Hey, the music in these games is super good!

What the world needs more of is lists, especially lists involving video games. I've always wanted to create a list featuring a bunch of soundtracks that I think are pretty exceptional, because, y'know, nobody has ever done that before.

Work in progress.

(I'll add text to each game, maybe links to youtube or something... I liked it when you could embed videos in lists.)

List items

  • The entire soundtrack to After Burner 2 is only six tracks long and comes in at about fifteen or so minutes. But I can't imagine a better soundtrack to weaving in and about enemy missiles in a crazy-fast jet. Sega used to be king at melding high energy soundtracks and action in their earlier arcade output, and this is arguably their finest.

    Highlights -

    Red Out.

    Super Stripe.

    After Burner.

    (All of it.)

  • I honestly don't think there's a single piece of music in this game that doesn't fit perfectly. Sonic 2 is a perfect encapsulation of the best music on the Mega Drive. Chemical Plant Zone is without a doubt my favourite piece of music in any game ever created.

    Highlights -

    Emerald Hill Zone.

    Chemical Plant Zone.

    Mystic Cave Zone.

    Metropolis Zone.

  • Shadow of the Colossus knows when to go big with its sound. Other than a few musical swellings to mark things happening in the world, the game is pretty silent the whole time you are exploring.

    The game often marks the entrance of bosses with these grand pieces of music to indicate the fight is on. The sound Kow Otani goes for gives these large beasts a real sense of awe and power.

    Even with the more majestic Colossi there's an atmospheric bubbling of strings to indicate you're not alone, but grab onto or attack the monster going about its business and the music will burst to life.

    When the game knows you're in the final stages of beating the Colossi it switches to something a little more triumphant, as if victory is at hand only to shift immediately to an overwhelming sadness with the last stab of your sword.

    There are few games that use their music as effectively as Shadow of the Colossus. It almost tells as much of a story as the minimalistic dialogue scattered throughout the game.

    Highlights -

    Prologue.

    The Opened Way.

    Creeping Shadow.

    Counter Attack.

    Swift Horse.

  • Yeah, do you know how good the music in this game is? Konami's weird anime, Contra reboot is full of the widdly guitar squealings of Arc System Works Daisuke Ishiwatari. And while you could argue that it's the same old thing he's been pumping into Guilty Gear and Blazblue games, there's a consistency and a punch to a lot of the music here that's missing from most of those games.

    Highlights -

    Stage 3 - Ruins Theme

    Stage 5 - Capital Laboratory Theme.

    Stage 1 - Origins Extra Theme.

  • One of the two incredible Bear McCreary video game soundtracks. Dark Void sounds like nothing else, despite having a familiarity to it. The Main theme that runs throughout most of the songs is big, old fashioned and heroic. Mccreary obviously wanted to echo the scores from movies like The Rocketeer, The Shadow and The Phantom, but also add that otherworldly weirdness that ran through his work on Battlestar Galactica. It's a beautiful meshing of big strings, percussion and theramins.

    Highlights -

    Theme from Dark Void

    Archon

  • The one thing you could say that has stayed consistent with the Sonic games is the music. Even some of the worst games in the series have a bunch of catchy tunes.

    Don't be fooled by the intolerably bad vocal track that starts the game. There's a collection of laid back, jazzy and lush orchestral compositions running throughout this game. The game even remixes most of the music tracks between different stages in the same zone, sometimes making an energetic track into a lazy stroll or beefing up an electronic track with heavy guitars.

    I shouldn't be surprised how overlooked the music is in this game. It's a Sonic game... and one on the Wii at that.

    Highlights -

    Title Theme.

    Sweet Mountain Act 1.

    Starlight Carnival Map.

    Planet Wisp act 1 (& 2)

    Aquarium Park act 1 (& 3)

  • This is a hard thing to explain, but there was a period where games were starting to use the CD capabilities of the consoles upping the quality and production of their sound, but still retaining that "gamey" kind of music from past generations.

