Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Boco Mar 10, 2012 (edited Mar 25, 2012)

Putting together this list was tough! And then deciding on an order for them was even worse. Still frustrated with where some of these ended up on my list, but I doubt I can do any better. There were also a lot of great soundtracks that didn't quite make the cut. I'd definitely be feeling more at ease if this was a top 50 list. Anyway, lots of obvious choices and a couple controversial ones as well. This list is pretty much me!

1. Chrono Cross (SSCX-10040)
2. Final Fantasy VII (SSCX-10004)
3. Mushihimesama Double Arrange Album (CVAS-003)
4. Ace Attorney (CPCA-10124)
5. Secret of Mana (PSCN-5030)
6. Air (KSLA-0004~5)
7. Mega Man X (CPCA-1076~80)
8. Super Metroid (SNES game rip)
9. Perfect Selection Konami Battle the Best (KICA-1189)
10. Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack Premium Box*
11. Mega Man 2 (CPCA-1064~6)
12. Halo 2 original soundtrack volume two*
13. Ace Attorney: Investigations (CPCA-10204~5)
14. Star Ocean: The Second Story (FSCA-10063)
15. Eternal Sonata (KICA-1445~8)
16. Persona 3 (SVWC-7380~1)
17. Pink Sweets (CVST-0005)
18. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Story (PSCN-5040)
19. Pokemon Red/Green/Blue (TGCS-384)
20. Final Fantasy Tactics (SSCX-10008)
21. Final Fantasy IX (SSCX-10043~6)
22. Star Ocean -The Last Hope- (SQEX-10139~42)
23. Super Mario RPG (PSCN-5047~8)
24. Area 88 (CPCA-10161)
25. Metroid Metal - Varia Suite (SUR-006)
26. Star Fox (TECD-25275)
27. Xenogears (SQEX-10043~4)
28. Super Contra (KICA-2307)
29. Wild Arms (KICA-1389~90)
30. Perfect Dark Dual CD Soundtrack (N/A)

* Technically all of the music has been released for these, but it's spread out across two or more separate releases. Picking an individual, incomplete release doesn't sit well with me. Consider them to be complete game rips from the PC versions or fictional complete soundtracks that contain all the music. Either one works!

And now, the soundtracks that didn't quite make the cut:
Ace Attorney 3
Atelier Iris ETERNAL MANA 2 Arranged Tracks RED LUCIFER RISING
CADENZA -Gyakuten Saiban 1-
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Ecco the Dolphin
Etrian Odyssey
Etrian Odyssey 2
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VIII
Kingdom Hearts II
Mega Man 3
Super Mario World
Super Castlevania IV
Ys ~The Oath in Felghana~

Qui-Gon Joe Mar 10, 2012 (edited Mar 10, 2012)

1. Xenogears Original Soundtrack
2. Seiken Densetsu ~Legend of Mana~ Original Soundtrack
3. Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track
4. Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
5. Ys ~The Oath in Felghana~ Original Soundtrack
6. Baten Kaitos Original Soundtrack
7. Azel ~Panzer Dragoon RPG~ Complete Album
8. Eternal Arcadia Original Sound Track
9. Donkey Kong Country Trilogy: Greatest Hit Soundtracks
10. Super Mario RPG Original Sound Version
11. Conker's Bad Fur Day Soundtrack
12. Nier Gestalt & Replicant Original Soundtrack
13. Super Mario Galaxy 2 Original Sound Track
14. Estpolis Biography 2
15. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Original Soundtrack
16. Ys SEVEN Original Sound Track
17. The Dig Soundtrack
18. Kameo ~Elements of Power~ Original Soundtrack
19. Legend of Zelda Sound & Drama
20. Shadow Hearts Original Soundtracks plus1
21. Tengai Makyou II Manji Maru Original Soundtrack
22. Wanda and the Colossus ~Roar of the Earth~ Original Soundtrack
23. Shatter Official Videogame Soundtrack
24. Shenmue Orchestra Version
25. Katamari Damacy Soundtrack "Katamari Fortissimo Damacy"
26. Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec: Final Fantasy VIII
27. Live A Live Original Sound Version
28. Prince of Persia The Sands of Time Original Sound Track
29. Okami Original Soundtrack
30. Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Album ~Gyakuten Meets Orchestra~

I'm SURE that I accidentally forgot to put something on this list...

Edit: Yep, sure did.  Chrono Cross deserves to be somewhere on there, though in the bottom half...

Pellasos Mar 12, 2012 (edited Mar 14, 2012)

2. Shenmue Orchestra Version
3. Castlevania The Dracula X Chronicles Original Soundtrack
4. The Best of Grandia
5. FINAL FANTASY TACTICS Original Sound Track
7. Symphonic Fantasies
8. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CD Original Soundtrack 20th Anniversary Edition
9. The King of Fighters '96 Arrange Sound Trax
10. The King of Fighters '99 Arrange Sound Trax
11. Shining Force II Symphonic Suite ~Ancient Sealing~
13. Ys -The Oath in Felghana- Original Sound Track
14. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
15. Metal Gear Solid Original Game Soundtrack
16. Brandish Piano Collection
17. Soukaigi Original Soundtrack
18. F-Zero X Guitar Arrange Edition
19. DOUBLE DRAGON II The Revenge
20. Ryu ga Gotoku 3 Original Soundtrack
21. Snatcher/Policenauts Music Compilation/Black Arrange Disc
22. GötzenDiener Original Game Music
23. CADENZA -Gyakuten Saiban 1-
25. DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA ~Avatar Tuner~ 1 & 2 Original Sound Track: Integral
26. Uncharted Waters II Special Edition
27. PERFECT SELECTION Sound Racing History
28. Perfect Selection Dracula ~NEW CLASSIC~
29. Legend of Zelda ~Ocarina of Time~ Hyrule Symphony
30. Dodonpachi Dai-ou-jou [arrange album]

i rearranged my vote a little bit.

