So, a lot of us seem to really like the opinion poll format that we’ve done here, in imitation of the Sight & Sound version for movies. We also did a movie one which was also fun!
The forums have been positively abuzz over the idea of doing one for videogame soundtracks, so, let’s see if we will have some interest in doing so, and also plan and go over a few things.
I’ll reproduce the rules as explained by @yeso, with some cursory adjustments:
- Don’t rank your choices, just list 10 games
- Lists will be considered final as of TBD, but let’s say, probably somewhere in the second half of June. Editing your list freely until the deadline is totally allowed. The more lists we have the more nuanced and detailed the results will be so lurkers and new users please post!
- Put the words “List” or “My List” formatted as Header text (made by putting three hashtags like this ### in front the text, one space, and then put in some line breaks after that. This is just so it’s easier to find for the purpose of collecting the data.
- Minor Note: I think I can probably commit to doing the data collection, and while I will adore and appreciate all of your lists, I will be using the Like function to keep track of which lists I’ve collected, once I get down to it.
**words of advice: you will see other lists posted here. Other forum users will state opinions about them. Don’t listen only your opinion matters in this thread. You’re right and they’re wrong (for the purposes of this thread)
**A note on “Greatestness” - your choices don’t have to by guided by an attempt at objectivity or historical importance (unless you want them to). Read through some of the contributors’ rationales for some ideas of how to approach your list
I think just because of the sort of granular nature of the subject matter of the poll, I am going to just throw out some axiomatic statements about what I think are true about videogame soundtracks and the listing thereof. I’d kind of like to at least get an idea of what others think about them, so that we can adjust the criteria for submissions accordingly. I’m completely open to changes and discussion and I think doing so will result in a more interesting and varied list.
First off, there are probably going to be a LOT of weird edge cases on what could be considered a game’s soundtrack, so I just want to try to throw out a sort of unifying definition of what a “soundtrack” is and can be considered:
A game’s soundtrack is anything that would be played during gameplay
OR that is included on the storage media of a physical release (or theoretically would be in the case of games that have only existed in a digital format)
OR has been included in an official “OST” style release, and is not implied to be bonus arrangements or whatever.
An unexhaustive list of further micro-implications and clarifications:
- Supplementary song collections or arrangements, even if they’re official, are NOT a part of a game’s soundtrack. For example, Tommy Talarico ass orchestral arrangements and OC Remix concept cover albums are NOT part of a game’s soundtrack, even if you get some on the CD release of the soundtrack, because they were not explicitly produced to be used as a part of the game.
- Songs that don’t appear in the final release because they were cut content, ARE a part of a game’s soundtrack, so long as they’re accessible within the game’s files (i.e. on the storage media), or are included in an official OST. For example, Song That Might Play When You Fight Sans is a part of the Undertale OST. It’s not included in the game’s files, but it is on the official OST album.
- Secret tracks available on certain disc media games that can be played by putting the game disc into a CD player, such as with the PlayStation version of Symphony of the Night, ARE a part of the game’s soundtrack (included on the storage media).
- For simplicity’s sake, if an official OST album has regional differences, like regional dependent bonus tracks, as long as most of the tracks are the same, let’s say the game’s OST includes all of the available bonus tracks.
- If a game has multiple versions, and those versions have fundamentally different soundtracks, those would be two separate soundtracks, even if most would agree the game itself is a port.
- A soundtrack that has been remastered on a later re-release, but not significantly changed otherwise, is not a fundamentally different soundtrack. You can choose to say that you like one particular version over the other but we’ll count that as one soundtrack.
- Those so-called “Restorations” of game soundtracks to allegedly restore compressed samples that appeared on games into “studio” quality or whatever are definitely their own thing and are not to be considered as a part of a game’s soundtrack. If one really blew your mind, make it its own submission, I guess.
- If there are any fan games or ROM Hacks out there that were ambitious enough to create a whole new soundtrack to add to or even replace the existing soundtrack, it is a separate soundtrack from the original. Put some respect on them for doing that!
- One issue I have no idea how to address is early computer based releases with MIDI soundtracks that would sound different based on your computer’s sound card. So… anyone feel like they can make a ruling on that?
Some other more philosophical musings:
- We can acknowledge that a game’s soundtrack is the totality of it and not just a handful of songs, and while that is something to consider when creating your list, it’s totally your prerogative to include a game OST on the strength of even a single piece on it. In the words of @yeso , you’re right, they’re wrong.
- While I think we can all personally make decisions on whether or not its presence in the game changes whether it deserves to be on your list, a game being good or bad has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the soundtrack is good. Also known as The Follin Factor.
- It’s your call to consider whether or not the existence of something like Chrono Trigger: The Brink of Time informs how you feel about the OST to Chrono Trigger, but the inclusion of it in your list is specifically about honoring what was included in actual releases or forms of the game itself.
- I’m on the fence about this so I want to hear about how others feel about a game’s overall audio design being a part of its “soundtrack.” I think I’m of the opinion it would be cool of us to say that we’re very much informed by the game’s overall audio design as contributing to its soundtrack, and that an OST is not just a collection of things in song format. OR maybe if we should say this poll is about honoring game audio in general. Idk!
As usual while posting on the insert credit forums, I made something more complicated than it needed to be, so uh, yeah! Let’s see if there’s interest in doing this, and then go over some finer points, like "you’re overthinking things as usual @Gaagaagiins."