What a weekend! Between the cancellation of SplatFest and the early access release of HeavenSward, there were plenty of ups and downs to keep us all occupied and on our toes (I personally was re-playing Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door). But there were still a good number of people who took time to weight the toughest question of their lives: what is the greatest video game soundtrack of all time?
The winner was a far and away success, and, to be honest, a total surprise. We give you the Playism musical champion:
YS III: WANDERER FROM YS
For those who are unaware, Ys are a long, LONG standing series of action RPGS from Nihon Falcom, dating back to the mid 80s on computers that don’t even exist in people’s memories any longer. There have been iterations and installments for every generation, with a new one slated for the PS4 and Vita coming later this year. The plot is always different but the core remains the same: you, hero, them, evil, sword, swingy swingy. Like they say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and Ys has been doing something right since the Regan era.
But, most notably, the Ys series does have a beautiful soundtrack. The music has always been incredibly atmospheric and helps sculpt the world around you, keeping the right dynamic and feeling every leg of the way. Back when most games were little more than a series of tones, Ys was looking to bring full orchestral compositions into games that could barely handle them, taking advantage of cutting-edge gaming in the PC-Engine (AKA Turbografx-16) to cram every byte with beautiful sounds. The music of Ys traverses all genres and types, bringing in dynamic tunes, mellow ambiance and driving guitar-rock years before other games would experiment with any of those ideas.
Ys III is arguably one of the best soundtracks in the whole series, if not the absolute best. The sweeping score exemplifies the epic feeling you receive every time you venture out with Adol, the timeless protagonist of the Ys series. It’s so well known and respected that when the game was remake as Ys: The Oath in Felghana (back in 2005), the entirety of the Ys III soundtrack was remastered as well and released on a four CD set. That’s just…that’s ballistic.
All the updates are great, but, to really appreciate it, have a listen to the original soundtrack from the PC-Engine, and remember this was from a game from 1989, which was a full year before the SNES even came out, much less published many beloved games with soundtracks to match. It also means that Taylor Swift, Joe Jonas and Jason Derulo had just been born, if you need a contemporary musical measurement stick.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that Ys III was the winner, as it clearly came to the contest ready to fight. We all have our preferences and our favorites, but Ys III is a composition of art. It’s strong, it’s incredibly ranged, and it had all these amazing nuances in a game years before other companies figured it out. You can’t deny the strength therein.
Also, pretty good Action RPG, but please, please don’t play the Genesis version. It’s…not a good port.