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  #541  
Old 10-07-2017, 08:18 AM
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Secret of Mana was in my top 10. I adore that soundtrack. I think Into the Thick of It is one of the best adventuring themes ever made, and nearly everything else packed into that cart is nearly as splendid.
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  #542  
Old 10-07-2017, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Büge View Post
I wish I'd experienced Skyrim before the nomination process, because I totally would have put it on my list.
Skyrim is great but I think Oblivion has the better soundtrack to be honest. That said no reason they couldn't both make it.
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  #543  
Old 10-07-2017, 09:31 AM
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Since ICO was essentially a non-game to me, I skipped Shadow of the Colossus, assuming it was similar. But those are some lovely tunes; maybe I'll give it a go when the remake is released next year.
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  #544  
Old 10-07-2017, 01:04 PM
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Honourable Mention — Transistor
35 points • 1 mention • Highest rank: #1 (DRAGON FRIEND)

Featured Track:

In Circles/_n C_rcl_s

We All BecomeThe SpineSignalsPaper Boats

Composed by:

Darren Korb

Vocals by:

Ashley Barrett

Platforms: PC, PS4, OSX, iOS • Release date: May 20, 2014
~humming along~

"Everybody has a voice in Cloudbank. Now, the city's most influential voices are vanishing, one by one."

Voice encompasses the main theme of Transistor in one word, and the game is both a celebration of the human voice and a story about the fear of a shadowy organization taking yours. The whole game definitely feels as if it were structured around its audio as the central component, and a large part of the audio was finished at a much earlier stage in this game than in most development cycles. In-world, the protagonist Red is a famous musician, and many characters she comes across find it fitting to quote lyrics as a nod of familiarity to her work. These are the lyrics from songs on the soundtrack, implying that perhaps the whole soundtrack exists within the fictional universe, and acknowledged as being written and sung by Red herself. My personal interpretation of this is, as you come across a particular situation, something about it strikes a chord with Red and she's reminded of an appropriate song which gets stuck in her head, and maybe this is what the player hears while playing the game.

The most loving detail to top it all off: there is a single button with no other purpose than humming along to the music.

The soundtrack was released with a second half where all the songs are played with the hummed layer on top, and the game plays around with track layers to no end. In a bit of resourceful reuse, there is sometimes a scene where you'd hear only one instrument, such as a solo percussion track, but can skim through the soundtrack and confirm it as part of one of the existing songs. The songs constantly morph around in battles too. The player is capable of switching between something like a turn-based play style and a real-time one, and every time you activate your signature Turn() power, an additional sound filter and humming are added to the song.

I think what really captivates me about "Impossible" is its instruments, which give off a flavor of spy-jazz; calling to mind games of the mind, a tone that sounds dangerous but still somewhat playful. It opens with a bass solo in the area leading up to the boss as you listen to the shrewd negotiations of a man you know to be suspicious of, and only breaks out into the main segment once a conflict of interest is confirmed. From here, a different version plays for the default, yours, and your adversary's turns.

I usually listen to songs without lyrics but this game's vocal songs are some of the soundtrack's best, yet I find myself at a lack of words to describe them. They're probably the best examples of why this soundtrack is described as old-world electronic post-rock; while most sounds here are electronic, they are accompanied by harps, an accordion, and a mandolin tremolo known on the internet as "that Silent Hill sound." I'm just a dork for this kind of stuff, especially the post-rock influence, so with these tracks it feels like the game's hit on the note for the kind of sound I'm always looking to see more of.

"Traces" and "Gold Leaf"/"G_ld L__f" capture the uneasy feeling of the earlier parts of the game which are heavily steeped in a detective noir style, as you explore an area of a utopian city that was mysteriously quarantined by the government. The streets are devoid of human life, but you come across fallen bodies of Cloudbank citizens and uncover clues about the circumstances of their disappearance.

"Coasting" and "Water Wall" both provide a quirky change of scenery. Coasting plays in a virtual environment designed for relaxation, taking you from a visually overstimulating sci-fi cityscape to an idyllic beach, with only a few hints betraying its illusion such as the grid pattern lining the sky. Water Wall features an unsettling distorted backwards synth to give it an air of mystery, while integrating an accordion reflecting similarities to Venice in the waterways of Cloudbank. Supposedly, it's not common in game development for the music to be finished at such an early stage, but Supergiant Games use this to their advantage to be able to let the music shape the game instead of the other way around. Could this have been the reason the enemies in this area resemble chickens???

