Soundtrack Central The best classic game music and more

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Adam Corn Dec 4, 2017 (edited Feb 23, 2018)

Now that 2017 is drawing to a close let's hear everyone's favorite video game soundtrack from the year. Any new game music album released in 2017 is eligible - physical, digital, OST, official arrange, or fan arranged album.

Adam Corn Dec 4, 2017 (edited Feb 23, 2018)

1. The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert - Thirty years of classic Legend of Zelda themes old and new, given quality orchestral arrangements and performances across the board - what's not to like? Not much at all, although owners of the limited-edition 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD from five years earlier will want to note that about 30 minutes of arrangements are reused from that album. However it's material very much worthy of re-inclusion, and though the recording quality of this live concert album isn't at the same level as that studio album, I find the performances for most arrangements are more dramatic here. New to this album are a nine-minute "The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Medley" (completely different from the 25th Anniversary album's medley, though thankfully possessing its own heart-pounding rendition of the "Dark Overworld" theme), high-intensity "A Link Between Worlds & Tri Force Heroes Medley" and "Boss Battle Theme Medley" arrangements, a surprisingly substantial "The Legend of Zelda Jingle Suite", and the five-star delight of the album, a live performance of the eight-minute "Skyward Sword Staff Roll". Topping off the highlights for the new arrangements are short but sweet orchestral renditions of "Hyrule Castle" and "Zelda's Theme". It took thirty years, but one of gaming's oldest and most beloved series finally has an orchestral album worthy of its namesake.

2. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age Original Soundtrack - Final Fantasy XII's soundtrack has always stood out as a favorite from the series, and my only real sticking point with the original PlayStation 2 OST was that - as by far the most orchestral soundtrack in the series thus far - the completely sampled instrumentation could grow a bit repetitive over the course of four discs. Thus the fact that the PS4 remake Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age receives a remade soundtrack with live instrumentation is a pretty big deal - albeit with two caveats. The first is that the live instrumentation applies to the woodwinds and strings, but not the brass. The second is that the recording quality leaves something to be desired. That aside, I find the standout woodwind-led tracks in FFXII - of which there are many - all sound better in The Zodiac Age, or at the very least enjoyably different. The greatest improvement, however, comes in the tracks featuring strings. Existing favorites are even better with the live strings in The Zodiac Age, and tracks like "Penelo's Theme", "On the Riverbank", and "Nalbina Fortress Town Area" that I used to skip in the PS2 OST have become new favorites. Though it's hard not to be a bit disappointed that the redone Final Fantasy XII score doesn't have a full orchestral recording at the top of its class, at the same time though it's good to receive an even moderately improved version of a classic.

3. Horizon Zero Dawn Original Soundtrack - Among open-world adventure games in 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may have stolen some of Horizon Zero Dawn's thunder, but when it comes to soundtracks Horizon Zero Dawn OST comes out as very easily my favorite new original game soundtrack for the year. As you'd expect for a soundtrack of the genre, the music often leans more towards ambiance than outright melody, but there's no shortage of very pretty musical moments. These are most frequently conveyed by beautiful solo and ensemble strings, often having a poignant sense of solitude as in "Homecoming" and "On Our Mother's Shoulders", though there are hopeful moments in folk-inspired tracks like "In Great Strides" and "City on the Mesa" as well. The soundtrack's mix of acoustic instrumentation with electronic synth could be expected as well, but I have a hard time thinking of another soundtrack that pulls off the combination as seamlessly and with such consistently high quality as what's done here. As long as you're not expecting a quick melodic fix, you can listen through the entire run time without really feeling the need to touch the skip button, an exceedingly rare feet for a four-hour OST.

