The five greatest Final Fantasy soundtracks

We pick the best tracks from gaming's most celebrated body of music

Many have ignored IX because of its childish appearance and regression to stock fantasy, but let it be known they’re missing out on a superbly rich soundtrack – one that Nobuo Uematsu has called his best work. The whole thing isn't spotless, but many tracks nail the game's pre-technology mindset - lots of trumpets, pianos and classical sounds, not so much techno stuff.

Above: That said, “Black Mage Village” should get you bouncing…

Above: …just in time for “Freya’s Theme” to send you into a depressed stupor

Above: Then cue up “Ukele le Chocobo” to shake off Freya’s overwhelming sadness

The game’s main theme, "Melodies of Life," is one of the few lyric-based tunes from a game we actually dig, appearing throughout the game in various forms. It’s mostly heard as the overworld theme, but the voiced version, though dangerously close to “My Heart Will Go On” level of cheese, still invokes the game’s overall theme of remembrance.

Above: Who’ll hear the echoes of stories never told?

Final Fantasy IV

Allowing FFIV to miss the top spot was like cutting off one of our arms, but its meager size keeps it from taking the trophy. Even with a small set list, the fourth game soars near the top by delivering a sizzling set of tracks that'll stay with you long after the credits roll. The moment the game starts you’re hit over the head with one of the strongest pieces:

Above: “Red Wings” perfectly narrates the hero Cecil’s tragic, conflicted state of mind, and acts as a call-to-arms fanfare that bookends the game

Pretty much any song here outranks its correlating music track in another Final Fantasy game - FFIV's overworld, airship and battle music are bar-none the best versions of each, and the boss music ranks as one of the greatest tunes in all of gaming.

Above: Now THAT’s boss music. Dig that bass!

For more examples of this game’s wide variance and complete quality, check these genius bits:

Above: “Into the Darkness” captures the unsettling, ethereal vibe of The Land of Summoned Monsters, plus a few creepier caves

Above: “Within the Giant” is first heard inside a towering metal monstrosity, but it also plays as you approach the game’s final battle. Truly epic work

Above: “The Big Whale” slams into your ears as you discover an ancient airship gifted with the power of interstellar flight. The marching drums and swells really sell the moment

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