Tactics Ogre might just have my single favourite soundtrack of any game. This week, I present the hero’s theme, appropriately heroic. Enjoy!
I cannot believe that in almost three years of Musical Mondays (how time flies), I have never presented this song. It’s the first battle theme heard in Final Fantasy Tactics – arguably it’s the signature battle theme of FFT. Unfortunately, there has never been an orchestrated or remastered version of the FFT soundtrack; the song below is what you would hear in the original Playstation or PSP game. Enjoy!
This week’s song is another of my favourites from Grim Fandango. It’s possible to miss it entirely — it plays in one teensy, tiny, optional room — and that would be a shame. It’s so great that I lingered to listen. Enjoy!
Note: I’ve decided to change the format again – the site’s been lagging, and I suspect this because there are too many videos on the front page. Click through for the video.
In honour of the Grim Fandango re-release, I present one of my favourite tracks from the original. Enjoy!
If you played PC strategy games during the mid-2000s, this (oddly named) song will bring back memories for you. Enjoy!
For this week’s song, I was spoiled for choice — ever since playing Empire at War, I’ve been in the mood for Star Wars music. In the end, I opted for the hopeful, yearning piece below. Enjoy, and may the Force be with you, gentle reader!
This year, I kick off with one of my favourite pieces of ambient music from Endless Legend, a game that has a lot of good ambient music. (Confusingly, the song goes by two different names.) Enjoy!
This week’s song is another one of my favourites from Fallout: New Vegas. Enjoy!
After giving up on my dream of restoring the Persian empire in Crusader Kings II – believe me, I tried every strategy, half a dozen characters, and many, many times – I decided to try a Norse ruler instead. And wow, the Norse music (contained in the “Hymns to the Old Gods” DLC) is pretty good. The example below is lovely and mellow – enjoy! EDIT: It’s also mellower than the image would suggest – I only just noticed the dangling bodies. Yikes!
Here’s another gem from the Valkyria Chronicles soundtrack. It’s one of the game’s more iconic battle themes (despite the name, it plays in regular rather than boss battles); to me, this is VC. Enjoy!
This week, I present two variations on the same theme. The main title theme of Gabriel Knight is forty seconds of tension, followed by two minutes of intensity. It pops up again, this time a gentle guitar piece, as the ambient music in Gabriel’s bookstore. It’s stuck in my mind all these years, and below, I’ve linked the remastered versions from the new remake. Enjoy!
Frozen Synapse has recently been ported to Vita (as Frozen Synapse: Prime), so for this week, I thought I’d highlight my favourite track from the original game. Together with the visual design, the music is key to the game’s cyberpunk atmosphere – I suspect it’s especially important given the minimalism of the rest of the game. Enjoy!
This week’s song begins slowly, and it’s not as “attention-grabbing” as, say, the music that plays during the finale. Give it 30 seconds. I love how it builds to a higher, hopeful note. Enjoy!
Change of format this week – I’m including the video on the front page. I’ll revert this if it ends up lagging the page; otherwise, it should spare the need to click through.
This week’s song is a great, quirky, happy piece from a great, quirky, happy game. It’s perhaps my single favourite from the Katamari soundtrack – no small feat, given how strong the other songs are. Enjoy!
This week’s song is another gem from FF6, which excelled at clear, simple, memorable character themes. I’m slowly learning how to play it on the piano; the version I linked below is the SNES original music. Decades later, it still sounds good. Enjoy!
With speculation swirling about the fate of Studio Ghibli, I’ve chosen to celebrate their work by presenting the main theme of Ni no Kuni. The world map theme, which I highlighted last year, is a variant. Enjoy!
This week’s song is the opening theme to Spice and Wolf, a low-fantasy anime about the travels of a merchant and his unexpected companion — a pagan wolf goddess. It’s a gentle song for a gentle show (the franchise would make a great, non-combat-oriented game); enjoy!
This week’s song is another piece from Child of Light, but it’s very different to the last one I linked. Last time, I highlighted CoL‘s sad, lovely main theme; but for this week, I’ve chosen a soaring, powerful boss theme, my favourite out of the battle themes in the game. (I can’t understand why the boss themes aren’t available on the official soundtrack – they are excellent both in their own right and as part of the overall experience.) Enjoy!
This week’s song I’ve known and loved for years — it plays between chapters of Tactics Ogre, as the narration explains how the characters’ actions have affected the broader war raging around them. Quite simple, but catchy and effective. Enjoy!
This week’s song is the lovely main menu music of Child of Light, one of this year’s notable RPGs. It does double duty as the main character’s theme, and its motifs recur thoughout the game. Enjoy!
