From Undertale to Grand Theft Auto V and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, here are the best video game soundtracks to make it on official vinyl

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There’s been a sea change in recent times on the topic of how video game music is appreciated with added avenues being more accessible popping up, giving them a sort of second life – beyond the game’s play-through.

From the chronicling of video game soundtracks on streaming services like Spotify and full album streams on YouTube to the amalgamation of their vinyl by the amazing work done at Iam8bit and other production stores, consumers have found new ways to re-experience and revisit the grand and buzzing magical landscapes and worlds they so profoundly had kind memories of.

Growing up, I’ve personally had my thrill and fair share of video games. As a millennial sifting through the confines and worlds of the sixth to eight generation (present) of video game consoles, from Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance SP to the Playstation Portable, 3, 4 and PC, there were a bunch of games that left me with fond memory stains – some of which the music was so interlaced, I simply couldn’t picture or recall the experience without.

While I certainly do not claim to know all the best video games soundtracks out there (I’m still learning) or consider this a definitive list, I’ll give it a try to make this live up to the name and at least feature some of the essentials. (Editor’s Note: Sorry, all you legendary games I have not found the time to finish)

Again, these are VINYL soundtracks of the 21st Century – to qualify for the list, the video game must have a soundtrack or at least a b-side/single pressed onto vinyl since the turn of the century. Sadly, that means no Joe Hisaishi’s excellent Ni No Kuni soundtrack or Shadow of the Colossus as they do not have actual vinyl out. The quintessential 80s/90s games that got their vinyl versions really late (in the last 17 years) qualify.

Oh and if this article is inundated with iam8bit vinyl soundtracks, it ain’t my fault you guys are creating such kickass content.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo)

Composed by Koji Kondo

“Hero of Time” version Arranged and Composed by Eric Buchholz and Performed by Slovak National Symphony Orchestra

While it isn’t quite as stunning and current (some might disagree) as the new Breath of The Wild Nintendo Switch exclusive, the original series (The Legend of Zelda, Adventure of Link, Link to the Past & of course Ocarina of Time) were colossal heavyweights that paved the way for the RPG genre and probed the question of whether video games could constitute as art.

Beyond that, the soundtrack has become as celebrated as the game that’s widely considered one of the best of all time, even spawning tributes and medleys – like the “Title Theme/ Saria’s Song/ Song of Storms” medley cover instrumental hip-hop jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD did on their first record. The original series as a four might have a ridiculously expensive unofficial vinyl available should you have the money, but you can grab a second option that is actually up for preorder right now.

Photos by iam8bit

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Featuring the music from the legendary The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the folks at iam8bit and Materia Collective have come up with a stunning gatefold of an officially licensed, one hour arrangement piece of newly re-recorded music from the soundtrack, and pressed in a stunning and mind-bending gatefold that’ll be sure to leave you speechless. Arranged and composed by Eric Buchholz and performed by the 64 Player Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, the recording breathes new life into Koji Kendo’s masterpiece.

Talk about packaging ambition! On the front cover lies a die-cut Ocarina window, the middle a shimmering gatefold depicting Light and Day, and it’s finished off with a gold foil-stamped triforce that’ll be sure to leave you with a smile if you’re familiar with the series.

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2) UNDERTALE Soundtrack/ On Piano (Toby Fox)

(Official Vinyl Soundtrack & Piano Version)

Arranged, Composed & Performed by Toby Fox 

“On Piano” Version Arranged by David Peacock and Performed by Augustine Mayuga Gonzales

It’s hard to even remotely write anything about something so emotionally precious to people as Undertale was. It’s even harder to fathom how one guy could make all the music all by himself, on top of designing and producing the entire video game.

Music was such a pivotal aspect to Undertale and the experience. From the poly-rhythmic piano notes of “Fallen Down” to that sashaying glockenspiel on “Waterfall”, the tracks added a sense of warmth and heightened empathy to some pretty iconic scenes I don’t think would have the same impact without. Since the original collection had more than a 100 tracks, they’ve “carefully curated” the best to fit on their vinyl pressing.

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Beyond the sentimental value of having tracks like “Temmie Village” and “Hopes And Dreams”, on analog form, it’s also an insane collectible with the amount of bonus stuff you get with the vinyl. Between the mouthwatering gatefold featuring the multitude of colourful and memorable characters, the self-referential back cover and some pretty poignant posters (if you connected and cried to the game like the rest of us did…), it’s more than plenty for what you pay for.

The front cover is still a little sketchy, but it could possibly be a grower.

Oh, and there’s a piano version, if that’s more to your liking.

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3) Minecraft Soundtrack/ Volume Alpha (Mojang/ Microsoft)

Composed and Performed by C418

Ahh, there’s nothing like (insert estranged in-game emotional experience) with the 64 bit block of sun creeping down with a track like “Door” being played in the background. Say what you want about Minecraft, but to listen to C418’s evocative ambient soundtrack as you explore the caverns of this isolated world is truly breathtaking.

While the coveted clear green vinyl is a little difficult to find at this stage, the clear vinyl should be available on Amazon or Ghostly Store. The artwork (as a simple block of grass and soil) is a fond reminder of Minecraft visually – I personally wouldn’t change a thing, and the vinyl as a whole should be a handy collectors’ item for anyone who’s ever been deep into the game at least once.

If you do like the music, you can also support C418 and discover more of his music on his Bandcamp here.

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4) L.A. Noire Soundtrack (Rockstar Games/ Team Bondi)

(Remixed 12″ Single Version Only)

Composed by Andrew & Simon Hale and Performed by The Real Tuesday Weld & Claudia Brücken

Well technically, only the 12″ remixed single is available but ohhh would we love to have the whole damn thing. I remember the story driven 2011 detective game being remembered as pretty revolutionary at the time for facial recognition technology but damn did I remember the music more. The commitment and consistency Rockstar Games had to bringing that 1947 Los Angeles world to life was pretty stupendous in a game like L.A Noire at the time, but boy oh boy was the music a real stand-out beyond adding to that immersion.

In addition to an in-game radio featuring licensed music from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong, a gorgeous score composed by Andrew and Simon Hale was also made. Performed by dark cabaret British band The Real Tuesday Weld and Claudia Brücken and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the 55 minute soundtrack was a breathtaking affair of excellent performances and a true understanding of jazz music. Inspired by films of the 1940s, the record was crafted with the aim of “creating an authentic sound that suited the musical identity of the period.”

 

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The soundtrack ended up winning a BAFTA award for Original music and was named the best game music of 2011 by Kotaku. To me, it brought a needed depth and intimacy to the experience that extended far beyond its game time, burying itself into the minds of gamers everywhere and may have even served as an entryway or appetizer for jazz music.

As I’m typing this my eyes are lead to a postcard collectible of game cover pasted on my drawer from several years back and I’m reminded again of how damn great it’d look on a record cover. With the power of the internet, my hopes are pinned on fans of the game and vinyl junkies to show demand. After all, they’ve already done Grand Theft Auto V.

Oh and if anyone from Rockstar reads this, please make a sequel.

5) Chrono Trigger/ Chrono Cross VinylSoundtrack (Square Enix)

Composed and Performed by Yasunori Mitsuda & Millenial Fair

Similar to the Hero of Time re-recording for the Zelda vinyl, this also historic video game revolutionised RPGs, with its multiple endings, focus on character development, and a detailed battle system.The music was as grand in scope as it could possibly be back then in 1995 , and its legacy is established as one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time.

The history and backstory of the soundtrack is also pretty fascinating, with the composer even sleeping in the studio several times and attributing his tracks – such as the game’s ending theme “To Far Away Times” to dreams he had, and even going so far to reportedly cry as he watched the ending featuring that very same track.

It’s probably not even available anymore on the Square Enix site, but you may be able to get a copy… if you have quite a bit of money. With Android and iOS versions making the game more accessible in recent times, playing the game as your new subway commute activity may not be a bad way to experience the music as well.

“Morning Sunlight” and “Corridors of Time,” – just some of the most influential and best video game tracks ever.

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6) Fallout 3 & 4 Vinyl Soundtrack (Bethesda Softworks)

Composed by Inon Zur

While the soundtracks may not be as fawned upon as the fantastic music from the in-game radio (Ella Fitzgerald, The Ink Spots, Roy Brown) that recaptured the classic 1940s big band jazz and blues era – breathing new creepy and unsettling meaning onto it, there was poise and consistency from the soundtrack that gave clear direction for each mood and scene.

There was a sense of precipitation with the music, that signaled to you when danger was near (zombies in the underground train tunnels) or provided a unique heaviness or depth to some carefully mulled-over action or challenge that could very well decide the outcome of the story.

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Regardless of whether you wanted a compilation of tracks from Galaxy News or Diamond City radio instead on the Fallout, the official scores from Inon Zur are more than worthy of being the soundtrack of these emotional post-apocalyptic rollercoasters.

The Fallout 4 version is a whopping 65 track 6xLP box set vinyl that can be purchased here.

And for good measure, here’s a Spotify playlist of the incredible collection of licensed in-game music.

7) The Music of Grand Theft Auto V Vinyl Soundtrack (Rockstar Games)

Original Music and Soundtrack by Various

Score composed by Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist and Oh No

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Now this one is just a beauty. Coming in at a crazy 216 minutes and separated by 3 Volumes (of Original Music, Score and a Soundtrack), this boxset is a masterclass in music for video gaming and as well as vinyl packaging.

There’s original music from Neon Indian, BJ The Chicago Kid, Twin Shadow, Wavves, to even Tyler The Creator. The score is predominantly composed by legendary German electronic music collective Tangerine Dream. And there’s even a soundtrack on top of that featuring the likes of Flying Lotus to Simple Minds and Toro Y Moi. What more can you even fathom?

