The 'high-water mark for video game music'

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Vermilion
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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Vermilion » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:36 pm

For me, the ultimate game music will be that which was composed by Nobuo Uematsu for the Final Fantasy series.

FFX in particular features one of the finest game soundtracks ever created.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Tomous » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:37 pm

Ocarina of Time and Super Mario Galaxy are the benchmark for me.

Tropical Freeze is definitely up there though. Outstanding franchises that elevates the experience even more.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by mcjihge2 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:39 pm

Streets of Rage


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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Ironhide » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:41 pm

Streets of Rage was probably the first time a game soundtrack made me sit back and think "wow that sounds strawberry floating awesome" (I didn't actually swear as I was about 12 at the time).

That was closely followed by Rocket Knight Adventures.


Last edited by Ironhide on Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Abacus » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:44 pm

I feel you need to be strutting around wearing a cut off denim jean-jacket to properly enjoy it.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Raydon4 » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:47 pm

For me it would have to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Abacus » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:51 pm

I think the Ocarina of time music was so good because of the way it reacted to your situation so well, the way it interacted when you were in danger with a minor enemy, slowed down again when you weren't always seemingly without dropping a beat.

Then again, I really hated the literal 'high water mark' when you were about to drown in Sonic the Hedgehog and everything sped up in a panicky but still underwatery kind of way. Just the panic of that drowning music caused me to speed up, bungle a simple platform and die so many times...

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Balladeer » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:37 pm

Raydon4 wrote:For me it would have to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2.

Can we not pretend that SMG2’s soundtrack was anywhere close to SMG’s apart from where it was straight-up copying the original’s thank you.

(For what it’s worth I prefer 2 to 1. I just think that the soundtrack was several levels worse.)

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Raydon4 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:22 am

Balladeer wrote:
Raydon4 wrote:For me it would have to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2.

Can we not pretend that SMG2’s soundtrack was anywhere close to SMG’s apart from where it was straight-up copying the original’s thank you.

(For what it’s worth I prefer 2 to 1. I just think that the soundtrack was several levels worse.)


Personally prefer 2’s OST over 1’s but I do really like 1’s OST as well. Same goes for gameplay.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Rex Kramer » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:53 am

Not sure much could have beaten walking into an 80s arcade when you're surrounded by absolute classic machines pumping out great tunes at ear splitting volumes and then you round a corner and the single greatest piece of game music ever created is playing.


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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Jenuall » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:40 pm

OOT the high water mark for game music? :lol:

I mean sure, if you like listening to a bunch of stock samples stitched together. :roll:

Joking of course, it is a great soundtrack but I wouldn't say it was the peak of what gaming has to offer by a long shot.

Lots of good mentions in here already - Mario Galaxy (Gusty Garden :wub: ), Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Streets of Rage, the Final Fantasy series etc. all worthy of the regard they are held in.

I think I may actually prefer the Mario Odyssey soundtrack to Galaxy now though, Cascade Kingdom, Wooded Kingdom, Jump Up Superstar, Break Free ... so many great songs!

The 16-bit Sonic games will always have a special place in my heart as well, so many iconic tracks that just sounded incredible to my young ears!

Another recent(ish) game that I just adored the soundtrack to was Axiom Verge, still have several tunes in my daily playlist. :datass:

I think there is still so much more scope to do interesting things mechanically with music/sound in games though. Some of my favourites sounding games are decades old but still did more interesting or impressive things than what we have now which seems to be just trying to match the approach to music in the non-interactive space of TV and film.

Looking Glass Studios deserve some massive respect for some of the stuff they did 20 years ago - the soundscapes in Thief which are so brilliantly immersive and built up from the ambient noise rather than via specific music tracks. The placement of the player within the world in Thief has still yet to be bettered IMO and the sound is a huge part of that.

Similarly their work on System Shock was incredible at the time - all of the music is made up of short segments which exist at three different "alertness" states meaning the game can shift dynamically between them at neat boundary points so it sounds far more organic than today's "fade in battle music / fade out happy music" which is basically as sophisticated as games seem to get now. There was a brief write-up about this in the System Shock kickstarter from a couple of years back, worth a read if you are interested: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598858095/system-shock/posts/1889009

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Tomous » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:41 pm

What I like about Odyessy’s soundtrack is it reflects the game really well-in that, everything got chucked in, it’s abit all over the place and mad but still somehow comes together perfectly.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Ironhide » Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:13 pm

I've been playing Baba is You recently and I really like the chilled out chiptune-esque music. Much better than some instantly forgettable orchestral soundtrack that most games seem to have these days.







Almost reminds me of the Sim City 2000 soundtrack.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Banjo » Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:56 pm

I can totally understand (and mostly agree with) Ocarina of Time being the high water-mark. I mean, I have plenty of scores that I prefer and would argue for being 'better', but Ocarina hits so many correct notes (not going to apologise for that) that you really can't fault it. The way tunes are woven into the gameplay through the Ocarina itself, lending itself some all-time great leitmotifs, already puts it at a level far above most games. It has to have been at least a decade since I've played the game or even properly listened to its soundtrack outside of featured tracks in Zelda symphonic arrangements, and I can still clearly whistle a fair number of melodies from it. It's a rock solid collection of memorable tracks, pushed to a higher level due to how they've been worked into the game and then the legacy of those tracks maintaining a level of cultural relevance for over twenty years.

