In case you haven't noticed, I am a weird individual. Most of the music I've listen to is game related. If you wanted to break it down, I'd say it's about a 3 to 1 ratio game music to normal music. So I decided to write out a list of my top game songs. I am not musically trained and I don't know the first thing about music. So I apologize to you all who I offend with my descriptions of songs, a lot of these are more about the moment they are tied to than the song, but here you go. Links provided of course.
Before getting to the top ten games of this year, I believe some appreciation is in order for some songs that didn't come out this year. I've discovered some pretty awesome game music from years past. So then, here's m y top 5 Of, but not from 2011 list.
5. Dr. Fetus' Castle- (Super Meat Boy)
I just missed playing Super Meat Boy in 2010. Back in January I tore through this game (okay, maybe it tore through me) and loved the soundtrack. I know if people had to pick a song from the soundtrack one of the versions of Betus Blues would probably take the top spot. For me, I would have to pick the theme from the Chapter 5's Dark World. Strangely enough, this song wasn't even in the 360 version because of a mistake. The other Dark World themes were variations on the Light World songs, but The Rapture shook things up.
4. Stardust Speedway Bad Future (Sonic CD)
You know what, keep Sonic Boom. I've been enjoying the Japanese soundtrack for Sonic CD a lot more than the American one. I learned about this song from Sonic Generations, didn't recognize it at all. Of course I didn't, this is from the Japanese version. I don't know what the hell the "singer" is up to in this song, probably trying to summon some spirit from beyond the grave. The melody is great and the siren effects are pretty cool too. If it's any consolation, it's also my current ringtone.
3. Theme of Strange Klug (Puyo Puyo 15th)
Puyo Puyo 20th is a game you will hear a lot more about soon. That game came out this year, yes, but this song is from an earlier version of the game. It's a fast and hectic song, perfect for a dramatic battle, but in this puzzle game, it's great too. Nothing beats the various spell shouts while this song plays in the background.
2. Pleather for Breakfast (No More Heroes)
No More Heroes' soundtrack will probably end up as one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. The song "The virgin child makes her wish without feeling anything" was what sold me on the game, a fucking random yet amazing moment. And I haven't seen a game with such a great boss theme lineup since Metal Gear Solid 3. I could only pick one, and "We Are Finally Cowboys" is a fantastic final battle theme with a equally fantastic name. But Pleather for Breakfast is better. It has stuck in my head since I finished NMH. The song starts off fast, and only builds up and builds up. I have no idea exactly what the girl singing is saying (One of the lines sounds like Ecstasy, yes, no?), but that doesn't stop me from loving this song.
1. Philistine (No More Heroes 2)
Sometimes you wonder if the characters can hear the music playing. Other times you know they do. Before fighting Margaret Moonlight on top of Guan's, you've heard about the song. Everyone who hears the song learns it...before they die. Philistine is catchy as hell (as noted by Travis Touchdown after the battle), with some pretty amusing lyrics. The song is CONSTANTLY ragging on Travis. (You think the fire in your eyes makes you a tiger in disguise? Dream on you goddamn pussy!). Did I mention how catchy this song is?
Now onto the top ten of the year. Before I begin, I should just state that Sons of Skyrim isn't on here. It was the last one to be cut. Nothing against the song, I just found these ten better than it. With that being said, onto the Top 10 Video Game Songs of 2011.
10. "Theme of the Devil's Flute" Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Tomohito Nishiura
I'm a huge fan of the Professor Layton soundtracks, they are unique and are great when you want to just relax. The main theme's in the Professor Layton games have always been top quality, this one is better than Unwound Future's by far. I love the assortment of instruments used. Also, I love those accordions!
9. "Main Theme" L.A. Noire, Andrew Hale
Winner of the "Menu song most likely to be left on for hours at a time." Say what you will about this game, I enjoyed it quite a bit. This menu theme was just great to listen to.
