The Return of Talking Time

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  #211  
Old Yesterday, 09:27 AM
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Metroid is a series I only sort of half know about. I am familiar with some of the music, but I couldn't hum any of it. The tracks featured definitely are more than just chiptunes for a video game. I'm not that familiar with the series and listening to that music, I can picture exploring alien landscapes.

Actraiser is one of those games where I mostly know the music for the first sidescrolling level music. I really like that track.
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  #212  
Old Yesterday, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
I won't go so far as to say it's better than FFL3 (I'm not looking to start a fight here)
JBear looks disappointed and reluctantly removes his brass knuckles, kicking at a pebble as he wanders away dejected
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  #213  
Old Yesterday, 12:06 PM
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#36 — Super Mario Bros.
105 points • 5 mentions • Highest rank: #8 (Sanagi)

Featured Track:

Overworld

Castle ClearUnderwater

Composed by:

Koji Kondo

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System • Release date: September 13, 1985
The keys to the Mushroom Kingdom

What is there to say about the music Super Mario Bros.? I've heard it, you've heard it, *everyone's* heard it. It's been endlessly remixed and incorporated in later Mario games; it's a mainstay of video game concerts; there's even a book on it. Hell, I'm sure the YouTube embed was unnecessary; you had the theme in your head as soon as you saw the game's title, didn't you?

So, I thought it'd be more interesting, and informative, to focus solely on the development this time around.

Koji Kondo's work on Super Mario Bros. was nothing short of revolutionary. At the time, video game music was an afterthought, composed at the end of development and with the purpose of simply attracting attention (owing to arcades). Super Mario Bros. was not like that; Kondo was deeply involved from the beginning of development, working in collaboration with the rest of the team to craft appropriate sounds and themes. Moreover, Kondo approached the music with two ambitious goals: first, to make it sound more melodic than what constituted "game music" at the time; and second, to seamlessly match the game's tone and action. To that end, Kondo took much from playtesters, constantly adjusting the music's composition and tempo to perfectly match the speed they were playing the game. The result was a score where the two can hardly be separated; to a new player, the songs even suggest a rhythm of how to play. In that way, I think Super Mario Bros. is a precursor to dynamic music in video games (and explains why Nintendo have been such enthusiastic proponents of it).

Kondo was also well aware of the medium he was working in, and that his music would be heard repeatedly throughout the game— especially if a player were to fail a section. So he wrote the music to be upbeat and enticing, with the hope that it would encourage a player to try again instead of giving up in frustration. Special attention was given to each song's introductory notes for exactly that reason.

Our featured song, the overworld theme (also known as known as "Ground Theme", "Aboveground Theme" or "World 1-1"), is actually a great example of how Kondo wrote the music. The theme has a calypso rhythm and Latin feel, displaying Kondo's influences and his goal of making music that felt real. It's upbeat and catchy from the very first notes, and swiftly follows with a rising beat— exactly the kind of developments to hook a player and entice them to play, or keep playing even after a loss. But most of all, "Overworld" was the result of ample playtesting and feedback. Kondo's first attempt was a jaunty, laid back tune inspired by the bright blue sky of the ground stages (since most games at that time had black backgrounds); however, he saw how it didn't mesh with the pace of the game, and promptly scrapped it. The final version took several attempts, and was constantly tweaked to better match the player's actions and expectations.

In the Metroid entry, Hip Tanaka said that he composed the score was composed at a point when video game music was just starting to gain respect; this is only speculation, but I'd bet that that respect owed to Super Mario Bros.

~ conchobhar
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  #214  
Old Yesterday, 12:07 PM
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#35 — Final Fantasy XII
109 points • 4 mentions • Highest rank: #4 (pudik)

Featured Track:

The Dalmasca Estersand

Battle for FreedomPhon CoastLife and Death

Composed by:

Hitoshi Sakimoto
Hayato Matsuo
Masaharu Iwata
Nobuo Uematsu
Taro Hakase and Yuji Toriyama

Platform: Playstation 2 • Release date: March 16, 2006
Even a caged bird needs music


Shameful confession: I haven't really played Final Fantasy XII. I bought The Zodiac Age on release, but my playthrough stalled out early on. Although I liked what I heard, I don't think I'm really cut out to extol its virtues. So I've recruited my friend pudik, who had ranked FF12 the highest, to say something about it. When it comes to this entry, you could say he's the leading man.



