Ranking Main Series Final Fantasy Soundtracks Worst to Best


Apr 30, 2009
Warwick, Rhode Island
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Seeing as how there is already a thread regarding ranking the main series games from worst to best, why not do the same for soundtracks? I'll start with mine, not including XI, XIV and XV because I know little to nothing about them.

While it is the game that started it all, it does pale in contrast to the successors. Between a limited hardware system and probably the fact that Square Soft was a failing company at the time, there probably wasn't a ton of resources or effort put into the music. And even with those factors, there are still some great themes and iconic pieces of music. There just wasn't enough when compared to expanded hardware and interest.

The follow-up to the original is next on the list. It's only marginally better, mainly for the hardware limitation, but I still give it the nod. The Rebel Army and Main Theme are the 2 main songs that stand out and put this soundtrack ahead for me.

I think we're seeing a trend here. Being a slightly larger soundtrack meant there were more opportunities to have good songs. And it takes advantage of that.

With hardware limitations easing up some from moving into the 16-bit era, this soundtrack was the first in the series to be able to be bigger and more defined. The only reason I put this one lower than the 8th place soundtrack is because it was just so much shorter, though still longer than 8-bit predecessors. But songs like The Red Wings, The Lunarians, Main Theme to FFIV and Theme of Love were excellent, for sure.

I'm befuddled at the fact that I see this soundtrack as rated best in the series, or even ALL TIME. It reeks of trying way too hard to be super epic, with it's stupidly long songs like Dancing Mad. While that is a decent song, does it really need to be so damn long? And it's too bad too because songs like Epitaph, Phantom Forest, Coin of Fate, Esper World and Dark World were really good, but are vastly overlooked for the aforementioned Dancing Mad and the Opera song that I have no desire to look up the name of. Due to more choices and opportunites for good songs is the only reason this makes it ahead of IV.

Yeah, still trending with limitations. There were so many good songs from this soundtrack, it's unfortunate that the Piano Collections for this soundtrack picked so many bad songs to represent it. Obviously, the iconic song from this soundtrack is Clash on the Big Bridge, and it doesn't disappoint. Other really good songs are Pirates Ahoy!, Cursed Lands, A New World and Sealed Book.

Getting into the next generation basically meant we got the musics full, unlimited sound, the way the composer meant it to sound like. Needless to say, from here on out, limitation isn't a factor, now it's just strictly opinion. This soundtrack, with it's Soundtrack Plus added to it, was stupidly long. I'm talking like 150 songs long, way more songs than any of the other soundtracks. Unfortunately, the main progression of a lot of the songs from this soundtrack were based off of Melodies of Life, which I think is a terrible song. But the good news is because of the many songs, there was still room for songs that didn't replicate this progression. Songs like Sacred Grounds-Esto Gaza, Heaven's Distress, Freya's Theme and Fossil Roo were able to vault this soundtrack into a nice cushy spot, smack dab in the middle of the list.

While I always carry a torch for this game, and soundtrack, it just doesn't have the impact the 4 ahead of it have. The sound is a bit different with a lack of Uematsu composing, but not necessarily in a bad way. I find that there are a good number of fairly pedestrian songs on this soundtrack, but the really good ones really bring it to life. Songs like Sunleth Waterscape, Sulyya Springs, Dust to Dust, The Vestige and Ragnarok are really good and give this a top 5 finish.

I realized that when I made top 10 lists for songs from these soundtrack on my blog that this soundtrack has a ton of good stuff. The problem is, there aren't a ton of really good songs, just a number of B+ songs that made eliminating songs to get to 10, kind of tough. This soundtrack suffers from a lack Uematsu as well, with it's horn heavy sound. But in my opinion, the songs that really stand out are Theme of the Empire, The Forgotten Capital, A Land of Memories and The Stilshrine of Miriam.

The first game soundtrack with no limitations, and it didn't disappoint. We were introduced to more of the raw emotion of the sounds that MIDI has a tough time replicating. Songs like Anxious Heart, Flowers Blooming in a Church, Who Am I?, Forested Temple and A Secret Sleeping in the Deep Sea really bring the soundtrack to life. Even the most iconic songs from this soundtrack like Aeris Theme and One-Winged Angel sound great, even if they are a tad overrated.

A soundtrack that reminds me of my first memories of how great these soundtracks really are, and was the first one I bought. With the love-based theme of the game, you get songs with that would make Celine Dion blush. Ironically though, the songs I really like were some of the eerier sounding ones. Of the iconic songs in the series, The Oath from this soundtrack is probably my favorite. But not to be outdone by songs like Find Your Way, The Salt Flats, Lunatic Pandora and The Extreme. But it falls overall, a hair behind the top soundtrack.

I read that Uematsu was having writers block with this soundtrack, mainly because of the addition of voice acting into the game. Basically, the music had to drive some of the emotion of the story because it was all text and the emotion can only be seen so far, so the music helped add the element to it. Now it was basically just a background sound, and Uematsu had a hard time transitioning to that. Well, he didn't disappoint once he figured it out. And the cool thing is, he still captured the emotion of the storyline. I still maintain that when you first hear The Advancers when Tidus says "You're not letting us go, are you?" when you realize the Guado are now your enemy after killing Seymour, it strikes the biggest chord with me. And the depressing sound of Someday the Dream Will End when you get to Zanarkand just makes you feel really down. Other songs like Illusion, No Hopes No Dreams and Wandering Flame are also really good. If you can only get one soundtrack, this is my suggestion.

How do you rank the soundtracks? Discuss.