4. Distant Worlds IV: More Music from Final Fantasy - After a disappointing third installment in the Distant Worlds series, Distant Worlds IV: More Music from Final Fantasy is a satisfying step back in the right direction. When you've got series classics like FFIV "Battle with the Four Fiends", FFV "Main Theme of Final Fantasy V", FFVII "Jenova Complete", FFIX "Festival of the Hunt", and FFXII "The Dalmasca Estersand" all on one album it's hard to go wrong, and two standout themes from from FFXIV only sweeten the deal further. The three performances of themes that were orchestral already in their OSTs make it a bit too apparent that the production values still aren't up to snuff with the best orchestral game music, and the producers' habit of lifting arrangements straight from the FFVIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Venosec album or re-arranging FFVI themes that were already done very nicely on FFVI Grand Finale is a bit unfortunate, but the remaining ten tracks make for one of the stronger Final Fantasy orchestral albums to date. As long as they keep bringing new arrangements of classic Final Fantasy themes at this quality, there could be plenty more good Distant Worlds albums to come.

5. Valkyria: Azure Revolution Original Soundtrack - A strong runner-up to Horizon Zero Dawn for the top new game OST, Valkyria: Azure Revolution Original Soundtrack as you'd expect is far more in the traditional JRPG vein, though composer Yasunori Mitsuda takes some impressive strides in modernizing the genre with robust orchestral arrangements and high production values. Similarly to that other score, you won't find the same high number of captivating themes as in most game music classics, but the album is a consistently high-quality listen throughout. There's an expected military quality - brass and rolling snares are in plentiful supply in the rousing battle themes - but it's not too serious to drown out the game and composer's JPRG roots as heard in some immediately endearing town themes. Mitsuda has made it clear in some of his comments the importance he places on evolving technically as a composer, and the Valkyria Revolution soundtrack is a satisfying validation of that approach.

6. Cuphead Original Soundtrack - At almost three hours of music with hardly or synth or a simple loop to be found, even holding dearly to its 1930s period jazz sound there's more variety in Cuphead Original Soundtrack than you'll hear in plenty of OSTs that span genres at will. There's an entirely different melodic quality to the album than your typical game OST, which combined with the extremely rambunctious brass makes it a soundtrack I only listen to on occasion, but you have to give composer Kristofer Maddigan and the production team credit for trying something entirely different and doing it very well.

Partial Recommendations from 2017
- Final Fantasy XIV Orchestral Album ~Eorzean Symphony~
- Bra☆Bra Final Fantasy Brass de Bravo 3
- Rage Racer Remix -The 20th Anniv. Sounds-
- Flinthook
- Rez Infinite Original Soundtrack
- Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
- Kirby 25th Anniversary Orchestra Concert

Best Find from Previous Years
- Bra☆Bra Final Fantasy Gaiden: Mina de Bravo (2017)

Also Listened
Final Fantasy XV Piano Collections: Moonlit Melodies, Gyakuten Saiban 15th Anniversary Orchestra Concert, Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- Album, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sound Selection, Monster Hunter Orchestral Concert - Shuryou Ongakusai 2017, NieR Automata Original Soundtrack, Persona 5 Original Soundtrack, Pyre Original Soundtrack

Amazingu Dec 4, 2017

Only 3 real standouts for me this year, but they're all great:

1. NieR:Automata

I'm including the extra 8-bit CD in this as well, since it's part of the game's soundtrack.
What should I even say? It's NieR!
If you've played the original, you know the music is amazing, and this is every bit a worthy successor.

2. Persona 5

Another no-brainer.
You know you're getting quality music with Persona, and I love that Meguro went for a slightly more jazzy style instead of the usual J-pop. The new singer (sorry, I forget her name) has a much nicer voice and better English pronunciation too, so that's also a nice plus.

3. Flinthook

AKA the most underrated game of the year.
Maybe I got hooked (teehee) on the soundtrack because I loved the game so much, because it's fairly standard retro-styled chiptune stuff, but it found its way into my regular rotation somehow.
More than anything, I just want more people to be aware of this game. It rocks!

The_Paladin Dec 8, 2017

Definitely agree with NieR Automata and Persona 5.  I'll add in Bravewave's releases for Ninja Gaiden 1~3 and Pyre.  I know I'm forgetting stuff so probably need to edit later...

Judgment Day Dec 15, 2017

Throw my ballot in for Cuphead.

XLord007 Dec 20, 2017

1. Project Octopath Traveler - I know it's not eligible, but the demo had far and away the best new game music I've heard this year.

jb Dec 20, 2017 (edited Dec 20, 2017)

1. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age Original Soundtrack - Really enjoyed the new arrangements. Seems to be some general complaint about the lack of a live brass section, but I am PERFECTLY fine with that since I dislike most brass tones anyway.

