With Xmas almost here, I have one more promise to fulfill which is celebrating a year of beautiful soundtracks. 2013 has brought me many a new tune to delight in and of course as Battle Bard, it is my sacred duty to share rather than keep them all to myself.
While we are all listing across the blogosphere, I officially dedicate this post to happy #listmas – a fun blogger initiative started by Murf vs. Internet bringing all the blogosphere lists together over the holidays. There is still time to join for that!
Videogame Soundtracks of the Year
I will add that not all of these games were released in 2013 and at least one of them is actually still in the future(!) Some have had their soundtracks released later or then they have come to me late. My year of videogame music is therefore truly my year although there are mostly 2013 releases among them.
1. Dust – An Elysian Tail (2013)
My GOTYs tend to be games that also come with a brilliant soundtrack. Dust AET is such a title and there are no VGM aficionados who haven’t shed a tear over the beautiful music created by Hyperduck Soundworks this year. My favorite tracks are Falana and Cirromon Caverns.
2. Don’t Starve (2013)
Another GOTY, Don’t Starve’s soundtrack echoes every bit the quirky, playful and creepy “Nightmare before Christmas”-style of the game. This OST by Vince de Vera and Jason Garner is a lot of fun and despite its generally shorter tracks, not to be missed. My favorites are the Main Title and Work To Be Done.
3. World of Goo (2008)
WoG is a special little game with a spooky and magical soundtrack, that opens the door to childhood memories such as Beetlejuice or King Arthur for me. The best part? The complete OST has been made available for free by composer Kyle Gabler – so what are you waiting for? Personal favorites: Rain Rain Windy Windy and Are You Coming Home, Love Mom.
4. The Legend of Zelda – A Link between Worlds (2013)
Possibly my favorite game on the 3DS, ALBW comes with a splendid soundtrack full of familiar Zelda cues. My favorite tracks include Dark Palace Maze, Swamp Palace, Lorule Castle and the good old acid flashback that is the Lost Woods.
5. Animal Crossing New Leaf (2013)
The second best handheld title I played this year, it was lovely to dive back into the world of Animal Crossing with New Leaf. This franchise is loaded with a unique charm and quirkiness, accompanied by a wonderfully diverse soundtrack. Every hour of the day plays a different tune in animal town, so I have too many favorites to count (although I am partial to 7PM, 11PM and the Main Streets) . Check them out for yourself!
6. Phoenix Wright – Dual Destinies (2013)
Ambivalent about some of the characters and dialogue in DD, the game has produced many memorable and high tension tracks such as Announce the Truth, Logic Trinity, Last Promotion, Cross Examination and Court Begins. Fans of the typical Japanese anime flavor will love this.
7. Professor Layton – Miracle Mask (2012)
Although the Azran Legacy has only come out this November, I love the more haunting tracks from its predecessor, Miracle Mask; Puzzles Abound and Illusion are definitely among my top sparkly tunes of the year!
8. Final Fantasy – A Realm Reborn (2013)
Moving away from indie games and handheld titles, FF:ARR delivered some of the most beautiful music as far as MMO releases go in 2013. While the game wasn’t quite reborn for me personally, I will listen to beautiful tracks such as Ul’dah at Night or Sacred Bonds for a long time to come. Now if only SE added the ARR-OST to their store.
9. Wildstar (2014)
While the Battle Bards have already paid homage to Wildstar and Jeff Kurtenacker this year, we have no doubt much to look forward to as far as its complete OST release is concerned. WS is all about thematic fusion and I especially love the Character Customization or Highland Vista themes.
10. Lime Odyssey (unreleased?)
A lesser known MMO title that cannot quite make it to launch, my thanks go to @Soltanis for providing me with a link to the music of Lime Odyssey by legendary composer Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross). It’s a sad thing when great soundtracks are tied to unfortunate launches, never making it to a wider audience. Tracks such as Bluecoral Town and many of the beautifully uplifting BGMs deserve to be heard by a wider audience.
11. DOTA 2 (2013)
Not surprisingly, DOTA 2 has some glorious and epic music composed by none less than Jason Hayes, former lead composer for WoW and WCIII, as well as Tim Larkin (Portal). There is much to love here despite shorter length . My favorite tracks would be Laning 1 (and many tracks of a similar name), World Map and many a Main Menu theme.
12. Various Bits & Bobs
Some OSTs don’t warrant purchasing the entire album but leave a mark in our memory nonetheless, thanks to an outstanding title or two. For completeness sake, I’ll mention them here in no particular order, in case you’d like to browse further from there:
- Assassin’s Creed IV – The Fortune of Edward Kenway & In the Midst (2013)
- Hearthstone – Main Title & Duel (2013)
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Winged Hope & The Inventor (2013)
- Bioshock Infinite – Lutece & Doors (2013)
- Rayman Legends – Enchanted Forest Pursuit & When the Wind Blows (2013)
- Scrolls – Menu Theme (2013 alpha)
- The Witcher 2 – The Path of a Kingslayer & A Tavern on the Riverbank (2011)
- Castlevania LoS – The Hunting Path (2010)
13. Lucky number thirteen: Chrono Trigger Symphony
Saving the best for last, my special bonus recommendation for you are both albums of the amazing Chrono Trigger Symphony by Blake Robinson’s Synthetic Orchestra. Die-hard CT fan or not, there is not much that comes close in terms of quality and stellar orchestration in the world of VG OSTs. A third album is in the works – until then, you have Yearnings of the Wind, The Trial , Frog’s Theme and sooooo many more to keep you company. Do not miss this!
With that, I really hope I included my most important picks for 2013 in this post. I’ve a feeling I forgot something but hey, it’s a start right? I included links to official distribution pages in the titles where I know them but you will still need to browse youtube here and there to find out more. Videogame OSTs do still not receive the attention they deserve from some publishers or even developers, which is a sad affair for fans worldwide waiting to purchase the soundtrack and support composers. However, we can spread the word, let the artists know how much we appreciate them and bring as many players (and potential music lovers) onboard as possible. Here’s to another great year of VG music and hopefully much goodness to share in 2014! Happy Holidays all!