Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Adam Corn Jan 4, 2022

With 2021 finished let's have a look at what everyone's favorite game soundtracks from the year were. (Thanks to Jon Turner for the reminder, almost let the year go by without it!)

Any game soundtrack from the year is fine, be it OST or arranged album. Feel free to share your favorites in any manner you like - ranked in order or by star rating or simply as a list. If it's an album that you know is available for streaming perhaps mark it with an asterisk as that will make it easier for others to check out!

Jon Turner Jan 5, 2022

I unfortunately didn't get a whole lot of CD soundtracks this year because of the pandemic and my job being on hold (temporarily) for awhile, but I did manage to get some.  Here are the top favorites.

1. The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword Original Soundtrack -- Skyward Sword marked the end of an era for the Zelda franchise in more ways than one.  It was the last of the 3D Zelda games to follow a linear plot, and it was the last of the soundtracks (as of now) to follow a traditional formula which had been established since Ocarina of TimeBreath of the Wild would take both the franchise and its music in a new direction.  But Skyward Sword was also a first in many ways.  Unlike predecessor Twilight Princess, which only used a full orchestra for one track, this one employs this much coveted treatment for a good majority of its score.  The main theme, "Ballad of the Goddess", essentially "Zelda's Theme" backwards, is a grand way to open this soundtrack, and the orchestral tracks are very effective, thanks to skillful orchestrations from Mahito Yokota.  There are still some tracks which are synthesized, but even those tracks are effective.  For anyone who may have been underwhelmed by the boldly minimalistic approach of Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword should suffice; it's easily one of the series' best.  This score had been long overdue for a soundtrack treatment since its debut in 2011, but thanks to the folks at Columbia Records, who have provided excellent treatments for Breath of the Wild and recently, Link's Awakening, this 5-CD set manages to be just that.  The sound quality is as crisp as can be expected and the presentation is fantastic.  I also give credit to the folks at Columbia for crediting the composers for their work.  This is easily among the top five this year.  ***** out of *****.

2. Trials of Mana Orchestra Concert CD -- What was supposed to be performed last year for its 25th anniversary was instead delayed until 2021 on account of pandemic circumstances.  Luckily, Hiroki Kikuta's glorious score translates very well to the symphonic treatment, with several tracks such as "Sacrifices Part One, Two, and Three" as well as "Whiz Kid" making the transition smoothly.  Even some pieces that seem less likely to survive the treatment ("Powell", which was obviously not meant for such a style), does so rather geniously.  My only quibble:  the three principal highlights, "Where Angels Fear To Tread", "Meridian Child", and "Return to Forever" are all performed at a considerably slower tempo than their soundtrack counterparts (a problem thankfully rectified on the 3CD set release from last year, in which all three can be heard in their full orchestrated glory).  But otherwise this album is nothing short of a treat.  The three encore tracks, which seamlessly transition from their "Trials" counterparts to "Secret of Mana", are glorious highlights as well.  For fans of Kikuta and this game, this is a must.  ***** out of *****.

3. BRAVELY DEFAULT II Original Soundtrack -- I don't remember much of this soundtrack to be honest, and I need a second listen, but what I heard sounded great to me.

4. Mother Music Revisted [Deluxe Edition] -- If you already own the 1988 Mother soundtrack CD then the slow, toned-down arrangements of the same contents from that album will be a bit of a disappointment, as they are unfortunately inferior to their original counterparts.  What ultimately redeems it is a proper presentation of the original Mother score for the first time on CD.  On its predecessor, the tracks for Mother were compiled onto one 21 and a half minute track.  Luckily, no such problem exists here.  The tracks are accessible, and while the 8-Bit chip music tones may be offputting to today's listeners, there is something to be said about nostalgia.  There are a few "jingle" tracks which are unfortunately still missing but as far as a proper treatment for this iconic score goes, this is as close as you're going to get.

jb Jan 6, 2022

Are we not using the poll system and I think we skipped 2020 so should those be included, too?

Zane Jan 6, 2022

The only two VGM albums I purchased in 2021 were the two new Castlevania boxsets.

