Any gamer worth their salt knows how unbelievably influential the Final Fantasy series has been to the world of game music composition. Time after time the soundtracks get more lush, more epic and even more memorable than the last. And the only person we can credit this to is Nobuo Uematsu. I do not know how he does it; he is a titan, his skills with a keyboard only matched by his ear for harmonies, rousing instruments and his excellent moustache. In tribute to his greatness, I decided to finally determine which tracks out of his dozen soundtracks really stand the test of time and popularity, and the only place I found worthy of working with me was the one place where more discussion takes place than any other - the Final Fantasy VII board.

However, almost as soon as I began my voting thread I realised it was a monumental task. Asking users to submit their own top 10 lists proved difficult, meaning I soon asked for 15 tracks. Each time a track was featured in a list, one vote would be counted towards the overall tally for that particular composition. The difficulty lay in me underestimating just how broad the tastes of the average Final Fantasy fan were: 147 seperate tracks were listed, this wonderful figure a testament to how wide-ranging Uematsu's musical reach is. There most certainly is something for everyone. My list now complete, it is now time to finally unmask: which is the greatest Final Fantasy composition of all?

Total Votes: 6
On my own list? Yes, at #6
The key moment: As Zidane set foot into, and while exploring, the alien world of Terra.

I'm not surprised that this track is so popular. The first track that you hear when you enter the new world of Terra, as the strings and harmony intertwines into one of the most beautiful melodies in the entire game. Not only that, but it eventually reaches it's heartrending climax, using the same notes that play on the opening menu screen and that certify Zidane's links with the other world. A real heavyweight, this one, and one of my personal favourites.

Total Votes: 7
On my own list? No.
The key moment: As the company wanders through the Zanarkand ruins at the climax of their treacherous journey.

Final Fantasy X is filled with great orchestral tracks. This one, also known as 'A Fleeting Dream', is no exception. While I omitted it from my own Top 10, it still manages to pack an emotional punch. Using the same basic tune found in the game's main theme, Suteki Da Ne, it is played during times when Tidus, our protagonist, is faced with the reality of his situation on Spira, and the difficulties that must be overcome. A wonderful track.

Total Votes: 7
On my own list? Yes, at #2.
The key moment: As the party face the greatest threat to the world: Ultimecia.

Normally when people think of the best Final Fantasy final boss themes, they think of the juggernauts that are FFVI's Dancing Mad and FFVII's One Winged Angel, tracks that have become synonymous with the brooding, maniacal villain and among the greatest in gaming. Neither came close to matching this one from FFVIII, and it's hard not to see why. It's an epic. Tension mounts as the ethereal strings and piano chords turn into heavy hitting electronica. Others on the FFVII Board agreed that while One Winged Angel may well be more popular, this one is a much better track. What's more, it was remixed faithfully by The Black Mages; it almost improves the original. Pure brilliance in song form.

Total Votes: 8
On my own list? Yes, at #8
The key moment: For me, hearing this track during the party's daring escape from Midgar tops the lot.

Perhaps better known by its alternative name 'For Those Who Fight Further', this track is instantly recognisable. Played during almost all major boss-fights in the game, the track is as close to rock music as you can get in any Final Fantasy soundtrack (... excluding Otherworld, of course). The opening riff instantly gets the adrenaline running, and countless players rank it among their favourite boss-fight tracks. You can't blame them really. It's awesome.

Total Votes: 8
In my own list? No.
The key moment: We all know what that moment is.

As a spoiler-free list, I cannot officially state why this track is so popular with the readers of GameFAQs. Then again, I don't think anybody who either uses the internet or has a gamer friend that doesn't know why. Regardless of the events which are tied into Aerith's character and her everlasting legacy, the track is so incredibly emotional. The only gaming track to have been listed in Britain's Classic FM's Hall of Fame, it cements just why Uematsu has become the industry icon that he is.

Total Votes: 9
On my own list? No.
The key moment: As the backdrop of the beautiful introduction to Final Fantasy X.