A full-colour booklet and an exclusive lithograph poster? Heck Yeah! There’ll probably even be a Grand Theft Auto gold brick-shaped USB drive, if not for the price. (That’s actually included in the CD Collection version!)

8) BioShock 1 Vinyl Soundtrack/ I Am Rapture, Rapture Is Me (2K Games)

Composed by Garry Schyman

Perhaps the most cinematic in this list is the orchestral Bioshock 1 soundtrack, that does a dutiful job in painting the aural setting of Rapture, balancing eeriness and an engrossing hunger with sweeping violins and haunting cellos. Again in comparison to Fallout, with sound direction being this good, there might be similar vents over not having the licensed 50s music in the game that included the likes of Django Reinhardt and Bing Crosby.

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Alas, we’re willing to go on a limp and admit that if we had to choose one, it’ll probably be the orchestral score – just because we feel it’s more well-rounded and justified as a whole album/concept. And you can probably just get the other tracks on their individual releases from the past that’s probably buried in your local vinyl store. It may also be too unrealistic to license the entire thing just for a vinyl version of a game soundtrack. But hey, one can dream right?

9) Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (Naughty Dog)

Composed by Greg Edmonson

Another BAFTA award winner for original music in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, this Playstation exclusive had some pretty illustrious and grand backing music for whatever action sequence you could imagine Nathan Drake to be in. This time, Naughty Dog, Playstation and iam8bit have come together to package the trilogy in a 3xLP vinyl box set, recapping the music from Drake’s Fortune to Drake’s Deception.

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The graphics artwork has been well taken care of We Buy Your Kids, with the soundtracks actually mastered just for this vinyl release by Telegraph Mastering Studio. And if you’re feeling adventurous, the 4th vinyl is up too in a separate release.

10) Journey OST (thatgamecompany/ Sony Entertainment)

Composed by Austin Wintory 

Austin goddamn Wintory. That’s all dude. Just having the vision and creative foresight to have the intention of “dynamically tie in the music to the actions and the player, so as to make it feel like it was unfolding in real time”, is astonishingly remarkable.

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The iam8bit vinyl actually has four picture discs, so that’s one on each side, with the fantastic artwork done by Mark Englert. The reasoning in behind it was that they naturally see the collective as a canvas, stating that this was a constant vision dating back to 10 years ago when iam8bit started off as an art show.

11) Red Dead Redemption Original Soundtrack (Rockstar Games)

Composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson

This vinyl release, is just about another great example of not waiting when exclusive releases that are quite unbelievable pop up. Once going at $14.99 on Rockstar’s Warehouse merch site, it’s now priced at beyond $200. And we can only see that figure climb higher.

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If you ever get a chance to purchase and play this translucent red piece of majesty, Con-gratulations.

12) Batman: Arkham City Original Video Game Score (Rocksteady Studios/ Warner Bros) [WISHLIST]

Composed by Nick Arundel and Ron Fish

Ok fine, this isn’t on vinyl.

But absolutely sublime is this Batman music accompaniment when you’re soaring in between buildings in Arkham City. To a level we’d even daresay betters Hans Zimmers The Dark Knight. This is an epic, vast, hair-raising orchestration of amazing music that any vinyl collector and person who played the 2011 game needs!*

Coming closest is a Arkham City vinyl wall clock you can find on Amazon. But to calm your nerves down and satiate your desires, here’s the absolutely beautiful track “Evening the Odds” from the Arkham Knight score, and you can actually get on vinyl.

The Arkham Knight release comes in two variants – “Batman,” and “The Joker”, and is a nice keepsake to remember this wonderful trilogy by.

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*FIVE playthroughs, and I still want more

13) Ghost In The Shell Playstation Soundtrack/ Megatech Body (Exact/ Sony Interactive/ Production I.G )

Composed by Various

Okay okay, I’ve broken all the rules at this point, with the vinyl version presumably coming out in 1997. But this is a 20 year old, almost immortal piece of vinyl that’s just THE ONE in video game vinyl history. And come on, the music on it interestingly Industrial Techno, with one Reddit user pointing it out as being absolutely bonkers.

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And so we end off this list.

Hey! What about that Ori and the Blind Forest GLOW in the dark vinyl, Persona 5, Bastion, Ico? How dare you leave out Hotline Miami!

While I am conscious that these are standouts in the video game vinyl community, I simply just haven’t played them yet or aren’t decently familiar with their soundtracks, and it would be unfitting for me to write about things I don’t yet full know or comprehend about.

With the vinyl community and craze growing stronger that it’s ever become and more video game soundtracks being pressed onto vinyl than before, a Part II of this list may not just be needed, but would be easier, to fulfill.

Download #vinyloftheday marketplace app now via http://cratedig.us/app to start selling, buying vinyl records, and discover interesting music through the shared vinyl records collection from the community.