Music – Top VGM STKs #23 – 25: Metroid, Freedom Planet, Sonic CD

Metroid was one of the first games that really reached beyond mere catch melody for something far more atmospheric; Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka’s alien compositions mirror the foreign tilesets and enemy sprites that comprise Zebes on the NES. They’re surreal, strange and sensationally effective at establishing each area as a unique and unsettling place. The series…

Music: Top VGM STKs #10 – Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Persona 4 is one of those soundtracks that come around at the right time to just floor you. At least it was for me. In 2008 when the game came out I got the deluxe edition AND the secondary collector’s package from my ex for Christmas/birthday gifts, and it was a bit of a dicey…

Music: Top VGM STKs #9 – Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana delivered one of the most evocative soundtracks from the Super NES, full of diverse instrumentation, wild compositions, and tracks dripping with emotion and purpose. Hiroki Kikuta’s video game career as a musician began with this title, and he was given free reign in terms of how to create the soundtrack (with tracks…

Music: Top VGM STKs #8 – Mega Man 3

Mega Man 3 is arguably the first soundtrack I heard that I fell in love with. That’s not to say that other NES soundtracks didn’t leave a mark, but as a child this was the origin of my fandom into the medium as something more than just backing compositions for what was happening on-screen; it…

Music: Top VGM STKs #7 – Splatoon

Splatoon has become one of my favorite franchises in the past decade, if not all time. It’s just such a splendidly executed game world, and the music is a huge part of why I have all the emotions about it. I feel this soundtrack is related in spirit to Sega’s Jet Set Radio, but done…

Music: Top VGM STKs #6 – Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)

Just to clarify, my vote here is for the PS2 NA release of the game with its soaring orchestral score that the Japanese original and the 3DS remake lacks. It is SO GOOD. It drips with character and radiates with emotion, capturing the very essence of adventure. There’s very few soundtracks that just espouse the…

Music: Top 25 STKS #5 – Batman (NES)

Naoki Kodaka is a composing god. I kid you not. If you haven’t played a Sunsoft game on the NES/Famicom — most of which he composed — I advise you to look into at the very least the US backcatalog from 1988 onward, just to listen to his handiwork. Because what he did would not…

Music: Top VGM STKs #4 – Skies of Arcadia

Composed by Yutaka Minobe and Takayuki Maeda, Skies of Arcadia features a wide array of diverse instrumentals with a focus on the game’s broad ethnic groups. Each area has its own dynamic motif and instrument set that works beautifully with its people and environments, and when sailing the music actually changes as you travel about…

Music: Top VGM STKs #3 – Okami

Okami is a behemoth of a soundtrack, with 176 individual tracks (a few are bonus pieces like trailer pieces and such). What makes it really stand out is its dedication towards recreating traditional Japanese music with some modern flourishes, and it succeeds beyond my wildest expectations. One of the reasons the game is so high…