Game Music

2009 OSVOSTOTY Awards: OSV’s Picks For Best Videogame Soundtracks Of The Year!

February 4, 2010 | | 10 Comments Share thison Facebook 2009 OSVOSTOTY Awards: OSV’s Picks For Best Videogame Soundtracks Of The Year!on Twitter

Welcome to the first Original Sound Version Original Soundtrack of the Year Awards (The O3 Awards for short)! 2009 has been OSV’s first full year in existence, and it’s been a great year for game music. Since everyone else is pumping out his/her top whatever lists, we thought our lovely readers would be interested to hear where we rank 2009’s soundtrack releases.

Check out the OSV staff’s top picks for the year, and let us know about any soundtracks that came out in 2009 that we perhaps missed.  Find our picks after the jump!

Gideon’s Top 5

5. Dissidia: Final Fantasy – PSP

I know, I know. Maybe it isn’t fair to put a soundtrack on this list that consists solely of remixes of previously released material. But, can’t we make an exception for remixes that are THIS good? Essentially, Dissidia is to the Final Fantasy series what Smash Bros. is to Nintendo: a fighting game featuring all the characters we’ve come to love over the years. Thankfully, the soundtrack to the game features remixes of the soundtracks we’ve come to love over the years, as well. It features arrangements of the music from the series by Takeharu Ishimoto and Tsuyoshi Sekito. Remixes run a very tight line and people are awfully picky about them. However, I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love every single one of these.

4. Splosion Man – 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)

I’m willing to bet that Josh Mosley and Twisted Pixel didn’t expect this summer’s XBLA title, ‘Splosion Man, to become the cult classic it did. Featuring the most delightfully psychotic protagonist the video game world has seen in years, ‘Splosion Man, is a difficult platformer featuring a lab experiment gone wrong. This experiment also happened to have just escaped his captors and is exploding himself all around the lab dismembering scientists left and right. This is a comedy. Josh Mosley turns this adventure into a caper with a 60s secret-agent-like jazziness making you feel just evil enough. ‘Splosion Man‘s score might be the only time I’ve felt a score was cheering me on (let alone cheering with trumpets, small choir, and funky guitar). I am very excited for the futures of both Mosley and Twisted Pixel.

3. Red Faction Guerrilla – PS3/360/PC

Timothy Wynn and Jake Kaufman smashed our faces in this summer with the soundtrack for what many are slowly beginning to refer to as the best open-world game to date. Using varied orchestrations, unconventional rhythms, and singing melodies (not so common in the genre), Wynn and Kaufman were able to weave the Red Faction’s sense of struggle and hope with the barren and dead terrain of Mars. Scoring an open-world game is tough thanks to its lack of linear gameplay, but Wynn, Kaufman, and Co. made it work well and without the usual trappings of open-world soundtracks (“car radios,” ambient noise, etc). A very effective soundtrack for a modest price (and more than three hours of great tunes) is a no-brainer on my list.

2. Flower – PS3 (PSN)

Vincente Diamante and thatgamecompany pick you up on the petals of flowers to lead you on a beautiful, relaxing, and completely original experience. Through the use of acoustic guitar and suspensions, in particular, Diamante created a stunning piece of music to help weave one of the most unique games. The score manages to be both subtle and incredibly present all at once. Though the sound with which Diamante had to compete was primarily ambient (wind, rustling, etc), the flowers themselves had music with each petal owning a note of the scale. There were instance where I was able to tell that I had missed a flower in the row by the scale feeling incomplete. Flower may be the best music game of the year without even intending to be. However, big thumbs down to the higher-ups at Sony for not giving this game the official soundtrack release it deserves.

