By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 5th, 2016
To begin the auditory section of our awards, here’s the boss, Steve Baltimore.
2012: Xenoblade Chronicles
2013: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F
2014: Shovel Knight
STEVE: Lots of games came out this year with great soundtracks. Now it is time to declare which one of them had the most toe tapping, stuck in your head for days songs. Here are the nominees.
- Persona 4: Dancing all Night, composed and arranged by Various Artists
While I never thought I’d see a rhythm game based off the Persona Series, Persona 4: Dancing all Night turned out to be a really enjoyable experience. Featuring remixed songs from the series, there were a ton of tunes to be found in this soundtrack. Some of my personal favorites were Maze of Life, Time to Make History and Specialist.
- Splatoon, composed by Toru Minegishi and Shiho Fujii, complete with songs from Squid Squad, Chirpy Chips, Hightide Era, DJ Lee Fish, and Squid Sisters (we’re pretty sure those last few are fake names)
Splatoon was Nintendo’s breakout hit of last year. Aside from it’s fast and furious gameplay Splatoon has one of the most groovy soundtracks I’ve heard in quite a while. I’ve always been a fan of techno style music and there is plenty of great tracks here. These beats will get in your head and be stuck there for many days.
- Undertale, composed by Toby “Radiation” Fox
While Undertale has been praised for its unique story and gameplay it should be mentioned that the soundtrack is pretty amazing as well. Toby Fox has composed some of the most emotionally charged chiptunes I’ve heard in a long time. This entire soundtrack is like a tribute to great 16 bit tunes of yesteryear and really should not be missed.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X, composed by Hiroyuki Sawano
Hiroyuki Sawano composed the soundtrack for the awe inspiring Xenoblade Chronicles X. He is probably best known of his works on popular anime shows such as Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan. This soundtrack has a bit of everything, super catchy overworld theme to aid you in hours of exploring planet Mira, somber musical pieces to heighten the emotional moments, and a somewhat controversial battle theme that gets you pumped for combat.
- Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX, composed by Various Artists
I’ve been a huge fan of the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series for years. I was pretty excited when I learned we would finally be getting the 3DS incarnation, Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX here in the West. Featuring classic tracks such as Miku’s The World is Mine and Rin’s Kokoro along with slew of new tracks, I knew the music here would be top notch, and I was not wrong.
AND THE WINNER IS…
You just can’t stop a good beat. Splatoon deliverers one of most catchy and fun soundtracks of year. Fans worldwide are probably bobbin’ their head to the beat as you are reading this.
And for our favorite individual songs, we have newcomer Joseph Puntschart.
2012: Main Theme from Xenoblade Chronicles
2013: Main Theme from Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
2014: Strike the Earth from Shovel Knight
JOSEPH: What makes game soundtracks so unique is that it is very versatile and designers can practically put any type of music into their games as long as it fits the overall aesthetic. 2015 is no different in this case, as this soundtracks have yielded quite a good list of video game songs. There are a mixture of games represented in this list from family friendly titles to role playing epics. So let’s get started on naming the Top 5 video game songs of 2015.
- Calamari Inkantation (Splatoon)
This is a techno song that plays on the fourth phase of the final boss. It adopts a high-tech like approach that wouldn’t be out of place in a futuristic dungeon crawler series like the Japan only 7th Dragon series. Nintendo’s sound designers have really pulled out the stops to produce a techno themed soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in a nightclub. The instrument choice is fairly simple, as seen in Super Mario 3D World and other modern Nintendo games, and the vocals on top add a defining characteristic to the song, helping to showcase Nintendo at their creative best.
- MAZE OF LIFE (Persona 4: Dancing All Night)
Ah, this one. This song previously appeared in 2014’s Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth but was altered slightly to fit the rhythm game mechanics of Persona 4: Dancing All Night, therefore this song should be instantly familiar for Persona fans. Shihoko Hirata’s vocals fit well with the music, which in itself is very fitting for a Persona game. The song also gels well with P4DAN, having been able to fit into the rhythm based mechanics of that title. It’s well worth a listen, and while it may not be for a mainline Persona game, it certainly stands up there with songs from the parent game.
- Sins of the Father (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
Oh, Konami, your fall from grace has happened ever so quickly ever since you chose a CEO that steered you toward mobile gaming. In a way, this song from Hideo Kojima’s swansong from working at Konami fits perfectly. The epic, orchestrated soundtrack piece contains vocals by Donna Burke and could very much fit in a movie. The song lets the vocals take the lead for the majority of its runtime, and they are excellent and is what makes the piece so special and well done. Arguably the most Western oriented track in this list (especially as the lyrics are in English) but that doesn’t make it any less qualified.
- z5m20i12r04a28 (Xenoblade Chronicles X)
Another Western-inspired Japanese game on the list, and this time with a rather atmospheric desert. z5m20i12r04a28, otherwise known as Mira’s Theme or Theme of Mira, is an Arabian-inspired desert piece, complete with tribal chants which make for a very convincing atmosphere, before these instruments take a step back for more epic, Western inspired flair. Xenoblade Chronicles X had a soundtrack that divided critics, but there’s no doubt about it that a lot of effort was put into the game’s tracks, and z5m20i12r04a28 is an excellent example of this. Hiroyuki Sawano and his team should be proud of what they accomplished with this song.
- Eiyuu Senki ~The World Conquest~ Title Theme (Eiyuu Senki)
The title theme for the digital download exclusive Eiyuu Senki rounds out the nominations. This song plays when you boot up the main menu of the game, and is a well composed song in every sense of the word. It is orchestrated like Sins of the Father, however has a simple melody like that of MAZE OF LIFE. This is surprising to an extent, considering that this title originally started life as an adult PC title before being ported to PS3 and PS Vita. It gives the tone of an expedition about to begin, which is what occurs in Eiyuu Senki. The composers over at Tenco have produced a very fitting title theme which deserves its place on this list.
AND THE WINNER IS…
MAZE OF LIFE (Persona 4: Dancing All Night)
ATLUS takes the prize for oprainfall’s ‘Best Song of 2015!’ It’s well deserved, as this tune is one of the simplest yet catchiest tunes, therefore it’s easy to dance to and get lost in the music. The composers at ATLUS have done a fine job with this tune, and with Persona 5 and Odin Sphere Leifthrasir releasing this year (and if rumours are true, Etrian Odyssey V) ATLUS also stands a chance of winning again next year. We shall see.
Axiom VergeBloodborneCloudDungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Sealeiyuu senkiFatal Frame: Maiden of Black WaterHatsune Miku Project Mirai DXKirby and the Rainbow CurseMario Kart 8Metal Gear Solid V : The Phantom PainMonster Hunter 4 UltimatePersona 4: Dancing All NightPlague of ShadowsShovel KnightSplatoonSteins;GateStella GlowSuper Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii UThe Binding of Isaac: AfterbirthUndertaleXenoblade Chronicles XYoshi's Woolly World