Raziel Mar 17, 2012

Ashley Winchester wrote:
Angela wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:

4. Biohazard 2 Original Soundtrack
- while some will disagree I see this (and the game) as an improvement over the original

I didn't think there was a gamer alive who doesn't see RE2 as being superior in every conceivable way.

That may be true, but I know there are some people who hold RE1's music in high regard. I'm not one of them but the score has it's moments.

Sort of off-topic, but I actually prefer both the music of RE1 as well as the game itself over RE2. That's not to say RE2 is bad, on the contrary, I do think it's an improvement, but I think RE1 has an atmosphere and style that is wonderfully quirky (especially the interior design of the mansion, I mean, look at those disturbingly colourful wallpapers). Also, while the soundtrack is sort of uneven and has tons of cheesy synth, it has this charm that I'm unable to pin down exactly. Mind you, this is not simple nostalgia speaking, I actually played the original after I had already finished with RE2 and RE3.

I've seen very few agreeing with me on this and nowadays even the most rabid RE fans consider the first title a bit too antique compared to RE2.

Ashley Winchester Mar 19, 2012 (edited Mar 19, 2012)

1. Xenogears Original Soundtrack
2. Wild Arms Complete Tracks
3. Tomb Raider (PSX redbook)
4. Biohazard 2 Original Soundtrack
5. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei Original Soundtrack
6. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES game rip)
7. Super Metroid (SNES game rip)
8. Mega Man X4 (from Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)
9. Seiken Densetsu ~Legend of Mana~ Original Soundtrack
10. Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
11. Doom (SNES game rip)
12. Super Castlevania IV (from Demon Castle Dracula Best 2)

Edit: I fixed a few things in here, like noting that Super Castlevania IV was the soundtrack I was picking from Dracula Best II, taking the Gamerip of Super Metroid over Sound in Action and replacing the OGS for Wild Arms with Complete Tracks.

Adam Corn Mar 19, 2012

In preparation for tallying the poll I've made tweaks to certain entries:

-For the box sets and compilation albums selected I went with only the album name.  For example one person's pick for "Mega Man X (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" and another's for "Mega Man X4 (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" have both been listed as just "Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6" so the album will be tallied together.  Everyone can specify which exact title in the forum comments as they have already.

-Boco, for your picks for "Final Fantasy XI (complete soundtrack)" and "Halo 2 (complete soundtrack)" I listed the volume one album for each as their "representative".  You can select a different album as such or enter multiple albums as multiple entries if you like.

-Joe, your selection of "Azel ~Panzer Dragoon RPG~ Complete Album" I listed as the Memorial Album so it will be tallied with the other picks and since they're essentially the same album.

Also please don't include the catalog numbers in your picks and once again please use the drop-down auto-complete list.  When a couple people use different text for the same albums it totally throws those albums' tallies out of whack (i.e. makes them lower).

Ashley Winchester Mar 20, 2012 (edited Mar 20, 2012)

Adam Corn wrote:

-For the box sets and compilation albums selected I went with only the album name.  For example one person's pick for "Mega Man X (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" and another's for "Mega Man X4 (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" have both been listed as just "Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6" so the album will be tallied together.  Everyone can specify which exact title in the forum comments as they have already.

You know what... I could raise a fuss over this and the other thing but I'm not. It's not worth the f---ing energy....

Adam Corn Mar 20, 2012

Ashley Winchester wrote:
Adam Corn wrote:

-For the box sets and compilation albums selected I went with only the album name.  For example one person's pick for "Mega Man X (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" and another's for "Mega Man X4 (Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6)" have both been listed as just "Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6" so the album will be tallied together.  Everyone can specify which exact title in the forum comments as they have already.

You know what... I could raise a fuss over this and the other thing but I'm not.

Well if I tally them as one album it shows up in the top results whereas if I tally them separately they don't.  I figured people who voted for the album would prefer the former but it doesn't matter so much to me either way.

Qui-Gon Joe Mar 20, 2012

Adam Corn wrote:

-Joe, your selection of "Azel ~Panzer Dragoon RPG~ Complete Album" I listed as the Memorial Album so it will be tallied with the other picks and since they're essentially the same album.

BAH.  Fine.  I just don't like the remixes they added for that version (even though it's the version I have)!

Adam Corn Mar 20, 2012

I don't like the two remixes either. smile  Again it doesn't matter to me either way but I'm guessing Memorial Album is more available on the market than Complete Album is?

Adam Corn Mar 20, 2012

Give a good plus or minus five spaces for most of these depending on what qualities I'm looking for or simply my mood at the time (the top 5 in particular are interchangeable as they're all just about perfect for what they are).

