The Top 25 Soundtracks 2012: Number 7

Number 7: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Ever find yourself humming a song but having absolutely no idea where it was originally from? Then years later, while performing some activity you find yourself listening to that exact same song that you've been humming for so long and exclaiming "So that's what this is from!" in complete surprise? That was my experience a few weeks ago when I sat down to review Twilight Princess. A few songs go by, I'm enjoying it, and then BAM! There's that song that I've hummed from time to time without knowing what it was!

The Legend of Zelda is a well regarded and well known series for many reasons. It has endearing gameplay, tricky puzzles, and characters that many people know and love, even if they are incredibly silent (the main character in particular, only ever expresses himself with nods of his head or yells). The series has also been home to some well-loved music over the years, with the main theme being one of the more iconic sounds across gaming (although it could be argued that the Lost Woods theme from the first Nintendo 64 title is even more famed, if only because of how quickly your brain latched onto it). But the Zelda series has never before made an appearance on this list, because with almost every title there has been an equal balance of memorable tunes with unmemorable. Some Zelda titles have even gone so far as to barely have music in most of the dungeons, instead playing faint sound effect loops.

Twilight Princess is not one to do that. Even if it's music is minimalist at times it still remains music, music with a recognizable melody and tune. When it isn't minimalist...well you can hear it for yourself. Twilight Princess sets a high bar for the series while remaining an enjoyable listening experience.

The greatest strength of Twilight Princess is that it presents an epic sound and scope without sounding too epic. Some soundtracks, especially epics, run into an endurance issue where they sound wonderful, but are so intensely epic sounding that the listener is all but worn out by the end of a few songs. Twilight Princess carefully skirts this problem with a whole myriad of songs, none of which are too epic, and takes great care to balance them out with songs of other styles. The result is that if you are either playing the game or listening tot he soundtrack the epic songs are evenly spaced between periods of slower, more contemplative pieces. It helps the soundtrack feel balanced, something that even some of the other top soundtracks in this list don't quite accomplish.

Perhaps its that balance that truly makes the soundtrack so enjoyable. I say this because while it is skillfully composed, there are a few songs that don't quite feel as well put together as they could, or that fail to mesh as well with the other pieces. Of course, this may be a direct result of having three composers working together, if they aren't working perfectly together, one can expect a few tracks here and there to mesh a bit less skillfully. Even so however, it should be noted that while I say a few may not be entirely skillfully composed, the soundtrack still has a very high standard.

Simply put, Twilight Princess is not only the first foray of the Zelda series onto this list, it's likely to hold its place for some time to come as well. It's a well formed (and incredibly long) soundtrack with plenty of versatility and life to its compositions. It even manages to weave in familiar melodies from earlier Zelda titles, giving them additional staying power, and in some cases raising their quality to match the rest of the soundtrack. Although, it must be noted that there are not nearly enough of these familiar tunes to earn the nostalgia bonus.

You may have noticed that I mentioned above that Twilight Princess is a truly long soundtrack, and again that makes it all the more impressive. Despite the full tracklist being a staggering 200 songs long, Twilight Princess manages to keep its standards just as high for the songs near the end of the game as high as those heard in its first few moments. Actually, special mention should go to the compositions at the end of the game, as they skillfully ratchet up the tension leading into the games impressive finale. Again while making certain to carefully balance between an epic sound and slower pieces.

Twilight Princess scores very high in all categories, and has the distinction of being the first title on this list to earn two five-point scores in addition to its other impressively high marks. It also easily snags the Non-Gamer Approval bonus, although it'll need to wait a few more years before it's eligible for the Nostalgia point.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Enjoyment: 5
Stand Alone Quality: 4.25
Composition: 4.75
Emotional Reaction: 4.75
Game Representation: 5
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Nostalgia: 0
Total: 4.95

Twilight Princess is a great example of Nintendo's composers at their finest. Its a sweeping soundtrack with incredible music, including what must be noted as one of the best ending themes of all time. Twilight Princess is a surefire bet, and easily takes it's place as number 7.

Number 7---The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess by Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota, and Koji Kondo

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