Arcanum's soundtrack is highly unique amongst all video game soundtracks: save for a few pieces, it is composed entirely for a string quartet. Every town theme, the overworld theme, and even the fucking battle theme are done with violins, a viola, and a cello. The effect is gorgeous and likely lended a major hand in my love of this game. This particular piece, the main screen/character creation theme, lends itself beautifully to the Victorian air pervasive through the whole game.
Song: Music Box
Game: Shadow of Destiny
My introduction to Shadow of Destiny was basically me reading a brief description online and saying to my mom, "I want this fucking game." (I didn't say 'fucking' to my mom. That is to make the story more intense and interesting.) It was among the first games I bought for my PS2, and I made a good choice; despite some genuinely horrible voice acting for some characters, SoD presented a dark, complex story that will always make your brain hurt trying to understand it. This piece, aptly titled Music Box because Music Box is way better than "Title Loop 1," sounds an innocent kind of sinister that I love. (Innocent kinds of sinister that I do not love: china dolls, china masks, clown masks, china clown masks, clowns, little girls slowly chanting nursery rhymes.)
Song: Hyrule Castle
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
This song is on here entirely for its depressive, nostalgic factor. It's a "remix" of the Hyrule Castle theme from Link to the Past, a game which holds a lot of childhood memories for me; listening to the tinny brass that's lost its tune overlaid on lifeless strings and knowing that it's the same castle from LttP, knowing that that whole world was destroyed, ended up in a sort of "holy shit" moment for me that I don't find in too many games.
Game: Diablo II
...Luckily, "holy shit" moments aren't exclusive to Zelda games! I got sort of obsessive over this song. Diablo was a game I played extensively in my early teen years, usually online with great friends; it was something I invested a lot of time and energy in. Considering Tristram was the sole base of operations in the first game, you grow attached to the area. That's why they destroyed the shit out of it in Diablo II, and why they used the town's original theme while you're sifting through the rubble and realizing that no one's survived. The two minutes tacked on the end were almost like the death of an era to me.
Kartia--this was the game that I was playing while everyone else was singing the praises of Final Fantasy Tactics. Any time I pick up FFT, I will forever compare it--and ultimately find it inferior--to this game. The opening theme exemplifies everything I loved about the soundtrack, especially as it includes the two themes that I adored that continued to come up time after time throughout the game (starting at 0:52 and ending at 1:46). The part that begins at 1:18 especially was something that got stuck in my head and hasn't left yet ten years later.
Song: Poem of Everyone's Soul
Game: Persona 3
This is the song that greets you in the Velvet Room, a staple of the Persona series; I could've plucked the song from another game and the effect would largely be the same, Persona 3's being picked because it doesn't use charmingly awful voice samples, instead banking on an actual singer. It's a beautiful, wordless operatic piece in a genre where this sort of music is extremely rare. (Hell, not much uses opera outside of operas, come to think of it.) Considering much of Persona 3's soundtrack consists of house, techno, and endearingly bad hip-hop, it's nice to be able to duck into the Velvet Room and fuse me some Personae in peace.
Song: Aoba Park
Game: Persona 2
Persona 2 was not a game known for its soundtrack. Actually, it wasn't a game known, period. If you walked up to someone on the street and said "Persona 2," the most common reaction would probably be "YOU TAKE THAT BACK." For those of you unfamiliar (all but .1% of you), Persona 2's soundtrack put most of its focus on electronica and modern music to match with its equally modern setting. There were few places to escape from all the quirky keyboard bleeps and bloops: one was the Velvet Room, as described above, and the others usually took advantage of minimalistic piano and terrible operatic samples. Aoba Park takes that minimalistic piano and makes the song pretty much all about it, backed by chirping birds, blowing wind, and playground noises--you know, stuff that would be in a park. The effect overall is amazingly soothing.
Song: Divinity Statue
Game: Devil May Cry
Like Ms. Rad, I also enjoy me some of the mellower DMC musics--only my preference lies with this piece, sinister and beautiful all at once, complete with snaking middle eastern pipe snippets and echoing vocals of the same origin. (No, I don't know what she's saying.) I know what you're thinking: "She didn't actually sit at the item screen and listen to this over and over again." WELL YOU WOULD BE COMPLETELY WRONG.
Song: Granas's Sanctuary
Game: Grandia II
Hilariously, I barely remember this game. I remember liking it a whole lot, and I remember playing the shit out of it for a few days straight--but the details really escape me. I do remember that the soundtrack on the whole was sort of forgettable, except, for some reason, this song. I think I have a penchant for organs and melancholy, presumably religious vocals. I don't even remember where, exactly, this song plays in the game--the only thing I remember is listening to it over and over.
Song: Behave Irrationally
Game: Valkyrie Profile
Comments: You know, I was never really a huge fan of Valkyrie Profile. Yeah, it's totally fun, and yeah, the concept is really awesome, but the execution was a little lacking and it felt more and more rushed the further along you went. (I don't think was something they were shooting for.) In fact, you know you're going too fast when your very first too Einherjar recruited are involved in the most emotional scene in the game. Don't you think they would've saved that for the ending? -- Regardless. This song plays in pretty much every emotional scene in the game, but I attribute it 100% to Arngrim and Jelanda; namely where Arngrim realizes Jelanda is dead, he's marked a traitor to his own country, and he has nothing left to live for--so he kills himself. It's a scene that words can't really do justice, but this song does effortlessly what words can't.