1. Dracula Battle Perfect Selection

Still the most perfect rock arrangements of VGM I can imagine.  The gothic overtones of the Castlevania series give it that extra something unique and the track mix of relentless near-metal, rolling hard rock, and soulful ballads is just right, with hardly an average track on the album.

2. Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks

The four-disc OST has some issues and even this single-disc virtual best selection suffers from a few mediocre tracks, but for a great part it shows Uematsu's music at its most inspired - melodically captivating, dramatic, and completely unique to almost anything else out there.  The sci-fi theme helps the sometimes spotty sound system (more noticeable in the full OST) stand the test of time a bit better than the similarly amazing FFVI OST, while the three orchestral arrangements and particularly the one for "Main Theme of FFVII" make the release even better.

3. Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version

As the years since my impressionable youth when the game first blew me away have increased so my time spent listening to the SNES OST has dropped, but still every time I give a good listen to this three-disc set I'm impressed by what Uematsu accomplished.  Still perhaps the most memorable arrays of character themes (and their ingenious reprises) of any soundtrack period, along with openings and endings unrivaled for their time and some unforgettable musical moments along the way.  It's a shame it still hasn't received a suite of arrangements to do the soundtrack justice but even for someone like myself who prefers live orchestration, the SNES sound system in place has a charm of its own.

4. Symphonic Fantasies - Music from Square Enix

The Kingdom Hearts and Chrono suites in this are amazing and the Mana suite is honestly a musical work that any human being with any appreciation for orchestral music should experience.  If the album version of the Final Fantasy suite was the quality of the improved arrangement I recently heard at Symphonic Fantasies Tokyo I may have ranked it even higher.  A spectacular classically-inspired soundtrack.

5. Symphony Ys '95

Just as Dracula Battle is a perfect rock arranged album I consider this a perfect orchestral arranged one.  Tamiya Terashima takes Ys 1 themes that would never be considered orchestral pieces in their early incarnations and makes them *imminently* orchestral while still faithful to the original melodies.  The progression from theme to theme is as smooth as you will hear in an orchestral medley and even themes that I tend to skip in other renditions are a pleasant listen here.  Of course the only thing lacking is the actual orchestra but the sequenced orchestra Terashima assembled is extremely impressive for its time and as with FFVI has a certain quality of its own.

6. Panzer Dragoon Original Sound Track

As an early adopter of the underdog Saturn I'll always have a soft spot for the Panzer Dragoon series and this is the title that started it.  Though the sequel Zwei originated the Panzer Dragoon sound as we know it today and Azel in many ways perfected it, the more electronic rock sound of this original is exceptional in its own right and combined with that unforgettable, sweeping orchestral opening and its poignant closing reprise offer the most musical and enjoyable album experience of the series. 

7. Dragon Quest Symphonic Suite Live Best

My infatuation with this best compilation / concert album has faded a bit as I've become familiar with the individual DQ symphonic suites, but if choosing a single release from this must-experience series I still think this is its premier album.  Were it not for the overemphasis on DQV it could have been even better as some excellent selections from earlier installments (DQIV in particular) didn't make the cut.  But what's here is excellent and orchestral adventure music simply doesn't get any better than the trio of "Fighting Spirits", "Into the Legend" and "Comrades".

8. Game Music Concert 5 ~Live Best Collection~

Though the earlier "Orchestral Game Concert" albums boast a more impressive selection of classic titles I'd give the edge to this last installment as my favorite.  The Seiken Densetsu 3, Donkey Kong Country and Renasu II arrangements all offer classic orchestral soundtrack experiences in differing styles while the Kirby medley is fantastic in all the ways you'd never expect.

9. Azel ~Panzer Dragoon RPG~ Memorial Album

Takes the utterly unique Panzer Dragoon sound established in Zwei and puts it in a more consistent and organic listening experience.  An atmospheric, memorable musical journey topped by a dramatic Panzerese vocals-meet-orchestra ending theme unlike anything before it.

10. Genso Suikoden Original Game Soundtrack

With its high production values and heavy world music influence this was unlike anything in its time and holds up well to this day.  Easily one of the most charmingly eccentric soundtracks I've heard and a far more consistent listen than its four-disc sequel.

11. Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack

Though I completely prefer Reunion Tracks as an album experience, for those who like their complete OSTs this is certainly not one to miss.  There are a few excellent tracks only available here, most notably the unforgettably atmospheric "Anxious Heart" and the exhilarating main theme reprise "Highwind Takes to the Skies".

12. Street Fighter IV Original Soundtrack

As a mix of fairly hard electronica with upbeat game music this is just about perfect, with the world music elements adding an extra bit of spice to the mix. Unlike many of my orchestral and gamier albums this one I can listen to just about anytime.

13. Kameo ~Elements of Power~ Original Soundtrack

The best half of this album is as good as you will hear in an orchestral fantasy adventure soundtrack.  The quieter tracks are gorgeously orchestrated and heart-stoppingly beautiful and the action themes present are excellent as well, though a few more of them and a stronger ending would have made for a more complete listening experience.

14. Game Music Concert 4 ~Live Best Collection~

The two most famous arrangements (Super Mario Brothers and the FFVI opera) from this classic album have lost some of their appeal as their novelty as faded, but the Super Metroid medley remains the premier orchestral arrangement from a renowned series and an excellent sci-fi work in general, while the more obscure Albert Odyssey is an Arabian-inspired adventure classic.

