final-fantasy games have always been synonymous with incredible music, thanks largely to the contributions of famed composer Nobuo Uematsu. Over the course of time, more composers have tried their hand at the franchise, with equally good results.
The quality of final-fantasy games have drifted over the course of the franchise’s history, but the music has remained a relative constant plus point. However, some soundtracks really stand out as the best of the bunch, driven largely by their emotional resonance, and an uncanny knack for complimenting the series’ astonishing stories.
final fantasy xiii
In terms of overall scope, final fantasy xiii was a disappointment for fans. It’s by far one of the most linear and unchallenging titles in the franchise and was forced to largely rely on excellent cutscenes and a nicely rendered world in order to make up for the lack of depth and the bland story.
However, in terms of music, FFXIII is a winner. It’s a bit derivative, especially when compared with other games in the series, but it does have a fairly roaring orchestral score, with a sense of lighthearted adventure tacked on for good measure.
Final Fantasy XIOnline
It could be argued that FFXI Online’s soundtrack is perhaps one of the highest quality albums of the entire franchise, and there’s merit to that view. It certainly boasts high production values, sounding like something straight out of a Lord of the Rings film.
The music is a mixture of classic fantasy adventure scores, mixed with Celtic influences that fuse together to create a sense of timelessness. It eschews much of the conventional musical approaches of previous franchise entries, instead opting for something that strives for authenticity.
Final Fantasy IX
with two final-fantasy games that tried to emulate realism in place of super-deformed JRPG aesthetics, which differ from Western RPGs, Square decided to go back to basics with ffix, and cranked out one of the best chapters in the franchise. The music, however, was the real standout, sounding quite unique in comparison to all that had come before.
The music relied less on big orchestral numbers with lots of percussion and instead dialed things back a bit, focusing on more natural and earthy sounds. It’s rustic, traditional, and charming in a way that other final-fantasy games can’t quite capture.
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III originally debuted on the Japanese Famicom and wasn’t released in the West until many years later. Square commissioned a high definition remake of the game on several platforms, notably the DS, with a recomposed score, courtesy of longtime series great Nobuo Uematsu.
It’s a massive upgrade from the 8-bit chiptune soundtrack of decades past, and it’s one of the best in the series. The remake caught flack for choosing 3D rendered graphics instead of traditional sprites, but it’s hard to knock that musical score and all of its wondrous glory.
Final Fantasy IV
For many Western gamers, Final Fantasy IV was their first introduction to the franchise, and it was a solid selection. It originally debuted as Final Fantasy II on the SNES, but belated ports of Japanese-only titles has now cemented its chapter number, along with a wonderful soundtrack that stands alongside many classic video games with great soundtracks.
The SNES sound chip was a bit limited in terms of its capabilities, but Final Fantasy IV took full advantage of everything it had to offer. Battle music was thrilling and exciting, explorative music was a friendly companion during long playthroughs, and emotional scenes benefitted greatly from tunes that pulled at the heartstrings.
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII had some big shoes to fill, following the world-shaking release of the previous entry. It didn’t always live up to expectations, and eventually fell to the wayside in favor of its predecessor. However, its soundtrack is just as bright and beautiful as the best in the franchise.
It stuck with the same Redbook audio formula as FFVII, but it also felt very orchestral and bombastic, even by today’s standards. Tracks like “Don’t Be Afraid” and “Force Your Way” harken back to the good old days of Final Fantasy, while also signifying a push in a future direction.
Final Fantasy 5
Final Fantasy 5 is one of the most underrated chapters in the entire franchise, and it still gets overlooked to this day. That’s a shame, because it’s a fantastic entry, with a strong soundtrack to boot. The game opens with one of the most exciting and fun themes of the series, but that’s just a taste of what’s to come.
The only real influenza of the FFV soundtrack is the battle music that plays during each enemy encounter. It’s a bit of a downer compared to other themes in the series, particularly Final Fantasy IV, but that’s a minor quibble. games like Final Fantasy 5 stand alongside the best fantasy RPGs ever created.
Final Fantasy 7
Not only did Final Fantasy 7 represent a massive paradigm shift in the series, but it also took its musical quality to the next level, courtesy of the Sony PlayStation’s superior hardware. Once again, Nobuo Uematsu composed the soundtrack, and it went on to become just as iconic as the game itself.
To this day, songs like “One-Winged Angel” are considered pillars of the series and have taken on a life of their own. In fact, the entire soundtrack is perfectly matched to whatever is going on in the game at any given moment, which was a huge feat for such a landmark title.
final fantasy x
final fantasy x was a bit of a hodgepodge of different styles, all thrown into the blender to crank out one of the most eclectic albums in the series. In contrast to previous games, which stuck largely with a predefined signature formula, ffx decided to experiment a bit, to liven things up.
It feels a lot more jazzy and poppy compared to other entries, as evidenced in tracks like “Victory Fanfare” and “Fantasy.” It also doesn’t shy away from tossing in operatic vocals, and even some aggressive heavy metal to round out the package.
Final Fantasy VI
It’s hard to top the sheer emotional weight and resonance of Final Fantasy VI’s soundtrack. Not only does it have one of the best stories in Final Fantasy, but it’s also one of the most gripping. That becomes evident during the opening credits scene, with an amazing opening theme that sets the tone for everything that follows. Every single song in the game creates an emotional bridge between the player, and the story, and does so in creative ways.
The Opera scene itself is worth the price and represents one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the entire series, but it doesn’t stop there. The latter half of FFVI’s story goes full-scale dystopian, and the music shifts to accommodate the dark and gritty feel, without coming off as nihilistic. It’s an incredible soundtrack by all metrics and standards.
NEXT: The 10 Best Final Fantasy Characters Introduced After FFVII
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