If there's one thing I enjoy about gaming, it's the music I sometimes bump into. There's nothing quite like playing a game and then hear a tune that just makes you smile or bop your head to the beat. Whether that's One Winged Angel kicking in at the final section of Final Fantasy 7, or the boss theme from Xenoblade Chronicles. The very calm, soothing sounds from Journey's story sections, or the up-tempo beats from Child of Eden. I can get more into a game if the soundtrack is right. I also like collecting the ones I really love. It's one of the reasons that I will always look for a soundtrack of some kind when buying collector's editions of games. How did this all start though?
Quite predictably for me, it started with Final Fantasy 7. Some fantastic music just bringing a brilliant RPG to life. The physical soundtrack cost around £45 from Forbidden Planet back when I was young. A bit too much for me at the time. A while afterwards, I recall getting hold of the ending theme for Ico from the official Ico website (I think that was just pure luck!)
In fact, the PS2 in general was a great time for music in games (at least for me). I had great fun with Gitaroo Man. There's not much I can do when I have to fight off a musical UFO or a trio of skeletons doing a Mexican number on me. As well as Ico, there was Shadow of the Colossus's moving themes in each battle, building up to a climax as you start to get the better of your foe. I can't forget Okami in the mix either. A beautiful game matched with a fantastic soundtrack which gave the game a more Japanese feel. The final boss theme in particular was a particular highlight. The ending theme was enough to make me buy the artist's actual album (though I was heavily into finding Japanese music by that point)
Then there's Persona 3 and Persona 4. Similar but modern soundtracks that matched the game's background. Square-Enix deserve praise for putting Persona 4's main soundtrack in with the game (all dungeon and battle music). While we're on the subject of modern sounds, there's also The World Ends With You from the DS, which packed a very modern and great soundtrack at all stages of the game. Dissidia: Final Fantasy and it's sequel (both on PSP) obviously packed the classic Final Fantasy tunes from every single game except FFXIV. Lots to choose from - even if you only use it as a backdrop for a one minute fight...
Coming into the modern generation, Xenoblade Chronicles stands out as one of the best soundtracks I've heard. Battle themes, town themes, story themes, all easy to listen to and keeps you going as you explore the vast plains and swamps (amongst other areas). Then you have Flower and Journey. Both short games but making use of the music to set a mellow atmosphere to relax you into their worlds.
Finally, this brings me up to Child of Eden. The whole game is music based as you score points based on how well you can fire lasers to the beat of the music. Just as well that the music was good enough to make me hunt for a dedicated soundtrack for that as well. Except that there isn't one. I did persevere though and found that Genki Rockets created some of the pieces of the music in the game. I bought both of their albums recently and they've barely left me since!
In short, I love video game music...
(Oh and I did eventually get the FF7 soundtrack - thanks to the Distant Worlds concert in London...)
Final Fantasy 7 - One Winged Angel
Ico - You Were There
Gitaroo Man - Flyin' To Your Heart (English In-game version)
Okami - Rising Sun
Persona 3 - Mass Destruction (Battle music)
Persona 4 - Reach out to the Truth (Battle music)
The World Ends With You - Twister
Xenoblade Chronicles - Gaur Plains
Flower - Sailing on the Wind
Journey - Apotheosis
Genki Rockets - Fly! (sampled in the final stages of the first level in Child of Eden)