You probably know the story with Final Fantasy XII. You probably also know a bunch of stories that didn't actually happen. Doesn't really matter, as by any account, and by general reception, XII is seen as something as a one-off as far as the series goes. Headed by new-to-numbered-series director Yasumi Matsuno, the game ditched random battles for the first time in series history. Instead, the game focused on large streaming areas, with seamless transitions from exploration and battle. Also, the game would take place within Ivalice, the continent previously established in Matsuno's Final Fantasy Tactics. And most importantly for this little list I'm writing up for, longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu was uninvolved with the soundtrack for the first time this in series history (fake edit: this is a lie, as he did provide one original composition that was also fairly heavily promoted, but), with Matsuno recruiting former collaborator Hitoshi Sakimoto to compose the soundtrack.

That choice itself reflects on the changes, as Sakimoto (as well as Basiscape co-founder Masaharu Iwata and Hayato Matsuo, the three of which formerly worked on Ogre Battle) deemed it necessary to make the soundtrack his own, rather than to try to emulate the Uematsu soundtracks that came before him. It's hard to say it doesn't achieve that end, even tracks based off former Final Fantasy compositions come out sounding more towards previous Sakimoto work, namely the previous Ivalice-based game Final Fantasy Tactics. Mostly backed by a sublime use of dynamics and a typical symphony orchestra, the game greatly uses its soundtrack to keep the atmosphere of the world building that drives the game's narrative.

But the bigger change, and the greater challenge of composition comes from the change to the game’s battle system. What originally called for a world theme cut with several different battle themes now required something that could operate within both. The approach taken was something that could flow between the two, with most "world" themes constantly and seamlessly floating between light and airy and bombastic and assertive. With that said, it feels the chosen song should naturally be a world theme, and although there was no consensus, my consolation vote gives it to the first world theme you truly encounter in the Dalmasca Estersand theme. As you leave Rabanastre for the first time, you're treated to a fairly short scene showing off the area, and the music pumps in with a soft and upbeat melody which quickly leads into blaring horns to transition into the main theme. The rest of the track keeps the same movement; constantly shifting through the different themes, rarely repeating itself. When I think of FFXII, I think of this track. Aside from it just being catchy, the theme itself just feels like FFXII: dynamic, adventurous, and lively.

~ pudik
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  #215  
Old Yesterday, 12:16 PM
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Final Fantasy 12 was not on my list but I fully support that entry. After finishing Zodiac Age, I discovered two things: 1) Balthier may be the best FF character 2) the soundtrack is super good.

I'm ambivalent about Super Mario Bros. making the list, much less as high as the #36 spot. I understand the desire for the vote because of how iconic those tunes are but so many other Mario games have better soundtracks.
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  #216  
Old Yesterday, 12:26 PM
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fwiw phon coast is the track i listed, but dalmasca estersand is just extremely lyrical for me. Like I feel for it what people feel for Vivaldi's Spring. Another thing worth noting is that Sakimoto's favorite tracks are the "world themes", but listed Cerobi Steppe as the best, just going to show that you should never ask an artist about their work (it is a good track though)

I think because more of my childhood was focused around smb3 than smb1, the latter sits in that area of being far more iconic than personal. It's still a super great soundtrack but it'd be hard for me to find room for it.
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  #217  
Old Yesterday, 12:56 PM
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Hoo boy!

I have very little to add about Super Mario Bros. except that 1-1 is just a perfect little tune, and its drum track is so easily overlooked that you miss how funky it is in conjunction with the three other voices.

When I completed my list, I was really shocked that FF XII wasn't on it. I've been playing Zodiac Age recently, and I love how John Williams-y it is overall, given how this is almost certainly the most Star Wars-y Final Fantasy of them all. Listening through the OST now, it's really striking how many great songs there are, and it's easy to miss them on a playthrough - some are only played once or twice in the game.