The idea of ascension is often seen as a vivid archetypal metaphor for achievement, and "Heightmap" echoes this in its progression. Playing in a terrace residence overlooking the entire city, the song continually rises in pitch as you climb higher and higher to the pinnacle of the city's largest structure, evoking a sense of progress and reflection of everything you've done to come this far.

Rival battles are often the highlight of most games, a climax of built-up emotions and foes with skill-sets mirroring the player's own. Everything about "In Circles"/"_n C_rcl_s" sounds very personal, yet the relationship between the characters is never made clear to the player, letting you draw your own interpretations. Transistor's handling of character back-story can be compared to the secretive and minimal methods of Dark Souls, but that doesn't stop the fight between Red and Sybil from being breathtakingly emotional. The lyrics hint at a longtime familiarity, love and heartbreak, and perhaps phrases that they hoped to say to one another. Tragedy is this game's most dominant flavor and this song is one of its highest points, overflowing with bittersweet emotions about what could have been mixed with despairing imagery underscoring the grim reality of their present.

Like "Impossible" this song also shifts throughout the fight, but with a glitchy remix that kicks in at the final part, with muted Turn() versions and instrumental versions for each. Activating Turn() during the more climactic parts of the song will allow you to hear the lyrics sung in duet by Red and Sybil. Just as you're about to deliver the finishing blow, the action slows and all the instrumental backing fades away, leaving Sybil's distorted vocals echoing into a reverberant void. Even after the battle is over, the subdued instrumental melody endlessly permeates the area as a constant reminder.

~ DRAGON FRIEND
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  #545  
Old 10-07-2017, 03:12 PM
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Transistor's music makes me wish I liked the game better than I do. Unfortunately the battle system never really gelled for me.
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  #546  
Old 10-07-2017, 04:03 PM
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Just listened to all the linked Transistor tracks and that's some good stuff. Definitely on my list of "I really ought to play this game someday".
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  #547  
Old 10-07-2017, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Issun View Post
Transistor's music makes me wish I liked the game better than I do. Unfortunately the battle system never really gelled for me.
Agreed. I loved the aesthetic and the music but the moment-to-moment gameplay bored me.
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  #548  
Old 10-08-2017, 03:52 AM
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  #549  
Old 10-08-2017, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRAGON FRIEND View Post
:heart_eyes:
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  #550  
Old 10-08-2017, 12:59 PM
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Our final honourable mention comes to us from Thraeg.

Honourable Mention — Heroes of Might and Magic II
35 points • 1 mention • Highest rank: #1 (Thraeg)

Featured Track:

Sorceress Town Theme


Magnificent FieldCity of the Necromancer (Expansion)City of the Barbarian

Composed by:

Paul Anthony Romero
Steve Baca
Rob King

Platform: PC • Release Date: October 1, 1996

The Heroes of Might and Magic games literally provided the soundtrack for a bunch of my favorite teenage memories; when my friends got together, we'd often be gathered in the living room, playing some sort of tabletop game while simultaneously taking our hotseat HoMM turns on the computer in the corner of the room. Naturally, this meant that we heard this music a lot. Fortunately, it was up to the task, never grating and always managing to set the right tone.

HoMM III and IV have great soundtracks of their own, but II has to be the most distinctive, with a heavy use of operatic music as the most central pieces in the game, the themes that play while in the town menu for each of the six factions. And the Price of Loyalty expansion pack included alternate themes for each of them, evoking a different facet of their personality. For example, the soaring Sorceress theme highlighted above became the more subdued and ethereal but no less beautiful City of the Sorceress (Expansion). And the Necromancer went from this sinister bombast to this intricate piano work. They're all great, but the other particular standouts to me are the City of the Knight, which reprises the HoMM1 main title theme to evoke the dawn of an adventure, the melancholy City of the Wizard, and the foreboding City of the Barbarian

Outside of the characterful town themes, the exploration music was less attention-grabbing, but quite enjoyable in their own right. They're divided by terrain type, and Magnificent Field is probably the standout, but I also have a soft spot for The Seas, Strangeland and Snowy Plains.

Main series composer Paul Romero is still around and has a Youtube channel. Here he is doing a solo piano medley.

