I haven't posted anything on here in literally years but I'm feeling super inspired right now, so, whatevs. Have a post. Maybe I'll post more later! Maybe I won't.
I just finished Undertale. Undertale is fuckin' awesome and you should play it. But I'm not going to spoil anything here, so if you haven't played Undertale, don't worry about it too much.
Undertale is a plot-heavy story game with really good music. Like, stunningly good music. It's fantastic. I hummed along with a bunch of it, it synergized beautifully with the game plot and the events that were occurring. It's a masterful soundtrack. And once I finished the game, I went and found a copy of the soundtrack online, and listened to it, and . . .
. . . it's weirdly barren.
See, when I think "fantastic soundtrack", I usually think "music that you remember outside the game and that stands on its own". And Undertale certainly has a few tracks along those lines. Perhaps . . . two? Perhaps three. Maybe four! Maybe not. Maybe only three. And to put this in context, recognize that the Undertale soundtrack is over one hundred tracks long (specifically it's 101 tracks long.)
A lot of these are small interstitials or teasers; a brief count tells me that 55 of these tracks are under one minute each, with a good number that are barely over a minute. There's only three tracks that hit four minutes; two of them are used in the cinematic ending, and the last is a major, heavily scripted boss fight, and I suspect it's really made up of seven or eight smaller tracks mixed together. In comparison, the Final Fantasy 6 OST (one of the best soundtracks I've heard) is 61 tracks, of which two are under one minute and five meet or exceed 4 minutes.
So what's up with this, Zorba? Why do I care? You haven't told me why I care yet! ZORBA, WHY THE FUCK DO I CARE ABOUT THIS
The thing that makes Undertale's soundtrack glorious is that it all fits perfectly. The game jumps from track to track, but it never feels disjointed and it never feels like it's interrupting. Instead of a single symphonic background that ignores the player's actions, the soundtrack dances with the player, emphasizing what needs to be emphasized and getting out of the way when the player is otherwise occupied.
And the end result is this weird-ass 101-track soundtrack, full of twenty-second snippets that just aren't relevant outside the game.
Undertale's soundtrack may not make a very good album, but I think it may be one of the best game soundtracks I've ever heard, and I definitely need to keep this in mind when working on music.