If I have one gripe about this soundtrack (and it's a reach), it's that the arrangement is a little dainty and high-frequency-heavy in some places, especially its town themes. Not all, though - "Skycity of Bhujerba" is genuinely pleasant, where the tenor-range strings and brass keep up with the violin, oboe & flute. Still, it's an amazing achievement, and is an underrated factor in how well the game holds up today.
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  #218  
Old Yesterday, 01:26 PM
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I really need to get back to FF12. The songs here are all stunning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by four-so View Post
I'm ambivalent about Super Mario Bros. making the list, much less as high as the #36 spot. I understand the desire for the vote because of how iconic those tunes are but so many other Mario games have better soundtracks.
I didn't vote for it, but I've no problem with it being here; it's certainly the most enduring video game soundtrack of all time.
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  #219  
Old Yesterday, 02:34 PM
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Super Mario Bros. wasn't on my list, but it would be on my list if my list reflected the top 25 most important game musics, rather than just my personal choices. I don't think I've ever pulled up a YouTube playlist of the game's tacks just to listen to. But on the other hand, playing the original game without Kondo's accompaniment would basically be a blasphemy.

But I think you need to be playing the game to enjoy it, nawmsayin'?

As for FFXII, it sounds pretty dang good! (But it wasn't on my list because I haven't played any FF game after IX)
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  #220  
Old Yesterday, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozacrot View Post
I love this track. In a series so obviously influenced by Star Wars, I love that there's a track that is Star Wars as fuck.
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  #221  
Old Yesterday, 04:08 PM
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I love the FFXII soundtrack a whole whole lot. Had it at #6 in my list and honestly it probably should have been higher (partly because I'm pretty sure several of the ones I had over it don't need any help). It's just full of amazing, epic tracks, and even the ones that are blatant John Williams riffs still bring something new and exciting to the table.

I also had Dalmasca Eastersand as my first pick; it's a fantastic introduction to the game proper and there's just so much going on it's bursting at the seams with new themes and feelings on every page. Mosphoran Highwaste is another great high-energy track that starts with the game's main theme and then spins off in other directions, with a driving urgency behind the whole thing.

But another favorite of mine is a whole different vein is To The Place of the Gods. It starts off airy, wistful, enigmatic. Then stronger, lower, sweeping themes come in. It really sells the place you're at as unsettling but also awesome in the original religious sense.

I also like what Sakimoto did with the series staple Prelude, giving it an ethereal rendition before whipping off into martial bombast. And then of course there's his awesome orchestral take on Clash on the Big Bridge which is one of my favorite versions.

Whew, yeah. I like this one.
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  #222  
Old Yesterday, 07:56 PM
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Super Mario Brothers 1 was #21 on my list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
But I think you need to be playing the game to enjoy it, nawmsayin'?
Yes. There were some entries on my list where I realized that I enjoy the music a lot more when it accompanies the game. Also, when making my list I realized that I found the music in a game more enjoyable when it synergized well with the sound effects in the game to make a harmonious and consistent "soundscape" (for lack of a better word). (Which I think also ties into what conchobhar was saying about the development of SMB1's music.)

Also, here are some tangentially related youtube videos:
Video games sounds explained by experts (by WIRED):
Classic sounds 1972-1998
Modern sounds 1998-2017
(Each of those videos is about 12 minutes long.)
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  #223  
Old Today, 02:27 AM
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I know at least four FF OSTs that I like more than FFXII's. I'm curious if they are still going to show up.
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  #224  
Old Today, 05:28 AM
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I've always thought Defying the Empire was ridiculously Star Wars, too.
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  #225  
Old Today, 09:48 AM
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#34 — DuckTales
111 points • 5 mentions • Highest rank: #10 (Issun, Bulgakov)


African MinesTransylvaniaBoss Battle

Composed by:

Hiroshige Tonomura

Platform: NES • Release date: September 14,, 1989
Number of Tyrants who didn’t vote for ‘The Moon’: 0

Remember our previous discussion about a single track pushing a soundtrack into greatness? Well, it’s relevant again.

DuckTales is a great game - something very anomalous for a licensed game. The soundtrack itself is not bad, but it is exactly what you’d expect from a game like this: functional, with a few hummable tunes. Songs are solid and likeable, but they are memorable mostly out of repetition - you’ll be listening to those songs a lot thanks to those freaking bats and the obligatory mine cart ride.

