It feels like we’ve been able to say this a lot lately, but this was a great year for game music. Since Hotline Miami 2 didn’t make it’s way out the door, everyone else had to step up their game and make up for it. My favorite game music tends to be upbeat and catchy, so when you’re favorite orchestral scores aren’t mentioned here, you’ll know why.
#3 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – “DANGANRONPA”
The first track you’re introduced to in Danganronpa sets the tone for what’s to come. Vying for Soundtrack of the Forever, Danganronpa uses music like a central character in its stories. The intro song, appropriately titled “DANGANRONPA” hooks you in with a catchy beat, and fades in and out of wistful vocals before the tune ends. That intro beat, wind up, and release in the first 20 seconds strikes all the right musical places, and lands the track a solid spot among the year’s finest. It’s tough to pick just one song from the series though, so go listen to this, this, and this before moving on, your ears are worth it.
#2 – Bayonetta 2: “Moon River”
While the main theme “Tomorrow is Mine” isn’t as catchy or memorably as the original game’s “Fly Me To The Moon”, the re-imagining of “Moon River” brings back that personality in style. Poppy renditions of 1960’s classics seem to find a good home in the chaotic world of Bayonetta, and “Moon River” sits easily as favorite track from either game. Singer Keely Bumford‘s vocals overflow with Bayonetta‘s pep and sass, and the beat provides the rhythm of the chaos unfolding onscreen. If Bayonetta 3 ever gets made, I hope they can find a way to outdo themselves once again.
#1 – Shovel Knight: “High Above the Land (The Flying Machine)”
Propeller Man’s stage is the best level in Shovel Knight, largely because of this song. The entire Shovel Knight soundtrack is among the best video games have seen in years, but this one song along with the stage it’s on made me respect Shovel Knight even more than I already did. After bouncing through the sky on a ship flying past the setting sun, all while listening to this song, I knew Shovel Knight was a classic. The song hits every note of the upbeat Mega Man music formula, but goes beyond simple rocking beats while communicating a range of emotions in a span of less than two minutes. Shovel Knight‘s composer, Jake Kaufman, is a musical genius, deserving the top spot in 2014’s year of great tunes.
Hearthstone: “Two Rogues One Mark”
An impressive song in another of the year’s great soundtracks. I’ve probably heard it a few hundred times in the past year, and still enjoy it every time. Other than the title theme, this is the song I think of when remembering Hearthstone.
Dark Souls 2: “Majula”
Returning to Majula is the beginning and end of every new adventure in Dark Souls 2. Majula is your home. You’ll come back here again and again, and you’ll miss it when you’re gone. It’s the one place where you’re almost entirely safe from harm, and this track lulls you into bliss before your next inevitable, dark journey. The simple chimes are some of the only welcoming sounds you’ll hear in this overwhelmingly unwelcoming world.