Number 23: Grim Fandango
I'm just going to say it. It's a crying shame when a brilliant game is released, lauded by everyone who actually plays it, but unfortunately played by so few that it ends up failing horridly. Sometimes life decides to play fair, and sometimes it doesn't. Personally, I'm of the opinion that had life decided to play fair, we'd be seeing a lot more games like Grim Fandango in place of meaningless titles like Call of Duty. Of course, fairness has recently arrived in the form of a certain kickstarter project, but I digress..
Grim Fandango is the brilliant brainchild of Tim Schafer (whose name is also on that link above) and the rest of the wonderful team that used to exist at the LucasArts adventure game department. Grim Fandango tells the story of a Manuel "Manny" Calavera, a travel agent for death. No, seriously. Manny is dead, and so are all the people he works with. Guiding souls into their final resting place isn't just an idea in Manny's world, it's his desk job. Of course, things rarely are that simple in an adventure title, and before things carry Manny (and the player) into an amazing world best described as "1930's meets Film Noir meets the Day of the Dead."
Soundtrack-wise, the game is brilliant (it's brilliant everywhere else to, but we have a focus here). The soundtrack expands on the visual themes of the game, running with the ideas presented there to bring the afterlife to life.
The end result is a soundtrack made up in the style of the 1930s-1950s, but often adds a slight Latin flavor to it. The result is a collection of smooth tunes that flow from big band to jazz to some slightly more modern stuff.
There's little else I can say about this soundtrack to do it justice. Simply put its focus on older, somewhat forgotten heavily stylized genres of music gives it an edge, the fact that it's done superbly only helps its own case. Grim Fandango's soundtrack isn't for everyone, but its slick sense of style and sound give it the staying power it needed to crack the list.
Looking at the scores, Grim Fandango's lowest score was in Enjoyment. It requires a certain mood to get into, and is not for everyone. However, that mood was almost perfectly captured by the game itself, so Grim Fandango scored quite high there. It also managed to grab both bonus points, the first soundtrack to do so on this years list, boosting its score to an impressive 4.4 total.
Stand Alone Quality: 4.25
Emotional Reaction: 4
Game Representation: 4.5
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Grim Fandango: A classy, jazzy/big-band/Latin sound, toe-tappingly fun compositions and some old school class give it the staying power needed to be Number 23 in 2012.
Number 23--Grim Fandango by Peter McConnell