Favorite Ballads from Video Games

Music is a powerful form of art, and there’s no denying that a good soundtrack is very important in video games. Whether it is ambient background music or an upbeat theme that gets the player pumped up for combat, a soundtrack that is able to elicit the right emotions during certain scenes or battles can be something that makes a game memorable and stand out from others.

I have a lot of favorite vocal-less tracks from various video games that still send chills down my spine whenever I listen to them (most notably Final Fantasy OSTs, big fan of Nobuo Uematsu. The Last of Us also comes to mind), but there’s something to be said about a ballad with well-written lyrics, too, so here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

I acknowledge that my list does not really cover the best of all lyrical video game songs – I have specific preferences when it comes to games in general and there are many that I have not even played, let alone heard music from; these are just my personal favorites.

A Love Suicide

Game: Rule of Rose
Composer(s): Hiroshi Murayama
Singer: Kaori Kondo

Rule of Rose was one of those games that I was really intrigued with in the beginning and eager to start, but as I played through it I really lost interest, and the longer I played I just wanted it to end for the sake of reaching the end. Saying that the gameplay could have been better is an understatement, but I appreciated the story that it told and the symbolism behind many of the scenes, characters and interactions in the game. After the game ended and I got more focused on understanding what had gone on in Jennifer’s life, and between her and Wendy, I really started to admire this song and its lyrics, and how it relates to the two girls.

It’s very melancholic, even eerie, but it fits the game so well. It’s certainly different – the game’s set in 1930’s England, so it’s got an old-fashioned vibe to it. To be clear, I really did like the story and the overall atmosphere of it, the gameplay was just rather dull and totally detracted from what could have been a very interesting game.

Lyrics

Say, where is my shame
When I call your name?
So please don’t set me free,
I’m as heavy as can be.
I will do you harm,
I will break my arm,
I’m a victim of your charm.I want to be dead,
When I am, I lament.
I can be so mean,
You can beat me.
I would like to shame you,
I would like to blame you,
Just because of my love to you.And love itself is just as innocent as roses in May,
I know nothing can drive it away.
Though love itself is just as brief as a candle in the wind,
And it’s greedy just like sin.

Alone, but sane,
I am a love suicide.

‘Cause love itself is just as brief as a candle in the wind,
It is pure white, just like sin.

Alone, but sane,
I am a love suicide.

‘Cause love itself is just as innocent as roses in May,
It is pure white just like sin.

 

Everything’s Alright

Game: To the Moon
Composer(s): Kan R. Gao and Laura Shigihara
Artist: Laura Shigihara

The whole soundtrack of To the Moon is just beautiful. Everything’s Alright is far from my favorite track in it (and that’s not saying it’s not good, this OST is just full of breathtaking pieces), but again, as this song was written for the game, the lyrics go with the couple John and River’s bittersweet story very well. To the Moon is another game with a heavy focus on storytelling rather than gameplay, but unlike Rule of Rose, the gameplay was not aggravatingly bad and flawed, the style was just different.

Lyrics

Short steps, deep breath,
Everything is alright.
Chin up, I can’t
Step into the spotlight.
She said, “I’m sad,”
Somehow without any words.
I just stood there,
Searching for an answer.When this world is no more,
The moon is all we’ll see,
I’ll ask you to fly away with me. 
Until the stars all fall down,
They empty from the sky,
But I don’t mind
If you’re with me, then everything’s alright.Why do my words
Always lose their meaning?
What I feel, what I say
There’s such a rift between them.
He said, “I can’t
Really seem to read you.”
I just stood there, 
Never know what I should do.

When this world is no more, 
The moon is all we’ll see, 
I’ll ask you to fly away with me.
Until the stars all fall down, 
They empty from the sky, 
But I don’t mind
If you’re with me, then everything’s alright.

If you’re with me, then everything’s alright.

 

Take Us Back

Game: The Walking Dead: Season 1
Artist: Alela Diane

I believe that Take Us Back was not written with The Walking Dead in mind, it was just chosen to be played in the ending credits, and for a good reason, I think. For a song that was not written to go with the game, Take Us Back was a very effective (effective in making me cry, that is) choice that captures the feelings of the surviving characters in The Walking Dead‘s post-apocalyptic world well.

Lyrics

The tops of crags and cliffs, the air is thin,
So we’ll find a mountain path on down the hill.
Meet me where the snow mount flows,
It is there, my dear, where we will begin again.
Skipping stones, braiding hair,
Last year’s antlers mark the trail.Take us back, oh, take us back,
Oh, take us, take us back, Take us back, oh, take us back, oh, take us, take us backI’ve a friend who lives out by the rivers mouth,
He knows the fiddles cry is an old sound.
A lonesome of creeks and moans of empty houses
Are songs like fallen rain.
Windblown buildings, muddy ground,
The strength of water can sink a man.

Take us back, oh, take us back
Oh, take us, take us back, Take us back, oh, take us back, oh, take us, take us back

When the higher hills have turned blue,
And the waves are lapping where the children grew,,
All that we have know will be an echo,
Of days when love was true.
Muted voices just beyond
The silent surface of what has gone.

 

1000 Words / 1000の言葉

Game: Final Fantasy X-2
Artist: Koda Kumi (Japanese), Jade Villalon

There’s lots of mixed reactions when it comes to the sequel of Final Fantasy X – while I agree that it doesn’t quite hold a candle to the main game, I still found it a fun and enjoyable experience (granted, I was like 10 when I played it, and while I liked it I haven’t replayed it since, unlike Final Fantasy X). Like most Final Fantasy games though, the soundtrack was very good, and of the few vocal tracks in this particular installment of the franchise, I’ll have to say 1000 Words was my favorite.

