“The Best Track of Each Game.”
(with nerdy opinions)
So I like to understand the way music works, and usually that involves analysing entire game soundtracks! What arises from these analyses is a better understanding of VGM and a cool argument for each of my personal favourite tracks in each game.
I use two sentences to justify the existence of each track in my playlist! 🙂 The first one is a general description, and the next is some form of a superlative or exclusive term.
Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow – “Battle! (Wild Pokemon)”
The battle theme that defined all future generations of Pokemon battle themes, boasting some of the most creative composition techniques ever pulled off within the three-voice limit: dang, that intro.
The most revolutionary track of the Pokemon series.
Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal – “Surf”
Go Ichinose creates an orchestra with three voices, while taking the listener through a graceful adventure hinged on a beautiful melody.
The most well-written track of the three-voice era.
Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald – “Oceanic Museum”
Sure, it’s a remake of “S.S. Anne” with the signature RSE trumpets and strings, but the harmonies and blend of sound, especially in the last section – perfect.
The last section is the most beautiful duet among the tracks from all GBA games I have ever played.
Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen – “Leaving Mt. Moon: Road to Cerulean City”
No other overworld/route theme gave gamers as much hope as this one, and the FRLG arrangement manages to fill the bass part that the RBY version reaaaaally needed.
The most uplifting melody of RBY.
Pokemon Diamond/Pearl – “Route 209 (Day)”
Deceptively simple and beautifully intricate, this track made it to Brawl and made gamers cry there too. ❤
The only track in this list that made me cry and smile at the same time :,)
Pokemon Platinum – “Battle! (Giratina)”
An ambitious battle theme constructed using distortion layered upon distortion, the result of which is unquestionably epic.
The pinnacle of sound design in the DS era.
Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver – “National Park”
Liszt-ian cadenza goes into a melody that makes knees go weak, followed by a flood of life with tactfully interwoven rhythms that make gamers want to dance with tears in their eyes.
I wrote my “Quiet Collection” partially to build up my skills for the arrangement of “National Park” – this is the track that I (willingly) invested the most time and effort into.
Pokemon Black/White – “Decisive Battle! (N)”
A curiousity-inducing theme that represents N’s mystery perfectly, coupled with epic distorted drums and a badass organ section; a show-off of genius, really.
The boldest track of BW.
(Almost considered the Ghetsis Battle for this spot, but nah.)
Pokemon Black 2/White 2 – “Aspertia City”
No other opening town melody was as genuine and sensitive as this one :,)
And this is just one of the many selling points of the best opening town theme of all generations.
Pokemon X/Y – “Battle! (Lysandre)”
The Team Flare Theme is beautiful, and Minako Adachi’s bold sound design complements that perfectly for an epic presentation.
The track that blended orchestral strings and metal guitars best, among the whole Pokemon series.
Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire – Cave of Origin”
Ambient effects and real strings were all that this already amazing track needed to stand out above the others. 🙂
The most chill-inducing track of the sixth generation.
(as a side note, ORAS’ “Oceanic Museum” clipped like crazy and sounded pretty terrible.)
Pokemon Sun/Moon – “Showdown! (Lusamine)”
The track sends chills to the heart instantly with its unchained sound-design palette on steroids, but even excluding timbre, the more I analyse this, the more tiny details and brilliant arrangement decisions I find; a fantastic composition.
The most well-composed track of the whole Pokemon series.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team – “Sky Tower”
Airy pads, light sounds, and sensitive melodies – this track is the only thing that made climbing the Sky Tower a great experience.
The best use of pizzicato melody in the GBA games I’ve played.
(nothing beats Chrono Trigger though)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky – “Wigglytuff’s Guild”
It’s so cute, oh my god – the tuba-like part at the beginning instantly won my heart, and I could almost hear Wigglytuff’s cherubic yoom-tahs in that alone.
And then comes the cutesiest melody in the world, right-up-in-your-face in all of Wigglytuff’s derpy glory. ❤
Super Mario Bros. – “Underworld”
We’ll always remember Super Mario for its “Overworld” theme, but there’s so much more depth in the dissonant harmonies of the “Underworld” theme – minimal, yet complete in itself.
Best single-line track ever.
Super Mario Bros. 2 – “Overworld”
Bum-pa dum-pah, pa-bum-ta ba-da-ta-bum paaah, this is the song that ne-ver gets out of my head~
The cat-chi-est lit-tle Ma-ri-o me-lo-dy, will haunt you all the way un-til you dieee~
Super Mario Bros. 3 – “Athletic”/”Level Theme 2”
Lots of rhythmic depth in a track that has no subdivisions smaller than eighths (quavers), and a melody that sounds like it was chirped by birds who have gone spastic.
The cutest, chirpiest melody of the Mario series.
Super Mario Galaxy – “Gusty Garden Galaxy”
The track that broke the VGM market for many years to come.
The single most defining track of VGM in the era of the Wii and beyond.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – “End Credits”
A perfect product: the sweetest melodies and finest harmonic writing of VGM, a real orchestra, and hey, they invited Koji Kondo!
Comes with the most brilliant orchestration in all VGM that I know.
(Thank you Koji Kondo <3)
Zelda: ALttP – “Dark World”
Strings that were extremely carefully programmed, an uplifting horn ostinato, and a melody that never grows old – it made for the track that defined the series for generations.
The singular defining track of the SNES era, if I had to choose one.
Zelda: OoT – “Hyrule Field”
Back in the era, only the composers of FFVI had dared to write five-minute long tracks – to which Koji Kondo said, “watch this, I’m going to write a symphony on the N64” 😉
The best standalone work in VGM prior to the 21st century.
Zelda: Minish Cap – “Cloud Tops”
The GBA was not prepared for a bold orchestral track even in 2005, but they did it somehow, borrowing a style strikingly similar to that of “Dark World”…
The closest (and cleanest) anyone got to an orchestral composition on the GBA.
Zelda: TP – “Midna’s Desperation”
The track that most people in the VGM community and beyond probably wanted to cover at some point – a simple, beautiful piano solo.
That left-hand part is the most memorable ostinato I’ve heard in VGM so far.
Bastion – “Terminal March”
Alternating tonality, distortion everywhere, and a frikking real acoustic guitar (with distortion, but clearly inspired by the acoustic sound) – it’s just so dang brave, and that makes it memorable.
The best use of acoustic guitar in VGM, period.
Transistor – “Paper Boats”
The other tracks of Transistor’s OST seem to exist only to build up to this song, which closes out the plot and the macro-level sonic progression, all while sounding like a charm as a standalone work.
The best ending theme of a game – ah god, I love this one so much.
Eternal Sonata – “Your Truth Is My Lie”
Motoi Sakuraba writes a symphonic work with the intensity of heavy metal and the poetic quality of a serenade, while never running out of new melodic ideas.
The most intense a symphonic work gets.
Chrono Trigger – “Battle With Magus”
You can almost hear Magus crying out in hatred inside this track, which tells a story unlike any other track of the era.
The most emotionally powerful boss theme in the SNES era.
Earthbound – “Onett”
The track that instantly set the tone for the whole of Earthbound – with a special brand of carefree simplicity, and simultaneously, delicate harmonic writing.
The cleanest city theme in the SNES era.
Undertale – “Hopes and Dreams”
Toby Fox’s affinity for melodies, great structural organisation, and raw emotional passion all come together to deliver a heartfelt message to the players: “Don’t give up.”
It sounds a little off to call this the “best-sounding track of Undertale”, but if you’ve heard the Undertale OST, then you know this is significant~
List updated as of 04.02.17!
Coming soon: Kirby series, maybe more Zelda ^^