Man can a soundtrack really make or break a game. So this week we’re looking at our top 5 retro soundtracks for different levels in video games, but i’m going to change things up a bit and add a few themes that aren’t necessarily specific to a certain games level, because there are just some tracks that are too good to pass up. This week i’m going to try and do this list without referencing my love for the soundtrack that is Majora’s Mask OST, because we all know that’s a work of art in itself, a masterpiece if you will. You can check out my love for that title HERE, but keep reading to check out my top 5 all time favorite retro tracks!
I can’t start the list without the epic introduction that is Seasons of War, from the original World of Warcraft intro movie. You remember, when you first booted up World of Warcraft way back in 2004, all the way through 2007 you were taken to a magical realm where the Alliance and the Horde battled each other constantly for a chance to rule the world of Azeroth. The introduction was magical, and may well have been your first look at what was to be one of the best MMO titles of all time. The intro cinematic was comparable to that of a feature film for those of us who can be taken into the realm of warcraft by such things. It wasn’t only the visuals that created this feeling though, it was the soundtrack just as much as the visuals, that really drew players into the World of Warcraft. What soundtrack was that? The brilliant Seasons of War (intro movie) by Jason Hayes. I’ll let the music speak for itself, just listen below.
I’ll actually follow the rules on this next track, since it’s a piece of work that’s played throughout a certain level. It’s a very interesting thing when a soundtrack perfectly matches and describes events within a video game level. It’s that feeling when you hear the track, and can recollect specific events regarding what exactly you were doing when you heard the melody, and how it made you feel at the time. The music in Final Fantasy XII was an epic adventure on its own, but one of the standout tracks was definitely Jahara, Land Of The Garif by Hitoshi Sakimoto. The reason this title was so unique, was that it can be played independently and still evoke an emotion in the listener, but while played during the game, it creates an even stronger sense of the tsory. Part of the story are narrated with this track in the background, adding to the political intrigue and sense of the storyline. The Garif, a human-like race in the game, use this track as their theme, and it really speaks to their grounded reality and their old, earthy ways of living and believing. Jahara, Land of the Garif is a beautiful masterpiece, and probably my favorite track on this list. Take a listen below!
Everyone is familiar with The Sending by Nobou Uematsu. Final Fantasy X was a success for a reason, and this iconic CGI scene is one among many that cements its place in video game history. The scene describes exactly what summoners do, and where fiends come from, and the part of the purpose of the pilgrimage is revealed. The scene reveals the state of Spira, and the darkness ahead of the player. The vocals of the soundtrack set the mood, and The Sending is one of the first emotional scenes we’re presented with. It creates a memorable soundtrack that will remain with you whenever you hear the soundtrack to this iconic scene.
So sometimes we spend most of our time at the menu screen of a game. Super Smash Bros. Is one of those games where the menu gets quite a bit of screen time, between deciding the style of match, changing rules, areas and items, there are a ton of things that bring us back to the games menu. Due to this, you’d better have a memorable menu soundtrack. One of my favorites is of course the menu music from Super Smash Bros: Brawl (Menu Theme). It’s just an iconic classic, that everyone knows, because I mean who hasn’t played a round of Smash? Arguably the best Smash iteration (in my opinion of course) the recurring menu theme was updated for the Wii and it gave me a great song to listen to on any day. Check out the Super Smash Bros: Brawl menu theme below!
Finally since we’re talking about menu music, I couldn’t end my list without the beautiful piano piece featured in Kingdom Hearts. Dearly Beloved is Kingdom Hearts answer to the FFX’s To Zanarkand, except more simple, and possibly more beautiful. This theme is played throughout the two major games, in different refrains and renditions. It greets players and has a reprise that reminds you of the magic of one of the most amazing game franchises in history. There isn’t anything more I could say that would justify the simple beauty of this piece. Below I present to you Dearly Beloved.
And there you have it, what are your top five retro soundtracks?