Videogame music is a crucially underrated ‘genre’ of music that often gets overlooked. Personally, I listen to it when I need to concentrate, or when I’m playing multiplayer games with my fiancé, or just when I want to read with some background music. I’m more of a collector than a connoisseur, take a look at the size of my spotify playlist:
So without further ado, here’s 12 tracks that you might not know even if you’re a fan of the genre just like I am. You’ll find no One Winged Angels here.
Escape from Monkey Island: Inside the Governor’s Mansion
This song is just so indicative of the talent held by Clint Bajakian and Michael Land, who exemplify in their music the uniquely ‘Caribbean’ beats that underly every game in the Monkey Island series. This song plays at the beginning of the game and is a hit of nostalgia that hearkens back to the songs of previous games. It’s relaxing, and it’s happy-making.
Final Fantasy III: The World of Darkness
This plays throughout the last parts of the game and is a truly rousing theme that starts off calm and then really gets you pumped up. It plays throughout a long dungeon with no save points, so it really adds to the atmosphere. If you liked this, consider listening to the arrangement found in Final Fantasy XIV’s World of Darkness Raid, I’ll link the video below.
Ratchet and Clank: Planet Aridia Outpost X11 (Traversing the Fortress)
I really love this song, and not just because it brings back huge waves of nostalgia from those days where I played Ratchet and Clank over and over again in an effort to get all the Golden Weapons and master the skill points. The track is great because while it’s in theme with the other two tracks used in Planet Aridia, with heavy mechanical sounds present, it also has some light horns which are ubiquitous throughout the entire soundtrack and they’re used in a way that makes this section of the game feel suitably stealthy.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: Prison
The heavy thunks in this short song put one in mind of a grave situation, and the high spikes later on in the track are reminiscent of the ever popular scare chords. The prison is a scary place, and an ever-present looming threat in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance’s version of Ivalice. The thumping intro will remind dedicated Final Fantasy fans of the song that plays during the tutorialised section of gameplay at the start of Final Fantasy XII, a game whose soundtrack took some cues from Tactics Advance.
Dark Chronicle: Fish On!
A genuinely happy song that plays when you start fishing, which is a really fun past time in many games, but one I think is done almost perfectly in Dark Chronicle. The theme exemplifies the ‘side-tracked’ nature of a fishing minigame in a game which is otherwise quite dark and serious. It features all the hallmarks of a good Level 5 OST song, and wouldn’t have been out of place in Ni No Kuni or Rogue Galaxy.
Persona 5: Phantom
Persona 5 has what I would call a unique soundtrack. It has a lot of tracks that sound like this: with funky beats and cool, synthy melodies. It’s very jazz, very coffee shop, very cool. I’m no music expert obviously. But the odd rhythm makes this track a stand out in a soundtrack full of oddness, weird lyrics and audial beauty.
Dark Souls: Dark Sun Gwyndolin
This song is super cool for a few reasons. Firstly, listen to that voice. How bloody haunting. Secondly, the harp is played beautifully. Third, this is a battle theme against a pretty important boss. And there’s some cool thematic stuff too: the boss, Gwyndolin, is a guy who presents extremely femininely and the delicate soundtrack the game gives him with a haunting female voice adding some evocative tones is a nice touch.
Final Fantasy X: The Trials
I just really like this one. It feels mystical with the warped sounds, it feels religious with the bells, and when the melody kicks in piece by piece only to be dismissed in place of the ever-present warped sounds and bells it makes for an engaging piece of music. It’s a good example of how music can make or break the atmosphere and tension of a videogame’s locations.