The Top 25 Soundtracks 2012: Number 1

Number 1: Chrono Trigger

I'll admit, this was kind of a given. Either most of you noticed that Chrono Trigger hadn't made an appearance yet this year, or you knew that Chrono Trigger had taken position number 1 last year. Or crud, maybe you just listened to it on your own, nodded, and said "yep, it's the best."

Chrono Trigger is one of the most famous works of a composer who is no stranger to this list, the incredible Yasunori Mitsuda. Interestingly enough, it was also his first full compositional work. Until Chrono Trigger, Mitsuda's talents had been wasted (although to be fair, his superiors probably didn't realize what they had) doing menial minor sound work for assorted games. As he had been hired with the promise that one day he would be allowed to compose, Mitsuda eventually confronted his superiors and put his job on the line, demanding that he be given a chance to compose for a title or he would quit. Fortunately his boss handed him the reigns to Chrono Trigger, telling him "maybe your salary will go up." If only he had known what was about to occur.

Mitsuda ran himself ragged producing the soundtrack, composing song after song at a grueling pace, even after a hard drive crashed and he lost the work to about forty of the games songs. In fact, Mitsuda worked himself so hard producing the soundtrack that he ended up hospitalized near the end of the project with stomach ulcers and famed Square composer Nobuo Uematsu had to help him compose the projects final songs. This was of course a preview of Mitsudas years to come, where he would repeatedly work himself to exhaustion for other soundtracks.

Mitsuda also eschewed common conventions of the time. He created much longer songs then most game titles were producing at that time on a console, and composed an unusually large amount of music for the game, some of which wasn't even used but was featured in the titles official CD release. He even slept in his office on many occasions, attributing some of his songs inspirations to dreams he had and composing as soon as he woke up.

But the result of all his labor, ills and pains is unequivocally one of the foremost compositional works of our time, and easily the greatest soundtrack ever composed for a video game. Chrono Trigger is quite simply put, astounding on every level. Being a game about time travel, Mitsuda was free to tackle many different styles and sounds, far more than a typical game would have allowed him to. In fact, that difference is one of the reasons that Mitsuda's other soundtracks sit where they are while Chrono Trigger holds the top. His other works, while incredible, all cover small periods, and thus contain less of a variety in their composition. Chrono Trigger, spanning 65 million years of its worlds history has no such limits. Each song is written to convey a period in time, a place, a memory, and succeeds roundly at this attempt.

In listening to Chrono Trigger, I can't find a single flaw. The composition is spot on, excellent in quality for all of the tunes, even the battle and boss themes (especially the final boss themes, which feel incredibly fresh even today and make clever use of stereo sound). The music ebbs and flows with emotion, something that Mitsuda has always held highly important in his work, and never once does it feel as if a note hits wrong or out of place.

Chrono Trigger, as one would expect, scores incredibly high across all categories, with only one score that isn't a flat perfect. It also easily grasps both bonus points, putting its final score well above a perfect five.

Chrono Trigger
Enjoyment: 5
Stand Alone Quality: 4.75
Composition: 5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Game Representation: 5
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Nostalgia: 1
Total: 5.35

Chrono Trigger is without a doubt one of the most well-composed soundtracks to come from a video game. It stands highly regarded, with dozens of tribute albums, performances by orchestras around the world, and thousands upon thousands of fan remixes. Chrono Trigger is  the greatest gaming soundtrack ever composed. 

Number 1---Chrono Trigger by Yasunori Mitsuda!


Lunesar said...

Is it a surprise that once I learned how to print sheet music from MIDIs that most of the songs I learned how to play on the saxophone was from Chrono Trigger? No, not it was not.

Eric Lanter said...

YES! You had a pretty decent list!