Viva Pinata (360)
I mentioned this game's sequel in my top ten list of Rare-developed games, but the original Viva Pinata was the archetype for that game. Trouble in Paradise merely built upon the preexisting foundation that Viva Pinata created to make a better game. Viva Pinata is the kind of game that harks back to when Rare was in top form. The colorful charm and wild whimsy that their past successes with Nintendo were known for shined brightly with this title. The music was beautifully orchestrated with soothing strings, majestic-at-day, tranquil-at-night themes, and quaint melodies. You can clearly hear what I'm talking about with pieces like Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Night 2, and Night 3. There's a childlike sense of wonder to each song, don't you think?
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (Wii)
A game that came out of nowhere, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams featured a return to the familiar gameplay of the Sega Saturn classic with some adjustments in the form of new gameplay and the bad decision of allowing the two child protagonists, Will and Helen, to explore hub worlds. The new additions weren't necessary as fans just wanted pure NiGHTS gameplay. Leave it to Sonic Team to push more gameplay styles than they are fit to handle. If anything, Journey of Dreams gave players an outstanding soundtrack to listen to with songs like Eloquent Echo, Drifing Donbalon, Wandering Wildness, Electrical Entertainment, Merry Memory Go Round, Queen Bella's Ball, and the theme song for the series, Dreams, Dreams.
Chrono Cross (PS1)
Yasunori Mitsuda (Xenogears, Chrono Trigger) has yet another tremendous-sounding score with his work on Chrono Cross, one of the better PlayStation One era RPGs-- and there were a lot of them! Yes, some might argue that there were far too many extraneous party members to track down and take care of, but the world itself was enjoyable enough to explore, the story was gripping enough to be entertained by, and the music was and still is truly terrific. When you have tracks like the opening theme of Time's Scar, a brilliant boss theme in Dragon God, the sad The Girl Who Stole the Stars, both versions of the first town in the game, Arni Village with Home and Another, the shanty of Another Termina, and Forest of Illusion, how could you not get fully encompassed by Chrono Cross?
Breath of Fire (SNES, GBA)
Breath of Fire is truly a role-playing classic. It brought about a simple story of redemption, war, and dragons, an adventure-filled world, and plenty of enemies to slay. The music (done in part by Yoko Shimomura of Kingdom Hearts fame) is equally as wonderful. The Super Nintendo sound output always came off as better to me than the Sega Genesis's as most Genesis titles came off as rough and metallic. Blood Relations, Fate, Day and Night, Gentle Breeze, A Road, Battling, and Music City show off the brilliant musical minds of the composers included.
Sonic Adventure (DC)
With a new generation to be had and a transition into an all-new adventure in full 3D, Sonic Adventure led the charge and was one of the two most prominent Dreamcast launch titles, alongside SoulCalibur. Some didn't like the focus on rock of the soundtrack, but the bright and bouncy music was perfect for speeding through sparkling shores, racing down snowy mountains, and breaking all kinds of traffic laws in Speed Highway. Perhaps the best songs from Sonic Adventure include Welcome to Station Square, Azure Blue World, Windy Hill, Be Cool, Be Wild, and Be Groovy, Run Through the Speed Highway, Red Hot Skull, and Skydeck A Go Go!.
The World Ends With You (DS)
I was seriously impressed when I initially heard the sound quality coming out of the Nintendo DS systems small speakers. It wasn't the most astounding sound on the planet, but it was quite good. The World Ends With You showed many skeptics of Square Enix that they could still experiment and wind up with something good other than always heavily banking on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The most popular songs are generally vocal pieces like Calling, Hybrid, Someday, Emptiness and, Give Me All Your Love, Game Over, and Twister. It is an eclectic mix of music, for sure.
Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II (GCN, XBX)
Why just settle with Phantasy Star Online when you can use the whole soundtrack from the GameCube and Xbox release of Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II? Well, that is exactly what I'm doing here. We have such fabulous themes from the original Episode I like The Whole New World, Can Still See the Light, You Have Nowhere to Go, and After the Story 2; and themes from Episode II such as A Longing to Ancient Time Part 1, Tricktrack Part 1, and The Frenzy Wilds. One thing that will seemingly always stay of high quality with Sonic Team is their stellar soundtracks.
Mega Man X5 (PS1)
Mega Man X5 started the downward slope in quality of the X series. Now, X5 wasn't a poor game (even though changing up the names of the Mavericks was a stupid decision); it just paled in comparison to its predecessor. However, the music across the series has retained its superb standards of quality. This is immediately apparent through songs like Grizzly Slash Stage, Squid Adler Stage, Izzy Glow Stage, Axel the Red Stage, Duff McWhalen Stage (a callback to Bubble Crab's Mega Man X2 stage) X vs. Zero, and Sigma 2nd. Not the best Mega Man X soundtrack, but a competent one all on its own.
Mario Party (N64)
Did you really think we could go through an edition of Killer Soundtracks without a mention of Mario? How about a second coming of Mr. Yasunori Mitsuda? The man behind more dignified-- if you will-- works lent his ability to the first Mario Party game, which still holds its place as the franchise's best musical outing yet. Themes like Rainbow Castle, Tropical Island, Engine Room, Play a Mini-Game!, Hit or Miss Chance Time, Ending, and Eternal Star fill me with such happy nostalgia.
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (Wii)
I was very glad to find that some YouTube users had uploaded music from this grossly overlooked game in the Nintendo Wii's library. It's The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, based off an anime. One reason that the title remains in my memory is the sensational score. Intense air battles were common for the game, and the accompanying music made the action all the more profound to play. The pickings are slim as to what is represented of the music on YouTube, so here are the available examples for your listening pleasure: First Sky Duel, Rally, Critical Briefing, VS Kaida, and VS Orishina Final Final Battle.
Did you somehow miss a previous part of Killer Soundtracks? Shame on you! Well, no worries as I have all four previous installments listed below for your convenience. Hop to it!
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part One
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Two
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Three
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Four