Early next week, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy gets released for the 3DS. This charming little game is a rhythm and action game in the same vein as The Elite Beat Agents. It was created as part of Final Fantasys 25 year anniversary, and will be combining songs from across the entire series. It has been criticized as being a game built entirely upon nostalgia and Square Enix has be criticized for having no original ideas. These people do not understand the point of a 25th anniversary game that is supposed to showoff the entire history of the prestigious series. The Final Fantasy series has some of the best music in the video game industry past or present. Even the worst Final Fantasy game has a soundtrack that is miles ahead of most other top tier games. As some lead up to this I am going to give you my picks for the best Final Fantasy in various easily comparable categories such as Battle Music that are common to all of the games. I will also be giving you my choice and a runner up. Originally, I was going to give you my pick for best and worst, but I don’t think the Final Fantasy series needs anymore negativity surrounding it.
|This is not indicative of the game|
Best Overworld Theme – Final Fantasy VI
The overworld theme is what plays on the world map, or the overworld. Some games like Final Fantasy IV have multiple unique overworld themes, and some, like Final Fantasy VII have extremely dynamic overworld themes. However, Final Fantasy VI’s World of Balance overworld theme is easily the best in the series. It is equally understated, but heartfelt. The theme is actually the main character Terra’s theme and it evokes a level of sadness that goes along with her character. As a runner up, I would select Final Fantasy VIII’s overworld theme. It maintains the same level of plodding serenity that Final Fantasy VI’s does, and is equally tailored perfectly to its soundtrack so it never feels out of place. More modern Final Fantasys have dropped the overworld entirely so none of their music was up for consideration.
Best Battle Theme – Final Fantasy XIII
The basic battle theme is critical to any game. It is here that the composer really has a chance to get the player’s blood pumping and make even the most tedious encounter seem much more engaging. Final Fantasy XIII may be a heavily criticized game, but nobody questions the quality of its soundtrack. Blinded by the Light, is the best battle theme in the series no question. It is fast-paced, engaging and powerful. It fits in perfectly with the desperate, lonely struggle the main character have to endure. The only downside is that the fact that Final Fantasy XIII encourages quick battles means that you won’t here it in its entirety very often. My runner up choice would be Final Fantasy VII. Like its overworld theme, Final Fantasy VII has a very dynamic battle theme and it really proves itself during long encounters.
Best Title Theme – Final Fantasy IX
The title theme is the first thing you hear when the game loads up. This is very important as it sets the entire tone for the game. Final Fantasy VI’s title theme evoked a sense of terror and dread. Final Fantasy X’s title theme brought in a level of serenity akin to the flowing water theme of the game. However, the best title theme goes to Final Fantasy IX. The ninth game was a serious throwback and relied a lot on medieval fantasy tropes. As part of this, the title theme let you know exactly where this game stands. Gone were the industrialized worlds of VI – VIII. This was high fantasy. My runner up choice is Final Fantasy VIII and its strong business orientated opening that really let you know that you were starting something epic.
Best Boss Theme – Final Fantasy VI
The Final Fantasy series doesn’t have the best track record with basic boss themes. These themes should be bigger and better than the basic battle theme, but many Final Fantasys can’t push it far enough. In most cases boss themes are what gets sacrificed in order for the series to have such amazing battle and final boss music. Of all of the choices, however, Final Fantasy VI’s Decisive Battle really stands tall and proud as an excellent theme. It is equal parts intense and fun and it never feels out of place. Final Fantasy IV is my runner up. Although crazy and evoking the 70s like all of the music from that game, Final Fantasy IV really lets you know that you are in a battle against something to be feared.
Best Town Theme – Final Fantasy VIII
Town themes are supposed to be basic, ho-hum and comforting. Because of this, many town themes in the series are very boring. Final Fantasy VIII has some truly great standouts. Whether it is the serene town of Fisherman’s Horizon or the dark political Deling City, every town theme evokes a different feeling. My runner up goes to Final Fantasy VII, particularly to its Cosmo Canyon and Nibelheim themes which are just fantastic melodious themes; although, lacking any real subtlety.
Best Special Battle Theme – Final Fantasy V
Not every battle in the series gets a basic battle theme or a regular boss battle theme. Sometimes a boss will get their own, special theme. There was no contest in this entry. Gilgamesh’s battle theme from Final Fantasy V, remixed many times, is easily one of the best pieces of music in the series altogether. The theme is epic, fun, and over the top, just like Gilgamesh himself. As a runner up I select Final Fantasy IX’s Trance Kuja theme, as it doesn’t technically count as a final boss theme because of Necron. This theme is as good as most final boss themes, but simply can’t compete with Gilgamesh.
Best Dungeon Theme – Final Fantasy X
Dungeon themes serve a huge variety of purposes. They can be used to calm a person down after a major event. Then can be pumping and epic, and they can even be sorrowful and heartfelt. I don’t think any Final Fantasy got dungeon themes down as well as Final Fantasy X. As a highlight, the Macalania Woods theme is hauntingly beautiful and is appropriately names “The Calm Before the Storm”. As a runner up, I would choose to highlight Final Fantasy IV. Although, its themes often lack subtlety, it is hard to argue against the amazing Tower of Zot, or final dungeon themes of the game, which bring a level of epicness that is nearly unparalleled by far more advanced games.
Best Final Boss Theme – Final Fantasy –
The Final Fantasy series has the best final boss themes that gaming has to offer. They are epic, creative, unique and awe-inspiring. There is no selection to be made here. Who can argue successfully against the amazingly unique One Winged Angel from VII, or Dancing Mad from VI. ExDeath and Zeromus received themes far greater than their actual characters. Final Fantasy X had great circular design by bringing back Otherworld for their final boss fight, and Final Fantasy XII had a hauntingly epic track if you’re willing to stay around long enough to here it all. Some games aren’t great standouts like Final Fantasy IX or XIII, but they all stand tall against the competition and really show off one of the many reasons why this series is so loved. Since I can’t decide, here is the final boss theme from Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, a terrible game with some surprisingly awesome music.
There are many other great examples of music in Final Fantasy, but many of them aren’t common to enough of them for me to make an easily comparable list. Also, Final Fantasy I-III didn’t get any nominations. This isn’t because their music was poor but because it just doesn’t reach the same level as later games. Similarly, Final Fantasy XII didn’t get a nomination, and this is because none of its music really stands out, but weaves together as a totally cohesive package, and separating out single, outstanding tracks was simply not going to happen. So there is my list, internet. Agree? Disagree? Let me know your picks in the comments.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer