Writing is a complex, lonely, and often drawn-out process. To my knowledge, the best way to cope with the lengthy demands and isolation is to listen to video game soundtracks. Whether it’s blitzy battle themes or atmospheric town chimes, game OSTs have a ton to offer us keyboard monkeys. And without the distraction of lyrics and singing.
Compiling a Top 5 list of my favorite writing songs was brutal. There’s at least thirty that could’ve made the list, and honorable mentions could warrant a post of their own. “Bombing Mission” from FFVII, “Dancing Mad” from FFVI, and “Premonition” from FFVIII are three snubs from the Final Fantasy series alone. Then there’s Nier, Castlevania, Zelda, Chrono Trigger, Valkyrie Profile… gah, let’s just get to the list before I unveil Top 30 Tuesday.
5. “Maiden Astraea” (Demon’s Souls)
Dark. Chilling. Immersive. I’m not a fan of Demon’s Souls (challenges are great; challenges involving clunky, technical controls aren’t), but this Maiden Astraea theme is enthralling. It has all the chills you’d expect from horror music, but what makes it so writing-conducive is the layered sound and it’s strong, even pacing.
4. “Fight!” (Grandia II)
I have yet to play Grandia II, but it has quite possibly the most electric RPG battle theme around. The guitar soloing is clean and uplifting, while the rhythm parts never stop punching. Great if you’ve hit writer’s block or need a boost.
3. “Someday the Dream Will End” (Final Fantasy X)
Roughly 4,537 Final Fantasy tracks could’ve made this list. Nobuo Uematsu is the kind of guy you slap the “genius” tag on, and “Someday the Dream Will End” is a masterpiece, especially when you need to grind out a lengthy article, essay, or story. The track has a light, compelling flow that pours into what becomes an epic track. Enjoy the two-hour version next time you camp out at the keyboard.
2. Trisection (Final Fantasy Tactics)
It makes sense that Tactics’ music goes perfectly with the writing process; after all, the game’s story battles can last upwards of 30 minutes. If you’re bunkering down for a blog post, what better to listen to than a musical piece that accompanies thought provoking combat? “Trisection” is my favorite of the FFT bunch, thanks to its silky sound, smooth pacing, and striking crescendo. Also check out “Back Fire” and “Unavoidable Battle.”
1. “Mechanical Rhythm” / “You Will Know Our Names” (Xenoblade Chronicles)
There’s a tie for #1, and they both happen to be from Xenoblade’s epic metal soundtrack. Xenoblade has some of the best battle music around, but the reason why these two tracks topped the list is because they’re my go-to cure for burnout. “Mechanical Rhythm” puts me in a keyboard-clicking rhythm from the second I push Play, and “You Will Know Our Names” has enough pop, sizzle, and energy to throw me out of any funk. If you can’t afford a ludicrously-priced copy of Xenoblade, at least check out the OST.
Now do me a favor. Post some of your favorite gaming tracks. I’m always open to letting great instrumentals carry me through my writing.