1. Demon’s Souls – PS3

There wasn’t a doubt in the minds of any of the staff here that I’d pick this baby to win my OSVOSTOTY. While much of the gaming music world was running for cover for fear of its complete succumbing to film music aesthetics, a little game published by Atlus walked in unassumingly and kicked us all in the nuts as hard as it could. Punishing difficulty was made enjoyable thanks to Shunsuke Kida’s brilliant and quirky score blending voices, small-yet-violent orchestrations, and classical sensibilities. Demon’s Souls – both game and score – is an underrated gem that will be talked about for years to come. Its score stalks the listener/player with the same tenacity as the enemies in the game turning what is essentially an intimate and intense experience into a mind-eviscerating epic.

Honorable mentions: Killzone 2, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, inFAMOUS, Rhythm Heaven, Ratchet and Clank: Crack In Time

Patrick’s Top 5

5. Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga – Wii

Slipping in right at the end of the year, Team Entertainment published this three disc Motoi Sakuraba soundtrack. In it, Sakuraba drops the whole prog-rock pretense and goes straight for orchestral and/or ambient themes. There’s a small part of me that’s always willing to give a listen to new Sakuraba prog-rock, but I do quickly tire of it. Hearing something new and different from Sakuraba was a welcome reprieve.

4. World of Goo – PC, Wii (WiiWare)

Though he never did grant that interview he first promised us, I still have respect for Kyle Gabler. Why? He wrote a great soundtrack for a great game. He also helped make said game. You’ll find some super cool music in this free-to-download soundtrack. Though it didn’t break into Gideon’s top five, there’s no question for me that it’s one of my favorites from the past year. (note: the game itself was released at the end of 2008, but the soundtrack only came out in 2009)

3. The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road – DS

Known in Japan as RIZ-ZOAWD, this DS game took the Wizard of Oz franchise in a direction I simply didn’t like. But the soundtrack, from Basiscape composers Sakimoto, Iwata and Abe, really made me smile. There have been a lot of good Basiscape soundtracks in the last few years, but there have also been many that failed to win me over. But this? This two disc soundtrack was my favorite RPG soundtrack of the year. It’s a big surprise, even to me! I highly recommend importing it.

2. BlazBlue -Calamity Trigger- – PS3/360

Well, we did give it “Soundtrack of the Month” in August, and it was released in 2009. It should come as no surprise, then, that I count Daisuke Ishiwatari’s latest work among the best of last year. I would like to sum up the soundtrack’s content by saying it’s almost 100% rock, but with each individual track seasoned, or garnished if you prefer (cooking metaphors are key to music reviews! lol…), with music of another style. This is done, usually, to match the personality of the character or the setting of the stage.

1. Shatter – PS3 (PSN)

This game was a new and refreshing take on games like Break Out and Arkanoid. The soundtrack was a conglomerate of some of my favorite music styles. Basically, it sounds like Daft Punk and Kraftwerk had a love child. And his name was Jeramiah “Module” Ross. I continue to listen to this soundtrack on a *very* regular basis, something I cannot say about any other soundtrack on this list. Hence, it gets my top spot.

Honorable mentions: Ys SEVEN, Ys I&II Chronicles, 7th Dragon, Dun-Dam ~Dungeons & Dam~, The Dark Spire

Jayson’s Top 5

5. Torchlight – PC

While there wasn’t an official soundtrack release for this game, fans of Matt Uelmen’s work on the Diablo series owe it to themselves to check out the music files tucked away in the install directory. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard so much music out of Matt Uelmen, and his “Town” track is particularly stunning, standing on par with the legendary “Tristram.” We had a lengthy interview with Uelmen about the project, and there’s even some live pedal steel and classical musical references buried within the score, so check it out if you haven’t already.

4. IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey – PC/PS3/360

Jeremy Soule released a number of soundtracks in 2009, including zOMG!!, Order of War, and IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey. While they were all good in their own way, IL-2 Sturmovik really suck out for its amazing classical sound. In our review of the score, I noted that I often felt like I was sitting in a symphony hall rather than listening to the musical accompaniment to a game. This is some of Soule’s strongest works to date.