15. Ys I & II (PC Engine redbook)

The soundtrack that for myself (and many others) instantly put the Ys series in the VGM elite.  A great combination of catchy melodies and energetic, distinctive synth that out-perfects the Perfect Collections and offers still the best collection of Ys II arrangements to date.

16. Afrika Original Soundtrack

Captivating naturalistic themes served by beautiful orchestrations.  A bit too clearly inspired by Jurassic Park but if you can consider it a tribute to Williams then it's a fantastic one.

17. Distant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fantasy

The best orchestral arrangements from the FF series are scattered among various albums but even with its modern focus I'd say this one has the best selection of any.  The arrangements for "FFVII Main Theme" and "Zanarkand" are essential and the remaining highlights overshadow a few awkward missteps.

18. Dragon Quest IV Symphonic Suite

Dragon Quest symphonic suites feel like their own category in VGM so it's hard deciding where to place them, but as the best of the lot DQIV Symphonic Suite is right up there.  The themes themselves might not be quite as endearing on their own as some other classic RPGs but the fantasy-styled, classically inspired arrangements take them to that next level.

19. Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack

Take the best disc or so from this and you have a sci-fi fantasy score second-to-none, from the action themes to the otherworldly environment pieces to some beautiful quieter moments.  In its full four discs the soundtrack can drag - something some live instrumentation might have remedied - but still it's not to be missed.

20. Dragon Quest VI Symphonic Suite

Lacks the charm and accessibility of DQIV but in their place come perhaps an even greater classical artistry and an intensely dedicated thematic focus.  Not exactly light listening but possibly the most dramatic game soundtrack of my collection.

21. SQ Chips

A newie and goodie.  Even as someone who normally wouldn't care for an album full of chip tunes, the theme selection, clever sound programming (with a bit of helpful cheating) and delightfully energetic arrangements make for a winner.

22. Viva Pinata Original Soundtrack

Easily one of the most beautiful soundtracks I've heard.  Boasts the same gorgeous orchestrations and performance of Kameo, but with a dedicated naturalistic thematic focus and a familiar, accessible classical sound.

23. Ecco - Songs of Time

It may sound exactly like a New Age soundtrack about a dolphin would be expected but I doubt anybody would have expected it to be this good.  Relaxing at many times and surprisingly emotional at others; a nice alternative to the orchestral, rock, and high-energy synth soundtracks that tend to dominate VGM.

25. Konami Shooting Battle Perfect Selection

Applies almost the same hard rock mastery to Konami's shooter series lineup as Dracula Battle does to Castlevania.  Remove that "almost" for the feisty, rollicking "A-jax" and the epic album closer "Battles of Battleship".

26. Nights ~Journey of Dreams~ Original Soundtrack

Shows the same optimistic energy and creativity as its classic predecessor but without the slight limits of the Saturn sound system or the deficiencies of those album releases (and includes many of those albums' classic themes as a bonus).

26. Chrono Trigger Original Sound Version

Take away "Frog's Theme" and a couple other standouts ("The Trial" and "Delightful Spekkio" being my own picks) and this becomes more a good soundtrack than a great one, but there's something to be said for having one of the greatest VGM themes of all time and nostalgia still works in the album's favor.

There are several albums I could have filled the last four spaces with but these 26 I think stand on a tier above the rest.

Boco Mar 25, 2012

Adam Corn wrote:

-Boco, for your picks for "Final Fantasy XI (complete soundtrack)" and "Halo 2 (complete soundtrack)" I listed the volume one album for each as their "representative".  You can select a different album as such or enter multiple albums as multiple entries if you like.

Thanks for the corrections! Serves me right for not actually reading all the instructions. ^_^; FFXI and Halo 2 are really strange cases. I love the music in each game, but the releases really don't due them justice. I think I might swap those to Halo 2 vol. 2 and FFXI Premium Box. It's not perfect, but I think that's about the best I can do.

Jodo Kast Apr 23, 2012

Yotsuya wrote:

Are the tallys coming? Thanks Adam!

I think we should wait a few more months, or possibly even a year. I don't plan on voting for a while, as I'm still thinking about it.

Adam Corn Apr 24, 2012

The tallies can go up anytime.  The response to the poll has been more tepid than I had hoped and the relative shortage of respondents (plus the wider range of the poll) means there aren't so many picks that rise to the top.  Just a few more respondents actually would probably make a big difference in that regard, even if say the people who posted their picks to the topic but not to the poll itself were inclined to do so.

In the meantime I've tweaked the user profile pages so that those who have answered the poll have their picks show up in it (like here).

