Bar the one or two exceptions that tend to crop up every now and then, all video games have a soundtrack. In essence, their use of ambient noise and music help to deliver another layer of artistry. One which helps to evoke an array of emotions, heightening the player’s sense of immersion while also helping to galvanise key narrative set pieces.
Like visual art styles, soundtracks are heavily diversified, ranging from grand, sweeping orchestral scores to the enduring chiptune synth. Although some big budget titles have the advantage of better overall production quality, there are plenty of smaller indies that achieve the same level of immersion through simple creativity using audio.
Listen to any video game soundtrack and you’re bound to pick out a handful of tunes that stand-out and begin to loop in your mind. There are those select few, however, that manage to be consistent from start to finish, their catchy melodies haunting your every involuntary hum and whistle.
Mario Kart 8’s soundtrack is a prime example, leading our poll with 24.3% of the total vote. Unlike some categories, it wasn’t a complete runaway, however. Showing our penchant for the more poignant and original musical accompaniment, Velocity 2X and Transistor were right on its heels with 24.1% and 21.9% respectively. Never Alone even managed to rank in our shortlist of finalists, coming fourth with 6%.
As touched on before, consistency is the ultimate deciding factor. That, of course, and Nintendo’s enviable talent to bless everything it creates with such irresistible charm. From the selection menus down to each individual race track, Mario Kart 8 masterfully pairs old and new to create a real treat for the ears.
It’s easy to see why Velocity 2X and Transistor were so close behind. Joris de Man & James Marsden’s score for Velocity is tonally on-point from start to finish, imbuing the on-screen action with an appropriate sense of urgency and tempo. Similar things can be said of Danny Korb who, after delivering a grand performance with Bastion, did the same again for Supergiant’s latest downloadable masterpiece.
Mario Kart 8 is TheSixthAxis’ Game Soundtrack of the Year 2014.