When the events come together in To the Moon and you find out why Johnny wants to go to the moon and everything mysterious about River's actions click all at the same time (when you go back to the past), it is heartbreaking. The moment afterward, where one of the main characters decides that the best course of action to accomplish THEIR goal is to pretty much ERASE River from Johnny's future? Just devastating. The whole montage of all the events in Johnny's life with River being replaced by the new future is hard to watch. The song "Everything's Alright" is a great song on its own, but the pairing with the scene makes it stick with you, long after you finish the game.
7. "Shadows of the Damned" Shadows of the Damned, Akira Yamaoka w/ The Damned
That's a mouthful. The self-titled credits song was performed by the punk band The Damned, in case you were lost there. Both of the songs that play in the credits (this one and Broken Dream) were great, but this one takes the top by being more upbeat than the typical solemn songs usually reserved for credit sequences.
6. "The Last Battle" Dynasty Warriors 7, Haruki Yamada
I love the music in the Dynasty Warriors series, so picking a song from DW7 isn't too surprising. The Last Battle hits a higher level than a majority of the songs. This song is set aside for the final battle in the game, where you are fighting to end the Three Kingdoms Era by performing the fatal blow to the Shu Kingdom. It's the first time that the storyline extended this far into the Three Kingdoms history, so the final battle was already going to be a pretty big event. It's just surprising that the song with it was so great too.
5. "Trauma" Ghost Trick, Masakazu Sugimori
Ghost Trick is the surprise game of 2011 for me, coming back from the dead to have a place in my heart. This song is memorable because it is tied to two of the most memorable moments in the game. One being the moment after helping Jowd escape from the prison (the prison escape is what caused me to shelf the game for 10 months). Where after all that, he gets caught by none other than Kapanela. The other is when Sissel finds out his real identity. A huge reason these moments stick out is because of this song. It's good to see Masakazu Sugimori working with Shu Takami again.
"Build That Wall" and "Mother I'm Home" are both extremely catchy and great songs. Putting them together? Wow, what a great combination. Those three songs are the best trio of songs from this year hands down. They are all great, even if they don't seem like much at first. The true brilliance of these songs shine through when you catch yourself singing or humming them later without warning. The reason Setting Sail gets top billing? It's definitely greater than the sum of it's parts.
012 was a letdown, but the final boss theme was superb. This is a two part song, with the first part being general Final Fantasy boss music, with the ominous singing and orchestra. That alone isn't anything too great, but halfway through the song, it transitions into God In Fire. That transition is amazing, with the choir singing along with the intro to the song. God In Fire is a great song by itself, and would easily make this list. The addition of Cantata Mortis pushes it to another plane.
2. "Firewater" Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Oleska Lozowchuk feat Sinister Growley
Do you want to know why I bought Dead Rising: Off the Record? I wanted to fight Chuck Greene, the hero of DR2. That was what pushed me over the fence. So when this game came out, I got to this sequence (actually, me and my sister did) and holy shit, his theme is fucking amazing. This song is my kind of song. This rock song talking about how Whiskey (Firewater) gets rid of all your problems goes well with how they changed Chuck Greene's appearance. The funny thing about it is that he was the same as how I played him in DR2, we even called him Grungy Chuck, always running around in his boxers with his booze, good times. Right, back to the song. This song lays out what is running through Chuck's head after losing his daughter (She bites the dust in the initial outbreak in Off the Record). It's an amazing song. So close to winning, how freaky would that have been. Dead Rising having my favorite song 2 years in a row...
1. "Exile Vilify" Portal 2, The National
I just want to paste the lyrics here and call it a day. Exile Vilify is a brilliant song by the National. And it is easily missed if you aren't looking for it. The way it ties into the Portal story is great, especially if you've read into some of the stuff about the Rat Man. It is a very moving song. This also introduced me to The National and their music. This song is one that has stuck with me all year. Bittersweet, even. Exile Vilify is worth listening to even if you haven't played a Portal game. Easily one of my top songs ever, and not just game music either.