Number 9: Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles
The Crystal Chronicles was somewhat of a black sheep for the Final Fantasy series, returning to the series roots on a Nintendo console with a completely different style of play that eschewed normal controllers for co-operative gameplay where not only did someone need the system and the game, but each player needed a Game Boy Advance and a cable connector as well. As a result, it was a pretty tough sell.
Which is a shame, because the games soundtrack is beautiful. Unlike the more traditional Final Fantasy soundtracks by Nobuo Uematsu, Crystal Chronicles was handed off (probably due to its spin-off status) to Kumi Tanioka. The result is a lush, vibrant soundtrack that comes alive in ways very different from traditional game music. The Crystal Chronicles soundtrack trades more modern instruments of music for considerably more ancient ones, such as recorders, lutes and the like. Comparatively, this allows the music of Crystal Chronicles to very clearly hold it's own field of music far separated from the traditional norm.
The change is a welcome relief as well. Crystal Chronicles music is very real and soothing, bringing to mind lush vistas and open forests. It has a distinct 'old country' feel to it that very clearly evokes feeling from within. The instrumentation is very well done, the melodies very distinct yet not frequent enough to become overbearing. Additionally, the artist shows great talent in her use of the instruments, evoking sadness, melancholy, joy, curiosity, discovery and even desperation through well placed melodies and tempos (although I must say that overall, the majority of the soundtrack is very relaxed).
I have no difficulty at all listening to Crystal Chronicles while outdoors, reading, or even just relaxing. Being so radically different from other soundtracks (both inside and outside of the gaming industry), Crystal Chronicles is a wonderful example of what can happen when you bring new visionary talent to the table, and as such, it earns its place at Number 9.
Number 9: Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles by Kumi Tanioka
Number 10: Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 by Frank Klepacki
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