 2013)

Jodo Kast wrote:

I hereby solemnly swear that The Legend of Heroes Super Arrange from FSB '92 is one of the greatest achievements in all of arranged game music.

That is scary. VERY scary...guess what I listened to at work yesterday. I whole-heartedly agree. Definitely the best versions of Word of God, Cave and Ship (I like Pirate Island on both this and Perfect Collection equally). It was first time listening to this in maybe 8 years. Kicks the crap out of the lackluster Ys III Electric Orchestra disc (although this is mostly due to track selection, the level and boss themes of Ys III are the highlights).

Also hit up my trilogy of the three Vs Series soundtracks (X-Men vs SF, Marvel vs SF, Marvel vs Capcom). That old Capcom CPS2 synth-guitar sound never gets old. These were some of my earliest VGM targets (Marvel vs SF was in my very first order, and it was a substitute because MvC was out of stock).

And yeah, for me, the old release thing is intentional...I'm making it a point to go through all my old favorites to get "proper" ratings on everything*. The only thing recent that interested me was Shin Sangokumusou 7 and I deleted my samples when I got the blown up mp3gain ratings. Gravity Daze was actually a cool, recent release though and Persona 4 Arena has some catchy tunes on it. And some of the best recent releases are collections of older VGM (the Sega System 16 Collections!) Also, virt has had some recent soundtrack releases that interested me (Double Dragon Neon and Mighty Switch Force), but they are loudness war casualties and very bad ones at that. I would gladly pop for properly mastered versions of these.

It must also be said...much older VGM doesn't have the same loudness war risks that newer stuff does.

*Just a bullshit excuse to listen to all my old favorites, but there have been SOME surprises.

brandonk Mar 28, 2013 (edited Mar 28, 2013)

Any idea what is being said during the middle section of "Voice of God" - "when I was a child.....I put away childish things.....Ys III....the Latest...." hahaha, so bizzare.

Re: the Loudness wars...so true - so much abuse happening more and more..although I think this is a different type of recording and music, than say, the latest We Are Rockmen releases - very organic insrumentation, and acoustics...I would hope all those involved in recording music like this would refrain from excessive over-mastering...

GoldfishX Mar 28, 2013

brandonk wrote:

Re: the Loudness wars...so true - so much abuse happening more and more..although I think this is a different type of recording and music, than say, the latest We Are Rockmen releases - very organic insrumentation, and acoustics...I would hope all those involved in recording music like this would refrain from excessive over-mastering...

I can't comment on We Are Rockman (I sampled the second album via youtube so I wasn't able to get mp3gain or wavgain ratings and have pretty much forgotten about the first one), but rock music that falls victim to the loudness war just tires the hell out of my ears and simply isn't worth listening to (and I'd probably delete something like the LOH FSB 92 disc without a second thought if it was lacking in dynamics...thankfully, it is beautifully produced) It needs that full impact and everything needs to be heard cleanly, or else the music suffers. Thankfully for me, most of my favorites are from the time just before the LW became an issue. Also, at least a couple VGM composers -Meguro and Sakuraba- that regularly rock out are some of the few that don't turn their stuff up to 11 and, from a production standpoint, their stuff actually sounds good and can be cranked. In contrast, even early Dynasty Warriors music has had LW issues, so no surprise about Shin Sangoku 7.

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