2. Piano Collections Final Fantasy XV: Moonlit Melodies - Was disappointed that this album only had a handful of new songs (a lot were previously released on other albums/bonuses), but overall is a great album.

3. Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- Album - I liked this album far better than I liked Kingdom Hearts Concert -First Breath- Album, it just sounded much fuller to me.

4. Ganbare Goemon Sound Treasure Box - While not a complete box set (missing the N64/PS and beyond games) it's still a massive retrospective look at the Ganbare Goemon series from the beginning, many of which either never saw actual releases or are very old and rare. Coupled with the fact that Goemon has had very limited exposure in the West this was an amazing opportunity to get acquainted with the music and the series and I am very thankful it was released. Hopefully they will do another box set with the newer era games!

5. Brave Frontier Original Soundtrack Complete Box - I picked this up on a random whim with no prior knowledge of the series or the composer and really fell in love with it. It is relatively simple melodies and music but it feels like a throwback to the SNES era. Hikoshi Hashimoto is someone I will be watching going forward.

6. Distant Worlds IV: More Music from Final Fantasy - Overall pretty satisfied with this release. My previous comments ( … asy/tp8434) still mostly apply.

I still have a few releases from late 2017 ordered that won't ship before the deadline, so I don't know how they fare, but they are:

- SaGa Orchestra Concert 2016
- Kirby 25th Anniversary Orchestra Concert
- Lost Sphear Original Soundtrack
- Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Promo Soundtrack

Releases in 2018 I'm looking forward to:

- Ni no Kuni II
- Seiken Densetsu 25th Anniversary Orchestra Concert CD
- Secret of Mana Arrange Tracks from the new remake

The_Paladin Dec 21, 2017

Not sure how I managed not to list Cuphead, definitely agree that should be considered for top contention.  A couple indie game ones:
- Rakuen
- Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
- Night in the Woods

Moses Jan 1, 2018

1. Cuphead Original Soundtrack

2. NieR:Automata Original Soundtrack



5. Distant Worlds IV: More Music from Final Fantasy

Adam Corn Jan 3, 2018

Happy new year everyone. Hope you all have good things in store for 2018!

I've extended the year-end poll till Jan 15 so everyone (myself included) can have a bit more time to catch up on some 2017 releases they may have missed. Those of you who have submitted picks already, feel free to edit them at any time (preferably before the tally date), and those of you who have yet to do so I hope will add some favorites as well!

Of the picks so far I won't be including Brave Frontier OST Complete Box or Project Octopath Traveler in the "official" results as the former I believe was a 2016 release and the latter has yet to have an album release of any sort. jb, feel free to add Brave Frontier to your 2016 picks if you like, and XLord007, I'm sure you'll have a full OST for Project Octopath Traveler to look forward to in 2018.

jb Jan 3, 2018

There were 2 extra discs in the Brave Frontier Box that came out in 2017 ( It is strange that they released 2/3 of a box and then added on to it a year later. I think I'm the only one voting for it anyway so no big deal tongue.

My release schedule is usually loosely based on years anyway, since I end up listening to late year stuff in the following year, either due to bulk ordering and receiving them late, or just not picking up on something in my listening backlog for a few months tongue

Qui-Gon Joe Jan 14, 2018

1. NieR: Automata Original Soundtrack - Easily one of my favorite game OSTs of all time, not just 2017 - easy pick for number one.  Shameless plug for my super long post here that nobody replied to ;_;

2. Yooka-Laylee Original Game Soundtrack - Just finished this game on Switch, and while the game isn't super spectacular (still fun and scratched a certain itch), the music is classic Rare material.  Kirkhope does the regular level/boss music, Wise does the minecart minigames, and Burke does the retro stuff.  I do wish they'd let Burke do more orchestral-type stuff, as Kameo is still one of my favorite OSTs, but oh well.

