Videogame albums: yay or nay?

By Jeriaska . July 20, 2008 . 10:22am

1994 marked the first time for many listeners in English-language regions that videogame soundtrack albums became available. Through promotional offers in gaming magazines, Nobuo Uematsu’s score to Final Fantasy VI was released as the three-disc album "Kefka’s Domain."  The soundtrack to Donkey Kong Country went on sale under the name "DK Jamz."  Around the same time, Hiroki Kikuta’s music from Secret of Mana received its own soundtrack release, followed by Jeremy Soule’s songs from Secret of Evermore.  


kefkas_domain.jpgPresent-day developments in videogame albums is one of the central topics of the latest edition of the Nobuooo video update.  The July installment includes the participation of four websites, recounting some of the highlights in soundtracks for this past month.  Individual segments touch on the Siliconera interview with Echochrome composer Hideki Sakamoto, information on an upcoming arranged album of music from The World Ends With You narrated by Jérémie of Squaremusic, a Q&A with Richard Jacques conducted by Brandon Sheffield of Gamasutra as described by Anthony of GameMusic4All, and a review of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 original soundtrack by Simon of Higher Plain Music.   


Though it has been well over a decade since videogame albums first started proliferating in Japan, videogame music is still mostly a niche interest.  For the comments section, it might be worth mentioning, when you purchase a videogame, the music comes included at no additional charge — are there times when the soundtrack still is worth purchasing?  All in all, what is your response to the question: 'Videogame albums, yay or nay?'



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  • stoicshock

    I think buying albums is something that would have been more useful years ago, but now I think it’s a bit too late. Even with the ability to import, people still prefer downloading the video game OSTs.

    Not to mention, I’d have a hard time finding myself purchasing a video game album that came out in America, as sometimes songs from Japanese video games get altered or just plain removed.

  • Melody Kitn

    I still have my Guitarfreaks soundtrack, one of my rare finds in an album store, so I just had to have it. As a collectible, I still think they’re viable, just have to throw in a nice lyric book or something to keep it worth it against the freebie downloadables wallowing the internet. But yeah, like most things that are easily obtained through the net, the hardcopy is worth it when you’re a fan, especially music.

  • Jason

    Absolutely Yes…. Think about Super Mario Galaxy’s soundtrack. I immediately downloaded it after I bought the game because its pretty epic. I love every song, and still hum some of the music today even though its been months since playing the game. iTunes would profit big from having a section devoted to video game music. They do it with Guitar Hero.

  • Brent

    No way. Import costs included, one will usually spend near as much on the soundtrack as they did on the game. I’m not OK with that. No soundtrack is worth the sacrifice of another game purchase to me. Some illogical fanboy types (not collector types) may disagree, but I don’t care. They’re probably the same people who buy the “ani-manga” of a series they already own on dvd.

  • Ryu Kazama

    I tend to buy them if I really enjoyed the soundtrack and game but downloading is probably what most do instead. Very rarely do these get released in the west aside from things like GTA and SSX.

  • Ark

    I’d buy them if the prices and availability in the West was better, but I can’t afford to buy the games AND the soundtracks with the prices as they are. I absolutely love video game music but I have to download it most of the time, I only buy the soundtracks that really stand out to me when I have the spare cash.

    It is nice to see the iTunes store having some albums for purchase, but I would rather have the physical CD if I’m going to pay for it.

  • Pichi

    Yay, if you really like a lot of the music in the game, why not buy the soundtrack? I do for some things I watch and if they were released in the US, I would buy it.


    Its fortunate that for Nocturne and other Shin Megami Tensei releases the soundtrack came with it on a separate disc.

  • Carmen

    Haha, I used to own that DK Jamz album! Anyway… I really got into VGM, importing a lot of albums. Unfortunetly, its inconvienent for me to continue any sort of record collecting, so its something I’ve had to give up. But if I could, if it was more viable, theres nothing I’d rather spend my time buying :D

    A great source for VGM and what led me to get into it :

  • R

    Absolutely yes.

    I import what I can get ahold of and what I can afford. The affording generally wouldn’t be an obstacle, but most of the OSTs I want go out of print by the time I realize there’s an OST to purchase. Or worse yet, there IS no OST. (ala Shinji Hosoe’s work on Xenosaga 2)

    And I refuse to pay $50 to some profiteer when the original CD was $25…and I know the people who actually DESERVE the extra money — the composers/arrangers/publishing companies etc — won’t see a dime. Really frustrating.

  • Aoshi00

    I do buy soundtracks for the games that I like. Considering the expensive import price ($30 average per CD), one should be selective since some game music is nice to listen to repeatedly by itself, but some sounds boring when you’re not playing the game..

    Even though I love to own a physical CD for my favorite game music and to show my support, I find it increasingly redundant and cumbersome to buy CDs these days since I’m going to d/l the MP3s on the net anyway, either to listen on the computer or on the go. Chances are I would hardly take out the actual disc..

    Like some said, it is expensive though to get both the game and the soundtrack, added to the fact that everything is so readily available for free. But if the game music is exceptional (say, Chrono Trigger) and evokes enough emotion, then it’s certainly worth it.