Jodo Kast May 20, 2012

The hardest part of making this list was deciding how to make it. I couldn’t possibly just draw from what has been released without following some sort of guideline. There is too much to comprehend; enough has been produced to reasonably justify subdividing game music into separate realms, each intrinsically vast. So I have reasonably devised a realm from which I shall select my top albums.
    I have often read in interviews of the frustrations that early game music composers experienced resulting from the limitations of the system hardware. Since the early game systems couldn’t reproduce the music as the composer intended (or imagined), then video game music is merely an approximation. Therefore, only arrange albums are really video game music, since they are not hindered by the limitations of the hardware. But this sort of reasoning leads to a deeper problem. Arrange albums can’t possibly be video game music because they don’t contain any music that was used in the game. So we have a problem where video game music is not video game music.
    With a paradox like this, one must take a side. I have decided to side with the arrange albums. I find my first line of reasoning to be more amenable, that is, arranged albums are video game music and original music is an approximation. The paradox lingers in the back of my mind, naturally. If it comes to the front of my mind, then I will be continuously changing sides. I can’t have a list full of original albums mixed with arrange albums because they are not the same things. I find this very aesthetically pleasing and it solves most of the issues I used to have in devising my favorite album lists.
    There is another issue left unresolved, which I shall handle in this paragraph. I have sometimes seen top movie lists in which any films made within the past 10 years are ineligible. I like that restriction and I have decided to invoke a similar restriction upon my selections. Thus, I will only consider arrange albums made before 2001 and after 1985. I can’t think of any remarkable arrange albums made before 1986, so that is how I selected that year. I arbitrarily selected 2000 as the final year. I also want to point out that I am forbidden from looking at what I have or at VGMdb for any assistance. If I can’t think of it off the top of my head, then either there is something wrong with my head or I wasn’t impressed with it.
    My list is Konami-biased, due to the heavy exposure of Konami games throughout the years.

I.    Perfect Selection Dracula Battle
II.    Perfect Selection Dracula Battle II
III.    Perfect Selection Shooting Battle
IV.    Perfect Selection Shooting Battle II
V.    Perfect Selection Snatcher Battle
It was essential that I included the Konami Battle albums, only with the exclusion of “Battle the Best”. These have survived more than a decade of repeated exposure and I do not tire of them.

VI. MIDI Power Pro5 ~Salamander~ [KICA-7837]
This CD is good enough to replace my entire game music collection. Lifeforce was “the game” when I was a child. These songs are deeply established in my memories.

VII. MIDI Power Pro2 ~Twinbee Yahoo! & Salamander 2~ [KICA-7708]
The arrangements are perfect, ferociously addictive.

VIII. Snatcher Zoom Tracks [KICA-7906]
When I bought my headphone system in 2008, this was the first CD I listened to.

IX. Kukeiha Club pro-fusion ~SALAMANDER~ [KICA-7702]
I remember being intrigued when I first heard this CD, due to the unfamiliarity of the style. It is a huge improvement over Twinbee Yahoo! Pro Fusion, as well.

X. Konami All Stars ~The 1000-Ryo Chest Heisei 4th Year Edition~ [KICA-1053~5]
I love listening to concerts and Konami concerts don’t come very often. Furthermore, there is a disc with arrangements from rarely arranged games.

XI. Game Music Graffiti [COCA-6969~70]
This is “The Nintendo” album. There are a few notable exclusions, but the fact that this was made is something all game music fans should be thankful for.

XII. This is NAMCO! [APCG-4006]
I first heard this album in 2011. It is extraordinarily quiet, about the same as Sound Fantasy Romancia in volume level. The arrangements are among the most professional in all of game music. I thought the Pac-Man song was completely made up, because I didn’t think Pac-Man had music (I have vague memories of playing it in the arcades). Sure enough, Pac-Man has a few jingles. The Galaga ’88 and Rolling Thunder arrangements are my favorites, while the Xevious “solo” is sweetly subtle.

XIII. Symphony Ys
XIV. Symphony Sorcerian
These two are perfectly acceptable for tricking people. You could play these in a public setting and no one would ever guess the music was video game related. I know this because I tried it once.

XV. Music From Jesus ~ The Fearful Bio Monster [276A-7701]
I like the arrangements on this more than his (Sugiyama’s) Dragon Quest music. It’s my favorite Sugiyama album.

XVI. Sword Maniac [TOCT-8253]
This is ridiculous. It is like a damned infection in my ears. It’s like nothing else in this top 30 list and is something of an anachronism. It doesn’t sound like it’s from the 1990s. I would expect to hear something like this RIGHT NOW.

XVII.    Madara Special [KICA-7504]
XVIII. Lagrange Point [KICA-1028]
Along with Snatcher, the music from these games is proof of Konami’s talent beyond what I played. Although Lagrange Point is not a full arrange album, the few arranged tracks are among Konami’s best.

XIX. Twinbee Paradise Sound Fantasia [KICA-7677]
It’s unfortunate that many more of these “Sound Fantasia” albums weren’t made. Madara 2 got one, but that was it (and it wasn’t as good as this one). Gradius got a "Fantasia" album, but not "Sound Fantasia".

XX. J.D.K. Band [KICA-1019]
I was obsessed with this CD when I first heard it. For several years. I think I still am.

XXI. Double Dragon II [MECG-28001]
This is one of my so-called “holy grails”. There really isn’t that much music in this game, but the arrangements are cool indeed. I am particularly interested in this album because Double Dragon II was a hugely popular game in my neighborhood when it came out.

XXII.    Insector X [COCA-6648]
The fact that this was made and made so well still leaves me in a state of wonder. This game was like, nothing. Not big by any means. Yet it gets a first-class arrange album.

XXIII. Sweet Home [PCCB-00016]
I got this at the same time as Insector X. Interestingly, they both fit together on one CD. Although unrelated, I think of these together, because I got them at the same time and they squeeze on one disc. Sweet Home is very short and not happy, cheery music as the name implies. I’ll take this any day over the unmelodic music from Resident Evil.