3. VALKYRIA : Azure Revolution Original Soundtrack - All my thoughts here: … ost/tp8443

Mitsuda is definitely back bringing his A game these days - I sooo desperately want a Xenoblade 2 full OST release (has any Mitsuda-helmed project NOT gotten a CD since he started Sleigh Bells?)

4. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle - The Official Soundtrack - More Grant Kirkhope goodness, this time with a live orchestra.  Surprised by the lack of old Mario themes remixed in this one.  Anyone play the game and know if they just left those off the soundtrack release, or are there just none?

5. Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- Album - There were two KH orchestra albums released this year, but this was the one you had to pick up at the concerts.  A shame, since I prefer this one to the one that got a retail release (both are good, though).

6. Cuphead Original Soundtrack - Yeah, what can I say that hasn't already been said?  Love this soundtrack and love/hate the game.  I bought it and have been making friends better at video games play through it since I am AWFUL at it, but I love everything else about the game.

7. New Danganronpa V3 OST White/Black - I didn't quite know how to include this since I see the soundtrack as one full thing - I also am torn because there's a lot of reused (or only very slightly arranged) music in the game from previous OSTs.  That said, it's a great soundtrack to a game that I thought was mostly super awesome (with some very significant caveats near the end).

8. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA BREATH OF THE WILD SOUND SELECTION - Beautiful music from what is now probably my favorite video game of all time.  Simply criminal that this isn't getting a full OST release alongside Mario, but I like pretty much everything on this disc that came with the LE of the game.

9. GRAVITY DAZE 2 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK - Haven't given this as much time as I know it deserves, but I'm waiting until I've played the game to listen to more.  More brilliant stuff after the first one was a surprise hit for me.  A bit wary of the game itself from what I've heard, but the OST is definitely a winner!

10. FINAL FANTASY XIV Orchestral Arrangement Album - If this album had been longer, it probably would have ended up higher on my list.  I really enjoyed these arrangements, and I still am in love with everything related to the FFXIV soundtrack (The Far Edge of Fate ALMOST made this list this year for me, but I gave the edge to the album that's actually on a CD instead of a stupid Bluray).

Qui-Gon Joe Jan 14, 2018

I should also mention that my list could theoretically change if some of the stuff I have but haven't really had time to get into is as good as the samples I've heard.  Horizon, Persona 5, and Rime are all soundtracks I think I'm probably going to love, but have heard VERY little of so far!

Pellasos Jan 18, 2018 (edited Jan 18, 2018)


Persona 5

Gravity Rush 2


surprised i can list that many. I'm always behind on releases. Nioh is a lot more subtle than the others. everything else works well right out of the gate. i only listed games I've played. not sure if i listened to random albums blindly at all last year.

Adam Corn Jan 28, 2018

Seeing as it's almost February I'll be tallying these in the next couple days. The_Paladin and Pellasos, would you like to add your picks to the poll results? Click the Answer Poll button below if so smile

The_Paladin Jan 28, 2018

1. Cuphead Original Soundtrack

2. Persona 5 Original Soundtrack

3. NieR: Automata Original Soundtrack

4. Pyre Original Soundtrack

5. Night in the Woods Original Soundtrack (Vol. 1~3)

6. Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of Dana- Original Soundtrack -Complete-

7. Rakuen Official Soundtrack

8. Shovel Knight - Specter of Torment Original Soundtrack

9. Ninja Gaiden The Definitive Soundtrack (Vol. 1&2)


Thanks Adam, didn't notice the button.  There's a lot of Square stuff on people's lists I haven't gotten around to, but being way behind on things seems to be the norm lately.

STC Poll System Feb 23, 2018

Top poll results out of 29 unique answers submitted, as calculated by Soundtrack Central's poll system.  In parentheses are the percentage of respondents who selected that answer and the average ranking it was given.

1. NieR: Automata Original Soundtrack (71%, 2)
2. Cuphead Original Soundtrack (57%, 4)
3. Persona 5 Original Soundtrack (43%, 2)
4. Distant Worlds IV: More Music from Final Fantasy (43%, 5)
5. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age Original Soundtrack (29%, 2)
6. Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- Album (29%, 4)
6. Valkyria: Azure Revolution Original Soundtrack (29%, 4)
8. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sound Selection (29%, 9)

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