Final Fantasy games have always been known for their amazing presentation, storytelling, and characters. But if it's one thing that fans get the most nostalgic for, it's the unparalleled musical score by Nobuo Uematsu that has solidified Final Fantasy as one of the most flawless series in gaming history. I'd like to count down through some of my own most memorable songs from the series, many of which have stayed with me even more than 15 years after originally playing most of the games. Even the older songs from the Super Nintendo days have incredibly staying power and still sound great even by today's standards. Not only did I pick the songs based on their musical merit, but also how much they added to the scenes they played in. So without further ado, here are my choices for the top 10 songs from the Final Fantasy series:
10. Final Fantasy VI's "Aria Di Mezzo Caraterre"
- Celes' swan song during her opera performance. Not only a beautiful scene, but a beautiful song even despite its MIDI-voice track looking back on it today. This is one of the most remembered scenes from Final Fantasy VI, and it's all thanks to this gorgeous song.
9. Final Fantasy VIII's "Waltz for the Moon"
- I still maintain that FF8 had the best cut scenes and music out of any other Final Fantasy game, and when Squall and Rinoa waltzed their way across the dance floor to this song for the first time, it wasn't hard to see that this game was about to unravel an amazing love story unlike any preceding game in the series. It was a romantic song accompanying a cut scene that really helped establish Squall as a well-rounded, even awkward leading man.
8. Final Fantasy VI's "Dancing Mad"
- The final boss music for the epic, tiered battle with Kefka. This song shows some of the first traces of the almost funky, frantic synth tracks that would show up in later games in the series, and fit in well with Kefka's insane character. A fitting song for one of the series absolute best villains.
7. Final Fantasy IV's "The Dreadful Battle"
- When this song starts during the boss battles with the four elemental fiends, you know you're in for a tough fight. The song is menacing and as in-your-face as a MIDI song could be for 1992 and an amazing example of how ahead-of-their-time Uematsu's compositions were and continue to be.
6. Final Fantasy X's "To Zanarkand"
- The opening song to the first entry on the Playstation 2, "To Zanarkand" really sets the game off on a strong foot. It's a haunting piano ballad that perfectly captures the emotion of the story's troubled world and characters. Seriously one of the most beautiful and powerful songs in the entire series.
5. Final Fantasy VI's "The Decisive Battle"
- This song made every boss fight just a little more awesome. The riff for this song is impossible to get out of your head and sounds just as good today as it did 14 years ago when the game first hit US shores. This is one song that has stuck around and continues to be one of the most popular boss songs in the series.
4. Final Fantasy XII's "Clash on the Big Bridge"
- This Final Fantasy staple originally showed up in Final Fantasy V during the battle with Gilgamesh on the big bridge. Amazing back then, Final Fantasy XII improved it with a full orchestra for Gilgamesh's cameo in the game. This song is one of the most loved in the entire series, and a perfect fit for the quirky fan favorite Gilgamesh.
3. Final Fantasy VII's "One Winged Angel"
- The one song that needs no introduction to the majority of Final Fantasy fans around the world. You've heard that Final Fantasy VII revolutionized not only RPGs but the game industry in general, and the capabilities of the Playstation's CD format helped usher forward cutting edge graphics and, just as importantly, high quality music tracks. This song was one of the first fully-orchestrated songs in the series and in videogame history and set the standard for epic boss music for all time to come. As the quality of graphics and cutscenes was something players had never seen before at the time, so too was this song, and it remains as one of the most memorable and loved songs of any game. A perfect song for one of the most twisted and popular villains of all time.
2. Final Fantasy VIII's "Liberi Fatali"
- The opening theme accompanying the absolute best beginning cutscene from any RPG in my opinion. Final Fantasy VIII's soundtrack and amazing cutscenes were a huge evolution from what Square learned from FF7, and this was an extension of the successful orchestral composition first seen with "One-Winged Angel." This song fuses together everything that makes Final Fantasy games great from a sense of wonder to the heart-pumping intensity of battle, and as a result it's one of the most well-crafted and intricate songs of the series. It really helps to pump you up just listening to it especially as the drums kick in, the vocals hauntingly sing the Latin lyrics, and the horns crescendo. Truly a masterpiece of a song and opening scene.
1. Final Fantasy VI's "The Fierce Battle"
- Perhaps a controversial number 1 pick, but this song shines as the absolute best boss music from any game. As the song for Atma Weapon, it perfectly establishes the tension and struggle on the floating island before it falls and destroys the world. This song gets your toes tapping and your adrenaline flowing for one of the most memorable battles in the series, and hard to describe as anything besides "totally badass."
So there you have it, the top 10 Final Fantasy songs! There are absolutely tons of great songs from every entry in the series that just missed the list, as the entire collection of Final Fantasy games are known for their flawless soundtracks. If I included other Square titles, Chrono Trigger and Xenogears would have placed highly on the list as well, but these are my absolute favorites from my favorite series of all time.
-Scott "Riot" Underwood