XXIV. The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra [KICA-1188]
This is my favorite of the “electric orchestra” albums by Falcom. They made several, although they were not always named precisely.

XXV.    Zuntata Live 1998 [ZTTL-0031]
I remember being blown away the first time I heard this. Some of these arrangements make the “originals” sound quite pitiful.

XXVI. S.S.T. Band Live! [PCCB-00042]
As far as I know, this is the first live performance of the S.S.T. Band. All of the music was completely unfamiliar to me the first time I heard it, due to the fact I didn’t touch Sega games as a child. This is a great introduction to Sega for the uninitiated.

XXVII. The King of Fighters ’95 Arrange Sound Trax
I still prefer this one to the other KoF albums.

XXVIII. Chikudenya Toubei: Hiroku Kubikiri Yakata [CA-4549]
I found this completely by accident while browsing YJA one day in early 2011. I was looking for something else, but I recognized the cover art as one of those obscure albums on my wish list at VGMdb. I didn’t know anything about it other than the fact no one else had it. I’m sure there are a few more of these outside of Japan, but the owners are being very quiet. The high “unknown factor” led me to bid on the 7000 yen starting price (no one bid against me), which came to $120 after shipping and fees. I paid $120 for this CD. Sometimes that’s what it takes. I feel very fortunate that I found this because it is a true “ultra-rare” album. The music is wildly varied and the last song sounds like it came straight from Final Fantasy VIII with a sprinkling of Final Fantasy V. I recognized the guitarist right away, as he similarly arranged Galactic Storm on G.S.M. Taito 7.

XXIX. Tokyo Dungeon [SRCL-3447]
This CD disappointed me the first time I heard it. It is incredibly quiet and didn’t seem as interesting as Panzer Dragoon. However, it is better. This is mesmerizing music and takes one away like a dose of morphine. (I had lung surgery, so I know all about morphine.) It is an auditory trip inducing album. You will see things when you listen to this: an amorphous darkness pulsating geometries unknown in the manifolds of the mind.

XXX.    Brandish Piano Collection [KICA-1153]
I didn’t add this because I just wanted to have a piano collection in my list. This is an important CD. The Brandish series has some of the best compositions in all of game music, yet it seems to get very little attention. Sorrow is the main theme in this music and it is arranged with aplomb.

Here are some that I unfortunately could not include (there are many more I considered):

Rockman X (with Toshiaki Otsubo)
Street Fighter II (with Yuji Toriyama)
Phantasy Star Collection
Ys Perfect Collection I, II, IV (vol. 1-3)
All Over Xanadu
Sound Fantasy Romancia
Metroid / Kid Icarus
Super Mario World
The Legend of Zelda Sound & Drama
Shining the Holy Ark
Gradius Perfect Selection vol. 1-2
Dracula New Classic
Twinbee Perfect Selection
Sound Racing History Perfect Selection
Xexex Perfect Selection
Konami GM Hits Factory II
Samurai Spirits II, III, IV, V, VI Arrange Sound Trax

FuryofFrog May 22, 2012 (edited May 22, 2012)

1. Super CastleVania 4
2. Chrono Trigger
3. The King of Fighters '96 AST
4. Dragon Quest 4
5. F-Zero GX/AX
6. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
7. Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack
8. Jet Set Radio Future
9. The Lost Vikings (SNES Game Rip)
10. Trine Original Soundtrack (Digital)
11. Real Bout Garou Densetsu Special AST
12. Nier Gestalt & Replicant Original Soundtrack
13. Super Street Fighter 4 (PS3/360 Game Rip)
14. Donkey Kong Country 2
15. Art of Fighting 2 AST
16. Gradius ReBirth
17. Advance Wars Days of Ruin (DS Game Rip)
18. Demon's Crest (SNES Game Rip)
19. Monster Hunter 5th Anniversary Orchestra Concert ~Hunting Music Festival~
20. Rayman Origins (Digital)
21. Guilty Gear XX: The Midnight Carnival
22. Rockman Zero 4 Physis
23. Contra the Shattered Soldier
24. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
25. The King of Fighters '00 AST
26. Panzer Dragoon Orta Original Soundtrack
27. Bionic Commando Rearmed (Digital)
28. Soul Calibur V
29. CastleVania Bloodlines
30. Tekken 6

I'll add some notes later. God this was difficult to do!

Jodo Kast May 22, 2012

8. The Cyber Punk Adventure Snatcher -Zoom Tracks- [KICA-7906]
9. KUKEIHA CLUB pro-fusion ~SALAMANDER~ [KICA-7702]
10. Konami All Stars ~The 1000-Ryo Chest Heisei 4th Year Edition~ [KICA-1053~5]
11. Game Music Graffiti [COCA-6969~70]
12. This is NAMCO! [APCG-4006]
13. Symphony Ys [K32X-7710]
14. Symphony Sorcerian [276A-7707]
15. Music From Jesus ~ The Fearful Bio Monster [276A-7701]
16. Sword Maniac [TOCT-8253]
17. Mouryou Senki Madara Special [KICA-7504]
18. Lagrange Point [KICA-1028]
19. Twinbee Paradise Sound Fantasia [KICA-7677]
20. Falcom J.D.K. BAND 1 [KICA-1019]
21. DOUBLE DRAGON II The Revenge [MECG-28001]
22. Insector X [COCA-6648]
23. Sweet Home [PCCB-00016]
24. The Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra [KICA-1188]
25. ZUNTATA LIVE 1998 "güten Talk" from the earth ~AUDIO FILE~ [ZTTL-0031]
26. S.S.T. Band Live! -G.S.M. SEGA- [PCCB-00042]
27. The King of Fighters '95 Arrange Sound Trax [PCCB-00189]
28. Chikudenya Toubei: Hiroku Kubikiri Yakata [CA-4549]
29. Tokyo Dungeon [SRCL-3447]
30. Brandish Piano Collection [KICA-1153]

Adam Corn May 22, 2012

Thanks for the additional entries.  I think we're almost at the place where there's a wide enough range of respondents to tally up some results.