3. Katamari Forever – PS2

This soundtrack was downright fun! It had everything from chiptunes, to J-pop idols, to live marching bands. I haven’t really connected with recent Katamari Damacy soundtracks, but this one got me back into it, which is mostly due to the fact that most of the music on this album was remixed from earlier Katamari Damacy titles, but there’s some great original stuff as well. Watch for “Shadow and Light” where Shigeru Matsuzaki holds a note for over 30 seconds. Check out our interview with director and composer Yu Miyake for more information about the soundtrack.

2. Shatter – PS3 (PSN)

While I haven’t played this game, I still love the soundtrack. The tracks are so powerful and catchy, I can’t help but keep it on constant rotation on my iPod. The music itself sounds “gamey,” with heavy electronic influences that remind me of music out of the demoscene during its golden age. I’m still waiting for a physical release of this one, but even if you missed out on the $1 download deal this Christmas, it’s worth the $9.99 regular asking price. Go download it now!

1. Sonic World Adventure (Sonic Unleashed) – PS3 (PSN)

This one came out at the beginning of the year, and set the standard high. I’m not a fan of all the ridiculous pop rock that has made its way into Sonic titles over the past 10 years, so this mainly instrumental and electronic soundtrack was a breath of fresh air for the Sonic series. Countless live performers, an orchestra, and some killer electronic tracks make this soundtrack number one in my books. You definitely owe it to yourself to treat yourself to “Spagonia Night,” which is my favorite song of the year. There are all kinds of ethnic influences here, and the insane catchiness of this soundtrack that didn’t rely on cheesy vocals really did it for me. We even had an interview with lead composer Tomoya Ohtani about the project.

Honorable mentions: Neurovision (this is my number one favorite release of the year, but it’s not a soundtrack…), Ninja Blade, Sword of Vermillion vs. Rent-a-Hero, MadWorld, Borderlands

Joshua’s Top 5

5. Rhythm Tengoku Gold / Rhythm Heaven – DS

I’ve never been a huge fan of J-Pop, but I’ll be damned if I still can’t shake the insanely catchy tunes of the latest Rhythm Tengoku game from my head. I hear it in my sleep. I dream about applauding monkeys and maraca-tailed lizards. Pop music is not supposed to make people like this. But Rhythm Heaven does, and honestly, I’m totally okay with it. Despite the sub-par English versions of the game’s vocal tracks, there are a ton of memorable sequences that are brought to life by Rhythm Heaven‘s ridiculously upbeat and highly infectious soundtrack. And by the way, have you listened to the vocal remix of my favorite track, ‘Love Lab’ by our very own Executive Editor Dale North? Because you really should.

4. World of Goo – PC/Mac, Wii (WiiWare)

Kyle Gabler’s original compositions for his sludge-building puzzle game, World of Goo are as eccentric and charming as the gameplay itself. The soundtrack’s darkly cartoonish feel is reminiscent of a Danny Elfman score, yet still uniquely fitting of the game’s wacky and original concept. An outstanding achievement for Gabbler, whose C.V. now includes “composer” in addition to “maker of awesome award-winning indie games.” Is there anything this man can’t do?

3. Bit.Trip Beat – Wii (WiiWare)

If you pay attention to any of my news coverage, it should be obvious why the soundtrack to Gaijin Games’ retro-inspired rhythm game, Bit.Trip Beat has made my Top 5. Minimalist 8-bit bleeps and bloops stack atop one another, laying the foundation for unbridled audiovisual bliss. Throw in a few guest appearances from New York chiptune legend Bit Shifter and you’ve got yourself a lo-fi soundtrack that perfectly complements the stripped-down retro gameplay that the boys at Gaijin Games are so fond of. You can download all 10 tracks for a mere $6 at CD Baby.

