Music of the Year 2014 Categories

Derek Heemsbergen's Music of the Year
Editors' Favorites

The site's resident Falcom enthusiast, Derek thinks that guitar and violin make a more delicious combination than the cranberry and orange in one of Starbucks' scones — which is saying a lot, because he could eat those things 'til the Pikkards come home. He stopped reblogging Ys fanart on Tumblr long enough to share his picks for Music of the Year, which show a slight departure from his usual tastes and put the spotlight on a number of gentler, more thoughtful tunes.

Like Stephen, Caitlin, and all people with good taste, Derek also really loves Xenoblade.

Have you heard...

Drag-on Dragoon 3 OST

We invite you to check out why our very own Patrick calls this soundtrack "the smartest soundtrack of 2014."

Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies
Composed by Jeremy Soule, Michiru Oshima, Harry Gregson-Williams, Yoko Shimomura, Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, Musashi Project, Jesper Kyd, Koji Kondo, Hikaru Utada; Arranged By GENTLE LOVE

This album of soothing, low-key VGM covers is anything but a snorefest. It pulls from a wide variety of game and musical genres alike, smoothing the wrinkles of those dissonant styles into a mellow medley of bedtime delights. Piano and saxophone combine to create gentle soundscapes around perennial favorite tunes like Secret of Mana's "A Wish..." and NieR's "Song of the Ancients." Perfect for reading, studying, or perhaps even a walk through the woods, Prescription for Sleep is a more meditative take on the art of VGM arrangement.

Favorite Tracks:
Dire, Dire Docks (Super Mario 64)
Song of the Ancients (NiER)
Aquatic Ambience (Donkey Kong Country)

Also See Our Review: Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies Review

From Astral to Umbral ~Final Fantasy XIV: Band & Piano Arrangement Album~
Composed by Masayoshi Soken

Half shredding guitar jams and half poignant piano melodies, the first Final Fantasy XIV arrange album pairs with moods on either end of the emotional spectrum. Tracks like "Oblivion" and "Fallen Angel" are punchy but verge on the melodramatic, making them less suited to casual listening. More impressive to me were pianist Keiko's renditions of well-known field themes, particularly the delicate "Serenity" and stirring "To The Sun." Between his work on the game proper and his excellent performances within his band, The Primals, Masayoshi Soken continues to prove that he is worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with legendaries Hamauzu, Sakimoto, and Uematsu.

Favorite Tracks:
Piano: To the Sun
Piano: On Westerly Winds
Band: Thunder Rolls

Also See Our Review: From Astral to Umbral ~Final Fantasy XIV: Band & Piano Arrangement Album~ Review

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Original Soundtrack
Composed by Masafumi Takada

Danganronpa 2's premise invokes despair while its music inspires awe. A mix of synthy low-tempo tracks and frantic electronica, the Danganronpa 2 OST contains a wealth of catchy melodies that perfectly complement the game's bizarre atmosphere. Utilizing established motifs, tracks like "Re: New World Order" carry surprising emotional impact as they punctuate the game's narrative with perfect timing. Masafumi Takada is now a composer whose works I actively seek out.

Favorite Tracks:
Re: Climax Reasoning
Re: New World Order
Discussion -HEAT UP- [2nd mix]

Forever Today: Final Fantasy XI Seekers of Adoulin OST PLUS
Composed by Naoshi Mizuta

This digital EP arrived out of nowhere alongside the conclusion of Final Fantasy XI's fifth expansion. It showcases more of Naoshi Mizuta's work as the game's longtime composer with high-stakes final battle theme "The Price," but more importantly, it contains a fully-realized ending theme that caps off Seekers of Adoulin in spectacular fashion. "Forever Today" is a ballad reminiscent of "Distant Worlds," featuring beautiful and heartfelt vocals by Mika Kobayashi (Kill la Kill, Aldnoah.Zero). I heartily recommend this EP, and while you're at it, take note of the commemorative cover illustration drawn by Tetsuya Nomura — a treat for the ears and eyes alike, this one.

Favorite Tracks:
Forever Today
Worlds Away
The Price

Also See Our Review: Forever Today: Final Fantasy XI Seekers of Adoulin OST PLUS Review

Have you heard...

Chrono Trigger Symphony Volume 3

Prepare to have your heart robbed by the beautiful tones of this synthetic orchestra...

Best Theme Song - Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Composed by Atsushi Kitajoh, Toshiki Konishi, Shoji Meguro, Yuzo Koshiro

♪ This carousel /
Takes us 'round and 'round /
This labyrinth of life /
You can't tell up from down ♪

This song lodges itself into my brain for days at a time. It shows no sign of relenting.

Maze of Life

Also See Our Review: Persona Q Shadow of the Labyrinth OST Review

Best Non-RPG Soundtrack - Shovel Knight
Composed by Jake "Virt" Kaufman with Manami Matsumae

It's the closest thing to new Mega Man since... Mega Man. (I'd rather not talk about Mighty No. 9's less-than-impressive pre-release footage.) The bright, chippy melodies of "Flying Machine" and "Plains of Passage" tickle my lo-fi fancy.

Favorite Tracks:
High Above the Land (The Flying Machine)
Strike the Earth! (Plains of Passage)
An Underlying Problem (The Lost City)

Best Album That Actually Released In 2015 But It Was Right At The Beginning of January So I'm Including It Shut Up You're Not My Mom: GAME Generation 5 — Legacy Sessions
Arranged by Casey Ormond

If you've heard Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII, you're undoubtedly familiar with the stylings of brilliant pianist Casey Ormond. His latest project is GAME Generation 5, an orchestral tribute to standout games released at the tail end of the last century. This album is likely to make it onto my official list next year, but for now, I urge you to go forth and get your fill of officially-licensed, expertly-performed late 90s VGM ear candy.

Favorite Tracks:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Chrono Cross

Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, September 30
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 4.4 • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Star Ocean: Till The End of Time • 3:00pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts - Re:Chain of Memories • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Friday Super Variety Night • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Week in Review: Live • 11am PDT/2pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review

Valkyria Chronicles 4

CrossCode Giveaway

CrossCode Giveaway

Heaven Will Be Mine Review

Heaven Will Be Mine

Retro Encounter 154

Retro Encounter 154

CrossCode Review