Video Game Music

Yeah I know I am late, but doing nothing but work, listen to music, and draw comics do that to me. I love video game music! It's come a long way since the bleep and bloop days, you now need actual talant and skill to make this stuff, so I figured that I'd go through the best and worst that I have listened during 2008.

The Best!

Ok before I get to what I think is the best VG OST for 2008, I would like to cover a few honorable mentions.

The Last Remnant was a game that really left a weird taste in your mouth, it goes to show that SquareEnix releases their experimental games on the XBOX 360 before getting the good stuff out in the PS3. While the game has many mixed reviews, the soundtrack was highly praised. This soundtrack was composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito... not sure on who he is? Well used to work for Konami, and then went to Square. Brave Fencer Musashi was his first soundtrack with Square. He would collaborate with other composers on projects like Dawn of Mana, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Chocobo's Dungeon 2, and....

All-Star Pro Wrestling? Yeah the idea that Square makes wrestling games scares me too.
But overall the music is very epic. I spent quite some time listening to this, and Tsuyoshi Sekito is now on my to listen list.

The next on the honor roll is Infinite Undiscovery, it is no wonder because it was composed by the one and only Motoi Sakuraba! This genius is responsible for Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, some of the Tales Of series and a discography that could wrap around my house. Infinite Undiscovery has a slow storyline but very entraining gameplay according to critics, not surprising that it was placed on the XBOX 360 for the same reason that the Last Remnant was. There is nothing like rocking out to this soundtrack, and many of the themes are quite touching. Sakuraba really knows how I like my music. I have been a fan of him since a decade ago and it's not hard to hear why.

And now for my winner!

Sega's Valkyria Chronicles is fantasic on every level, it was composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, and I am going to go on a limb and say that this is his best work since Final Fantasy Tactics.
Since Tactics I have been following Sakimoto like a religion, and he kept composing jems, like Vagrant Story, Gradius V, and Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. These soundtracks have themes that stick to you no matter what other music you listened to. I was so spoiled by Sakimoto's work that I eagerly anticipated the Final Fantasy 12 soundtrack, but I was a little disappointed. FF12 was ok, but it did not have the same impact or memorable themes that his previous works had, the only track that stuck out in my head was the song "Kiss me Goodbye", and that wasn't even written by Sakimoto.

When my husband stuck this game into the PS3, I quickly ran to the internet after hearing the opening theme, it screamed of Sakimoto and had to confirm it. The music style was the same that is heard in Tactics, but with a twist. After hearing the rest of the tracks, I noticed a 'action' style to the music, and it wasn't the same kind of action you hear in medieval melee, but more cinematic. I later found out that Sakimoto wanted a more cinematic experience with the music, and so listened to film soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer for inspiration. If you don't know who Hans Zimmer is... wallow in the dark corner in shame!

Damn, all he needs now is Andrew Lloyd Webber to inspire Sakimoto for dramatic effect... wait a sec, Andrew Lloyd Webber is already getting into gaming front. Who knows...

The main tracks that stand out are the Main theme, Empty Loneliness, We Are the 7th Platoon, Final Decisive Battle, and the Conclusion (which is totally epic). Ths song Succeeded Wish was writtn by Megumi Toyoguchi. While it is a great song that the album should not be without, I really wanted to hear the main theme with lyrics, that would make a awesome song! All the tracks are fantasic and selecting the favorites was very difficult, the battle themes where great too, and it is where you can hear most of the Tactics meets Zimmer effects.

If you are going to buy one video game sountrack, make sure it's Valkyria Chronicles. If you like the art of music as a whole, do not miss out on this album!

The Worst!

I have listened to many game soundtracks in 2008, and I could not view any of them as 'bad'. In fact, I have not heard of many bad game soundtracks, maybe I was looking in the wrong place, I had no idea. You see big video game companies know the importance of music in a game, it creates mood and emotion to the characters, plot, and makes battles fun.
Then there is this game...

My husband finished playing the DS game It's a Wonderful World, or The World Ends with You. He asked if I could look up this soundtrack, I did, and wished I could sew my ears shut. I know that many people will disagree with me on this, but this is just how I feel. This soundtrack is a Big Audio Disaster, or B.A.D.

The World Ends With You was composed by Takeharu Ishimoto. Ishimoto's discography is small, he collaborated with other composers on big titles like Legend of Mana, Kingdom Hearts II, and Final Fantasy X. These games gave Ishimoto good recognition and thus SquareEnix assigned him to compose Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Crisis Core has a fantastic score, mostly acoustic, but still very good. Takeharu Ishimoto next big project was The World Ends With You, the game called for hip-hop and street styled music. The soundtrack released and boy was it a mess.

Takeharu Ishimoto however should not take all the blame, he was asked to compose a style that he had no experience in, and for a game as big as this one, he was under a lot of pressure, and that did not mix very well. Many people that I know actually like the music, they say it really goes well with the gameplay. I wont argue with that, The World Ends with You has a action based RPG, so it would fit, but not as a stand alone album.

The English lyrics are butchered beyond recovery, many are multiple attempts to pronounce the same phrases which come out muffled up. In other words listening to the songs for their lyrical message is a waste of time, and what's worse is the vast majority of the songs contain these non-understandable phrases, if you want to use English, make sure its audible. You'll note in the tracklist that some songs are repeated. These are the same songs, performed by different vocalists. If you're wondering, "which is the better version?" The answer is neither. They're both terrible. I have heard many pop/funk/hip-hop tracks by other artists, they where good because those artists have the experience to do them.

But it's not over...

To add insult to injury, SquareEnix released a remixed album. I was left to wonder if it was possible to make something as bad as the original soundtrack worse, boy was it ever! It's as if they placed the disks in a blender and glued the shards back together in random arrangements. To be honest I was unable to listen to the whole thing because I could not take the noise pollution. It's a complete mess, there is no recognition of melody in these tracks at all, you may as well use this as a shiny Frisbee because that is just what it is. This is so bad that the original soundtrack is a lullaby in comparison.

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