2. Shatter – PS3 (PSN)

Rarely is a game’s soundtrack so good that it drives me to immediately purchase the game itself. But such is the case with Shatter, the steroid-induced brickbreaker game from New Zealand studio Sidhe. One of the most compelling things about Shatter‘s soundtrack that it’s completely unashamed of what it is — a techno/trance odyssey that at first seems to break nearly every established electronica taboo since the early 90’s. But despite any initial feelings of silliness, Jeremiah “Module” Ross’ bloghouse-style compositions still produce a listening experience so entrancing that I could begin to imagine what the game was like before even having played it. Throbbing beats, screaming guitar solos and calming electronic synths coalesce to form one of the most engaging gaming soundtracks of the year.

1. Machinarium – PC/Mac

While a lot of games this past year have made excellent use of audio for the purpose of setting tone and atmosphere, none can come close to the moody and unconventional soundscapes heard in Amanita Design’s point-and-click puzzle adventure, Machinarium. Composer Tomas Dvorak has not only created one of the most stylistically diverse soundtracks of the year, he’s managed to dream up a fully-realized audio experience that reflects and enhances the grimy and melancholy world of Machinarium — and its quirky robotic inhabitants — perfectly. Running the gamut from sloppy, metallic dubstep to haunting woodwind ambience, every track is befitting of the game’s gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, lovable characters and contemplative, environment-based puzzles. I have no doubt that Machinarium‘s sound design will be looked back upon as a landmark achievement in game audio for years to come.

Audun’s Top 5

5. Tokkyu Tenshi – PC

For most of you, this won’t ring any bells, but for me it was one of my most anticipated soundtracks this year, and it delivered big time. EasyGameStation, a Japanese indie game company released Dash De Lei Lei back in 2004 and it became a favorite of mine. The game was a run-em-up where you ran as quick as possible avoiding obstacles and kicking ass. Think Excitebikes with martial arts. Tokkyu Tenshi is the spiritual successor to Dash de Lei Lei, and the soundtrack is a brilliant lighthearted affair. Perfect platforming pop fun, with a blend of Klonoa and Bomberman as influence.

4. Little King’s Story – Wii

The criminally looked over masterpiece on Wii, Little King’s Story features some of the best music so far on the console. Yutaka Minobe took classical music from composers such as Bizet and Tchaikovsky and arranged it into an almost Disney like quality, making each scenario, area and event in the game a bit more magical and memorable. There was no official soundtrack for this outside of a promo disc given out at a conference, but we can only hope that a full release will see it’s way onto the market. Check out our interview with Yutaka Minobe for more info, and by all means pick this baby up.

3. GUNHOUND – PC

This made it just in time, being released in mid-December, but boy is it awesome. GUNHOUND is a new mecha action game from the new company Dracue and is very similar to my all time favorite game series, Assault Suits from Masaya. The soundtrack differs a bit from Assault Suits as it is less aggressive and more popish and more in line with classic action games. It’s no surprise that it sounds classic as it is composed by non other than Kinuyo Yamashita.

2. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth – Wii (WiiWare)

Speaking of just in time, this came out mere days before new years. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth was the triumphant return of an original Castlevania game as the gameplay was retro glory, taking inspiration from the first 4 titles of the series, as well as the Game Boy titles (which I’m certain that I’m the only one who actually love those games.) The soundtrack consists of remixes and arrangements of old Castlevania classics such as Haunted Castle, Castlevania and Castlevania: Bloodlines. The soundtrack for this and Contra ReBirth is scheduled for an official CD release in March.

1. Let’s TAP – Wii

Leave it to Shinji Hosoe to make the catchiest soundtrack imaginable. Him and his team at SuperSweep crafted a brilliant mix of many styles, from disco, pop, bossa nova and trance along with the coolest theme song ever, “Tap de Papapaya.” The game itself might not be the best release of the year by any means, but the soundtrack is out of this world.

Honorable mentions: Muscle March, From Loud 2 Low Too, Let’s Go Away The Video Game DAYTONA USA Anniversary Box

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