Although not considered a canon entry, Midway's cranked up reworking of Doom is one of the best games to sport the title, not least because of its approach to sound. Dropping the musical approach and taking a line more similar to the ambient industrial of Trent Reznor's Quake score, the game has unearthly coldness which nearly broke my mind when I first played it many years ago, alone and jetlagged after a transatlantic flight. I still tremble at the word "Pinky" to this day.
Earthworm Jim (SNES/Mega Drive/Mega-CD/PC)
Everyone loves Earthworm Jim for its slick platforming and Python-esque lunacy, but Tommy Tallarico's confidently eclectic set of music is just as important an element of the game's greatness. Whether upbeat, atmospheric, mellow or just plain stupid, there's a slick and original depth that made EWJ sound unlike any other platformer from the 16-bit era. The music was reworked in higher fidelity for the Mega-CD version, but we can't help preferring the original arrangements overall.
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Dreamcast/PS2)
Tim Follin is a legend of games music. For two decades, pretty much everything he touched turned to sonic gold, and there are few finer examples of his talent than his ambient score to last generation's Ecco game. Words are pointless in summing it up. It's just sublime. Listen to it. Now.
F-Zero GX (Gamecube)
I've been over this before, but I'll say it again. Nintendo and Sega's co-produced Wipeout-beater has a staggering soundtrack. Gamey without being cheesey and downright listenable in its own right, it's an essential playlist from an under-rated game on an under-rated machine.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)
Noob-friendly black sheep of the FF family Mystic Quest might be almost universally derided by hardcore fans, but one thing it does have going for it is its music. Composed by Ryuji Sasai and Yasuhiro Kawakami rather than series regular Nobuo Uematsu, it's a noticeably more bright and brash affair, and the strident, balls-out rock of the battle themes is frankly just badass.
Freedom Fighters (PS2/Gamecube/Xbox)
Jesper Kyd’s ‘Battle for Freedom’ piece is the perfect accompaniment to all the Ruskie face-shooting in IO’s excellent squad shoot ‘em up. Mixing powerful electronic beats with a soothing but bass-filled choir, it blends industrial and natural tones to brilliant effect. Stirring and evocative, it shows Kyd can score more than Hitman’s slaphead-sponsored cheese-wirings.
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