kory I’ve been putting some occasional thought into this, here’s where I am at the moment:
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Chrono Cross (PSX)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
Wild Arms (PSX)
Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (SNES)
Top Gear Rally (N64)
Doom 64 (N64)
Ys I & II Chronicles (PC)
Metal Gear Solid (PSX)
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! (GBA)
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster (various)
I’ve been thinking of how I can more holistically consider “game audio,” so I wanted to include a few entries that go above and beyond “just” having an incredible OST. The two that came to mind were WarioWare and MGS. The former is so incredible at completely owning the janky lo-fi bit-crushed sound of the GBA, and this extends not only to the music but all of the various "wah!"s and other sundry vocal samples. MGS gets points for having imo the best OST in the series (with all due respect to Harry Gregson-Williams…I just think the latter games became a bit too generically “cinematic”), but also for having absolutely delicious and crunchy menu and interface sfx. They are right up there with the Half-Life sfx, but I think MGS is the total package in this regard.
I struck Wild Arms because I’ve been playing it a bit recently and noticed that the sfx do not really hold up compared to the, admittedly transcendental, OST. I mean, they’re charming in that SOTN bat transformation sound sense, but I think this violates that “holistic” approach I’m trying for here.
I struck TGR because I think it’s really just a niche little pleasure of mine and perhaps not the best example of a pillar of game audio excellence. Astal I took off because, as amazing as some of the tracks are, I dunno I just find that game hard to play and it didn’t feel right including something I’ve never truly experienced in a full sense. I probably just stuck it on here because I was so enamored by the one track I included on my summer mixtape.
I struck Waterworld because, let’s be honest, this is really just a virtuosic Dean Evans chiptune album and really has nothing at all to do with this game or IP. Nothing wrong with that as a work of art, but it feels wrong to elevate a (reportedly) mediocre-at-best game that I’ve never played because of that.
I’m striking Tetris CD-i and Doom 64, tentatively. I think each of them are basically perfect at evoking a very specific aesthetic, but I’ve never actually played the former and, for the latter, it’s just music that I don’t think I would ever listen to outside of playing the game (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing!).
I stuck Ys I & II Chronicles (PC) on there because I saw @Nemoide mention it! I just picked up Ys II again and, yeah, it definitely belongs in consideration.
I added Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster because of just how well the OST captured the otherworldliness of the whole experience, as well as the absolutely vicious battle themes. I think the battle themes elevate it just slightly above SMTIV–plus, by a technicality, I get the best track from IV (“Tokyo” from IV is available as an alternate overworld theme via DLC).
I’m still mulling over DKC vs DKC2…I kinda wish I could combine them somehow. It really comes down to “Aquatic Ambiance” vs. “Stickerbrush Symphony”……..how could I possibly choose??
Update! I just listened through the DKC and DKC2 osts and, on the strength of “In a Snow-Bound Land,” “Stickerbrush Symphony,” “Hot-Head Bop,” “Forest Interlude,” and “Bayou Bogie” I really have to hand it to the latter.