    I wonder if I’m the only one who’s crazy enough to have bought both the OST and drama CD for “Archaic Sealed Heat”.. it’s funny that most of the tracks I like from ASH weren’t composed by Sakimoto Hiroshi.. BTW, I was playing Folklore tonight, some of its music is really good, maybe not worth buying a OST though, remembering the story is a little creepy anyway…

  • EdgeKun

    I pretty much have the same view on OSTs and purchases as I do for gaming. If I download an OST and it’s good, I’ll happily pay the money for a soundtrack. (If you truly love something, then reward it’s creators and at least pay for it. That’s my philosophy anyway)

    Now granted, people like say Brent are entitled to their own opinion. I find it sad though that having a love for what i consider good music makes me an illogical fanboy type. Also, do you only buy games that are 30 – 40$? Even after shipping I rarely find OSTs for more than 40$. (Multi-disc albums included)

    Also, to answer the question posed it really depends. (On whether I’d buy an OST if the game included a CD or something similar) Persona 3 came with a great soundtrack CD that covers most (if not all imo) of the great songs in the entire soundtrack. In such cases, I wouldn’t. Nocturne’s CD was fairly lacking so I ended up buying the OST for that one. I think it mostly just depends on whether or not the included disc has a majority of the music I like in the game.

  • Patrick Gann

    There are plenty of good reasons to buy an OST, either physically (import CD) or digitally (iTunes etc). One, perhaps foremost, is if you are interested in the work of the composer, but not in the game itself.

    Other reasons to buy soundtracks? There are full “arranged” albums worth owning. Some OSTs are remastered differently than how you hear them in-game, and others will include neat bonuses like DVD extras or additional arranged tracks.

    Certainly, the prevalence of “game rip” audio makes the need for soundtracks less likely. But *collectors* will still continue on.

    Then, as mentioned by many others in this response section, a lot of US publishers have been including (full or partial) soundtracks as a CD alongside the game itself. This, in my opinion, is always a great treat, even if it isn’t a full four-disc set (such as Digital Devil Saga). Atlus and NISA are the real heroes here. :)

  • Mikael

    Well it really depends on the quality of the music in the game, I think I might be tempted to buy a DQ series OST or the 16 bit Final Fantasy OST, as those are music that have the amount of quality to be able to listen to without playing the game (at the same time),

    Otherwise it is hard for me to buy a Videogame related album that is great from start to finish.
    Sometimes the added bonus with a purchase might be good (but only if you are a fan of it) ,but it is pretty much a resource waste if the music is horrible (not much fan of forced use of resources without a demand.

    So far I have gotten free soundtracts with Atelier Iris 2, Disgaea 2 but the music from the games feel pretty weak most of the time. It will not be enjoyable listening only to the cds alone…

    Recently I got one factory sealed Soul Nomad OST, but I am unsure if I should take a listen to it or not (the music is definetly better than what I have heared from Disgaea 2)

  • Zane

    My answer is a resounding “yes”. There are times when I want to feel some nostalgia and can’t afford the 20+ hours it could take to get to a certain point in FFVI again to hear the music, or maybe I really enjoyed something from a certain game and want to hear more of what the composer has to offer. VGM has a certain appeal to me that has been running strong for years now, and when I hear music in a game that I really enjoy I seek out that OST and add it to my collection.

    That said, I’m not a fan of digital releases – as Ark mentioned above, if I’m going to fork over some cash, I’d like a physical disc in return. I can’t see myself paying for MP3s. I do not download albums to keep – if I download something it’s just to sample, and once I hear some songs I immediately delete them and either buy the album or forget about it.

  • SteveJ

    There is certainly game music that I like, but I can’t ever see buying a song or album from a video game and the only reason I might care about a game coming with a soundtrack is if there is some possibility that the soundtrack might have value as an ebay sale item. I hear game songs more than enough within the game itself. Indeed I’d rather hear the songs in the game itself.

  • Sitorimon

    Absolutely YAY! I’ve always wanted to buy game soundtracks and it wasn’t until I had a debit card and the internet that I could do that. Yes they’re expensive for the Western world (the shipping to the UK is awful!) but most of the soundtracks I get are for games I’ll either never see over in the UK or won’t see for at least a year so everything’s great value for me. Besides I think that most game music, if you enjoy it for what it is, is just as fantastic to listen to as a standalone product than you needing to have played the game. Some of my most favourite vgm albums are from games I’ve never heard of :)
    YAY! YAY! YAY Again!

  • Tom

    They are worth it. I find it to be a great way to be reminded of a game without playing it. All I have to do is pop in a tune and I will remember complete moments of a game and how much I enjoy it. Maybe even feel compelled to play it again.

  • VGTO! Reviews


    Totally for video game albums/Original Soundtracks. I like to experience a game’s soundtrack outside the game. I own a couple myself, like Trusty Bell’s [Eternal Sonata] OST, Chrono Cross and so on. I’m not too ecstatic of the prices, but a lot of video game albums are worth the price.

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