3Bit's Soundtrack Highlights for 2020
Soundtracks in videogames can often be on par with and in many cases more memorable than that of the movie world. For me a game without a good soundtrack is an incredible oversight, as they set the tone, they make our heart race as timers count down, and they make us feel the emotions of the characters in ways that can not always be conveyed graphically. This year we saw an incredible amount of games released, from the highly anticipated to the unexpected, which made it impossible to celebrate just one soundtrack this year. Instead, we chose to celebrate our ten best soundtracks of 2020. This top 10 is in no particular order this year, as honestly, the choices were just too strong. With each game selected as one of our highlights, we have also chosen a specific song or piece which stands out the most from said game so be sure to check them all out below and let us know if you agree or disagree with our ten chosen songs and games by joining us on our social media pages at the bottom of this list.
One-Winged Angel – Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy 7 Remake
To open up this list, we have One-Winged Angel by Nobuo Uematsu, also known as "Sephiroth's Theme" from Final Fantasy 7. At the start of this year, we saw the antagonist Sephiroth return in the highly anticipated remake of Final Fantasy 7. However this year we didn't just see this theme bring a nostalgic impact in a remake, as earlier in December 2020 we also got blown away by Sephiroth's addition to the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster. One-Winged Angel is easily not just one of Final Fantasy's most iconic pieces but also one of the gaming worlds most iconic pieces, thanks to its unique structure and haunting Latin vocals.
Animal Crossing New Horizons Theme- Kazumi Totaka – Animal Crossing New Horizons
For many people, Animal Crossing New Horizons was a lockdown saviour thanks to its family-friendly gameplay, well-timed release and soothing soundtrack which set the tone of this relaxing game. When people look back on 2020 years later, I can imagine this jazzy, catchy tune being one of the fond memories of one of the most challenging times in 2020. Of course, there is a lot of other music in Animal Crossings New Horizon in fact the game features hourly music with 24 themes and almost 100 songs, which made choosing a piece for this title even harder than before.
It's Bugsnax – Kero Kero Bonito - Bugsnax
When it comes to earworms, It's Bugsnax by British indie band Kero Kero Bonito is definitely this years biggest one for gaming. Bugsnax released as a limited free launch title for the PlayStation 5, but what brought the attention to this indie title was the theme song It's Bugsax. The song is undoubtedly a gaming hit for 2020, and even if you haven't played Bugsnax yet, or the song isn't to your style of music as it is for myself, you will likely find this song burying itself into your head after the first listen.
Everybody Falls – Jukio Kallio/Daniel Hagstrom – Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout
For me nothing says summer of being shut in quite like Fall Guys and its instantly recognisable theme song, Everybody falls makes me want to jump back onto this laugh out loud game every time I hear it. For me personally, Fall Guys was a saving grace in lockdown. Playing the game with friends during lockdown gave us a reason to laugh together as we raced to the all-important Crown. The themes build-up and exciting tune truly set the tone for each game as you fell into the waiting queue or browsed the store, building up a sense of anticipation for the crazy fun to begin.
Ku's First Flight- Gareth Coker – Ori and the Will of the Wisps
When it comes to one of 2020's strongest soundtracks, this was a strong contender for that title, and as such made it incredibly difficult to choose a moment from Ori and the Will of the Wisps to express how great this soundtrack is. Ultimately Ku's First flight is my choice piece for this, as composer Gareth Coker really captures the sense of wonder you can experience taking flight in this breathtaking cutscene of Ku, the owl. The piece then changes tone just as quick as the weather in the scene as we enter worse conditions, and the adventure of Ori and the Will of the Wisps truly begins.
Future Days- Pearl Jam – The Last of Us Part 2
Possibly the most emotionally heavy track of 2020 Future Days is a song that carries a lot of weight in the Last of Us Part 2. The song is performed at the start of the game by Joel (Troy Baker) as he plays his guitar to Ellie (Ashley Johnson). The songs weight carries over as the story progresses to Ellie's saga and impacts harder due to how the story progresses. Even without the context of The Last of Us this song has always carried a lot of weight to it and in my opinion as a fan of Pearl Jam, as it was written with a heavy heart by Eddie Veeder much like the rest of its original album, Lightning Bolt.
Way of the Ghost - Ilan Eshkeri – Ghost of Tsushima
Ilan Eshkeri conveys the sounds of Feudal Japan incredibly in Ghost of Tsushima, and with each piece, he brings the feelings of that moment it represents to life. From the Battle of Komoda Beach to the escape of Castle Shimura. When it came to choosing a song to represent the soundtrack of this game it ultimately had to be The Way of the Ghost, as not only does this song serve as the theme of the game, it also has several variations used throughout the game to convey some of the plots more solemn and more emotional moments. The pieces duality of inspiration and darkness reflects that which Jin experiences throughout Ghost of Tsushima's story where he must choose between honour and survival.
Old King Allant – Demon's Souls PlayStation 5- SIE Sound Team
As far as boss music goes in videogames the piece that goes alongside that of The False King or Old King Allant is one of the strongest. The piece feels like you are set to fail with the harsh strings, the intense chorus of vocals and deep drums, ultimately setting the tone for the most challenging boss Demon's Souls has to offer, especially with one attack which is capable of de-levelling your character. The harmonious chorus does offer some respite from dread, however, as for a good portion of it you will find yourself feeling encouraged and inspired as you avoid each potentially fatal blow and strike down the boss. Those who are yet to play Demon's Souls, be it original or remake may also recognise this piece as the one used in the remakes announcement trailer from back in the summer.
Chippin’ In – Samurai – Cyberpunk 2077
As far as fictional bands go Samurai is the most badass, I mean who else can say Keanu Reeves portrays the frontman. Samurais music is performed by Sweedish hard-core band Refused, who step up to bring the best metal soundtrack to games in 2020. Whilst the game itself has been under the scrutiny of some fans there is no denying that the music for Cyberpunk 2077 is incredible. The soundtrack features tonnes of different artists and genres through all its radio stations. Still, Samurai is more than just a band on the radio for Cyberpunk 2077, and their frontman Johny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves) serves as one of the main characters for the story of Cyberpunk 2077. The song Chippin' In was used regularly to promote the game, and to me, it is the track that defines Cyberpunk 2077's soundtrack.
Astral Island – Spinch – Thesis Sahib
If you have been following 3Bit for a while, you would have seen us giving a lot of love to a new indie game called Spinch. This colourful and psychedelic platformer had an incredible soundtrack created by Thesis Sahib, a Canadian musician with an incredibly unique way of composing his music, which involved children's toys and a modified Gameboy, a technique which when we first heard about it left us a bit confused, but when we then went to check it out were completely blown away. Thesis Sahib performed songs from the soundtrack live on Twitch alongside Spinch's award-winning artist Jesse Jacobs, who would create artwork for Spinch to the music before the games release back in September. Enter astral island is the theme for the first world, and my choice to represent the spinch soundtrack as it truly showcases the exciting 8-Bit soundtrack for this incredible platformer.
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