Monday, 23 September 2013

Top Ten Favourite Non Square-Enix Albums

I was talking to my friends recently about video game music and they asked if I had any other favourite game music aside from the stuff produced by Square-Enix. I thought for a bit and realized that if I were to do a list of my top 10 favourite sound tracks, Square Enix would make up a rather large percentage.

So today on lost in the music, I am taking a look at my top ten favourite non Square-Enix albums.

10: Super Smash Bros: Brawl

The Super Smash Bros: Brawl soundtrack is a really treat to any Nintendo enthusiast. With music from the company's video game history remade, they also turned several iconic songs from franchises into one beautiful medley that will make you smile.

However it is not just the classics that make up the games soundtrack. Several pieces of original music was also made for both the game's story mode, arcade mode and challenges. Going through the album, I found myself listening to the original compositions more because this being a party fighter, they gave off an energy that helps the player focus onto the game.

Both the original compositions, and the remade classics truly make the game whole in my opinion. My only wish is that Nintendo had actually put out an album of the music from the game.

9: Yoshi's Island

Yoshi's Island is a fun and almost whimsical game. With its crayon style aesthetics, fun gameplay and wonderful music, Yoshi's Island was one of the best games going into the twilight years of the Super Nintendo. The album had a rather youthful feel to it. The soundtrack had you feeling like you were going on an adventure on a tropical island.

New levels you visited offered something unique musically. In the cave's, the music was dark and mysterious. You wanted to explore every nook and cranny to find what mysterious treasure awaits deep within the the labyrinthine caverns. While above ground, you felt like your could run forever and no one stop you. The music gave you this feeling of freedom as well as awe and wonder.

8: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This one may court some controversy as the music here is not an original soundtrack, but a bunch of licenced songs and its inclusion on both this list and Beyond Audiodome will be the closest it will get for a full on review.

When I was 17, my dad relented on his no GTA game until 18 rule and allowed me to buy Vice City. I placed the game in my Ps2 and started it up. While I was driving around the titular city in its hot pink glory, I came across Wave 103 playing I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls. It was through this song that got me to use the game as a temporary music player while I would do work in my room or simply relax. Wave 103 wasn't the only station that got my attention. The classic rock station V-Rock was also a favourite of mine given my love for classic rock.

Vice City has not aged well. The controls, and graphics are almost painful to look at but the music is still top notch. So whether you are in the mood for some classic rock tunes or ride the New Wave punk, Vice city is your place to be.

7: Red Dead Redemption

I am not fond of the Western genre. I am not sure why, but it has never truly appealed to me. However when I heard about Red Dead Redemption, I wanted to give it a try. The idea of Grand Theft Auto in the dying days of the old west appealed to me. Before playing the game I knew that there would be no ingame radio to listen to, so I expected the game to be like inFamous was more of a background thing.

Then I arrived in Mexico and the song Far Away by Jose Gonzalez began to play. For the first time in the game, I didn't push my horse to the extreme, but instead rode like a cowboy on the plains. There are other parts of the game, but to risk spoiling them, I will not be saying it here.

6: Sonic 3 and Knuckles

I remember when my family and I got our first modern computer and one of the first games my brother and I got was the Sonic 3 and Knuckles PC game and it was my first and only (at the time) foray into Sega games. While I wasn't blown away by the game's music, I did appreciate what I heard and the music has stuck with me for years.

The songs from this game are memorable with my favourite being Sky Sanctuary Zone. The song is perfect for the scenario as the heroes are ready to finish the fight with the villain. While the Genesis' sound chip was not as powerful as the Super Nintendo's sound chip, it was still capable of producing some fine music of the 16 bit era.

5: Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past

If I could, this list would be filled with nothing but Zelda games as I love the games to no end. However I decided to limit myself to one game per franchise and of all the games, it is Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and its music that I prefer. Don't get me wrong, the other games have fantastic music, I just prefer A Link to the Past.

The game's soundtrack has a great blend of music. From the almost militaristic beat of Hidden Mountain and Forest to the peaceful serene Kakariko Village, there is a great variety of music. Koji Kondo opened up the world of Hyrule and while I felt his Mario music to that point was somewhat underwheming, his work on Zelda was phenomenal.

4: Super Mario Galaxy

This is easily Koji Kondo's best work on the Super Mario franchise. Yoshi's Island and Super Mario 64 showcased what he could do and while Sunshine made you feel as if you were at a tropical island resort, nothing truly stood out. However, the Super Mario galaxy soundtrack was something special.

Using a 50 person orchestra, the Super Mario Galaxy music pushes both the game's music and the franchise to new heights. The songs are so wonderfully intricate and make the songs seem complex and deep while maintaining that child like joy. Alot of games seem to lose that feeling and it is a shame as there are time you just want to feel you can fly through the stars to stop your arch rival.

Easily my favourite track of the game would be the Battlerock Galaxy theme. The Super Mario games have always attempted a military-esque theme in certain points of the game and while they are good, they don't hold a candle to Battlerock Galaxy. What makes this work is the orchestra and while I don't expect every Mario game to have an orchestra, for the main console games (ie Galaxy and Galaxy 2) should.

3: Double Dragon Neon

Double Dragon Neon is an amazing sendup to the era of big hair. This is easily Kaufman's best and most memorable album to date. While I love his work on DuckTales, Mighty Switch Force and Shantae I feel his Double Dragon Neon album is simply better. Double Dragon Neon evokes the era of big hair and excess and to me, that is pure fun. The music is catchy and is a wonderful pick me up when feeling down.

Easily the best song on the album are the end credits Dared to Dream. What other game has the villain falling to his doom and singing your praises.

2: Xenoblade Chronicles

I often call Xenoblade Chronicles the rebirth of the modern jRPG. While the game has several of the cliches you find in the jRPG, the game itself is insanely fun and has some of the best music original music on the Wii.

The album is made up of several different contributing artists and they all bring something unique to the game. For a more in-depth look at the album, feel free to read my write up.

1: Donkey Kong Country 2

Donkey Kong Country 2 is a fantastic game and it's soundtrack is nothing short of fantastic. What I love about the soundtrack is that each different stage has it's own music to accompany it. The first stage Gang-Plank Galleon has a very adventurous feel to it while the haunted forest area Gloomy Gulch has a more unnerving and creepy sound to it.

In video game music, variation is important and David Wise knew that, so when he made the music for the game, he made sure each area had its own unique sound to draw the player in.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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