And then there’s our feature track.

Yes, you know which song I’m talking about. Everybody who’s played DuckTales remembers this song, even though it is the background music of the most frustrating level in the game. It is that good. So here it is.


What’s that?... Oh. My mistake. Here it is.



What? Uh. YouTube must be glitching. Try this one.


Dammit. OK, here it is.


Featured Track:

The Moon


The sheer number of covers should tell you something about how beloved this song is - and you know that Jake Kaufman fist-pumped in the air when he find out he’d get a chance to remix this song for the HD remaster. This song *is* the DuckTales soundtrack.

Now, how many of you knew who was DuckTales’ composer without googling for it first? I’m guilty of this is as well - this is not our fault, as it was customary back then for games to not have a detailed staff roll. So here’s to you, Mr. Tonomura - you’ve left quite an impression in an entire generation of gamers.

~ Positronic Brain
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  #226  
Old Today, 09:52 AM
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#33 — Final Fantasy VIII
112 points • 4 mentions • Highest rank: #3 (Solitayre)

Featured Track:
The Man With The Machine Gun


The OathPremonitionEnding Theme

Composed by:

Nobuo Uematsu

Platform: Playstation • Release date: February 11, 1999
Most awkward verse: “If frown is shown then”


Disclaimer: I think FFVIII is the best Final Fantasy soundtrack. And if you don’t agree -- well, we can let our gunblades argue for us at dawn, good sir.

VIII’s story is infamous for going completely bonkers taking unexpected turns, but Uematsu’s soundtrack never loses focus and yet manages to keep up with everything the game throws at him. Of all of his works, I think it is the more mature and the more listenable outside the game it was written for.

A lot of that has to do with Uematsu breaking tradition and not writing character themes this time around, instead focusing in the main characters and a few motifs. He also uses higher quality instruments than before, but while you do have your obligatory orchestral tracks (“The Oath”), he focuses mainly in military marches, uses obvious synth instruments for the battle themes and, contrasting against that, in chords and an organ for the main villain motif (“Premonition”), sometimes accompanied by a creepy chorus chanting in latinese. It also features the series first vocal pop theme, which luckily you only hear twice in the game (one of them integrated into the beautiful “Ending Theme”, which revisits all of the main motifs of the soundtrack itself).

So, pop ballad aside, the end result is a very cohesive whole. I’ve heard people complain that VIII’s soundtrack sounds too dull and monotonous, and frankly I don’t know where they are coming from. Dull? In the soundtrack that has the most energetic and vibrant Final Fantasy battle theme of all? I’m talking, of course, of our featured track “Man With The Machine Gun”, an almost trance song that plays during the battles of the game’s second protagonist - the track is very memorable, and it doesn’t sound like nothing you’ve heard before in a FF, yet it fits qute neatly with the rest of the soundtrack.

As for monotonous? There’s so much variety in this soundtrack. How about a kick-ass battle theme that follows a different time than most themes from the series? A relaxing dungeon exploring theme? Or a final boss theme in Dolby Surround that brings it all together, marrying the heavy synth themes with the orchestral boss motifs *and* throws a classic FF reference to boot? And last but not least, the perfect song for those times where you’re trapped in a spaceship with your no longer possessed not-your-girlfriend after a horde of monsters from the moon destroyed the space station you were stranded in.

Yup, the FFVIII has it all, and a beach rock chocobo theme too.

~ Positronic Brain
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  #227  
Old Today, 10:13 AM
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FF8 is my favorite of the PSX FF games but I honestly don't remember much about its OST. I just really liked the draw/junction system and Triple Triad.

DuckTales was on my short list but ultimately got the axe precisely because "The Moon Theme" was the only reason it was even considered. Holistically, the OST is pretty standard fare for an NES game in 1989, so I didn't vote for it.
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  #228  
Old Today, 10:49 AM
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Heh, just when I wondered whether other FF I like the OST more of will appear, FFVIII shows up!

