Music of the Year 2014 Categories

Patrick Gann's Music of the Year
Editors' Favorites

When RPGFan Music was still referred to as "The Soundtracks Section," its longest-running lead editor was Patrick Gann. He has been a devotee of game music for twenty years, and has been writing soundtrack reviews for RPGFan since 2000. Though he considers himself happily "in retirement" from his side-career in game criticism, he still fondly listens to VGM, keeps up with current releases, and writes the occasional soundtrack review for RPGFan. The Editor Emeritus is ready to weigh in on 2014's best of the best!

Have you heard...

Borderlands 2 Campaign Add-On: Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt OST

Be sure to focus your sight on Valesco's Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt OST or you might miss out!

Top OST Releases

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST
Composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta, Mitsuto Suzuki, Nobuo Uematsu

I consider it shameful that I've not yet played this game, even though I've studied its music in depth this past year. I was pleased to see Hamauzu return to a more active role after he did precious little on XIII-2.

A lot of people are skipping over this release in their various lists (look around the different online publications, and you'll notice the lack of LR:FFXIII). I think it's because many people were just exhausted by the first game and weren't willing to let this game and its production stand on its own merits. Should you let it do that, you'll discover something worthwhile. I would make the same argument for XIII-2, actually.

Favorite Tracks:
Divine Love

Also See Our Review: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII OST Review

Drag-on Dragoon 3 OST
Composed by MONACA (Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi, Kakeru Ishihama, Kuniyuki Takahashi), Akitaka Tohyama, Denji Sano, Chihiro Onitsuka

I wrote a short book on what I do and don't love about this soundtrack. My opinion hasn't changed a lick. It's an amazing soundtrack, but it should have had more Emi Evans.

Favorite Tracks:
Exhaustion 3

Also See Our Review: Drag-on Dragoon 3 OST Review

The Banner Saga
Composed by Austin Wintory

Everyone loved Austin Wintory's soundtrack for Journey. It was even nominated for a Grammy.

Guess what? I listen to The Banner Saga OST far more often than I listen to the Journey OST. I think that says something about the quality of this music. Don't you?

My only fear is that the pressure Wintory faces to keep up the magic of this first OST in its upcoming sequels might break him or send him into a cycle of derivative nonsense. Let's hope he can stay strong in the days ahead. He'll have to balance his renown, his supplies, and his morale to complete not just the "journey," but the "saga."

Favorite Tracks:
Of Our Bones, The Hills
We Are All Guests Upon The Land

Also See Our Review: The Banner Saga Review

Have you heard...

Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5 ReMIX- OST

Kingdom Hearts 1.5's re-instrumentation is rather remarkable. Right?

Top Arrange Releases

memória! / The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura
Composed by Yoko Shimomura

I would rank this higher, except that I was so shocked and surprised by other releases this year, whereas I knew that this album would hold up to a similar quality to drammatica. Of course, many people prefer drammatica to this album as this one is not strictly orchestral (#ThanksHIDEAWAYS).

But there's still plenty to love on this Shimomura compilation. The Super Mario RPG track alone is something fans have wanted for years, and we finally have it. And that "Vector to the Heavens," oh my. Truly, it is heavenly.

Favorite Tracks:
Beware the Forest's Mushrooms (Super Mario RPG)
Vector to the Heavens (KINGDOM HEARTS 358/2 Days)

Also See Our Review: memória! / The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura Review

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

The GENTLE LOVE duo (composer and sax player Norihiko Hibino alongside talented pianist AYAKI) is one I've been familiar with for awhile. There was a "Prescription for Sleep" iOS app that had great original music by this team. When they decided to start covering game music and publishing their work via Scarlet Moon Records, I was tickled pink. This first volume includes arrangements from FFVII, NieR, Suikoden, Chrono Cross, Secret of Mana, ES4: Oblivion, Demon's Souls, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That should make any RPG fan happy. And some of the choices in arrangement, and the techniques they incorporate to bring a gentle life to these songs... wow. Just wow.

I should also mention that, since I have a long-standing relationship with Scarlet Moon's founder Jayson Napolitano, I've had a chance to hear rough cuts on what is planned to be a sequel to this album. Keep an eye out for it, because it's going to be lovely.

Favorite Tracks:
Song of the Ancients (NiER)
Auriel's Ascension (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)

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

Re:Birth II -Sen- / SaGa Battle Arrange
Composed by Kenji Ito

That's my review linked below. You can details on this strange and wonderful Ito / JDK Band collaboration there. Here's what you need to know in tl;dr form: SaGa Frontier has three tracks on this album. Amazing SaGa Frontier battle themes, THREE of them, finally given proper arrangement by Square Enix.

That makes it a must-buy.

Also, a follow-up to -Sen- is coming in 2015 called -Ren-. It, too, will have more SaGa Frontier. Be ready.

Favorite Tracks:
Re:Birth II - Sen: Battle #5 from Saga Frontier
Re:Birth II - Sen: Last Battle - Asellus from Saga Frontier

Also See Our Review: Re:Birth II -Sen- / SaGa Battle Arrange Review

Top Original Work
The Drop That Contained The Sea

Christopher Tin won a Grammy for his amazing choral work "Baba Yetu," the opening theme song for Sid Meier's Civilization IV. The song was the opening track on his amazing song cycle album "Calling All Dawns."

Tin released another song cycle in 2014 entitled "The Drop That Contained The Sea." All songs related to water, all the lyrics derived from different ancient culture and religion's understanding of rain, storms, rivers, snow, and more.

It has a Bulgarian folk choir. It has a super-epic Norse thing that sounds like FFVIII's "Liberi Fatali," but longer and generally more impressive.

The final track features almost all of the vocalists from the nine previous tracks, and it will blow your mind. If you like vocals, especially in foreign languages, you need this album. Seriously. You NEED it.

Waloyo Yamoni - "We Overcome the Wind"

Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, December 16th
Rogue Galaxy w/Maxx • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Darksiders w/Maxx • 12pm PDT/3pm EDT
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory w/Kat • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance w/Kyle • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Dragon Quest XI w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Dragon Quest XI w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance w/Kyle • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Dragon Quest XI w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance w/Kat • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Friday Super Variety Night w/Scott • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Dragon Quest XI w/Scott • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

Games of the Year 2018: Readers' Choice

Games of the Year 2018: Readers' Choice

Vote now!
Retro Encounter Final Thoughts ~ Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

Retro Encounter Final Thoughts ~ Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

Podcast Feature
RPGFan Founders Roundtable ~ An RPGFan 20th Anniversary Feature

RPGFan Founders Roundtable

An RPGFan 20th Anniversary Feature
Crowdfunding Chronicles Volume 3

Crowdfunding Chronicles Volume 3

NieR: Automata Orchestral Arrangement Album Review

NieR: Automata Orchestral Arrangement Album

RPGFan Launches Daily 'This Day in Gaming' Video Series

RPGFan Launches Daily "This Day in Gaming" Video Series

Video Series