Goldfish, the_miker, and Zane, if you guys could submit the picks you posted to the poll itself (via the Answer Poll link above or here) it'd be great to have your picks included. smile

Also once again please don't include the catalog numbers in your entries.  Just the title is fine unless it might be unclear exactly what album you're referring to.  Would save me a lot of time in administrating.

Zane May 23, 2012 (edited May 24, 2012)

1. Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version
Like GX said, somehow this sounds even better nowadays than it did years ago. This album defines classic VGM for me.

2. Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
After about fifteen years of love-hate with this game and its music, I have firmly and finally decided on loving it. The quintessential soundtrack of my adolescence.

3. Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtrack
My favorite SH album and what I consider to me Yamaoka's most honest album to date. No other Silent Hill album is as varied, balanced and enveloping (without being abrasive) as this one.

4. Final Fantasy Tactics Original Sound Track
Sakimoto and Iwata are like peanut butter and jelly. Or, they're like two different delicious kinds of peanut butter. Either way, this is a one awesome VGM sandwich.

5. Dracula Battle II Perfect Selection
I regret selling this album on a daily basis. Easily the best of the Konami Battle albums overall, and my favorite VGM arrange album of all time.

6. Final Fantasy Vocal Collections 1 ~Pray~
This album is amazingly tender. I used to listen to this around Christmas time, so hearing it now evokes images of being snowed in, sitting by the fireplace with family. An album that just feels like home.

7. Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack
While it's clear that parts of this album signaled Uematu's slow decline into less inspired music, overall it's a great experience and is the last work of his I consider to be completely worthwhile.

8. Silent Hill Original Soundtrack
The other half of Silent Hill 2 OST, this is the most abrasive album I have. That said, it's a standalone experience that any other horror soundtrack has yet to capture and has been in my collection for well over a decade. This CD + headphones + dark room = nightmares.

9. Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtrack
The first signs of the decline of the series is shown here, but it's still a solid album with a big selection of timeless tracks (although I could do without the final Rain of Brass Petals mix).

10. Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack
While this is a massive album that can get very same-y at times, especially with the action and dramatic queues, I think this is "new" Sakimoto at his best. The balance of colors and tonality in his writing is amazingly thick. I could loop some of the location themes for hours.

11. Silent Hill 4 -The Room- Original Soundtracks
Good, but not great. The album lacks some of the development from SH2/SH3, but it's still a fun listen.

12. Vagrant Story Original Soundtrack
Amazingly oppressive with expositions of real beauty. I love this entire album, but really need to be in the mood to hear most of the tracks. (Although I could listen to "Staff Roll" all day, every day.)

13. Final Fantasy The Black Mages
Before the Black Mages turned into a crappy rock band, they were a less crappy rock band. "Battle on the Big Bridge" and the themes from FFVI make this album for me.

14. Dracula Battle Perfect Selection
Not as good as Dracula Battle II, this album is still real solid and has a great selection of arrangements.

Smooth and more laid back than I'd expect from a SFII album, but I still dig it very much. T. Hawk's theme is gold!

16. Voodoo Vince Original Xbox game music
A random purchase from a retail store that ended up being unlike any other VGM that I've owned. A smooth mix of funky Americana and a bunch of other styles with some real great melodies. Highly recommended across the board.

17. Breath of Fire V Dragon Quarter Original Soundtrack
Not Sakimoto's best, but a fairly seamless blend between his orchestral and electronic styles. There are some really emotional themes here that hit the heartstrings in a way that only Sakimoto can. Like most VGM albums, the vocal theme is an atrocity and an offense to the rest of the album.

18. Final Fantasy Vocal Collections 2 ~Love Will Grow~
While not as awesome as ~Pray~, this album still has its fair share of enjoyable tunes - and how can you not love that happy Prelude mix to close the album?!

19. Gungrave O.S.T.
Flat out awesome and weird, and unlike any other VGM albums I have ever heard. This is truly something special to behold when listened to in its entirety. I'd rank this one higher but songs like "ear fudge" and "china moon" can ruin your day if you're not prepared for them - if you're ready for them, though, they are so, so good. (Side note: Imahori's Gungrave anime scores are awesome, too!)

20. Chrono Trigger - The Brink of Time
I'm completely burnt out on Mitsuda, but this album remains fairly fresh and has the best of both worlds: Mitsuda's classic Chrono melodies and some fairly inventive and festive arrangements. I'd take this over the OSV any day.

21. Gradius V Soundtrack
Not as balanced as BoF:V, this pseudo-electronica album is one of Sakimoto's most experimental. Short, but sweet.

