Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday 10s; the ten finest Final Fantasy music tracks

List by Matt S.

Everyone likes a top-10 list. They're a bit of fun, and always good for discussion. And so every so often we pull together a "top 10" list. These are here for fun and laughs - we're not pretending that we're the authority of good games taste in the world and this is purely the author's preferences. Agree with him/ her or not, it's all good.

We'd love to hear your own personal preferences in the comments below the list. But please do be civil. We're all friends here!

This week, in honour of the recent release of Final Fantasy X/ X-2 Remaster, we thought we would take a look back at the Final Fantasy music over the years. Below are my favourite 10!

The Main Theme - Final Fantasy 1

For many, many people this theme song was people's first taste of a series of game soundtracks that would be turned into symphony in their own right. Despite being hamstrung by limited hardware at the time, this soaring melody is inspirational, and when it's fully orchestrated, it's even better. By very definition this is a classic Final Fantasy tune.




Chocobo Theme (various games)

There are only a couple of common elements to Final Fantasy games. Chocobo is one of them. The oversized chickens have been a part of every numbered Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy 2, and each time, whenever a player jumps on the back of a Chocobo, he/ she is treated to remix of a classic theme. Cheerful, friendly, and as cute as the Chocobos themselves, this theme is one of the main reasons that the giant birds have been so popular for so long.



Suteki Da Ne - Final Fantasy X

It's not often that the Final Fantasy games have lyrics, but one specific scene in Final Fantasy X used a pop song format to a tear-jerker of an effect. Final Fantasy X is at heart a love story, and any good love story needs a song to accompany it. While Final Fantasy X's music never misses a beat this song is something special.



Terra's Theme - Final Fantasy VI

It starts as a humble march, but Terra's Theme slowly builds to something grand. It's the song that introduces players to the world of Final Fantasy VI, and in doing so it brings a powerful sense of drive, with the repetitive rhythms representing a military march for a conflict that will soon engulf the world. But sitting over the top of that march is a gentler theme; one of hope and even defiance against the precision of the underlying beat. This is Terra, and this theme is a very real representation of the quest that you're about to take on.



The Promise - Final Fantasy XIII

By far the most underrated Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy XIII is a deeply intelligent and moving JRPG that took great risks that unfortunately didn't work for the masses. The Promise, which would essentially become a recurring theme in the game's two sequels, is a sorrowful, mellow tune. It's serene, but it's designed to show audiences that this is a narrative where extreme hope would be mixed in with extreme sadness. It's a truly wonderful track, for a game I personally found to be truly wonderful.



Victory Fanfare - Various Final Fantasy Games

Just like the Chocobo theme, one of the rare elements that has made the jump from one Final Fantasy game to the next is the battle victory fanfare. Because combat is so common in these games, the music that played at the end of a battle would be repeated over and over again, so it needed to be enjoyable to hear. It might only be a few seconds of music, but the way the music celebrates your victory with a pat on the back is enough of encouragement to keep pushing you through.



Aria Di Mezzo Carattere - Final Fantasy VI

How's this for a brave artistic decision? Take opera, one of the most complex forms of music that is out there, and then try to replicate it on the Super Nintendo's humble sound chips. This could have easily failed miserably, so it's a fascinating case of good game design that it succeeded. This opera scene is one of the most intense and memorable moments of the entire franchise, and that is in no small part because the 16-bit opera somehow, impossibly, works.



Waltz For The Moon - Final Fantasy VIII

In an otherwise moody and sombre game, Waltz For The Moon is a soaring moment of levity. It comes on early in Final Fantasy VIII, and it serves a dual purpose; it establishes a relationship between the leading man, Squall, and lady, Rinoa, and it does so in a way that demonstrates that Squall is something more than a stodgy, boring, brooding hero. If this cut scene wasn't in the game, and Waltz For The Moon wasn't the song accompanying it, then a lot of people might never have played past the first few hours of Final Fantasy VIII.



One Winged Angel - Final Fantasy VII

We're nearly to the end of the list and I bet you were wondering where this one would be... and you were planning to yell at me in the comments if I didn't include it. The basic reality is that One Winged Angel is a truly spectacular song. It perfectly blends hard rock-style guitars with a choir to create a thumping, epic, operatic theme that would serve as the background for one of the most important moments in Final Fantasy history.



Real Emotion - Final Fantasy X-2

Yuna, the conservative priestess, is standing on the stage in her kimono-style garb, in front of a crowd of thousands. She starts dancing, and her garb turns into a sexy pop idol-style costume. And then she starts singing something that could have come from AKB-48. What better way to instantly make people realise that the tone of this game is going to be very different to its predecessor? While the song itself isn't all that great, the tone that it sets for the rest of the game is spot on.



I know I've left a lot of great tracks of this list - it is a series jam-packed with classic music after all, so what are your favourites? Let us know in the comments below!

- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
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