Yesterday we nominated our favorite soundtracks of 2016, cohesive wholes that made the game experience richer and more immersive. Today, however, we’ll be narrowing our focus tighter and looking at individual game songs that had us rocking out or maybe just quietly bobbing our head in the corner as we think about life…and stuff…y’know, whatever maaan. Some of these are licensed pieces that were used to great effect, others were specifically composed for the game they were in…either way, they made the experience richer for their inclusion.
In case you missed it, check out yesterday’s Best Soundtracks of 2015.
Andrea Giargiari, Feature Writer (@UndineAndrea) – Of all the songs I’ve heard this year, I’ve had particular trouble getting one out of my head: Hitori Omou, the signature ballad of Azura in the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates series. Multiple versions of this song are currently available, including two full Japanese recordings, but my favorite rendition so far has been the one masterfully-blended with cinematic battle music in the Japanese trailer. Sadly, I’m not sure I’m going to like the English version as much; from the little that I’ve heard, the English lyric adaptation is a bit clunky, and just doesn’t roll of the tongue the way that the original Japanese text does. But then, I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Rhys Cooper, News and Editorial Writer (@Dizzee_Rhyscal) – Music is an incredibly subjective issue, much like gaming in general. Soundtracks are gathering more and more importance in games as each year passes by. This year, there’s one that sticks out that I will come on to, but others that spring to mind include “A Story You Won’t Believe,” the main Gwent song and will keep you whistling for hours. There’s also “The Alchemist’s Haven” from Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows.
However, my favourite song of this year was originally released over 50 years ago. Fallout 4’s soundtrack is wonderful, not many people can argue with that, with its eclectic mix of swing, rock, pop and jazz tunes from (mainly) the 50’s and 60’s. Fitting in with the cultural aspects of the Commonwealth the music replayed on Diamond City Radio by Travis ‘Lonely’ Miles is a mostly cheerful accompaniment while blasting heads off of raiders and super mutants etc. My pick of these songs is The End of The World by Skeeter Davis. Fallout in general has many songs regarding a lost love, from all the songs by the Ink Spots to Guy Mitchell and Nat King Cole, but this incredibly-fitting hit from 1962 tops the chart for me. The title alone is ideal for Fallout, whereas the lyrics hit home to anyone who has gone through a similar situation. Yet while wandering the wasteland, the song just feels right and in years to come, this will be the tune I think of from Fallout 4 and 2015 as a whole. Never have two projects released half a century apart been so perfect for each other.
Reid A Gacke, Editor in Chief (@OnlySP_Reid) – While I broke my end of the year promise by failing to nominate Undertale for Best Soundtrack of 2015 (I am totally willing to admit it may have been a better soundtrack in isolation, but Rebel Galaxy’s just works so well in the context of the game), I would be remiss if I didn’t pick a tune from this soundtrack for Best Song of 2015 considering my lips hurt from whistling Toby Fox’s masterful retro RPG tunes over the past month or so. And honestly, no one track from Rebel Galaxy stuck with me more than the cohesive whole.
But what tune do I choose? Do I pick the simple, haunting melody of “Memories?” Or maybe the more homey, domestic, comforting tunes “Home” or “Snowdin Town” (or any of their variations)? And of course “Dogsong” is timeless and enchanting and one of the greatest video game songs of all time.
(Spoiler alert: It’s not. It’s goofy as hell. And I love it.)
For my part, however, I love a good boss tune and when asked what my favorite musical genre is, I’ll sometimes fall back on that. And Undertale has some spectacular ones, from the jazzy “Ghost Fight” and “Dummy!” to the more classic, heart-pumping “Death by Glamour” and “Spear of Justice.” Every battle song in the game captures the tone of the fight brilliantly and if Undertale’s soundtrack can be said to succeed in anything (and I’m pretty sure it can), it’s this.
While my own personal desire is to give the prize to “Bontrousle” – Papyrus’ battle tune – for how it plays brilliantly with the “twist” in that battle – or “Heartbreak” for it’s pure, raw emotion, a remixer that I spoke with recently said that probably the most requested song he’s ever gotten (in the several years he’s been doing remixes) was Megalovania, the final boss tune for the “bad” playthrough.
Warning: do not search for this song on Youtube unless you’re ready for a fairly significant spoiler.
Megalovania is certainly a great battle tune that captures the frantic, climactic feel of easily the the hardest fight in the game against a boss whose only goal is to kill you endlessly until the end of time so you can no longer progress in the story. It’s a brilliant fight and an exciting tune and easily one of the best video game songs of the year. Interestingly enough, it was also a part of the Homestuck soundtrack and was essentially remastered for Undertale. Neat!
Again, do not follow the Youtube link on this song unless you’re prepared for a major spoiler (I’m serious, it is a great reveal). But you can safely listen to this excellent retro battle tune here.
Gareth Newnham, News & Reviews Writer – It’s been a pretty great year for music in the wonderful world of gaming really. From some rather brilliant tunes making their way into Life is Strange like Bright Eyes’ Lua ( Do you think I’ve mentioned that game and that track enough yet?) to the incredibly fitting use of David Bowie’s the Man Who Sold the World in the opening of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, not to mention that there was something about charging through Afghanistan on horseback to the Tune of Rebel Yell by Billy Idol that never got old.
Despite these honorable mentions though, my actual favorite track comes from The Witcher 3. Though admittedly not from the game itself but its launch trailer, Ben Howard’s haunting ode to love and loss, Oats in the Water, successfully conveys the narrative tone of the game through Howards lyrics.
While, viewers are shown Geralt desperately hunting for Ciri, Howard’s low, sombre vocals tell us to “Go Your way, I’ll take the long way down as I should” while the pre-chorus tells us that you’ll “find loss and you’ll fear what you found”
Simple, stunning, and it gives me the chills every time. The perfect introduction to an epic, yet deeply personal story. And that solo, at the end God damn!
Lance Roth, Editorial Writer (@RPGameX) – Identifying a single, standout song from a video game is pretty difficult, particularly when many games are scored with similar themes throughout. Because of that, when I think of a song in a video game, I typically think of licensed pieces.
Maybe because it’s fresh in my mind, or just that it was bright spot in an otherwise deeply flawed game, but Torre Florim’s cover of Prodigy’s Firestarter at the beginning of Just Cause 3 is my Song of the Year nomination for 2015. It really is the perfect intro piece for a game all about destruction, and I enjoyed it almost as much as all of the Portuguese covers of David Bowie songs in the Wes Anderson film Life Aquatic.
It is worth mentioning that TellTale’s Tales From the Borderlands also had some great licensed intro pieces too.