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The five greatest Final Fantasy soundtracks

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Final Fantasy IX

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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45 comments

  • Geheimen - December 6, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    I didn't like that much the FF IV's OST and the FFI's is my favorite, followed by FFV. Am I normal?
  • adrian-tan - February 16, 2013 4:24 a.m.

    What? No FF8 music? FF8 has the greatest soundtracks... 9 felt fairly weak to me
  • kindiboy - June 6, 2010 1:59 p.m.

    Obviously no one played FF XI
  • kingdomknight0 - March 7, 2010 10:30 a.m.

    Wouldn't it be fun if I said the following? "I like you guys. I do. But I had to dig up my password to come on and tell you you're a damned idiot. FFIX is NOT my favorite but clearly has the best music. Y'know what I think? I think you got laid for the first time when FFVI came out and THAT'S why you think it's the greatest FF. And people are right you've done these all before. I'm surprised that FFIV was first in this times' top FF list. You still need to get your head out of your asses and realize that FFVI was NOT that good. In fact none of the FFs were all that good. I love Square and their work but you guys.. seriously.. FFVI and VII were not as godly as people make them out to be. VII is popular because everyone loved DBZ then and the big swords and spiky hair looked cool. FF VI on the other hands had annoying characters, mediocre (at best) music, and worst of all Magitech. Sure the story is a LITTLE unique but who cares!? If people really cared about unique 3/4 of us would not have sat playing these games in our childhoods and would have been doing something more constructive. AND DON'T GIVE ME THAT 'I played sports in school' BULLSHIT YOU GUYS KNOW YOU KNOW THINGS ABOUT GAMES OTHERS WOULD HAVE A HARD TIME LOOKING UP!!!! /endnerdrage and not coming back. You guys don't even have cheats anymore. Your writing has slackened and you keep repeating the same jokes that weren't funny the first time. You're now Family Guy. Gratz on failing." But who cares. FFIX's music is still >> FFVI and Halo sucks STD infested transvestite private parts.
  • m15anthrope - March 7, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    Brett: "My distaste for VIII is well known, so it's true then that I don't know the OST as well as the others. However, I consulted with other FF music maniacs in and out of office and we settled on this list. So, even though I don't care too much for VIII or its music, I LOVE that you guys care enough to let me know." I too to a great degree don't like FF8 (only for its frustrating difficulty and its unnecessarily complex Junction system), but I've seen it through up to Ultimecia's Castle, and really, it does have the best overall soundtrack of any of them. I'm not trying to usurp FF6 (because of the criticism I've read about the importance of Kefka's final boss theme), but I would place it at #2. Protostar is ultimately correct.
  • m15anthrope - March 7, 2010 6:11 a.m.

    For FF9, I always considered "You're Not Alone" as the best in the game (it's the moody electric guitar track that plays when Zidane realizes his intended purpose and fights those five minibosses in Pandemonium). And you seem to have completely omitted FF8...?
  • pr0tostar - March 6, 2010 1:02 p.m.

    I see alot of people agree that VIII shold have been on this list. But not only because it had such great/memorable music, but for the fact that the theme of the game gave it more of a direct connection to it's music as opposed to any other FF, or RPG for that matter. It's hard to explain, but FFVIII has alot of opera epic themes to it. This is something alot of traditional FF fans don't realize because they're so disenchanted with VIII because it's aesthetically cyberpunk. But if you look through that and take the theme and elements of the story into account, the game is like a futuristic interpretation of an opera. Therrefore, the game's main theme, Liberali Fetali, becomes a direct aspect of the story, as opposed to a track in the game. I could go on and on about other things that make the VIII's score more than just music tracks, but the key point is that it's alot more rooted in it's music than any other FF, by far.
  • gogo65uk - March 6, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    I'm very fond of aurons theme from X it fits the character perfectly. But I like them all can't wait for Xiii
  • D0CCON - March 5, 2010 10:46 p.m.

    I have shared some FF hate, but I will say the music for these games has always been great.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - March 5, 2010 7:42 p.m.

    To clarify, the embedded tracks aren't in any specific order, so like Terra's theme IMO isn't "better" than the Veldt. I love everything in IV and VI, and everyone's suggestions are totally welcome and correct. My distaste for VIII is well known, so it's true then that I don't know the OST as well as the others. However, I consulted with other FF music maniacs in and out of office and we settled on this list. So, even though I don't care too much for VIII or its music, I LOVE that you guys care enough to let me know. Thanks for the comments - and maybe I'll go check out VIII's OST.
  • gilgamesh310 - March 5, 2010 7:06 p.m.

    Im glad terra's theme came first. An absolutely amazing theme that had me looking forward to going out onto the world map every time. They left out most of ff 9's best soundtracks though. They should of had valla ello flamenco or whatever it's called instead of Ukule le Chocobo, also the music from the hunting guild and of course 'you are not alone' which is my second favourite out of the whole lot after terra's theme.
  • kompressorlogik - March 5, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    Man, I still can't believe I got to meet Uematsu himself. So awesome.
  • Rhymenocerous - March 5, 2010 4:33 p.m.

    Glad I'm not alone in liking the FFVIII soundtrack, It's wonderful. Well some of it is.
  • IHazCheezburger - March 5, 2010 4:31 p.m.

    I do love this list, but I am going to have to echo the sentiments that FFVIII should be on here somewhere. I'm definitely in the camp that doesn't think it was a very good game, but the one thing you certainly can't take away from it is that it had an amazing soundtrack, certainly better than a couple on here (I'm looking at you X and IX, even probably better than VII given its initial quality on the actual game). Also: "Terra's Theme" really is the best VGM OF ALL TIME. Just sayin'.
  • Xplosive59 - March 5, 2010 4:15 p.m.

    best video game soundtrack of all time IS obviously Final Fantasy 6, how could you not love Terras theme, that song is right up there with my favorite videogame song ever as well as the ducktales moon level and the opening of mega man 2
  • philipshaw - March 5, 2010 2:28 p.m.

    I knew this would be a Brett article when I read the headline, great job. FF7 soundtrack is my favorite and I can forgive the sound quality because it is PS1. Loved the other games music as well. Love the bass in FFIV battle music
  • y2sky2003 - March 5, 2010 2:05 p.m.

    Good choices. I'd love to see FF4's music be redone for a current or next-gen console remake, or even something like Advent Children. Speaking of which, FF7: AC gives the song "J-E-N-O-V-A" the justice it deserves, hands down.
  • OnyxOblivion - March 5, 2010 12:25 p.m.

    FF8 has always had an AMAZING soundtrack, if the players can agree on nothing else. Its been called the worst and the best FF...But damn. Did that game have great music. Also suffered from sound quality, though.
  • Yaro - March 5, 2010 12:17 p.m.

    Nice scores and all. But FF VIII is still the best in my mind. In comparison to FF VII, number 8 has so many more memorable tracks. Yeah.
  • Silent0men - March 5, 2010 12:08 p.m.

    Even though ff8 didn't get a mention in this article, the boss battle theme (force your way) is one of my favourites. Also a place to call home which played on the ff9 title screen is definitely my favourite piece of ff music.

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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