This, I believe is Jade Villalon’s version, who sang this and Real Emotion in the international release of the game, however I’ve always been more partial to Koda Kumi’s Japanese version, even though her voice is a bit lower and stronger than the soft-spoken Yuna’s voice that I’m familiar with (does the Yuna in the Japanese version of the game have a different voice? I know Koda Kumi voiced Lenne in the sequel).

Lyrics

I know that you’re hiding things
Using gentle words to shelter me
Your words were like a dream
But dreams could never fool me
Not that easilyI acted so distant then
Didn’t say goodbye before you left
But I was listening
You’ll fight your battles far from me
Far too easily“Save your tears ’cause I’ll come back”
I could hear that you whispered
As you walked through that door
But still I swore to hide the pain
When I turn back the pages

Shouting might’ve been the answer
What if I’d cried my eyes out
And begged you not to depart?

But now I’m not afraid to say what’s in my heartThough a thousand words
Have never been spoken,
They’ll fly to you
Crossing over the time
And distance holding you
Suspended on silver wingsAnd a thousand words
One thousand confessions
Will cradle you
Making all of the pain you feel seem far away
They’ll hold you forever

The dream isn’t over yet
Though I often say I can forget,
I still relive that day
You’ve been there with me all the way
I still hear you say

“Wait for me, I’ll write you letters”
I could see how you stammered
With your eyes to the floor
But still I swore to hide the doubt
When I turn back the pages

Anger might’ve been the answer
What if I’d hung my head
And said that I couldn’t wait?

But now I’m strong enough to know it’s not too late

‘Cause a thousand words
Call out through the ages
They’ll fly to you
Even though I can’t see
I know they’re reaching you
Suspended on silver wings

Oh, a thousand words
One thousand embraces
Will cradle you
Making all of your weary days seem far away
They’ll hold you forever

Oh, a thousand words (A thousand words)
Have never been spoken (Oh yeah)
They’ll fly to you
They’ll carry you home (Carry you home)
And back into my arms
Suspended on silver wings (On silver wings)

And a thousand words (Oh)
Call out through the ages (Call through the ages)
They’ll cradle you (Oh yeah)
Turning all of the lonely years to only days (Only days)
They’ll hold you forever

Oh, a thousand words

Side note: Are Yuna and Lenne the most cosplayed Final Fantasy characters or what? I did a quick search for a header image to use on Google and over half the results that turned up were girls dressed in the Songstress dressphere. I suppose it’s a cute outfit. There’s still probably more Tifa cosplayers out there, I reckon.

Lullaby For You

Game: The World Ends With You
Artist: Jyongri

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I actually enjoyed the entire soundtrack of The World Ends With You – it’s full of upbeat J-POP tunes (usually not my thing), but they’re very catchy and I found myself humming to them during most of the battles; it’s been years since I’ve played this, but I still remember Transformation and Twister being some of my favorites. However, in keeping up with the theme of ballads I have in the list so far, I’m putting the credit song Lullaby For You here.

Lyrics

There may not be an answer to this too,
why the sky is blue, is the change in me all true?
Now that you are next to me,
I have no fears and all I know is that I want to be with you
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the times we weep,
the moment makes us weak, and all the shame I see
Memories exist for all the precious days my heart still wants to keep 
somewhere deep inside of me A lullaby for you
Don’t you worry baby, I’ll be here by your side
May tomorrow be wonderful too
Close to you I hope to stay, endlessly from today
Even through cloudy days you are not alone

Sweet dreams I do not see cause darkness scares me,
is it because I’m still fifteen, Or the loneliness in me
Wish I may I wish I might sleep soundly through the windy nights,
just to dream of you tonight

A lullaby for you
Stars will always gracefully watch over ’till it’s bright
May tomorrow be wonderful too
Take my hand and promise me, that we’ll be all right
Finding a place to feel at home you are not alone

Maybe I’ll turn back to stay
Where I came from only yesterday
Whisper then,”the past is gone eternally”

A lullaby for you
Don’t you worry baby, I’ll be here by your side
May tomorrow be wonderful too
Close to you I hope to stay, endlessly from today
Even through cloudy days you are not alone

You are not alone

 

Honorable Mentions

I set aside a few songs for here so as to not flood the article with Final Fantasy songs, but here are a few more ballads that I think are worth mentioning.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Favorite Ballads from Video Games

  1. I think I love all the honorable mentions more than the listed. No offense of course! I just really enjoy those three. Also, YES! World Ends With You mention. I love Twister, it’s such a weird and catchy song, and it makes absolutely no sense in English.

    • None taken haha, they’re all great songs! I’ve been looking to get my hands on another copy of The World Ends With You – it was a lot of fun and I haven’t played it in years since I dropped my DS Lite with the cartridge in it. 😦 But yeah, the soundtrack is just so weird and wonderful.

      • Did the cartridge or DS break? If so, I’d say you have a pretty good case for getting a DS emulator if you have a decent PC. Might make some of TWEWY controls a bit difficult, but at least you could play it.

      • I just lost the whole thing – it was in my backpack and it probably fell out at some point; I was at a movie theatre with plush carpets, so I didn’t notice it drop or anything.

        I do use an emulator, but I’m hesitant to try TWEWY with it, because as you say, I don’t think the controls would work very well, especially in fights.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s