Thursday, May 17, 2012

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Two

Last week I posted Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part One. This segment was where I listed ten of my all-time favorite video game soundtracks to share with the SPC community. I'm back at it again with Part Two this week. As many longtime readers know, I adore music. It doesn't matter if it's classic rock, classical, or whatever. If it has a good melody, I'm appeased. What soundtracks do I have in store to share this go around? No sense in waiting to find out; go see for yourself.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

The Super Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack is an unprecedented one. Nearly every Japanese bigwig video game composer stepped in to recreate a piece of music from Nintendo's huge repertoire of games. You get original tracks like Nobuo Uematsu's (Final Fantasy) Main Theme and Motoi Sakuraba's Final Destination, remarkable remixes like Donkey Kong Country's King K. Rool/Ship Deck 2, The Legend of Zelda's Title Theme, the Ending of Yoshi's Story, Pokemon's Road to Virdian City, F-Zero's Mute City, Fire Emblem's Theme, and Mario Golf/Mario Tennis, to name several. I wonder if the next Smash Bros. game will have a score that can even be half as good as Brawl's.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)

Even with the kooky plot twist towards the end of the game, I still enjoyed my time with Till the End of Time, the third installment of the Star Ocean franchise. While Motoi Sakuraba does not outdo his previous The Second Story soundtrack, he does deliver a grandiose offering of music fit for this excellent RPG. Such notable tracks include a guitar-heavy dungeon theme, Expiration, a cutscene-driven song, Starless Wavelets, Into a Storm Not Memorized, the forlorn Requiem for a Saint, an awesome battle theme in The Divine Spirit of Language, the theme heard in Star Ocean 3's extra dungeons, Mission to the Deep Space, and the genuinely beautiful Brilliant Future.

Star Fox Assault (GCN)

Say what you will about the quality of the game, but I was blown away by Star Fox Assault's symphonic soundtrack, full of strings, brass, and soothing sometimes, striking at other times melodies and harmonies. Such an impressive version of the Star Wolf theme, militant themes like Sauria, triumphant themes like Katina, tense tracks like Fortuna, Boss 1 and Fichina, and the excellent final boss theme, Queen Battle (Part 2). Hearing my favorite Star Fox 64 themes backed by an orchestra made for a tremendous experience for me. Star Fox Assault is truly an underrated gem only mired by a few outstanding flaws.

Mega Man X4 (PS1, SAT)

Mega Man X4 is one of my favorite games, and the music is only one reason as to why. Pressing New Game automatically sends you into the first level of the game where this theme is heard, Opening Stage X (Sky Lagoon). Then you have Maverick stages like Cyber Peacock Stage (Cyber Space), the fast-paced (in both level terms and musical terms) Jet Stingray Stage (Marine Base), Slash Beast Stage (Military Train), and Storm Owl Stage (Air Force). Then you have the last two stage themes, Final Weapon Stage 1 (Spaceport) and the foreboding Final Weapon Stage 2 (Final Weapon). Even in synth, Mega Man X4's music still gels with me quite well.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

What can you say about this classic SNES game that hasn't already been said? In my view, it's the greatest 2D Zelda, and it's one of the best Zelda games period. From the all too familiar Overworld to Hyrule Castle, from the Dark World to the Sanctuary Dungeon, A Link to the Past has a myriad of memorable melodies and tunes to choose from. I cannot do the soundtrack justice by just choosing seven tracks, but I shall anyway. Even though you will grow weary of the Boss theme when the giant worm Moldorm knocks you off the top floor time and time again, it is an infectious beat and melody. And then you have the quaint and charming tune of Kakariko Village which would once again be heard in Ocarina of Time. Finally, there's the confounding Lost Woods theme I have to share.

Wild Arms (PS1)

An early PlayStation One RPG, Wild Arms' soundtrack was composed by the talented Michiko Naruke. The score and world are heavily influenced by the Old American West and Native American lore. It shows in songs like the opening theme, To the End of the Wilderness, Town, and Courage (Dungeon). Other tracks I adore include the touching Funeral Procession, the chilling chants of Return to Ashes, the heroic Adlehyde Castle and Morning of the Journey, and the final boss theme, Battle ZIEK. Michiko Naruke provides a professionally constructed soundtrack worthy of the Wild Arms name.

Perfect Dark (N64, XBLA)

I have said on this very blog that the composers at Rare are absolute geniuses. Perfect Dark's music only provides more needless evidence to this fact. Perfect Dark is full of *ahem* perfect tracks to spy on the sinister Datadyne corporation to. We're talking pieces like Pelagic II Exploration, Chicago Stealth, Air Base Espionage, Crash Site Confrontation, Datadyne Central Extraction, Skedar Ruins Battle Shrine, and the main theme turned rocking Ending Theme. Listening to these songs not only brings forth a massive wave of nostalgia, but it also makes me sad to see what Rare has become.

Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Sonic Heroes introduced four teams of three for its fourteen some-odd levels. There was Team Sonic, Team Dark, Team Rose, and Team Chaotix to play as. Jun Senoue and friends certainly stepped up their game to provide background music for the blistering fast levels. You get the bright and cheery Seaside Hill, the gentle rock sounds of Grand Metropolis, the bouncy Casino Park, the highly rockin' Bullet Station, and the final level in Final Fortress. You even get vocal themes like Sonic Heroes, Follow Me, and What I'm Made Of. Sonic Heroes certainly has a more colorful soundtrack than most Sonic games.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

The most recent game to be inducted into my "My Personal Favorites" list, Kid Icarus: Uprising took five superb composers (Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, Masafumi Takada, Noriyuki Iwadare, and Yasunori Mitsuda) and gave them free reign to do anything they wanted with the Uprising soundtrack. This created one fantastic orchestral score. I love songs like The Return of Palutena, Mitsuda's Boss Fight 1, Sakuraba's The Reaper's Line of Sight, the brass-heavy Aurum Island, the hard rock Lightning Battle (great song), the triumphant Magnus's Theme, and the epic Medusa's Final Battle. As you play through Kid Icarus: Uprising, the music transports you into the action as if you were flying alongside Pit the angel himself! A terrific soundtrack indeed. It is a must listen!

Mario Hoops 3 on 3 (DS)

Cherry picking some themes from Mario's past, Mario Hoops 3 on 3 does in fact borrow some melodies from previous Mario games, but most of the music is entirely original. It's also supremely catchy. I am referring to tracks like Mario Stadium, the surf guitar-filled Koopa Beach, the great workout tune of Sherbet Land, jazzy tracks like Luigi Mansion and Junior Street, and the beautiful bombs of Peach Field and Daisy Garden. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 is without a doubt a wonderful Nintendo DS soundtrack, possibly one of the absolute bests.


That just about wraps it up for Part Two of Killer Soundtracks. Did you enjoy the samples I provided? Which soundtracks of these ten did you love the most? Don't be shy. I read all comments, and I try to respond to the ones that resonate somehow with me.


Reggie White Jr. said...

Another fine list, Phillip. Sent me down memory lane hearing themes from Perfect Dark again. *Sniff* Man, I miss old Rare!

Holly said...

Totally agree with Kid Icarus: Uprising. My personal favorite track from that game is Dog's Theme. But the whole thing is just awesome!