Chrono Trigger is another 16-bit classic whose soundtrack remains a delight, two decades on. It’s been remixed and fan-covered many times, and this week, I present Taylor Davis’ violin rendition of “Frog’s Theme” — Frog being one of your first party members, a knight who’s been transformed into a giant, bipedal… well, frog. Enjoy!
This week’s song is one of those beautiful, melancholy pieces I like so much — I’ve loved it for years, long before I touched the actual game. It’s another recurring fixture of Final Fantasy arranged concerts, and below, I’ve embedded both an orchestral version and a piano version that’s closer to the simplicity of the in-game song. Enjoy!
This month marks the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VI‘s Japanese release, and despite the game’s age (and the technical limitations of its platform, the SNES), I still think its soundtrack is one of the best in video game history. I’ve also been meaning to get back into practice with the piano! So it was a thrill to find, and be able to import, Final Fantasy VI: Original Sound Version Piano Solo Sheet Music via Amazon. You can see my recently arrived copy on the left, and if you’d like to peek inside, I’ve posted the book’s version of Terra’s theme at the bottom of this page.
The book itself is a 197-page collection of what I believe is every single song on FF6‘s OST, from opening to ending (1). According to the Final Fantasy Wiki, it’s aimed at beginner to intermediate pianists, and this sounds about right — after so many years of disuse my skills have atrophied all the way back to “beginner”, but with a bit of work I can still play recognisable, if mangled, character themes.
On this note, the book’s arrangements (by Asako Niwa) hew quite closely to the in-game music, perhaps a little too closely — many songs loop rather than tapering to a “natural” close. Still, I think the book’s literal approach works — it preserves the strength, clarity, and simplicity of Nobuo Uematsu’s original soundtrack, and since I know the game music quite well, this also makes it a bit easier for me to learn.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase so far. While it’s still early days — I haven’t even touched the left-hand part of each song — I feel that the book sits in the happy intersection between “easy on the ears” and “not too hard to learn”. It’s also succeeded at motivating me to pick up the piano again — I think I’ve played more in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last few years. Book in hand, I plan to keep practicing hard, and (with the proviso that it is a bit expensive) I’d recommend it to anyone else who might be interested.
Do you play music? If so, what do you like to play, and have you tried your hand at soundtracks? Drop a note in the comments!
(1) Note that there is another, separate book called Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections, which contains fewer songs, is a bit more ornate in its arrangement, and is aimed at more advanced pianists.
Since I recently highlighted Raidou Kuzunoha‘s re-release on PSN, for this week I’ve chosen the bright, jazzy song that plays when you return to the main character’s office. The game is set in an alternate 1931 Japan, home to both flappers and kimono-clad passersby, and as you listen to the saxophone, imagine that mix of eras and cultures captured in the setting. Enjoy!
This week, I present a chirpy piano take on gaming’s most iconic music (as arranged on this album). The first video is a studio recording – just the music, no background sound – and it’s pretty cool. The second is a noisy live recording, frequently interrupted by audience cheers – but it’s worth your time, because the pianist plays the first half blindfolded. Enjoy!
With Dark Souls II just out, the time is ripe to highlight composer Motoi Sakuraba’s previous work! This week, I give you the opening credits theme of Valkyrie Profile, a beautiful song for a beautiful, unique RPG whose retrospective I keep meaning to write. There’s a strong, majestic element to the song, but also a more pensive one; as you listen, picture the scene in-game, as Valkyrie walks through the fields of Asgard, wind blowing around her. Enjoy! And if you’d like to listen to more Sakuraba, you can listen to my previous round-up here.
Since I alluded to this song a few days ago, I decided to feature it as this week’s featured piece. It’s popped up in basically every single Final Fantasy orchestral concert over the last decade, and for good reason — it’s lovely. Below, I’ve embedded the version from the 2007 Distant Worlds CD. Enjoy!
This week’s song (by Austin Wintory, of Journey fame) is The Banner Saga‘s main menu theme. It’s very short, just 45 seconds, but it’s lovely and does a great job of setting the emotional tone for the game. Enjoy!
It’s time to round up the suggestions I received for Musical Monday! There are ten altogether below the cut; some were listed in the comments beneath my initial post, while others were the subject of a write-in. Above each song, I’ve added my own thoughts; the actual videos are embedded inside spoiler tags, to avoid crashing/lagging browsers. There’s some good and varied music here, so happy listening, and thank you all for taking part!
For the first Musical Monday of 2014, I’ve chosen a song first heard when the heroes of Persona 3 welcome in the new year, and unlike most of the songs I post, this one is not cheery, exciting, or energetic. There’s a sadness to it — but also a sense of quiet, determined strength. I like it a lot, and I hope you will, too.