~ Thraeg
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  #551  
Old 10-08-2017, 07:49 PM
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That sort of gentle, atmospheric stuff from mid-late 90s PC games is pretty nostalgic for me. I was just discovering PC games back then, and most of the stuff I tried had a similar sound.
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  #552  
Old 10-08-2017, 10:53 PM
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omg I played that! Maybe I should find it again and make an all-dragon team.
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  #553  
Old 10-09-2017, 07:54 AM
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Whereas I barely remember instances of Ico having music, Shadow of the Colossus is inextricably tied with its soundtrack in my mind. Wonderful stuff in all sorts of moods.
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  #554  
Old 10-09-2017, 07:58 AM
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Transistor definitely would have been on my list. I love the whole package. I love how much they don't explain. I love the tracks and the layers and how the music responds. I also really love the blend of turn and action gameplay and the ability to mix abilities together. I don't know that I would have voted the soundtrack as no 1, but I'm glad it has gotten a feature here. The music is key to the experience.
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  #555  
Old 10-09-2017, 08:00 AM
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Every time I hear something from Heroes of Might and Magic (which isn't often to be fair) I just kinda wish it was jankier and more like every other mid 90s pc MIDI soundtrack. Like, I'm mad that it's actually good and holds up rather than being Burzum-jail-music.
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  #556  
Old 10-09-2017, 11:00 AM
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#6 — Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
388 points • 14 mentions • Highest rank: #2 (Dracula, Torzelbaum, Vaeran)

Featured Track:

Wandering Ghost

Rainbow Cemetary • Marble GalleryThe Final Tocatta

Tower of MistDracula’s CastleVampire Killer

Composed by:

Michiru Yamane

Platform: Playstation • Release date: March 20, 1997
Think of me when you see the sun or feel the wind
A miserable pile of lyrics.

Half a dozen Igavanias later we might have forgotten how revolutionary Symphony of the Night was, fully embracing the 2D Adventure mold that the series had flirted with in Simon’s Quest. And just like the game changed the basic idea of what Castlevania was, Michiru Yamane’s soundtrack was also a major shift.

Traditionally, Castlevania music tended more for rock with orchestral flair, but for Symphony of the Night Michiru Yamane created a diverse send of soundtracks that, although diverse in genre, dialed back a bit on the rock side and tended to be more like a high beat jazz, with echoes of baroque musique in some of its orchestration. The result is a soundtrack that is really perfect for exploring a mysterious incarnation of chaos in the shape of a castle.

Yamane’s greatest triumph is not that the music is amazing - because it is - but that you don’t get tired of it. By nature, Symphony requires a lot of backtracking and exploration, so you have to listen to the songs a lot as you walked through the corridors of the castle an umpteenth time. Metroid prevented fatigue by keeping the tracks atmospheric and unassuming, while Yamane went for a more bombastic approach. Whatever dark magic she used to create these tracks worked, because twenty years later we are still talking about the wonders of this soundtrack.

The first level after the prologue sets the mood with Dracula’s Castle. After a really elaborate intro, we have a music that has the energy of old school Castlevanias but with a more elaborate composition and instrumentation - there’s no mistake that this is not last generation’s Castlevania. Tracks get more elaborate from this point on: “Marble Gallery's” slower tempo doesn’t subtract from the complexity of the layers of the music; “Tower of Mist's” baroque introduction segues into what could easily pass as a victorian ballroom version of “Marble Gallery”; “Rainbow Cemetary” is an upbeat minimalistic and jazzy melody that features what I can only describe as a waterfall of musical notes; “The Final Tocatta” is a gothic composition, almost elegant in its execution, and if the organ doesn’t move you then the choruses prior to the brief surge of strings will.

Our featured track is “Wandering Ghosts”, perhaps the most jazz-like of the songs, with an upbeat tempo, a lead guitar lazily plucking at the strings while a violin and even a trumpet section contribute now and then. It feels somewhat un-Castlevania, yet fits perfectly into the atmosphere of the game.

The entire soundtrack is amazing, but it has a very major flaw - it also contains one of the most infamous vocal songs in existence, “I Am The Wind”. It sounds like something ripped off a romantic comedy featuring songs by Celine Dion, which is a critical mismatch for this game (and it doesn’t use any of the leitmotifs from the game, or if it does is so buried under tons of trite lyrics and unoriginal arrangements that I can’t spot them). How did this song got there? You’d think somebody somewhere must have realized how much of a bad idea it was before the game went golden. Maybe Konami was just drunk on the possibilities of the PSX era… or maybe this is Dracula’s doing, having the last laugh. You really shouldn’t have stormed into his house and killed him. Again.

~ Positronic Brain
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  #557  
Old 10-09-2017, 11:08 AM
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I DID IT

I WAS THE WIND ALL ALONG
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  #558  
Old 10-09-2017, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
I DID IT

I WAS THE WIND ALL ALONG
I thought you were the Sun
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  #559  
Old 10-09-2017, 11:27 AM
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It hardly matters, someday we'll all be one anyway.


