This post marks the first of many in what I hope will be a fun, long standing series, and that is… The Fangirl Mixtapes!
In this series I’ll be bringing my love of video game music, the main reason I started this blog in the first place, to the forefront of the blog. This will include me gushing at length about my favourite video game soundtracks, but also bringing attention to any remixes, mashups or covers I find on my internet travels.
To start off this series, I thought it best to provide my Top 10 (in no particular order, because I’m indecisive) video games OSTs, just to paint a picture of my tastes and to show what you can expect from these blog posts!
First up is…
Composers: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka
“Ok desu ka.”
Every time the melody for Your Name Please starts up during yet another one of my playthroughs for Earthbound, I’m transported back to fond memories of the very first time I played what has become my favourite game of all-time. The strange, slightly eerie tones in the beginning are balanced out by the jauntier more cheerful sound that makes up the rest of the piece, painting a picture of what to expect from a game like Earthbound. Sometimes creepy, sometimes sad, sometimes funny but overall inexpressibly charming. The soundtrack as a whole is just drenched in 90’s goodness; a trend I’m unashamed to say is prevalent throughout this post.
Y’all mind if I sob uncontrollably?
Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)
Composers: Jun Senoue, Kenichi Tokoi, Fumie Kumatani, Tomoya Ohtani
“It’s your boy Knuckles.”
This blog post would have been out much sooner if I was able to resist the temptation to sing along to Escape From The City or rap along to Pumpkin Hill as I was looking up the tracks to add to this post.
Listening to I’m a Spy brought back memories of me leaving the game on idle during the Security Hall level so I could record the music from the TV onto my beloved Nokia 7600 (can’t believe the game’s that old, wow). Sonic Adventure 2’s OST is well-loved by most and for very good reason. The different genres, from Metal, Pop-Rock, to Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz fusion, House to UK GARAGE (!) and Techno, all work seamlessly together and represent the respective characters and levels perfectly. Despite the differences in the sound, all the tracks sound like they belong to the same game. All these years later, I still love the soundtrack as much as I did when I was a child, if not even more.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (1999)
Composers: Hideki Okugawa
“May the best fighter win. And win again.”
Getting straight back into the 90’s nostalgia, 3rd Strike is next in my list. Though the first version of the game was released in 1999, my experience of the game was with the 30th Anniversary Edition that was released on the PS2 in 2004. As shitty as I was, and still am, at fighting games 3rd Strike was a childhood favourite and I spent many hours playing it, partly because of how much I loved the music.
The soundtrack really is a treat; fusing house, drum and bass, with some jazz and hip-hop and techno elements. The main theme and Let’s Get It On featuring rapper Infinite, wouldn’t have sounded amiss being played on a radio station in the late 90’s. I clearly remember the first time I got to the bossfight with Gill on Story Mode and “beating” him, only for him to “resurrect” and undo all my efforts. But this fight also stuck in my mind due to that terrific theme, Psyche Out.
Chrono Trigger (1995)
Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu, Noriko Matsueda
Dalton: No, no, no, no… Stop the music!
Dalton: Ha! There we go!
Next in this list comes from my second favourite game of all-time, Chrono Trigger. The first time I traveled to 600 A.D. I didn’t move a muscle and just listened to Yearnings of the Wind play for a few minutes.
The game was well ahead of it’s time in many ways, including in the music production and heavy emphasis on acid-jazz. There’s a reason why so many beatmakers and rappers love to sample from the soundtrack even to this day (Dom Kennedy and Evil Needle just to name a few). At the time of the game’s release, the number of tracks and sound effects was unprecedented—the soundtrack spanned three discs in its 1995 commercial pressing. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda slept in the director’s studio several nights, and attributed certain pieces—such as the game’s ending theme, To Far Away Times—to inspiring dreams. It’s clear from listening to the soundtrack that it was a labour of love.
Ace Attorney 2001 – present
Composers: Masakazu Sugimori
My favourite visual novel series is next in the list. Since the release of the first game, the music of the Ace Attorney series has been praised by fans and critics alike. One of the greatest aspects of the games is the audio design, and it’s been stated that the original trilogy used the Game Boy Advance sound chip better than any other game on the handheld. And I mean, you can have a listen for yourself.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)
Composers: Manaka Kataoka, Atsuko Asahi, Kazumi Totaka
“You’re no square, so I’ll play you fair. Pull up a chair.”
Since playing Wild World on the DS, I’ve loved the Animal Crossing games dearly. But I didn’t realise how much the music was a part of my love for the games until I clocked several hours into New Leaf. Aside from the gentle melodies of the hourly themes, there’s also the great pieces of music provided by K.K. Slider. A few of my favourites below:
Persona 3 (2003)
Composer: Shoji Meguro
“No one can escape time; it delivers us all to the same end. You can’t plug your ears and cover your eyes.”
Persona 3 was my entry into the MegaTen series and the catalyst of my abusive relationship with Atlus. In terms of the music, I remember being thrown off guard by the Engrish in Burn My Dread and the bizarre Iwatodai Dorm Rap, but it didn’t take long for me to see the light. Mass Destruction remains my favourite battle theme from any Persona game and I won’t debate anyone over it’s greatness. Shoji Meguro is officially one of my favourite video game composers and Persona 3 features some of his greatest work in the series.
SMT IV (2013)
“Here’s hoping we both see each other alive again.”
Composer: Ryota Kozuka
I can say with conviction that SMT IV holds the title of my favourite MegaTen soundtrack; a title SMT: Nocturne held before I played IV. Motifs from earlier games, such as the Ginza theme from Nocturne, were added to the soundtrack, providing a sense of familiarity for older fans like myself. But the acid-jazz, house/electro elements of the OST really made the game an extra enjoyable experience for me. I was blown away by how much tracks such as the Hunter’s Association theme reminded me of Bobby Brown at his peak. The music is so effective in conveying the dystopian post-apocalyptic environment and is a real treat.
Persona 5 (2017)
Composer: Shoji Meguro
“Show me your true form!”
Not even ashamed that Shoji Meguro shows up multiple times in this post; he’s just that much of a goat imo. In the most stylish Persona to date he didn’t disappoint with this soundtrack. Unlike Persona 4, which in my opinion, had a few great tracks but a lot of mediocre ones, Persona 5’s OST is solid throughout. Mass Destruction is still my absolute fave, but Last Surprise is an amazing battle theme and so catchy. The opening strings never got old in the 100-odd hours I clocked in the game. The bass guitar in Layer Cake is superb, as is the electric guitar in Butterfly Kiss.
Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
Composer: Naoto Kubo, Shiho Fujii, Koji Kondo
“I’m busy planning my wedding! Don’t you know how stressful that is?!”
Last but definitely not least in this list (well done for making it this far) is Super Mario Odyssey!
It’s common knowledge how consistently good the music production is in Mario games, but the latest installment in the series, somehow, manages to exceed expectations once again. Watching the official ad with the swing-inspired Jump Up, Super Star! made me feel proud; even though I hadn’t contributed to the game in any way. The idea of developing a theme song with vocals (supplied by Kate Davis) was a genius decision and just makes it that little bit more special. This post has gone on long enough so I won’t embed every single track that I loved, but here are a select few:
That’s it for Volume #1 of The Fangirl Mixtapes – were there any appearances in the post you didn’t agree with? Or was there any game or series you feel that I left out? Leave a comment below!
Until next time,