For our third round of Theme Week, the challenge was to speak about your favorite game while focusing on their soundtracks. Many of you contributed lovely favorite gaming memories and what made the music so great. Some choices were surprises, others are classics and new classics. All were pretty fantastic.
Below, I’ve compiled each article all in one place with summaries. Don’t forget to click the full links to read each entry in its entirety, if you’d like to check them out.
Azure Lore wrote an insightful piece highlighting the composer for a Final Fantasy of more modern times. With the relaunch of Final Fantasy XIV, filling the shoes of famed series composer Nobuo Uematsu, was left to one Masayoshi Soken. Soken, a newcomer, had a monumental task but does so with a capability that shows he’s excellent at his craft.
The series’ soundtrack is a “tribute to music specifically Rock and Metal.” Dark Aether points out the nods to great bands in the rock industry through character names, a familiar battlecry or two, and move sets that honor the greats of rock. The series shows it’s influenced by jazz and other genres, and not just a one note sound and genre.
There’s nothing like witnessing a musical evolution of a series. DS argues this happens with Bungie’s Halo. From the first game’s opening Gregorian’s chants which captivated him, Halo 2's guitar laden rock sounds featuring licensed bands, Halo 3's use of a live orchestra for a full experience, to ODST’s fresh takes to create moody tension. While Reach, in his opinion, has the weakest soundtrack of the series, overall these games and their music are his favorites forever.
Continuing the love for all things Final Fantasy, we were graced with two wonderful articles from our Drea about one of JRPGs’ biggest franchises. For those of us that love the series, the music encompasses a huge part of the experience. Drea tackled Final Fantasy X:
Calling the music haunting, among other things.
She then turned her attention to Final Fantasy VIII, where a famous waltz charmed her and as her first foray into FF’s world, helped seal her as a fan of the series in the years to follow:
(and we both agree that Zell is the best. Who can deny such a thing?)
Announcing a favorite Zelda title is an act of bravery. Everyone has an opinion on which is their coveted game in the series. The gloomy Majora’s Mask is unlike any of Link’s other adventures, borrowing from its predecessor to create a time travel tale that’s filled with anxiety, and urgency. As Freud points out, its soundtrack greatly contributes to its somber, creepy heart with distinctive qualities to match each of its locations culture.
Geek tells a story of Kingdom Hearts which is not only a favorite game, but one that holds a special song and dear memory of a childhood friend. It’s a beautiful, sweet but painful tale of lost companionship of a very strong spirit, and how a single song can carry so much weighted emotions.
Mass Effect was a game Jolly almost did not experience. When he was left with a borrowed copy from his departed friend, Jolly played and fell in love. The music fit perfectly for all its themes, with some perfectly apt characterization pieces for its hero, villain and the vastness of deep space.
A post about what criteria do we apply to a game to give it a “favorite” game status. The truth is multiple factors are involved and games can be favorites for various reasons, and at various stages in life. Music becomes integrated with those memories as much as the games do.
Yoko Shimomura has many credits to her name as the composer of the Kingdom Hearts series, and the Mario & Luigi RPG series, to name a few, as MeatH noted. But he has not forgotten this Square title in which the composer mixes Opera with electronic to make something moody and haunting. It also has possibly one of the greatest final boss battle themes out there.
For Qinn, the reality is that Battlezone isn’t perfect as a game but where it achieves perfection is in its music. While the game is intense and fun to play, its amazing soundtrack is credited for knowing how to utilize music effectively, even if it means not using it in some scenarios at all. That makes for a wholly different experience.
Pokemon games are about adventuring, and endurance testing to be the very best. Collecting monsters, battling and building a team to challenge others, and your skills. Shpee loves Pokemon Heartgold because it sets players in a mindset to relive the journey.
Is the rock genre dead? Hardly but it’s not as prevalent as it once was in the mainstream. Rock Band has changed, partially due to decisions stripping the experience in Rock Band 4. But its setlist has been targeting (and maybe reflective of a sign of the times) a pop heavy audience. Hopefully Rock Band Rivals can bring some of that energy back to a game that ties my two favorite forms of media together. But it’d still be only one half of an experience from a gameplay focus; the other half needs to bring the rock back, and maybe some new acts in, too.
Thank you to all who contributed*. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read, or leave a comment. It’s been wonderful reliving some of these games through their sounds, discovering a little bit more about each of you, learning about new-to-me games, and seeing different perspectives on all of your picks.
*If I overlooked one, please let me know!
Note: This round of Theme Week may officially be at an end but if you wanted to contribute something still, please feel free!
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