Music in video games is used just as it would in a movie or TV, it’s used to build tension, add emotion or to signify an important part and so much more. So, it is essential to have a fantastic soundtrack to compliment your video game as they move further and further towards emotional and realistic experiences. Here is GP’s list of top 5 best video game soundtracks. (Note this doesn’t include music games such as Singstar as we’d probably just use all top 5 on the different games, especially the 80’s one).
- Super Mario Bros (1987)
Kicking off our list has to be the most recognisable sounds and music in games of all time, Super Mario Bros. Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987 (2 years after Japan got their hands on it!) was the master of video games that single handed brought games back from the brink of destruction (thanks to the abysmal ET video game and the great games crash).
The fantastic Koji Kondo wrote the six songs for the game, where he wanted “to convey an unambiguous sonic image of the game world”. He did just that. This led future games to be designed with a soundtrack to evoke different emotions to enhance the gaming experience.
Each world from the get go, has the unique sounds of classic Mario with an up tempo beat that was composed as a prototype was presented to Kondo so he could work with the game controls to inspire the musical score.
There may only be six songs in the entire game (this is 1987 don’t forget) but each are unique and brilliant in their own way. Especially the boss battle levels, where the soundtrack took a more darker and full of tension approach.
- Final Fantasy 13 (2010)
Now, I could have picked any Final Fantasy games to be on this list, as each soundtrack has been phenomenal. So instead of going for the obvious choices (like Final Fantasy 7 or 10) I chose 13 for a very good reason: the theme song, it is just fantastic. Yes it’s by Leona Lewis and it wasn’t the original choice to be the theme song, but it’s a brilliant song that works really well with the game.
Putting aside issues with the game itself (Though, I actually quite liked it) the soundtrack by Masashi Hamauzu is actually the first main-series Final Fantasy game to not include any compositions by original series composer Nobuo Uematsu. It is a wonderful mix of powerful ballads (thank you Leona) orchestral blasts and sudden strong electronic synths for the battle scenes.
- Ridge Racer: Type 4 (1999)
Racing games need to have a blaringly good soundtrack in order to screech around the race tracks to. And while Ridge Racer always has had brilliant soundtracks for each game, Type 4 surpassed them all, zooming to the finish line in style.
The opening track, Ridge Racer (One More Win) by singer Kimara Lovelace fits so well with the opening sequence I’ve watched it countless times on Youtube and it still never gets old. The sexy mixture of jazz, powerful vocals and awesome beat to the music was a far cry away from the rave music style of previous games.
Type 4 has perfect songs for each race track that switches between neo jazz, upbeat tempos and funky synths depending on the style of racing (such as if at night).
Aside from some pretty good PSP games, it’s a shame Ridge Racer hasn’t lived up to Type 4 in terms of music and gameplay.
- Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)
This is one of my favourite soundtracks across every media formats, ever! Akira Yamaoka returns once again to provide his talents to the last game to be developed by Team Silent in one of the most controversial games of the series.
The Room divided critics and fans alike, but one thing was agreed – the soundtrack was fantastic.
From the usual haunting sounds we’ve become accustomed to In Silent Hill, The Room had full on, powerful vocals from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in songs such as Your Rain (a rocky and moody anthem of betrayal that was also used in Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution games) and my ultimate favourite song, Room of Angel (a haunting song with powerful vocals about not being loved by a mother towards death) that truly roots deep in your soul.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It had to be, didn’t it? The second on our list for composer Koji Kondo, the master of soundtracks it seems as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the best soundtrack there is.
Every single kid in the 1990’s (who was lucky enough to own a Nintendo 64 and a copy of the game) will tell you the same thing: As the title loaded up, that familiar keys of the piano being played is the first thing they will remember. The music is simply jaw droppingly good and so beautiful to listen to.
Other songs are just as memorable from simple tunes of the village, to more unusual sounds all over Hyrule – music plays an important part of game play theming each area immediately as you enter with Link. The ocarina plays an integral part of the story and game so it’s no surprise the music is so good.
It’s done so well, no other game have been able to match it in my eyes in terms of weaving the music with gameplay to enhance an already good game to a brilliant one.
Legend of Zelda is exactly that – a legend in both music and gaming
Do you agree with our list? What games would make your top 5 game soundtracks?