A few months ago, I wrote an article about the music of the Final Fantasy series, which featured thirty definitive tracks from a selection of hundreds that have been heard throughout the franchise’s long and illustrious history.
In 2002, the series diversified somewhat, as several of its characters and key elements were incorporated into the new Kingdom Hearts franchise, an action role-playing-game featuring Disney worlds and characters. Developed by Final Fantasy’s creators, Square, in partnership with Disney themselves, the series doesn’t have as rich of a heritage as its predecessor, but it features music of a similarly high quality, composed almost exclusively by Japanese composer Yoko Shimomura.
She may not be as renowned as Nobuo Uematsu, but the fifteen pieces of exquisite music featured in this list show that Shimomura is at least comparable to the man, and has a bright future ahead of her if Kingdom Hearts III ever enters development.
A few footnotes:
- There may be mild spoilers for those unfamiliar with some of the series’ storylines.
- Tracks taken directly from Disney films (Eg – Under The Sea) or Final Fantasy games (Eg – One Winged Angel) have been omitted in favour of original creations.
- The inclusion of more tracks from main series pair of games as opposed to the spin-offs is because the latter mostly used rearrangements of the former’s music, not because I didn’t personally enjoy the spin-offs as a whole.
15. Space Paranoids (Kingdom Hearts II)
This is the background music for the Space Paranoids world, which is based on the 1982 cult classic Tron, a film in which Kevin Bridges is transported into the world of a computer. In the game, Sora and his friends are similarly assimilated into a system, and this track channels the level’s influence perfectly, being both retro and tense at the same time.
14. Scherzo Di Notte (Kingdom Hearts)
This is the standard battle theme from all of the games in the series, though each version has its own tweaks to slightly differentiate it from the others. With its title translating as ‘Joke of the night’, the track is catchy yet not too serious, much like the game itself, and is engaging rather than repetitive, which is fortunate given the amount of times it will be heard in the average playthrough.
13. Rage Awakened – The Origin (Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep)
In the introduction, I stated that tracks that were rearrangements of others had been mostly excluded from this list. This is the exception, being superior to the track from Kingdom Hearts II that it reworks, also titled Rage Awakened. A more than adequate final boss theme, this captivates throughout its two and a half minute runtime, and can distract from the task at hand.
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