Best Game Music: 12 Best Video Game Soundtracks of the Last 20 Years – Pitchfork

Video game music has evolved dramatically from its plinking, 8-bit origins. The arcade machines and home consoles of the 1980s were limited by those systems’ rudimentary sound chips, but as tech improved and game developers started to build more enveloping worlds, the music grew more elaborate, too. Composers began creating entire scores spanning classical, techno, jazz, and more. Sports titles like FIFA and open-world games like Grand Theft Auto started licensing hit songs, further blurring the lines between the game world and our real one. Today, video game soundtracks can be as evocative and detailed as those in films, offering powerful listening experiences on their own. Here are 12 of our faves from the last 20 years, in alphabetical order. –Noah Yoo

(All releases featured here are independently selected by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, however, Pitchfork may earn an affiliate commission.)


Composers: Kazumi Totaka, Yasuaki Iwata, Yumi Takahashi, Shinobu Nagata, Sayako Doi, Masato Ohashi

There’s beauty in every mundane moment of Animal Crossing. As your humanoid villager with an abnormally bulbous head goes about their daily tasks—pulling weeds, digging up fossils, making small talk with adorable animal neighbors—gentle melodies soundtrack every hour. The sun rises to light whistling and sets to pensive strings, and every shop, season, and holiday gets its own theme. The music ranges from smooth jazz to light calypso and changes subtly as you move around the world. Of course, any mention of Animal Crossing’s delightful soundtrack would be remiss without mention
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