1. Music from Akumajo Dracula Kuro
I owned most of these original releases at some point but haven't listened to them for years. This 13 CD deep dive into the KKC-era of Castlevania has been an incredible experience for me, combining nostalgia for the songs I've heard hundreds of times with the excitement of hearing some soundtracks that are new to me. For someone who doesn't have any of the older albums, this is a treasure.

2. Music from Akumajo Dracula Aka
This boxset skews toward the Yamane-era of CV music, and for the most part it's... alright. Bloodlines and SotN are still her best works, but some of the other stuff just starts to blend together into that midtempo orchestral goth rock that she has practically trademarked at this point. I'm trying to take these in one at a time but am not enjoying this set as much as the Kuro one, but am hoping that with repeated listens this will grow on me.

Adam Corn Jan 6, 2022

jb wrote:

Are we not using the poll system and I think we skipped 2020 so should those be included, too?

Yeah I've decided not to use the old poll system anymore so we can keep it simple and post here. There's also a "2020 mid-year game music roundup" thread so feel free to post any favorites from later in 2020 there and I'll update the title if so.
http://soundtrackcentral.com/2020-mid-y … dup/tp8598

Jon Turner Jan 6, 2022

Zane wrote:

The only two VGM albums I purchased in 2021 were the two new Castlevania boxsets.

1. Music from Akumajo Dracula Kuro
I owned most of these original releases at some point but haven't listened to them for years. This 13 CD deep dive into the KKC-era of Castlevania has been an incredible experience for me, combining nostalgia for the songs I've heard hundreds of times with the excitement of hearing some soundtracks that are new to me. For someone who doesn't have any of the older albums, this is a treasure.

I can also add that it is a pleasure that this album includes the NES versions of Simon's Quest and Dracula's Curse.  I was a bit disappointed in the handling of "Legacy of Darkness", though; the mixing is too loud on those tracks and it's woefully incomplete.  The N64 games were controversial at the time (even though I personally enjoyed them) which was probably why the game never got a full soundtrack.  I'm guessing the folks at Konami didn't have much access to N64 hardware either.

the_miker Jan 14, 2022

1. The Medium Original Game Soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGujRtxEgcQ
2. Cyber Shadow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYeQeIKaSoQ
3. Valheim Soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGLc_0mtQ7g
4. BIOHAZARD VILLAGE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijSuwNQXvhI
5. BALAN WONDERWORLD Original Soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA1yLhNF0A4
6. ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights Original Soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMRK2A6bXrs
7. Crab Game (Original Game Soundtrack) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUwBChdpUmY
8. Mario Golf: Super Rush https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt9WRJtSdLA
9. Demons of Asteborg Soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-naPwD656E
10. New World (Original Game Soundtrack) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAGoQ0fH-1k

That's my top 10 with one of my favorite tracks from each. I played all 10 of those games!

This dude just pressed ↑↑↓↓←→←→ B A Start and put legendary 80s and 90s Castlevania music as his top 2021 releases, what a cheater big_smile

Jodo Kast Jan 18, 2022

1. DESTINY 8 - SaGa Band Arrangement Album SQEX-10832
2. DESTINY 8 - SaGa Band Arrangement Album Vol.2 SQEX-10882
3. SaGa Frontier Series ACOUSTIC ARRANGEMENTS SQEX-10879
4. Mirai Connection -CITY CONNECTION REMIXIES- CLRC-10010
5. Orchestral SaGa SQEX-10883

Adam Corn Jan 22, 2022

My new VGM for the year was limited to what was available on streaming (though I did buy FLACs or used CDs for some old favorites).

Ruined King: Inns of Bilgewater by Gareth Coker impressed me the most - medieval style music with very nice live instrumentation and almost every track being a keeper.

Syberia: The World Before by Inon Zur also has several very pretty tracks and is well worth checking out.

the_miker wrote:

That's my top 10 with one of my favorite tracks from each.

That was super helpful having a YouTube link for each. New World sounds promising, I'll be listening to the rest of that album soon.

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