Inspired by a fellow co-writer’s article, I thought it’d be fun to have a quick visit down memory lane and just talk about some pretty awesome tunes in games. Except I quickly ran into a problem: I homogenise soundtracks of games into one single thing. It’s quite a detriment since I barely remember stand out tracks. So whilst most of these games are “modern”, gaming consisted mainly of silence since handhelds like the Game Boy and DS were my main forray. Addenda to the list are that the entries aren’t numbered because alphabetising it makes my life easier, plus songs will have different levels of impacts on different emotions. Also, only one song per franchise meaning as much as a series has numerous great songs: only one song makes the cut as part of top 5. Without further or do, let’s begin!
“Sepiks Redux” in Destiny Rise of Iron
Composed and Produced by Michael Salvatori and C. Paul Johnson
Nothing quite says get ready for battle in a DLC called Rise of Iron without some metal as hell sounds. Enter Sepiks Redux, a song that makes an age old encounter feel so much more epic. From the guitar riffs and the beating drums, it gears you as you face your first ever strike boss encounter. Sepiks is a strike many Destiny players will remember either bitterly or fondly, but if one thing stuck to mind. It was destroying that Fallen Walker just before the encounter. And once you’ve vanquished Sepiks once again, you just want to shout “And STAY DEAD!”.
“The Promise” in Final Fantasy 13-II
Composed by Masashi Hamauzu
This entry to the FF franchise is probably never going to be remembered fondly, at least by most people. But this was the game that brought me into the series, from the stellar cinematics to the awesome as hell worlds. The complexity of the game blew my innocent mind away as I’d spent the odd hour here and there formulating my own methods of beating Caius. But it was this single song that stopped me in tracks. Technically this song was in the first iteration, but there’s something about the lullaby and lyrics in an apocalyptic savage lands, where cacti creatures will pin you a death warrant, it just sticks with you. Being ironically so hopeful, it’s oxymoronic in the grimness this trilogy holds. Heyho! Wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy game without that right? Huehuehue.
“F.A.T.E” in God Eater 2 Rage Burst
Sung by Akihiri Namba & Takeshi Ueda and Remixed by yuyoyuppe
Hands up, I did review this title. But that doesn’t stop this being an opening song that really sets the tone and mood of the game following. The disparity of fighting against the Aragami and the bleak survivability of humanity just emphasised and reinforced this game’s attempt to cling onto hope. From the beats dropping and to the changing perspectives. It gives the player a perspective of trading blows and becoming humanity's greatest hope as you save them. Or something along those lines, I probably spent more customising and killing things.
“Spiral” in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
I will admit I don’t listen to that much J content, but every now and again there will be a song that just hooks me. This is one of them. Honestly, when you have so much emotional investment into a single franchise, it’s relatively to hook me in, but when you’re competing against that hero moment song with The Rising Fighting Spirit, Heavy Violence or Naruto’s Theme all composed by Toshio Masuda which were used in Naruto Rise of Ninja and Broken Bond. Kicking at the right moment and used when you had a badass moment, they still are my favourite picks. But when you’re wrapping a series that’s been going for 15ish years, you need a send off song that just screams “NARUTO!!!”. The not quite heavy, but still upbeat energetic and ringing so strong with the philosophy of Naruto it’s hard to not jam with this as you watch the incredibly well edited and animated opening. Damn this just gives me the Naruto feels.
“A Midnight Fairy Dance” in Yousei Daisensou ~ Touhou Sangessei
Composed by ZUN
Okay, this is literally the most difficult choice out of everything. When you factor in the numerous games made by Team Shanghai Alice and the massively spanning franchise that is Touhou. It’s an almost impossible task, but being a very grassroots kinda article only one game sticks out. That is Yousei Daisensou ~ Touhou Sangessei, being my first official entry into the series. The opening music in it creates an atmosphere of tension and is daunting for a first entry. But what truly sticks to mind is the boss fights, being brutal for the inexperienced. Bare witness to the skill needed to topple such beasts. From understanding the projectile patterns and the unceasing power, the soundtrack just hammers home the need to fear them. But with the different depths in beats, it’s almost a phase of unlocking your own skill levels. Going from the higher notes, you slowly move into the core tempo beats as you enter a state of god mode and get flawless on a run. Which I’ve never achieved, so I’ve got ways and ways to go.
Having just reviewed this, it might be a bit of a cop-out to have this on the list. But what I didn’t mention in the review was the incredible soundtrack composed by Hiroyoshi Kato that just binds and elevates what is basic in premise into an incredible experience. From the super energetic tunes to the wholesome approach of making the encounters have octane energy. Boss fights don’t really feel the same without that the bleeping emergency noises as the heavier notes as I will never let you go kicks and makes that still screen into a flurry and fanatic movements as your avatars hurl across in the game’s world: unleashing barrage after barrage of attacks as bust icon after icon, chaining incredible curb stomping piles of damage phases, and defending against the boss as they enter their next life bar and Unforgiven kicks as the finale. If this game didn’t fulfil a weird childlike fantasy that Summer Wars made me image, I don’t know what will.
Monster Hunter Generations/3 Ultimate:
Generally speaking, the soundtrack and the overall symphonic harmony and blending between the different locations and the Monsters you face are insidiously good. Where each monster has their own distinctive and encapsulating notes, from the opening beats to the rapturous roars. As the flagship Monster rears its fearsome face, and decides to put you in your place. Unleashing a torrent of new moves, you’re forced back. But as the hunt continues, that boss fight song changes from their grand entrance to your song of carnage. Turning the tide of the hunt, their song is your fuel as your ballad of triumphs continue!
A bit generic arguably, this is a game that sits very close to my heart. But nothing quite hits the nostalgia heart with a pointless critical as the opening tune to the wild encounters. Being my first proper foray, I still remember catching my first Starly that stuck with me thick and thin with Chimchar to the Elite Four. Tackling Cynthia and bitterly losing, I learnt to get my grind on and get better. But Giratina’s dark world is something that takes me back if I’m not daunted by the Elite Four.
Nulled by default
Love Live School Idol Project and Project DIVA series
Okay, this is just mentions/picks that were nulled due to the fact they are rhythm games where the songs used are designed to be part of the core gameplay. Sure I could name the songs I love from either game/series. But the reality is that it’d be a cop-out and would difficult to narrow down since by extension these games feature songs that range outright insanity or brain dead easy. Also, definitely saying that they’re part of the top 5 would be counter intuitive when they aren’t part of defining moment in a story or narrative. Unless you include other pieces of media, which wouldn’t count to towards the videogame’s criteria.