No need for a long introduction here, you can find Part 1 here, now enjoy the sweet tracks that comprise the top 5 spots.
5. Mass Effect 2
Picking a single game out a series which has an excellent overall soundtrack is not easy. But in the end I decided to go with Mass Effect 2, mostly because it was a continuation of the excellent work by Jack Wall in the first game, and then applying it to the different narrative style present in the middle entry. Mass Effect 3 had some excellent tracks, but it was often quite different to the previous two titles. Jack Wall managed to blend together the old and new into a perfectly apt soundtrack for the future.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
Scott Pilgrim, it’s this pretty good graphic novel series, turned action comedy film by Edgar Wright, and also 16bit side scrolling beat-em-up game. So you have a graphic novel series that is heavily influenced by videogames, which is then turned into a film which is also heavily influenced by videogames. Of course you make that into a videogame. But Ubisoft were smart not to turn it into a quick cash in. They made a competent old school beat-em-up that followed both the books and the film whilst also doing its own thing. For the soundtrack though they made possibly the best decision, which was to bring in chiptune band Anamanaguchi, who at the time were still growing in popularity. They managed to create a soundtrack that both worked on its own, followed the rules of videogame soundtracks in that they have to loop and not feel repetitive, as well as creating chiptunes that sounded both of the time and modern (thanks to the inclusion of other instruments).
3. Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami on the surface looks like a simple top down fighter that could have been on the SNES or Megadrive (Genesis). But when you play it you quickly realise how violent this game gets. It’s not surprising that this game takes a lot of inspiration from Nicolas Winding Refn film Drive. Drive has an 80s themed soundtrack which contains no songs that were made during the 80s. Hotline Miami shares this same approach, with a range of songs produced during the past few years by different small independent artists. Many of whom offered their music to the game because they felt the style of the game matched their music and vice versa. This is one time where a game is mostly comprised of non-original songs to form its background music, and is also the most effective. It is almost impossible not to talk about Hotline Miami and not mention its soundtrack.
There may be plenty of people who hate Phil Fish (which I always find odd), but he has created a wonderful game, one where you are free to explore a vast detailed interconnecting world. However the visuals and the space manipulation alone aren’t what make this game what it is. As its combination with the soundtrack is what makes it so special. Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) has created a collection of tracks that capture the spirit of adventure and discovery. When you enter a new area, the sounds gradually fade into existence and then fade back into the background without overstaying their welcome. It’s not quite ambient, but nor is it a constant background track. It somehow reminds you of past videogame soundtracks, even though it can hardly be referred to as chiptune, nor does it constantly repeat. Also by the end the of game the soundtrack in combination with the visuals becomes an outstanding piece of art.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
When I started this list I knew that I was going to include a Legend of Zelda and that it was likely going to take the top spot. But I had much deliberation as to which I was going to go with. In the end Wind Waker won out. Even though some of the old themes make a return, the soundtrack here somehow seems the most original out of the series yet still maintaining the essence of what a Zelda soundtrack should sound like. All the while it perfectly complements what is being shown on the screen and like all great Nintendo soundtracks is effortlessly repeatable, you can listen to these tracks time and time again, which I have done so for over a decade, and they never get old.
So, that is my top 10. Do you agree? Or do you think I’ve gone mad? Let me know in the comments.