Rec's Video Game Song of the Year 2014

In an effort to right the wrongs of previous years, I'm writing about the top 10 list of my favorite video game songs of last year. I talk about it in the 2013 SOTY blog, but in short: I made this list in December 2014, but I'm writing about it now, in December 2015. There are 11 songs on this list. Because hindsight is awesome, and I can do that. It's my list. I'm using the format I used last week (my old format), so apologies about the 11 embedded YouTube videos.

That being said, I remember 2014 better than 2013. And it was sort of hard filling out this list last year. Or maybe that was my fault for not looking hard enough. At this time last year I had an Xbox One and a WiiU, no PS4 yet, but there were no exclusives worth picking up at the time. Some really strong soundtracks though, even if a couple are from games that came out years ago in Japan. That's enough table setting, on to the list.

HMFTF: "Ride the Fire!" by Daisuke Ishiwatari, from Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-

I hate this song, but it is definitely deserving of the Honorable Mention From the Future. I bought a PS4 in January of this year I think, along with it I bought Guilty Gear and...I think that was it. The soundtrack in this game is one of the best of the year, with riffs and solos for days. Almost every character's theme made it into my daily playlist, but this song stands out for a completely different reason. If you are playing as Sol Badguy, he has a super called Dragon Install, where he transforms. When you do that, this song starts playing, and the first time I encountered that it was so damn cool. When he transforms you hear "READY OR NOT!" and it's on. Yes, the official book says the lyrics are Ready or Not, and not Rated R, Ride it On, etc. Unfortunately as the year went on I could only associate this song with my brother kicking my ass with Sol. Personally I would probably pick Elphelt's theme as my favorite song (Recommended listening: Marionette). That doesn't change the fact that this song is the one that stands out the most when I think about Guilty Gear Xrd, a great song made even better with its use. I still hate this song.

10. "Bowser's Castle" by Atsuko Asahi, from Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 had an okay soundtrack, I don't remember a lot of songs standing out for me that aren't remixed F-Zero tracks sadly. I did like how this song starts with the guitar riff at the beginning and then slowly adds in the brass which became the signature for that soundtrack. It was a great mix of the two. One thing the soundtrack sadly doesn't pick up is how every music track speeds up for the final lap, and it made this song even better.

9. "Clouds" by Daedalus, from Nidhogg

Had a strong Nidhogg resurgence last month because of Divekick adding The Fencer from this game as a character. Nidhogg still holds up and that goes double for the soundtrack. The stage variety is crazy in Nidhogg, and the soundtrack keeps up with all of it. As you might have guessed, "Clouds" plays in the sky stage, and it is a gorgeous song. A great beat starts it off, and it's just a great chill song.

8. "Skyloft" by Masato Koike, Yuki Matsamura, and Hajime Wakai; from Hyrule Warriors

I've never played Skyward Sword, but this remixed version of Skyloft's theme in that game is easily my favorite song in that game. Masato Koike is behind some of my favorite tracks in the Dynasty Warriors series (not to be confused with MASA, two different people), so it's not a surprise that his work combined with classic Zelda music would turn out awesome.

7. "The Last Array" by C Paul Johnson, Martin O'Donnell, and Michael Salvatori; from Destiny

This song represents what Destiny could have been. This song and mission was the high point of the beta for me, and after playing this how could you not be excited for the full game. You know how the rest of that story goes. This song is fantastic, with a slow start that builds and builds until the whole orchestra is going. Sadly, like the rest of Destiny, the game peaks on Earth, the music never quite reached the same level. As you're defending the array from the ships and waves of enemies coming in, this song adds to it. The story of Martin O'Donnell's departure is all over the place, and it's sort of a shame, because the pieces he left behind are great.

6. "Tectonic Tetro at War" by Hideki Abe from Puyo Puyo Tetris

Surprise surprise, my GOTY from last year landed on this list. Hideki Abe has been the composer for the Puyo series since Fever, and it was really hard picking a representative from this game. The remixed versions of the original Tetris theme and Sega's Tetris theme were great, but I had to give the nod to this song, which represents the "boss fights" of this game against the Tetris crew.

5. "Go! Go! Zeppeli" by Chikayo Fukuda, from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle

Another great soundtrack that went all over the place. The reason I picked this song was because of the vibe it had, between the piano, accordion and the guitars it's a departure from the other heavy guitar songs that made up most of this soundtrack. Then again, I read all of Steel Ball Run (Jojo's 7th Arc) last year, and that probably had a lot to do with my choice. Same reasons though, just a nice departure. Here's a connection I didn't make until writing this: The composer of this soundtrack also did the music for Asura's Wrath, another great soundtrack. She's pretty good.

4. "The Spine" by Darren Korb, from Transistor

Ashley Lynn Barrett has an amazing voice. Korb nailed it again with the soundtrack for Transistor, but the vocal tracks are a mile beyond the rest. I remember when I put together this list last year having to decide between "The Spine and "In Circles" and I went with Spine because as a standalone song, it was the superior one. From the chorus to the ending, a lot of high points in this song. I really like the idea of a character who is a singer/performer in-game having their own music (which will come back again in 2015's list), and yeah, Barrett's performance as Red is great.

3. "Climax Return" by Masafumi Takada, from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Another soundtrack where picking one song was hard. In the end I went with this remix of the main theme. The main theme is awesome, but the way this specific version is used makes it my favorite song in the game. If you aren't familiar with the game, Danganronpa has trials where you're trying to figure out the killer. At the end, when you have figured it out, the game makes you put together manga retelling the events of the crime. This song plays as the main character is going over the details of the crime, ending with the "you're the killer!" bit. Imagine if Jessica Fletcher had a remix of the Murder, She Wrote theme playing as she revealed the killer, and that remix was done by the composer behind No More Heroes. Case closed.

2. "Major Boss Battle" by Woofle, from Freedom Planet.

My one game-related regret from 2014 is not being able to do a good job of convincing more people to play Freedom Planet. Freedom Planet is one giant love letter to Sega games in the 16 bit era and is the best Sonic game since Sonic CD. Even if it is unofficial. Great boss themes in this game, but I picked the stage ending boss theme because it's great boss music. The bosses are straight out of Treasure games, and the one fight I tie with this is when all three main characters are teaming up to fight a snake riding a robotic cheetah. Hearing this song just makes me want to play more Freedom Planet.

1. "Kill Command" by Masafumi Takada, from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Both Danganronpa games released last year, so I don't have a problem putting a song from each game on here. Unlike the first game, I had no trouble picking a song from this game. This song is a remixed version of the investigation theme, which the first game did too. Instead of a smooth jazzy bit, they add some guitars and really change the tone to a dreadful one, and it's awesome. Another reason why this song is so great is because of how it's placed. Without being too spoilery, people are dying all over, and a person I didn't expect to die bit the dust. And not only did they die, they died in a ridiculously brutal fashion, even for that game. Once you realize that just happened, this song kicks in. After playing the first one I was waiting for the remixed investigation music, and it did not disappoint. I think the first game did this too, but I like how later in the song the trumpet used in the original version comes back. This song has everything.

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