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SNES music poll
Tune Low-down poll
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For some great 'old-school' style game music, visit Skytopia's Soundburst Shrine here to download music in mp3 format!
our all-time top SNES music
Hundreds of hours of listening, re-listening, compiling, careful filtering and judgement has gone into it.
Notes about the table
Even if a game features only one good tune, it will still find a place in one of the four classes. Such is the wide disparity in quality (as with all music! ), it was possible to subdivide the collection further still. However, although this might achieve greater accuracy, for practical purposes, I decided four classes would be sufficient.
As said previously, I haven't (yet) listened to every SNES tune, so please let me know if you are aware of any hidden gems I haven't come across. Despite the huge range of SNES music I've already covered, there still remains much treasure to be found :-)
In the future, I intend to add comments to the first and second class music, and lots more new tunes of course (which will be covered in the news) - so be sure to return!
...and your fave SNES music - about the poll:
Sometime in the future, I'm going to implement a much more accurate voting system. Instead of ticking boxes representing your fave games, you'll be asked to give a score out of 20 for any game / s. This will be more likely to bring the cream to the top - since obscure music can have an average of 20/20 even if there's just one vote! I won't even have to nag you all to listen to the lot before voting etc. ;-)
What proportion of SNES tunes assessed so far even qualify to make it into the table?
I would guess only about 8 percent of everything I've heard - make it into one of the four classes. So in a way, even the relatively low 4th class is 'cream' up to a point.
Judging by the results from the poll, a few people are wondering why titles like 'Ys', 'Fire Emblem 4' and 'Secret of Evermore' aren't listed higher up the table.
There are good reasons though why they aren't listed higher. After re-listening to Secret of Evermore for example, I found some expertly crafted 'ambient' style tracks - and there's no doubt these enhance the atmosphere of the game when actually playing (stuff like lush river / rain sounds and realistic crowd soundscapes).
However, they have limited table placement (or are left out completely) because they aren't particularly fun to listen to in their own right (i.e. when not playing the game). In 'Fire Emblem's case and 'Ys', well... I'm sure they also benefit more when actually playing, but all in all - they still have a long way to go before matching up to the best tracks from 'Bahumat Lagoon' or 'Secret of Mana'.
If you think I'm still wrong though, write up to the Forum - and I'll be happy to debate! ;D
A small note about Secret of Mana 2
After discovering the wonders of SNES SPC emulation, one of the most anticipated tunes also turned out to be the most disappointing - Seiken Densetsu 3. I loved the music from Secret of Mana of course, so was really expecting at least a few 2nd (and even 1st) class tunes. I think it was the same composer responsible too - Hiroki Kikuta. Oh well.....
The game itself is still good though =)
Remixes of popular tunes
It's also important to say that music which has been remixed for the SNES (such as Beethoven's Earthworm Jim 2's rendition of Moonlight Sonata) will receive a 'drop' in score. This isn't anything against the piece in question (which would probably reside in first class if it was an original tune!), but since music like this has been heard so many times by everyone, it's more appropriate lower down the table. Parodius is an interesting case though. The music is 'remixed' from previously heard popular tunes, but enough has been done (e.g. adding crazy sounds, new instruments and an upbeat rhythm) to ensure a unique listening experience.
SPC sound problems
There are a few tunes which unfortunately don't sound right when played through certain SPC players. If you're using Super Jukebox, there's an option in the preferences - "Use old ADPCM method". If any tunes seem to have 'buzzy' instruments which sound wrong, you might want to try turning this on / off. The default is off, but this won't work with all tunes.
A classic case are the tunes from the Sailor Moon series or 'Kirby's Avalanche'. In some cases though, there's no solution, but I have managed to hear them properly (on one of the Amiga's players in fact), so the rankings for 'glitchy' tunes like this will be for how they originally sound. Thankfully, these 'timing' and 'missing channel' problems are not too common amongst SNES-emulated music.
4th class mayhem
At this point reside the vast majority of SNES tunes. The quality assessment given to this category is 'listenable to good'. This means that if I am not in error and my ratings have been fair - anything that's not listed at least 4th - is either too dull to be worth listening to, or I haven't heard it yet. Just like the other classes, this category has a 'fairly wide' span of quality. There are many entries that just scraped in, and quite a few that just missed out on 3rd class. This is to be expected - I have to draw the line somewhere.
Relegation and promotion of SNES tunes
Throughout the history of this table, I have often relegated and promoted certain tunes. I would like to stress this isn't because my taste in music is 'changing', but it is in fact because after repeated listenings, I'm getting a better judgement of the tunes. Secondly, I'm finally getting to grips with exactly what defines a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th class tune. I'm happy to say though that thanks to repeated hearings, all the tunes are beginning to 'stabilize' and there will be very few changes in future (apart from completely new additions of course).
