RK128’s Top Gaming Soundtracks of 2016 (Opinion Piece)



This year was a wonderful year for gaming music, as the number of quality soundtracks was quite large. From games focusing on orchestra themes too games that have a very retro-like sound, gaming music was quite varied. Today I want to honor the great soundtracks of 2016 and I will share what I personally feel to be the best soundtracks of the year.

Before we start, want to establish to things first.

  • This reflects MY thoughts and not 3WIREL as a whole. We will have official awards for many categories in 2017.
  • This list is not in any special order; all games on the list are equally strong with their musical scores.

Now that is out of the way, lets start jamming to 2016’s best soundtracks!

Shantae Half Genie Hero

Publisher/Developer: XSEED Games & WayForward

Composer: Jake Koffman

The Shantae series is no stranger to quality music but this latest adventure for the Half Genie Hero offers one of the series best scores. It feels catchy, upbeat and very SEGA Genesis like to me. Playing through many of the levels like Mermaid Falls made me remember fond memories of running through Hydrocity Zone. But the one that made grow the biggest grin is when you enter the Neo Burning Town Stage for the first time.

You have the track ‘Dance Through Danger’ playing and it is a lyrical track composed by Jake and sung by Christina V (the voice of Shantae and Risky Boots). The track itself is quite good, with strong lyrics and instrumentation. But the game having it’s intro stage with an lyrical track made me remember fond memories of playing City Escape for the first time in Sonic Adventure 2.

The games other character themes are high quality as well, matching each of the cast’s personalities. Bolo’s theme is a bit silly, Sky’s theme is relaxing and lastly Risky’s theme is both mysterious and spooky. Overall, each theme has importance and helps define each character.

Half-Genie Hero’s soundtrack is one I really enjoyed and one of WayForward’s best works.


SteamWorld Heist

Developer: Image & Form Games

Composers: Steam Powered Giraffe

SteamWorld Dig had this atmospheric score that only added to exploring mines and caves, making the music fitting to the adventure. SteamWorld Heist has a strong score due to using more instruments compared to Dig all the while maintaining the ‘identity’ from that title.

Many sound effects and audio cues return from Dig, connecting this to that game. But the soundtrack itself is quite enjoyable. When you fight various other SteamBots and Aliens in the games many missions, the music blends danger and excitement quite well. This soundtrack is a strong one that only adds to the overall game experience.


Grand Kingdom

Publisher/Developer: NIS America

Composers: Mitsuhiro Kaneda, Azusa Chiba, Kazuki Higashihara, Yoshimi Kudo, Masaharu Iwata

Music in 2016 was quite strong but this year was a great one for RPG musical scores specifically. Grand Kingdom was one of the many great RPG scores this year. Many of the themes across the game offer catchy themes that only add to the experience; from the soothing theme of the main base to the strong battle them that plays, the soundtrack is one that was enjoyable to listen to.

Many people worked on this games musical score, having work spread across various games such as Tekken 6 and Odin Sphere. That is a reflection of the quality of this soundtrack, as years of experience explain the quality work on display in Grand Kingdom’s score.


Final Fantasy XV

Publisher/Developer: Square Enix

Composer: Yoko Shimomura

Final Fantasy is famous for offering quality soundtracks for decades. Final Fantasy XV is no exception to this rule, possibly offering one of the series best scores. From a battle theme that sounds epic to the boss battle music that feels gigantic in scope, it creates a soundtrack that is strong. It is also quite varied, having relaxing and soothing pieces in addition to allowing you to play music from past Final Fantasy games.

The musical score comes from Yoko Shimomura, who did work on past games in the Kingdom Hearts series and numerous Mario RPG’s. Her soundtracks are fantastic work and seeing her compose for a mainline Final Fantasy has been a dream for many fans of her work.


Persona 5

Publisher: Atlus/SEGA     Developer: P-Studio

Composer: Shoji Meguro

This series is famous for offering fantastic music and Persona 5 is no exception to this rule. While Persona 3 offered darker music with heavier beats and Persona 4 offered more light hearted music (with some heavy stuff as well), Persona 5 feels like a mix between the two.

Focusing on Jazz music as a central theme, we get one quality soundtrack. I personally love the main battle and the intro dungeon’s themes. Both sound fantastic and are some of my favorite tracks in the entire Persona series. Other tracks worth highlighting include the day and night themes for ‘Beneath the Mask’, specifically it’s lyrical version. Sounds so peaceful and relaxing, being the perfect track to listen to while exploring the various locations in the game world.

I love the music in the Persona series and the latest installment’s soundtrack is making the wait for the Western release all the more easier.


Thank you everyone for reading this post and know that all music linked to/referenced belongs to the copyright holders of the different publishers/developers.

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