FFVIII has my second most favorite FF OST. And I really don't like the game, so that talks a lot about how good the OST is. I didn't actually vote for it, but IT IS ON MY TOP 50 LIST. Here is the proof (including favorite track):

Quote:
32. Final Fantasy VIII (PSX) - "The Man With the Machine Gun" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jho-peCAKs
This is the second title (after SaGaFrontier, too bad nobody replied to that, I guess I was too late to the party ;-;) I want to talk a bit more about.

So when I think of FFVIII I mostly think about how much I disliked the game. The draw system was awful and the fact that monsters leveling with Squall was awful, and I NEVER had the material to buy ANY weapon (I still had my starting equip when I beat the game except for one weapon of Rinoa). And the whole thing was a mess of ideas that just didn't work well with each other and could easily make you get stuck forever. Though it also had a unique charm to it.

But when I think of FFVIII, the other thing I think about is Man With The Machine Gun. Yes, I'm strongly connected to this battle theme. I actually think it's the best (or at least third best?) track Nobuo Uematsu ever composed. When playing FFVIII I was always looking forward to play Laguna again. Not only because I liked playing his parts a lot more (flaws not available!), but mainly because I could listen to this awesome battle track again.

I still remember that one day, in the final Laguna segment, I was like really sad that I won't be able to listen to this amazing battle theme anymore. So what I did was to just pause the battle and let my TV run and play this song while I did something on the PC. Eventually my mother came in and got real angry because I wasted electricity. So I had switch off the PC and continue playing.

So that's my FFVIII OST story.
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  #229  
Old Today, 10:56 AM
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VIII was my FF vote. I don't know if it's the "best" FF music, but it's the one I come back to the most.
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  #230  
Old Today, 11:01 AM
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FF8 is definitely Nobuo Uematsu's best work. Every single one of the battle themes is amazing.

Battle theme? Amazing.
Force Your Way? Also amazing.
Man with the Machine Gun? No more need be said.
Premonition? In a soundtrack full of great battle themes, it's still a standout. My favorite of the bunch.
Legendary Beast? Hel-lo.
Maybe I'm a Lion? This is the only one I'm not 100% on, but I know it's beloved to many, so we'll give it a pass.
The Extreme? Good grief, this song.

While the rest of the OST might not live up to the high bar set by these tracks, it certainly doesn't drop the ball, either. I'd love to see this soundtrack remastered so that it's not beholden to the synth instrumentation of the 1990s.
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  #231  
Old Today, 11:03 AM
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Mods de Chocobo is the best chocobo theme.

I felt perfectly fine with voting for Duck Tales because I love all the tracks. The Moon is one of the best game tracks ever though.
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  #232  
Old Today, 11:05 AM
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did someone say moon theme
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  #233  
Old Today, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Positronic Brain View Post
#33 — Final Fantasy VIII
112 points • 4 mentions • Highest rank: #3 (Solitayre)
I hate to try to poke holes in the numbers but how did a game with only 4 votes get 112 points?
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  #234  
Old Today, 11:09 AM
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11-35 point scale.
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  #235  
Old Today, 11:19 AM
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I guess that's to favor entries that get more votes? Your arcane math sorcery confuses me.
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  #236  
Old Today, 11:22 AM
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FFVIII's soundtrack gets pretty good towards the end—Compression of Time and The Castle are stellar and unique area themes.

I think every other stage theme on the DuckTales soundtrack is better than the Moon BGM. It's the only one of them that I don't ever really want to listen to. Too sentimentally stifling.
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  #237  
Old Today, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
I guess that's to favor entries that get more votes? Your arcane math sorcery confuses me.
This has been the system for the past several lists!

Yes, the idea is that one first place vote is not worth twenty-five last place votes.
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  #238  
Old Today, 11:25 AM
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Oh dang, I didn't know everyone loved "Man With the Machine Gun" as much as I did! I THOUGHT I WAS ALONE

FF8 is probably my least favorite FF game that I've played, but the OST is among my favorites. It wasn't on Top 25, but I would comfortably put it somewhere in the 26~30 range.

Similarly for DuckTales, it's beloved for good reasons, but it didn't make my 25. Capcom was seriously on fire with its NES music in those days, huh.
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  #239  
Old Today, 12:51 PM
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The Moon is a singular piece. No offense to the rest of the game, but I stuck to overall soundtracks for my choices. Glad to see it none the less.
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