To weirdly bring up the age-old cliche, I think putting Ocarina on a pedestal is akin to how Citizen Kane retains its position as amongst the pinnacles of cinema. We can for sure argue how the medium has developed further technologically and creatively since its release, but you can easily go back to Ocarina and be bowled over by its score. I prefer Wind Waker.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Drumstick » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:18 pm

I think Odyssey is the peak for me, so far. It's part of the reason why it leapfrogged to the top of my favourite games list. Everything about it excellent and I can listen to it over and over again.

Other soundtracks that have really stuck with me in chronological order are: Donkey Kong Country 2, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Metroid Prime, F-Zero GX, Odyssey.

Generally speaking, all of my favourite games have soundtracks that perfectly complement the game they're playing the background of.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Squinty » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:43 pm

I love the F Zero X soundtrack, it's ridiculous. There's a really good guitar arrange album for it on YouTube.

I've been listening to Codename STEAM's OST a lot recently as well. If you like Metal that has orchestrated stuff like flutes and strings on top of it, you'll love it.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Vermilion » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:51 pm

Squinty wrote:I love the F Zero X soundtrack, it's ridiculous. There's a really good guitar arrange album for it on YouTube.


I always preferred the original Super NES soundtrack.

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by The Watching Artist » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:54 pm

Pedz actually asked me this the other day and I said OoT. There are loads of phenomenal soundtracks in gaming though but there is something so complete and perfect about the OoT one. From the melancholy opening all the way to the incredible Ganon battle and then the best end credits theme. It just fits and sounds so effortless but christ there is no way it is was. My brain cant get around the genius of the Ocarina songs. How on earth did one guy write all those? From such a limited palette, knowing that they had to fit within the actual gameplay and still get them to be on point thematically, which includes quite a variety with so much character to. The Song of Storms is amazing and yet it has to be such a simple phrase and melody that anyone can play it on the in game Ocarina. Did you know part of the Windmill theme moves from left to right to reflect the going around and around and around!? Which of course fits in with how the song is learnt etc? Its mind bogglingly good. The way the Suns Song has a little tail that sounds like bird song in the morning (which is then used for the start of the day theme). And thats before we go into how the music is interactive in the game.

I'd argue all day long in favour of the MIDI stuff to. Personally I find that whilst its obvious lots of it is mimicking real instruments, the sounds themselves are distinct enough to become something else. Unlike those found in WW/TP where they get so close that its a sonic uncanny valley area. Both have excellent soundtracks btw thats not me moaning. Not only that but it led to some songs that just wouldn't have been made otherwise. Ain't no way is the Forest Temple theme made today. Certainly not like that. :dread: :wub: :dread: :wub:

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Photek » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:01 pm

Battlefield 1’s soundtrack is stunning. :shifty:

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PostRe: The 'high-water mark for video game music'
by Balladeer » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:04 pm

Hot take: if you post in this thread without a link or a YouTube containing some great tunes you shouldn't post in this thread.

Raydon4 wrote:Personally prefer 2’s OST over 1’s but I do really like 1’s OST as well. Same goes for gameplay.

I challenge you, then! What are the tracks that, for you, make SMG2's music better than SMG1's? I can think of the excellent Puzzle Plank and that's it. (Also, Cloudy Court is an attempt to recreate the magic of Gusty Garden but without the originality to do so don't @ me.)

Squinty wrote:I love the F Zero X soundtrack, it's ridiculous. There's a really good guitar arrange album for it on YouTube.

SILENCE MATE! Never has a track's name been so inappropriate. Oh well, it's good stuff.

Hot take two, while we're on the subject: F-Zero GX's Big Blue is better than the original Big Blue.

Ironhide wrote:I've been playing Baba is You recently and I really like the chilled out chiptune-esque music. Much better than some instantly forgettable orchestral soundtrack that most games seem to have these days.

This is interesting, because I was close recently to calling Baba's soundtrack rubbish. Then I went back and had a proper listen and reversed my view. It's very low-key and not very hummable and I didn't notice it initially while swearing at my brain's inability to function, but it's got a good creepy vibe to it and the occasional splendid tune.

Not letting you have Cog is Push though, that's the stuff of nightmares. :evil:

Rex Kramer wrote:Not sure much could have beaten walking into an 80s arcade when you're surrounded by absolute classic machines pumping out great tunes at ear splitting volumes and then you round a corner and the single greatest piece of game music ever created is playing.

The nostalgia is very strong with this one. :lol: Incidentally in my very personal opinion this is the best gaming music ever.

And finally!

The Watching Artist wrote:I'd argue all day long in favour of the MIDI stuff to. Personally I find that whilst its obvious lots of it is mimicking real instruments, the sounds themselves are distinct enough to become something else.

Fair enough: I think it is the wrong side of Uncanny Valley for me. Chiptunes are distinct, but MIDI, be it OoT or TP (I agree with you by the way that both are still tremendous) is just a bit too close.

Speaking of valleys, though, we've got this far in a thread about OoT's music without posting Gerudo Valley and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

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