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Old 10-12-2017, 12:16 PM
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ozacrot ozacrot is online now
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This was an awesome experience! First time I've voted in one of these, and it was great to get exposed to a few soundtracks I'd never heard.

Here's my list, with ones that didn't make it bolded:

1. Secret of Mana - "Fear of the Heavens"
2. Chrono Trigger (SNES) - "Chrono Trigger"
3. Fez - "Continuum"
4. NieR - "Song of the Ancients"
5. Earthbound - "You've Come Far, Ness"
6. Xenogears - "One Who Bears Fangs at God"
7. Sonic 3 - "Hydrocity Zone Act 2"
8. Final Fantasy VI (SNES) - "Dark World"
9. Streets of Rage 2 - "Go Straight"
10. Persona 4 - "Signs of Love"
11. Final Fantasy VII - "Anxious Heart"
12. Final Fantasy Tactics - "Trisection"
13. NieR: Automata - "City Ruins"
14. Dynamite Headdy - "Headdy the Hero"
15. Katamari Damacy - "Lonely Rolling Star"
16. Legend of the Mystical Ninja - "Headquarters of the Otafu Army"
17. Mega Man 3 - "Wily Fortress 1"
18. Castlevania 3/Akumajou Densetsu 3 - "Beginning"
19. Actraiser - "Birth of the People"
20. Undertale - "Dating Start!"all
21. Street Fighter 2 (SNES) - "Ken's Theme"
22. Duck Tales - "The Moon"
23. Persona 5 - "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There"
24. Hotline Miami - "Daisuke"
25. Hyper Light Drifter - "The Last General"

I was... pretty consensus-y! But here's me saying my piece on the ones that didn't make it, because I recommend all of them:

Fez is a powerful ambient soundtrack by Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) - probably the closest OST I've ever heard to Brian Eno's Music for Airports. The whole thing is tremendous - the album version is worth a listen, but the version in the game is reactive to what you're actually doing - so during night cycles, the more serene and less crowded versions of the themes play. My featured track, "Continuum", is a bit-degraded MIDI version of Chopin's Prelude Op. 28 that plays during the "bad ending" - I didn't know that at the time, but again I was reduced to tears without understanding why.

My now-fiancée had exactly the same experience with it when we played through it on a snowy weekend as we started dating, and it was one of many signs that I'd found my match.

Hyper Light Drifter is another work by Vreeland so I want to comment on it here as well - a degraded soundtrack for a degraded world. Vreeland released this nearly a year after his soundtrack for the genuinely terrifying "It Follows", and it has a little of that OST's John Carpenter influence. The rattling bass square waves and backing synth strings set an oppressive tone, especially given how bright and colorful the game's palette is.

My featured track, "The Last General", is tied to the boss the player is most likely to fight first. If you haven't heard anything about Hyper Light Drifter, be aware: It's very difficult until you get the hang of it. The titular Last General is the first major roadblock many players will run up against, and you can expect to die upwards of a dozen times while trying to figure out his patterns. Meanwhile, this song trudges on in the background - a mournful piece that seems to accept the fact it's doomed to loop forever. The melody rises, but never for long.

Sonic 3 is ... frankly the soundtrack I was most dismayed to see off the list. Since my childhood it had been practically a given that Sonic had some of the best soundtracks ever written. This one even had Michael Jackson as a ghostwriter! This was also the first Sonic game to give Act 2 a remix of the Act 1 music -- I voted in Hydrocity Act 2, but in retrospect I think it works as well as it does because it builds off of Hydrocity Act 1, one of the funkiest songs in the series. I'm glad they finally made another Sonic game this year, after going completely dormant with the release of Sonic & Knuckles in 1994.

Dynamite Headdy is a friggin masterpiece of platforming on Genesis. It's nearly as manic as Treasure's better-known Gunstar Heroes, but trades in that game's bullet-hell adjacent gameplay by playing with settings, gimmicks, and unusual bosses. The soundtrack is just as playful and chaotic. There are a bunch of tracks worth your time, like "Schumacher Fly", "South Town Theme", and "Sky High", but for an introduction, the dizzying stereo pan and kitchen-sink arrangement of the main theme "Headdy the Hero" is a good introduction. Recommended with headphones.

Legend of the Mystical Ninja is, IMO, an overlooked gem of the 16-bit generation. Later games in the series would often center on the conflict between Western and traditional Japanese culture, but those two competing themes first surfaced in this game - stage 3 is an amusement park in medieval Japan, including a game show and an arcade where you can play level 1 of Gradius. The 80-some track soundtrack covers a ton of ground while keeping similar sound fonts between the vast majority of the songs, giving the listener the impression of a killer house band going back and forth between fusion jazz and pentatonic-scale "traditional" music. For the former, I had highlighted "Headquarters of the Otafu Army", but "King Ryukyu's Secret" is a little more bombastic. Listen to that bassline!

Street Fighter 2 is another one that requires no further introduction and I don't think I can say anything more about it other than that you have at least one of its songs in your head right now. I'm partial to "Ken's Theme", although I've been listening to Dee Jay's theme a lot recently.

Hotline Miami's soundtrack is a great match for the fever-dream psychedelic violence of the game it's in. There are a lot of driving house beats, but my pick was "Daisuke", which plays during post-mission interstitial scenes where you go to a video store or a pizza place - your post-adrenaline rush cooldown music.

SIDE QUESTION(s): Is there a dedicated thread for video game music? Should there be one? Where?
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