Best of 2013: Multimedia Score of the Year

Winner:  Ni no Kuni, score by Joe Hisaishi and Rei Kondoh, performed by the  Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra (Wayô Records)
Runner-up: The Last of Us, score by Gustavo Santaolalla (Sony Masterworks)

Videogames have never had a finer year in music scoring than they did in 2013. (In fact 2013 marked some of the best games scores since 2005 when games as Shadow of the Colossus and Katamari Damacy were released).  The scores for Ni no Kuni and The Last of Us were equally impressive and on-par with the best heard in film and television and both were exceptionally strong as stand-alone audio companions to their respective games.  Both scores were emotionally strong and captivating – to the point where if you didn’t play either game, you’d still feel it, grasping the nature of each game’s respective theme. Practically a draw, we’d give Hisaishi/Kondoh’s score a slight advantage due in part to the overall expansive nature and grandeur sound. Given Hisaishi’s background scoring for films as Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2003), his score for Ni no Kuni belches an adventure of epic proportions with a childhood innocence.  Whereas Last of Us‘ music really comes at you with an big budget action/drama cinematic flair that may be too offsetting for non-conventional hollywood soundtrack ears, Ni no Kuni‘s score is more of a classic disney-esque style and in effect has a bit more resonance with the player emotionally after the game is finished.  Ni no Kuni‘s theme music is also one of the best we’ve heard outside of the Final Fantasy/Zelda/Mario franchises and that’s no easy feat.  The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra really shine on Ni no Kuni‘s score and Hisaishi/Kondoh prove that demanding epic scores can posses a childlike-imagination and still stand up to the over-the-top big heroic music of action thrillers.

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