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Weekly Top Ten: Best Game Fanfares

Just for the hell of it, I'm posting a list of (usually) ten items related to gaming. But for the most part they won't be the typical stuff, like my top ten Gamecube games. I want to make discussion over more varied things. Plus if you have your own list on these subjects, feel free to make your own, and either post it in the comment, or show us all a link to it.

This week is my top fanfares in video games. For those of you unfamiliar, a fanfare is a piece of music played on brass instruments (usually trumpets) in a bombastic manner, to celebrate something (it's also why it's now also used to describe a form of hype and promotion). You remember the opening music to "Star Wars"? That's a fanfare. Or the opening to "Superman: The Movie", or the ending music to the "Indiana Jones" films. Let's just say John Williams is very good at this kind of composition. So of course video games would have them as well.

I would like to provide links to the music being played, but as I don't know of any that will reliably stay up, I'll just post the games and the name of the musical pieces so you can search for them.

Now without further ado:

10. Sonic The Hedgehog (1, 2) - "Title": Now the Genesis sound chip makes it hard to determine if this would be played in real life with brass instruments, but otherwise the opening screen music for the first (and second) Sonic game is a true fanfare. It wastes no time in basically telling you "Here comes the blue speedster!" Now while I personally prefer Mario games (but the first Sonic games are classics nonetheless), and his games are rarely without their own fanfares, they don't hold a candle to this musical gem.

09. Golden Sun - "Overture": A little spoiler, this list will be dominated by RPGs, particularly JRPGs. This is because the composers quite often try to get the majestic feeling of an epic film or opera in their music. Nothing against western RPGs. I just find their music is often more of a background ambiance than something to be just as clear as the gameplay. I should discuss this piece more, but there isn't much to say other than I like it enough to make this list. It's just not as grand or majestic as the other fanfares here.

08. Final Fantasy - "Victory Fanfare": Although VII through X screw up the second part, this tune is one of the most common and celebrated in the series. It's not majestic enough for my tastes to place higher, but does convey the sense of "You won! You're awesome!" well.

07. Knights of the Round - "Stage Clear": Now this victory fanfare certainly is majestic enough for me. Sure the game itself is basically "Final Fight" but ripping off "Golden Axe" instead of "Double Dragon", but the music sure is great. Oddly enough, the SNES version actually pulls off the "trumpet" sound better than the arcade version in the music. I guess the arcade game just had a radically different sound chip.

06. The Legend of Zelda - "Overworld": If you haven't played any of the games before Ocarina, you might now know this tune. For those who have, you know how this tune drives you on to adventure. Oddly enough, the animated series played this as a true fanfare first, and while "A Link to the Past" comes close, it's the "Super Smash Bros" series that plays the theme in its full bombastic glory.

05. Chrono Trigger - "Lucca's Theme": Now some mistake this for a victory tune, likely because it plays when you win the over bike race. But considering who the tune is named for, it's actually a fanfare FOR SCIENCE! I don't care for the two Chrono Cross remixes, since even though they are victory tunes, they are not fanfares. The brass is gone after the first parts, and the tempo is slowed down on all parts. What the hell made the Squaresoft composers at the time think we wanted victory music to be softer? It's f*ing victory music!

04. Disgaea (1) - "The Anthem Of Braves": That's right, space cadets, being a Defender of Earth is always better when accompanies by a majestic fanfare! That's why Captain Gordon and his crew has this tune play when he and his crew are on screen. Note that this tune isn't named for him alone, or even for the title of Defender of Earth. That means this tune is for his invaluable team as well as him! After all, Jennifer and Thursday are no less brave than Gordon, and he wouldn't be the defender he is without them!

03. Star Fox (1) - "Course Select", "Course Clear (1)", "Course Clear (2)", "Ending", "End credits": Yeah, you read that right, I'm putting five of them up here. The reason is that they all contain the same bit of melody that I'm counting as the fanfare here. Actually the melody appears six times, but the "Control Select" music is soft instead of a fanfare. Regardless, music like this is why I say the first game has the best music of the entire series.

02. Brave Fencer Musashi - "The Musashi Legend": This is an obscure game, but I highly recommend it (haven't played the sequel though). Anyway, the reason this tune is so high on my list is that it hooked me in right from the first level. I felt like a great hero, just from listening to it. I don't think any musical piece has said "great hero" to me like this other than the aforementioned "Superman" overture.

01. Dragon Quest - "Overture": If you've played any of the games, you know what this tune is, and why it's number one. Every part just screams "epic adventure", while a few parts also say "but it won't be dark and moody". The opening from part VIII is the best for me, as it uses a full orchestra in the game, but all of them otherwise work just as well.
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About Lord The Night Knightone of us since 6:44 PM on 10.07.2007

I have a Wii and a DS, and my brother has a 360. I don't have anything against the PS3. We just can't afford one yet, but I do want a PSP when I can.