(Had this on my list as the most iconic representative of modern Castlevania. I wanted to put in Ecclesia too as it has some pieces I really like, like Wandering The Crystal Blue, but I didn't find room for it.)
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  #560  
Old 10-09-2017, 11:55 AM
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I ultimately passed on Symphony of the Night on my list, largely because there are other CV soundtracks I prefer over it and I didn't want to load up my list with so many from one series. But it's great. I probably would have gone with "Crystal Teardrops" or "Dance of Pales" as my song of choice.
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  #561  
Old 10-09-2017, 12:34 PM
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Am I the only one who actually kinda likes I am the Wind?

*looks around awkwardly*

*shrinks into the darkness*
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  #562  
Old 10-09-2017, 12:42 PM
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Although i like the soundtrack from Symphony of The Night, it does not elicit any emotion from me except 'that's neat' (with some exceptions). So i ended up voting for another Castlevania game, which i don't think made the list. If i had heard CV4 soundtrack before i might have voted for it, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
Am I the only one who actually kinda likes I am the Wind?

*looks around awkwardly*

*shrinks into the darkness*
I also don't think it's bad.
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  #563  
Old 10-09-2017, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Solitayre View Post
Am I the only one who actually kinda likes I am the Wind?
I honestly don't hate it. I do find it uninspired but ultimately unoffensive. There are much worse pop songs out there, and it does have some merits that make it likeable. But really, who thought it was a good match for a Castlevania game?
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  #564  
Old 10-09-2017, 01:22 PM
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It's a little known fact that the Battle of 1999 actually sealed Castlevania's power in a Kenny G single.

He is the true Dark Lord.
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  #565  
Old 10-09-2017, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Positronic Brain View Post
But really, who thought it was a good match for a Castlevania game?
I mean I think it more or less captures Alucard's feelings at the end of the game, that he does not belong in the world and must disappear.
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  #566  
Old 10-09-2017, 01:47 PM
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Symphony of the Night was #10 on my list.

"I Am The Wind" was the first Real Life song that I had ever heard in a video game and it was, and is, god awful. I remember staring at my television in a mix of bemusement and perverse amusement, not just because the song sucks, but because someone decided to include some shit I would never listen to on the radio or anywhere else, much less my beloved Castlevania game.

To this day, I have an intense dislike of - what would I call even call it? - "real" music or "actual" songs in video games. If someone starts singing and the video game context isn't apparent - examples like "Lament of the Highborne" in World of Warcraft, or the sea shanties in Black Flag - I'm setting the game on mute until it's finished.

Yeah, "I Am The Wind" is bullshit on a stick. The rest of the soundtrack is aces.
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  #567  
Old 10-09-2017, 02:21 PM
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I Am The Wind is Fine, Actually.
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  #568  
Old 10-09-2017, 02:24 PM
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Dance of the Pales or Marble Gallery probably would have been the tracks I would have picked. Good choice, though it wasn't on my radar at all.

I really agree with the write-up that most of the tracks are enjoyable even when backtracking, which is a feat many games have not accomplished.
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  #569  
Old 10-09-2017, 03:10 PM
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#5 — Chrono Cross
391 points • 14 mentions • Highest rank: #1 (Issun, Kirin, Rascally Badger, Zef)

Featured Track:

Chrono Cross ~ Time’s Scar

Dreams Of The Shore Near Another WorldJellyfish SeaTime’s Grassland

The Girl Who Stole A StarReminiscence of Feelings Not ForgottenChronomantique

Composed by:

Yasunori Mitsuda

Platform: Playstation • Release date: November 18, 1999
Dan-dan-dan-dan-dan-dan

By Lavos, it’s Chrono Cross’s turn! What’s there to say about this soundtrack? I know this is just #5 in the countdown, but, TL;DR: this might be the best soundtrack that has ever come out of a videogame. I’m not exaggerating - its complex and haunting melodies are almost otherworldy.

Chrono Cross was a solid game - a reimagining of the obscure SNES game and Chrono Trigger sequel Radical Dreamers - that was cursed from the beginning by having a Chrono in the title. There was no way it could live to the hype, and its status as a ‘true’ sequel (whatever that means) is controversial at best. But there is universal agreement that returning composer Yasunori Mitsuda knocked it out of the park, integrating his Celtic influence with a couple of leitmotifs from Trigger and Radical Dreamers and spinning them into a whole new work that fits perfectly into the world of Chross: a series of beautiful and haunted islands full of mystical and technological wonders, filled with both nostalgia and adventure. It feels almost like a stand-alone concept album, two brief victory fanfares being perhaps the only vestigial remains that prove it was a videogame.