A real minimalist piece this, but it has become one of the most cherished tracks from the series. Played during the game's introduction, it gives a sense of sadness, almost resignation, even before the player has pressed a button; the ability to do so much in so few notes is one of Uematsu's strongest abilities. Having it repeated towards the end of the game, with us watching the story come full circle, reminds the player of the journey that both the characters and yourself have gone through. Such a beautiful melody, and a standout piece from Final Fantasy X.

Total Votes: 10
On my own list? Yes, at #7.
The key moment: When a cross-continental journey by ship suddenly takes a dangerous turn.

'The Calamity from the Skies'. 'That Headless Spook From the Shinra Building'. 'Mother'. Such iconic names for this alien freak of nature deserves a fantastic boss battle theme. Inspiring images of scientific experiments and the mysterious, this track is a high-tempo whirlwind of a track. People seem to love it due to its epic nature: this is not music at its most subdued. It has the accolade of being Final Fantasy VII fans' favourite track from the game, and it is worthy of such a standing.

Total Votes: 11
On my own list? Yes, at #10.
The key moment: In the new world, the party faces an onslaught of enemies, culminating in a battle against an iconic man. Or is it a lady dressed like a man?

Final Fantasy V may not be the most popular game in the series, but this track has overshadowed the game that it originated from. Gilgamesh is among the most iconic characters in the series, appearing either as a major character or as a cameo in almost every game since the remakes, and this track is synonymous with him. It has been remixed twice for two separate installments of the numbered series, each one delivering a new spin on the classic track. My personal favourite will always be the original, and is thoroughly deserving of the #3 spot.

Total Votes: 12
On my own list? No.
The key moment: It forms the backdrop of Zidane's heart-breaking (metaphorical) fall from grace.

Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has stated that Final Fantasy IX is his favourite game in the series. Nobuo Uematsu has said that it's soundtrack was the best one he produced. It is understandable, however, when tracks such as this are studded throughout it. I love FFIX's soundtrack and this is amongst my favourites: it shows protagonist Zidane at his most hopeless and despairing, with the courage of his friends willing him and rescuing him. One of the many great moments in a great game, You're Not Alone will always be an example of incredible gaming music.

Total Votes: 13
On my own list? Yes, at #6
The key moment: Is, and always has been, inextricably linked to the very essence of Final Fantasy VI. Possibly the best world-map theme in the series.

So here we have it, the track that the users of GameFAQ's Final Fantasy VII board voted as their favourite composition. I am both surprised and unsurprised by this. Although I absolutely adore this track, I would have thought that others would have beaten it. Then again, this track is a real heavyweight. The track that greets the gamers every time they wander upon the world map, I find it to be one of the most beautiful tracks in the series. In terms of votes, it was streets ahead of the next track from the game (Dancing Mad, with 5 votes). A classic track from many people's favourite RPG, it fully deserves the top spot.

In the end then, the list was quite a surprise, at least to me. A number of tracks I thought would end up on there didn't, and a couple were a real turn up for the books, either in their placement on the final list or not making it at all. The soundtrack of Final Fantasy has formed much of my childhood, and most of my steps into the world of work. As a teacher, I have used certain compositions for creative writing; they the inspiration for some particularly memorable poetry. For that, I can not begin to express my thanks to Square, Sakaguchi and Uematsu for being so awesome.

My eternal gratitude has to go to the users of GameFAQs, who took time out of their lives to help me complete the list. Now, I implore all of you to go out and purchase the soundtracks yourself, even if you have never played a Final Fantasy title before: they really are astoundingly good.

Honourable Mentions:

'Assault of the Silver Dragons' (6): Among my favourites from Final Fantasy IX, this track is amongst the most awe-inspiring to come out of the series.

'Main Theme of FFVII' (6): Instantly recognisable, this six-minute track is lush, epic and absolutely gorgeous.

'Cid's Theme' (5): My personal favourite track in the series, Cid's Theme is filled with the character's dashed dreams and opportunities. Fitting for such a character as Cid.

'Force Your Way' (5): A very popular boss battle theme, it adds urgency and tension to any battle situation.

'The Landing' (5): Another great track from Final Fantasy VIII. Forget the SeeD exam, imagine having this in your ears during a written exam. Brilliant.

'Dancing Mad' (5): The biggest, maddest track in the series. This 9 minute epic is just note after note of pure insanity.


List by sirloinestake (08/14/2013)

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