By recroulette 10 Comments
The year 2015 was a very strong year for video game music. However, this year is slightly different than previous years. The use of licensed music is becoming a bigger deal than it has before. In the past, I would usually not count those because they weren't made for the game. I think I made the exception for Hotline Miami that year, but I have to drop that rule this year. An example: I discovered some 80's music I hadn't heard before because of MGSV. Sure, a specific song may be 30 years old, but if I associate it with MGSV and it stood out for me, why should I disqualify it because of that (For the record, no 80's music will make this list). There is a certain art to picking the right song for the right moment in the game, even if that song wasn't made for the game.
With that change, here are the rest of the rules. Ten songs, with number 1 being the best. The song has had to appear in the game at one point, so no fan remixes or soundtrack only releases. A game can only be represented once on the list, that way a game with an amazing soundtrack doesn't dominate the list. I'm going to embed a playlist with the top 10 to make it easier, it's already in order, starting from 10 counting down to 1. This will have no specific spoilers, just where the song is used (aka: final boss, ending, etc). With all of that said, on to the music!
10. "Last Battle- Kakugo wa Iika!" by Kenichiro Saigo, from Yo-Kai Watch.
Yo-Kai Watch is a game where you go around this city and help people with their problems, and the soundtrack matches up with that most of the time. Nothing too exciting, but it's peaceful. The boss themes in this game are really great, and the one I'm picking is obviously from the final battle in the game. It sort of has that familiar feeling a lot of final boss songs have, the slow somber intro before picking up, the callback to other themes in the game, and that last rally near the end that really drives you. A great fit for the final boss.
9. "Sho's Fever Time" by Masafumi Takada, from Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
It's a bummer that this game kinda sucks, because the music is great in it. The title theme is really catchy, but the stand out is the song that plays when one of the main characters changes to her alternate personality. Maybe the regular gameplay being bad helps this stand out more because playing as Genocide Jack is really fun (Song is named after the Japanese name, Genocider Sho). The chiptune arrangement on top of the guitars is a great mix. As mentioned in previous SOTY blogs, Masafumi Takada is one of my favorite composers, so it's not a surprise seeing him on here again.
8. "Throw Another Banjo on the Fire" by Ridiculon, from Super Meat Boy (PS4/Vita version)
Yes, Super Meat Boy has been out for years, but if you didn't know, the PS4 and Vita release has a different soundtrack because business reasons, I won't get too deep into it here. And yes, I know that the original Super Meat Boy soundtrack is really good and it's a shame that it got replaced. However, if you can get past that, there is some really great music on the new Super Meat Boy soundtrack. I was surprised because the same thing happened with Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and I never got into it with the music being a big part of that. This song is awesome. It starts with a banjo and a bass, and then it slowly picks up, and then it changes to an electric guitar, which is really cool. I don't know, more banjo music in games would be pretty awesome.
7. "Spanish Sahara" by Foals, from Life is Strange
I really thought Life is Strange plummeted off a cliff in the last episode. It lost a lot of what made the previous chapters great, and just became spectacle for the sake of it. It was dumb. That said, they absolutely stick the landing in the end. The ending I chose was one of the best moments in the game, and this song went with it perfectly. This song was licensed, but it feels like the scene was tailored to go hand in hand with this song. I had a lot of problems with the last chapter of Life is Strange, but this redeemed it, 100 percent.
6. "The Beginning of the End" by Takeharu Ishimoto, from Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Final Fantasy intros used to be a grand spectacle, maybe they still are, but the last one I personally remember was the unforgettable intro to Final Fantasy X with the metal song "Otherworld." The introduction to Type-0 manage to evoke the same feelings that Otherworld, Liberi Fatali, and the Bombing Mission did before it. I have been waiting for a localized version of Type-0 for years, and I have heard parts of this song before through Theatrhythm, but when the real deal happened, it was still mind-blowing. That intro takes place during a war, and it is bleak. With soldiers getting mowed down and even Bahamut being shot down. When the last part picks up with the heroes showing up at the end, I was back.
5. "Kiss the Sky" by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra, from Tales From the Borderlands
Borderlands is famous for their introductions with licensed music. Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" for the first game and "Short Change Hero" from Borderlands 2 as examples. It's not a surprise that Telltale would keep the tradition going, and every episode has it's own introduction. The surprising thing is that these intros are among the best part of each episode. Not a knock against the game because it's fantastic, but anticipating the musical openings became almost as big as wondering what happened in the story. "Kiss the Sky" is the intro song from the second episode, and it did two things. First it showed us that yes, there will be a new one with each episode, and second, yeah, they could top the amazing first episode's intro with "Busy Earnin.'" Picking a song to represent this list was basically going "Which intro was the best" and as far as the music goes, this is my favorite.
4. "Shiokara-Bushi" by Shiho Fujii feat. The Squid Sisters, from Splatoon
Splatoon already gains major points from calling the soundtrack Splatune. Splatoon is known for the fun multiplayer, but the single player has great boss battles that makes slogging through the other missions worth it. Splatoon has an really cool final boss, the design is cool and he is one of my favorite characters of the year. A "Radio Override" with this song is activated near the end of this fight, and it is definitely one of the best moments of the year. The song is really catchy. and trying to gun down the last boss with this playing is a ton of fun. Splatoon has actual fictional music artists in the game, and it's always cool seeing games acknowledge the music inside it. The Squid Sisters have dethroned K.K. Slider as Nintendo's musical star.
3. "A Phantom Pain" by Ludvig Forssell, from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Aside from the main theme, "Snake Eater" is probably the signature song of the Metal Gear franchise. A goofy song that is an homage to Bond movie intros. I was thrilled to discover that there is an original song that pays homage to 80s music in The Phantom Pain. I played on the PS4, so I didn't have the luxury of putting custom music on my helicopter, so I had to use what was in the game, and because of that, "A Phantom Pain" became my helicopter music for the whole game, and it was a much better game for me because of that. Taking off and leaving the mission area as that guitar solo kicks in is probably my favorite thing about that game for me. Like great pop music, the lyrics got stuck in my head and I couldn't stop singing it for a couple weeks. Sorry "Sins of the Father" and "Quiet's Theme", this is the best song in MGSV.
2. "Roller Mobster" by Carpenter Brut, from Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
This shouldn't surprise anyone, but the follow up to Hotline Miami has an great soundtrack. It wasn't hard picking a top track, because the second I played the mission with this song, I knew. The slow ominous intro goes perfectly with the start of this mission, just before the action picks up, and when it does, it's spectacular. This song just goes with the mission so well, it's frantic, it's fast paced, it's loud, it's everything you want Hotline Miami to be. It helps that the mission this is with is one of the coolest ones in the game, with you using a group of characters to pull it off, it was the peak of Hotline Miami 2. Nothing topped it.
1. "Megalovania" by Toby Fox, from Undertale
Undertale has the soundtrack of the year, hands down. Sadly, I don't think many people encountered this song on their own through the game. This is the music from the final real boss battle of the evil playthrough, and it's a hell of a finale. This song has a neat history, originally being boss music for an Earthbound hack, and in some popular webcomic before eventually becoming boss music in Undertale. Later on this week I'll go into more depth about the evil playthrough in Undertale, but it produces one of the most challenging and satisfying boss battles I've done in quite some time. It may take a couple times to survive to the part where the music kicks in, but when you hear that intro kick in and read "You feel like you're going to have a bad time." just before the main melody kicks in, it's fantastic. Before I could beat the boss, I just kept listening to this, thinking about it, how I was going to kill this boss. "Megalovania" is my video game song of the year.