Actually, let’s talk briefly about the two fanfares (titled “Gift of Spring” and “Call of Summer”) and compare them with the original theme they are spun from, “Lucca’s Theme”. They are two executions of the same theme and you can see how Mitsuda takes advantage of the new hardware to use much better sounding instruments - he uses several high quality sampled instruments (and in many other tracks sampled voices as instruments) to create very textured songs. But you can also perceive the difference in composition: this is an older Mitsuda, much more secure in himself than when he wrote Chrono Trigger. It feels more mature, more ripe. Mitsuda wrote a series of extremely beautiful melodies that would have been impossible in earlier games - not only because of the hardware, but because Mitsuda is at his peak as a composer here.

He sets the tone early on, in our featured track “Time's Scar” - it’s the song used in the intro, which is among gaming’s most memorable ones ever. The video itself just recycles some of the game’s CGI sequences, but the music that plays along them is one of the best ever imprinted into the code of a game and transforms it into something else. It starts simply enough, with a lonely guitar and a haunting flute playing a very nostalgic and deceptively simple melody, and then it just explodes into sound - but the chorus of strings and the rhythmic percussion are just the background, because the entire song from here on is practically a violin solo (with the orchestra going almost quiet during the familiar bridge to remind you of that) and ending abruptly in a high note, the raw emotions still reverberating.

And that’s just the beginning, as the album delivers great song after great song. The overworld music “Time's Grasslands” is a reinterpretation of the original Chrono Trigger theme, but it’s integrated into a rich almost tropical beat - and it makes a comeback in “Chronomantique”, an even more upbeat version that almost feels like reggae. In Kid’s theme, “The Girl Who Stole a Star", our friend the violin comes back with his pal the piano to play the melody while a haunting voice delivers the chorus of the song (who needs lyrics?). “Reminiscence of Feelings Not Forgotten” uses the piano as an instrument of mass nostalgia. Even the atmospheric “Jellyfish Sea” carries a very complex instrumentation (which, somehow, makes me feel like I’m underwater). “Forest of Cutting Shadows” is an amazing work, using the same notes over and over to create a richly textured track that is truly more than the sum of its parts.

But there are also some blood pumping tracks. The Mitsuda who wrote Xenogear’s chants comes back for “Dragon God”, which is one of his best battle themes, with an otherworldly chorus opening the battle. “Orphanage of Flame” also uses voices effectively, this time with an organ carrying the main melody (no piano, no violin, few strings - this is a flashback, people). The duel against “Fate” is reminiscent of the beautiful “Frozen Flame” from Radical Dreamers, but with almost metallic percussions and a xylophone driving home the point that you’re going against something dangerous and artificial. And there’s “Edge of Death”, the boss battle theme, with its energetic beat and its sampled shouts, which really kick a battle into overdrive.

I could keep going on and on, but I’ve already taken too much of your time. That said, you’ll forgive me if I highlight what is, I insist, is the most beautiful overworld theme ever written. The Home overworld uses Chrono Trigger’s theme, but when you travel to the Another world you’ll be presented with a rework of the main theme of “Radical Dreamers”. This song is “Dreams Of The Shore Near Another World” and it is breathtakingly beautiful. A series of strings and something that is not quite a voice sets the rhythm, while a haunting and lonely violin, almost in mourning, carries the main melody. It’s brief, taking a little over a minute before it cycles, but it lasts a lifetime.

There’s a reason why I use the word “haunting” so much when talking about Chrono Cross. Sometimes, when I have trouble sleeping, I swear I can listen to some of these songs in my mind, and they take me to a simpler time, with an azure sky and a bluer ocean soothing me, a violin’s gentle voice echoing in my soul. It makes me feel sad for not living in a world that never existed, yet making me feel calm from having walked along its shores. Sometimes, at night, this soundtrack comes back to haunt me.

~ Positronic Brain

Last edited by Positronic Brain; 10-10-2017 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by conchobhar View Post
I probably would have gone with "Crystal Teardrops"
SotN was #15 on my list and that was my pick. There's just something about that smooth beat and jazzy piano that is perfect for the environment. Then the organ kicks in just before the loop and I get goosebumps.

Man, only five left. And I feel like they would have to be FF VI, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Katamari Damacy and Undertale.

Edit: Positronic ninja'd!

Chrono Cross is the masterwork of game music. Every track is absolutely gorgeous. Except for that one. Ypu know the one.

Dreams on the Shore of Another World was my pick. It is one of those pieces of music that transcends the physical world and pulls you closer to the divine.
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