22. Metroid Metal - Expansion Pack
23. Metroid Metal - Varia Suite
Nothing to say here except that you should definitely check these great arranged albums out if you haven't yet:

After I submitted my results I realized some of the albums should be shifted a bit, but it's all nitpicking at this point. It's very clear that while I've been following game music for well over a decade there are certain albums, composers and series that have been a huge presence in my life for a very long time.

EDIT: PS - thanks for the reminder, Adam! smile

Adam Corn Jun 3, 2012

Removed a few posts that were mostly off-topic and getting a bit nasty (as well as a couple innocent enough replies related to said exchange).
Long-quoting (which is generally annoying in the first place) a years-old review that had been taken offline for a reason seems in slightly bad taste, and when the poster admits little interest in the topic at hand mostly out of spite.
Certainly I find my own opinions of certain soundtracks have changed over the years, not to mention some of my very old reviews expressed differently than I would nowadays, which is why it's nice to be able to remove or refine them as the internet allows.
If there are any issues with the removals feel free to post them in a new thread or e-mail me directly.  This isn't the place to be airing old, dirty laundry.

STC Poll System Jul 9, 2012

Top poll results out of 262 unique answers submitted, as calculated by Soundtrack Central's automated poll system.  In parentheses are the percentage of respondents who selected that answer and the average ranking it was given.

1. Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version (44%, 4)
2. Xenogears Original Soundtrack (31%, 7)
3. Ys ~The Oath in Felghana~ Original Soundtrack (31%, 8)
4. Chrono Trigger Original Sound Version (31%, 12)
5. Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack (19%, 5)
6. Dracula Battle Perfect Selection (19%, 5)
7. Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack (19%, 6)
8. Dracula Battle II Perfect Selection (19%, 8)
9. Seiken Densetsu ~Legend of Mana~ Original Soundtrack (19%, 8)
10. Final Fantasy Tactics Original Sound Track (19%, 10)
11. Genso Suikoden Original Game Soundtrack (19%, 12)
12. Azel ~Panzer Dragoon RPG~ Memorial Album (19%, 13)
12. Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack (19%, 13)
14. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Original Soundtrack (19%, 14)
15. Ys III (PC Engine redbook) (13%, 3)
16. Fuujin Ryouiki Eretzvaju Original Soundtrack (13%, 4)
17. Baten Kaitos Original Soundtrack (13%, 5)
18. Seiken Densetsu 2 Original Sound Version (13%, 5)
18. Sonic the Hedgehog CD Original Soundtrack 20th Anniversary Edition (13%, 5)
20. Symphonic Fantasies - Music from Square Enix (13%, 6)
20. Ys IV ~The Dawn of Ys~ Perfect Collection Vol. 1 (13%, 6)
22. Brandish Piano Collection (19%, 19)
23. Falcom Special Box '94 (13%, 6)
23. King of Fighters '96 Arrange Sound Trax (13%, 6)
25. Soukaigi Original Soundtrack (19%, 19)
26. Demon Castle Dracula Best 2 (13%, 7)
27. Wild Arms Complete Tracks (19%, 19)
28. Ys I & II Chronicles Original Sound Track (13%, 7)
29. Capcom Music Generation Rockman X1~6 (13%, 8)
29. Super Metroid (SNES game rip) (13%, 8)
31. Nights into Dreams Perfect Album (13%, 10)
32. Game Music Graffiti (13%, 10)
32. PinkSweets Original Sound Track (13%, 10)
34. Dragon Quest IV Symphonic Suite (13%, 11)
34. Konami Shooting Battle II Perfect Selection (13%, 11)
36. Double Dragon II The Revenge (19%, 22)
37. GötzenDiener Original Game Music (13%, 12)
37. Silent Hill 4 -The Room- Original Soundtracks (13%, 12)
39. Nier Gestalt & Replicant Original Soundtrack (13%, 12)
40. Air Original Soundtrack (13%, 13)
41. Persona 4 Original Soundtrack (13%, 13)
41. Shenmue Orchestra Version (13%, 13)
41. Symphony Ys '95 (13%, 13)
44. Chrono Trigger - The Brink of Time (13%, 14)
44. Konami Shooting Battle Perfect Selection (13%, 14)
44. Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (13%, 14)
47. Ys I & II (PC Engine redbook) (13%, 15)
48. Panzer Dragoon Orta Original Soundtrack (13%, 15)
49. Kameo ~Elements of Power~ Original Soundtrack (13%, 16)
50. Breath of Fire V Dragon Quarter Original Soundtrack (13%, 16)
50. Gungage Original Soundtrack (13%, 16)
50. Insector X (13%, 16)

TerraEpon Jul 9, 2012

How interesting that the top two are the first two game music albums I ever bought...

Judgment Day Jul 10, 2012

I might have to fire up the Xenogears soundtrack again; literally haven't listened to it in at least 5 years - I always thought of it as being good, but not my particular style. I guess that's why it never became one of my favorites, but I wouldn't shun anyone who thought otherwise.

Anybody have any soundtracks that's good but getting somewhat overlooked? I've yet to compile my list, but if I did, I would definitely have Seiken Densetsu 3 on it. I'd venture to say that it's one of the most underrated soundtracks of all time, which was probably due to lack of exposure at the time.

Pellasos Jul 10, 2012

i think this poll has plenty of overlooked soundtracks. try Insector-X, Götzendiener, Brandish.

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