Ranking RPG Franchises By Their Musical Scores

Role Playing Games are a genre that is steeped in tradition. Since their inception, RPGs have followed recognizable formulas. From character archetypes to familiar stories, those with RPG experience can generally go into a new game with some inkling of what to expect. However, one of the areas where RPGs tend to show true diversity is in their musical scores. One of the hallmarks of a truly great role playing experience is an unforgettable soundtrack. Epic battle tunes, jaunty overworld scores and exceptional character themes can elevate a RPG from the ordinary to a wholly immersive gaming experience.

In a genre where great music is often the industry standard, picking the standout titles is no small task. Take a look below at five of the best RPG scores to ever grace the gaming world.

5) Wild Arms

Wild Arms 2 – Field (The Barren Lands):

The Wild Arms franchise is known for the unique world that the games take place in. Blending some of the best elements of a Wild West world, RPG tropes, and truly face-melting music, the Wild Arms games have won legions of fans over. Composer Michiko Naruke’s masterful blending of classical instrumentation and modern influences fits perfectly in line with the Wild Arms world.

4) Dark Souls:

Dark Souls – Gwyn, Lord of Cinders

The music of Dark Souls perfectly encapsulates the bleak and minimalistic tones found throughout the game. At times orchestral and haunting, at others downright eerie, legendary composer Motoi Sakuraba went above and beyond the call of duty when creating the score for Dark Souls. In a game where a critical eye is rewarded and nothing is handed to the player, the score works perfectly. Astute listeners will find that the musical accompaniment to the unforgettable bosses of Dark Souls is absolutely pitch-perfect, adding additional layers to one of the most atmospheric experiences in all of video games.

3) EarthBound:

EarthBound – Your Name Please:

One of the most unique RPGs of all time also has one of the most memorable soundtracks to accompany it. EarthBound is astounding for any number or reasons, but simply listening to the game’s glorious soundtrack is enough to earn it a page in the history books. Composers Hiroshi Kanazu, Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka collaborated on EarthBound’s soundtrack and succeeded in creating music that matches both the game’s youthful themes and the aesthetic of the game’s locations. Inspired heavily by the music of the 1970′s, EarthBound’s soundtrack has the amazing ability to stick in your head long after completing the game.

2) Chrono Trigger:

Chrono Trigger – Chrono’s Theme:

Widely beloved by gamers of all ages, Chrono Trigger and its spiritual successor Chrono Cross are considered by many to be the standard that all other RPGs are held to. Gameplay, memorable story and characters aside, the music of the Chrono games has the ability to carry weight on its own. The musical score, spearheaded by Yasunori Mitsuda, of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross is a massive accomplishment. With themes and motifs that echo the games’ time-spanning story, the soundtrack is very much a fitting addition to two of gaming’s greatest accomplishments.

1) Final Fantasy:

Final Fantasy VII – One Winged Angel:

RPG fans probably saw this one coming from a mile away. The music of Final Fantasy, thanks largely in part to Nobuo Uematsu’s musical wizardry, transcends not only the RPG genre but also video games as a whole. Arguably the most iconic music in all of video games, the tunes of the Final Fantasy have the ability to capture the very essence of what it is that makes us all love to be gamers. Uematsu’s music perfectly captures the essence of epic journeys and hard-fought battles. Spanning across decades, the music of Final Fantasy is simply unforgettable.

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  1. Nice list, though I think The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past deserves a place there somewhere ;)

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