This year was not a very good one for me in terms of a whole lot of gaming. I couldn’t tell you if it was the drudgery of the year in general or what, but the cloud of 2016 hung over me a fair amount and as such I didn’t get too much under my belt in terms of playing anything. Fortunately I did get some exposure to awesome video game music overall; enough so to cast my votes on what I think stood out this year in terms of original game soundtracks and VGM arrangement albums.
It’s short and sweet, but I think they’re worthy of their titles.
Game Soundtrack of the Year: DOOM
By: Mick Gordon
DOOM was a game that met and exceeded the expectations of a good many gamers, being the reinventing of the classic of the same name and a successor to the series overall. Mick Gordon made sure the soundtrack to the game was no less worthy and it fed the metalhead nerds (myself very much included) with heart-pumping, visceral action music to accompany the intense, gruesome gameplay. By the time you get to the arrangement of “At Doom’s Gate”, if you haven’t already, you start feeling both a mix of nostalgia for the original franchise titles, but also a an appreciation for the new music.
“BFG Division” was the penultimate track of the game for me; it epitomized the soul of the modern DOOM game perfectly, in my opinion. If a game’s music is meant to mimic the spirit of the gameplay and story both, the Gordon nailed it.
Runner Up: Dark Souls 3
By: Yuka Kitamura & Motoi Sakuraba
I’d wanted to do some kind of a review of the soundtrack to Dark Souls 3 after it first came out, but this will have to do instead. The soundtrack, composed by Bloodborne‘s Kitamura alongside Sakuraba (with contributions from Tsukasa Saitoh & Nobuyoshi Suzuki) is that perfect meld of empowering and emotional without being either overpowering or underwhelming. This balance reminded me a lot of Bloodborne‘s OST and I appreciated it, even in the game’s first DLC Ashes of Ariandel. There’s diverse flavor too, from the somber “Abyss Watchers” to the exotic “Dancer of the Boreal Valley” with a lot of throwbacks to previous Souls games, and while I wish I could give every track it’s proper spotlight, I’ll just say that Dark Souls 3 was one of the few games and game OSTs of 2016 I really absorbed to its fullest.
Arrangement Album of the Year: The Galway Works
By: Martin Galway & various artists
A tribute to the music of the Commodore 64 and the works of C64 veteran composer Martin Galway, along with oldschool Amiga composer Allister Brimble, The Galway Works serves as a love letter to the mighty generation of computer gaming. With people like Chris Huelsbeck and Jeroen Tel helping out, it was bound to knock it out of the park and did. I didn’t grow up in the age of the C64, but it’s influence on the music of the Amiga and the awe of playing its games as an adult left enough of an impression on me.
How else do you get the high score from Arkanoid to sound fairly epic? Here you go.
Runner Up: Metalvania
Big surprise, I name a Castlevania tribute album as one of my “Best Of”s of 2016, right?
Well, credit where credit is due. Megadriver did a commendable job making a 26-track album during the year of Akumajou Dracula‘s 30th anniversary. While I might not have cared for every rendition on the album, being the Castlevania snob that I fully admit to being, I will tip my hat to their work of turning “Entrance” and “Chandeliers” from Super Castlevania IV into actual good metal covers, which is no small feat. Metalvania, if nothing else is a diverse album that gives love to several games in the franchise, and not just the popular ones. (And even a cover of the music from the demo of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night; that’s some love)
Tags: Arrangement Albums, Features, Game Music, Original Game Soundtrack, OSVOSTOTY 2016, Soundtrack of the Year
Special Mention(s): A Tribute to SHATTERHAND by munzadeth. This was tied for Runner Up, but since I know everyone who worked on the album it didn’t seem fair; but I wanted to give it a bit of spotlight at least. This album is just plain fun and really does justice to a game that doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves.
Also, Launch by Vic Viper. Again, knew the crew, but it’s too good not to mention.