Also, I'm fairly confident of the accuracy of tune placements, but occasionally, I have been known to relegate or promote tunes thanks to your comments - so message the forum or email me if you disagree! :)
I am always open to debate and will be as objective as possible in saying why a particular tune is ranked so high or low (...or not at all - gulp ;-).
It probably goes without saying that if you can't find your fave SNES game's tune under the letter you have looked for, then think of an alternative name (e.g. insert the word 'Super', or think of the European / US / Japanese name).... or simply search for one of the keywords in the game's title using the browser's search feature.
Spread the word
Finally, spread the word. If there's anyone who you think might like some of the best SNES music (or even for those who you think might not :), tell them about this page and get them to try either the tunes from the 1st/2nd class, or your own fave SNES tunes. It's my opinion that the quality of the cream of SNES music beats 99.99% of the music from today's games. I'm not exactly sure why this is - but it might have something to do with the vast 'commercialisation' of games in general. [sigh...]
Variations upon a themeThe SNES has some of the greatest music on any games platform. However, there are instances where an enhanced version of the same tune can be found on other platforms (e.g. Amiga, Arcade, Playstation, MegaDrive, or even CD). Here are the examples:
Pushover The music barely scraped into 4th class, but had this been the superior Amiga version of Pushover - you'd see at least one in 3rd class. No doubt the real 'space' level tune is about a million times better than the SNES equivalent.
Super Turrican 1 The "26 (Credits) Ending" is in 1st class (mostly thanks to the brilliant middle section), but the same tune from the CD version from Chris Huelsbeck is actually slightly better (in sound quality at least) !
Axelay Only kidding - this music has only been released on the SNES. Actually, that's not strictly true - there's an Axelay OST CD. It has the same identically arranged SNES tunes and a few remixed tunes (which incidentally aren't quite as good as the originals, but certainly worth a listen).
Super Earth Defense Force Shock - this was originally an arcade game! The tunes are the same, but there are slight differences in the orchestration of the pieces. Perhaps the SNES arrangements are slightly better even...
Kirby Well, it has to be said that the SNES is certainly the greatest resource for Kirby tunes. Remixes of classic Kirby tunes have been ported to the N64 and Gameboy etc., but as far as I know, none of the tunes match the SNES's.
Gradius 3 Comparisons of the tunes from the arcade version will be made with these in the future.
Street Fighter 2 These SNES versions of Streetfighter 2's music are generally better the arcade originals'. However the exception is Ken's stage music orchestration - which is better in the arcade version.
Also note that the music from SNES Super Streetfighter 2 has worse remixes than original SNES SF2.
U.N. Squadron Music ported from the arcade version of UN Squadron. I'll add a comparison later.
Jim Power Music slightly worse than the Amiga version of Jim power. However that 'Title' tune remains cool...
Megaman A lot of you seem to like the Megaman music, but if you can, try and hear the Saturn version of Megaman ('X' I think it is, though I'm not 100% sure) - it's much better.
Puzzle Bobble Woah. It's an understatement to say that the arcade music from Puzzle Bobble 2 (also known as Bust-a-move 2) is better. Make sure you listen to it ASAP.
Super James Pond 2 Interestingly, there are 2 versions of the (same?) game. And two slightly different orchestrations. It turns out the 'Super James Pond 2' music is a bit better than 'Super James Pond', but neither can match up to the Amiga version of Robocod - which has even better instruments & orchestration for the same tunes.
Super Ghouls and Ghosts Hmm... Different music to the arcade, Amiga / ST and C64 versions. Interestingly, the C64 music of Ghouls and Ghosts by Tim Follin is by far the best. (See the C64 page for the top Commodore 64 music.
Super Pang Same tunes, but definitely worse than the arcade version's music. Interestingly, the Amiga version of Pang's music is slightly superior to even the arcade's catchy ditties. Cheers go to Ocean France who ported a perfect conversion to the Amiga at the time.
Nobunaga no Yabou Haouden - One particular tune from this game - "05 (Usual Theme)". I'm not sure whether Yoko Kanno re-orchestrated this tune for the SNES, or whether it's the 'original', but what I can say is the CD version (Uncharted Waters II Special Edition) is about a million times better! Visit here for samples of the music (or to even purchase the CD).
Thomas the Tank Engine Tim Follin did a remarkable job of converting the famous TTTE TV theme tune to the SNES - "01 (Title Theme)".
Top Gear These SNES renditions pale in comparison when put up against the Amiga 'Lotus Espirit Turbo Challenge 1' tunes. The bass is weaker, and the meaty electric guitar sounds from the Amiga version are replaced with 'washed out' synths.
|Axelay||Pop'n Twinbee||Secret of Mana||Super Aleste||Kirby Super Star||F-Zero|
|Zelda 3||UN Squadron (Area 88)||Zombies||Super Mario Kart||Street Fighter II||Parodius 1/2/3|
|List of tunes specially selected for miscellaneous reasons|