  • There's a lot of Faux-80's soundtracks getting made these days, and while many of them are very good their approximation of the 80's isn't really all that accurate.

    Blood Dragon is without a doubt one of the most successful attempts, mostly because in places if feels like outright theft from movies like Terminator and Blade Runner. This isn't a bad thing in any way, and without it the game would have never risen above being merely ok.

    Blood Dragon's punchy electronics and echoey guitar solos make the whole thing a far better experience.

    Highlights -

    Warzone.

    Power Core.

    Love Theme.

    Blood Dragon Theme. (Reprise)

  • There's a lot of complexity to the tracks in Mega Man 2 that was missing from most other games of that era. Very few games have as many catchy tunes as Mega Man 2, including other Mega Man games on the NES.

    Highlights -

    Intro

    Air Man

    Wood man

    Dr Wily Stage 1

  • If you looked at some screen shots of Fez, and then immediately listened to the soundtrack to Fez you'd probably have a hard time imagining the two things working together quite so well.

    Fez's look is that of a cutesy pixel platformer, and Disasterpeace's music is moody and atmospheric. You don't even need to dig under the surface of Fez to get to the weirdness in able to appreciate how well the two seemingly different parts work together.

    The music in Fez is one of those soundtracks that's very listen to outside of the game itself, but I couldn't image the game without it.

    Highlights -

    Adventure.

    Sync.

    Majesty.

    Home.

  • One of the biggest standouts of the Katamari series outside of its weird Japanese humour and simplistic art style is its eclectic collection of music, ranging from J-Pop to jazz, to animals making noises in time to the beat.

    I've never played the first game due to its lack of release in my country, and while its quirkiness is on par with most of the console Katamari games, it doesn't quite have anything as weird as We <3 Katamari has to offer.

    Highlights -

    Everlasting Love.

    Baby Universe.

    Blue Orb.

    A song for the King of Kings.

  • I might be mistaken, but I feel like this was the very first game I played which had a real band using instruments on the music. Quake 2 is one of my all-time favourites, and I'd attribute a lot of that to the in your face metal punching you in the face right from the word go.

    Highlights -

    Operation Overlord.

    Rage.

    Quad Machine.

    Descent into Cerberon.

  • I remember being blown away by the music in the first game, but returning to it now I've had to accept that a lot of it is just mood pieces. Outside of the two incredible menu pieces there's only really the James Bond-y "The Bunker" that stands out.

    Uncharted 2 punched it up to 11 though, even Nate's Theme is considerably beefed up for the sequel. There's a lot of big horns and exciting pieces to accompany the big, dumb craziness happening on screen.

    Highlights -

    Nate's Theme 2.0.

    Bustin Chops.

    Cornered.

    Brutal Combo Mambo.

  • I'd never have thought that one of Nintendo's first big orchestral scores would have accurately portrayed "Fat plumber running around in space", but somehow they did it perfectly. In amongst the catchy yet big grand pieces there's some hazy, spacey sounds that fit the atmosphere just right.

    Highlights -

    Overture.

    Into the Galaxy.

    Gusty Garden Galaxy.

    Battlerock Galaxy.

    Ghostly Galaxy.

  • I sometimes wonder if my fondness for ODST is more down to the music than the actual game. Marty O'Donnell did an outstanding job on the music in Halo between Combat Evolved and Reach, but this was the biggest departure from overblown Hollywood sound of the other games.

    Smokey, laid back and dripping with atmosphere. It ever has some super sexy saxophoneage going on.

  • Ironically Remember Me is a game nobody is going to remember in the future, but its music is really rather interesting. It's a beautiful orchestral score, but messed and altered with after the recording to give it this glitchy, futuristic sound.

    In places it may get a little Matrix-y, but it has a gorgeous tone. Far better than the actual game, but equally as interesting.

    Highlights -

    Nilin the Memory Hunter.

    Chase through Montmartre.

    Neo Paris.

    Hope.