For whatever reason, most of my top picks for the saddest or most wistful video game music are on the NES.
My number one might be Blaster Master Area 5.
Followed by the Crystalis pyramid theme.
When it comes to just plain sad, I’d have to go with “Elegy” from Dragon Warrior 4.
Honorable mention: pretty much the entire Ironsword soundtrack. (And I can think of other good examples by David Wise.)
Definitely the western lavender town theme
Oh Jeeze how did I forget:
There’s an underlying sadness to this that makes it unique as far as overworld themes go imo.
Peaceful yet dispirited.
Donkey Kong Country’s soundtrack goes too hard.
My three picks, although all of mine are laced with more of an element of ‘hopelessness’:
- Hero Core - Tetron
- Demon’s Souls - Flamelurker
- Lagoon - Walking in the Shadows
A little context on that last one: you start out in the first town which has just the happiest lil theme ever, and when you’re done with whatever stuff you’re supposed to be doing in the town, the game suddenly kicks in this urgent sting and you discover a dude damn near disemboweled at the town outskirts. Then you wander into the nearby cave and the music above, the soundtrack to your first combat experience in the game.
Came here to post C64/ZX Robocop. Here’s another C64 sadness banger
Love this song from the Mother 1 town where all the adults have vanished, leaving the children alone. Sad, mysterious, and anxious vibes. Sounds like the soundtrack to an Unsolved Mysteries episode or something.
Final Fantasy Adventure sheds determined tears
Undertale obvious pick
Xanadu Next main town music. I’d describe this as cautiously hopeful amidst danger:
Darkstone main town music. The sound fx do a lot of work here but the melody is wistful to me:
Eternal Eyes music that i think plays during cutscenes. I would again describe this as wistful. It sounds straight out of chrono trigger as well to me:
I’ll have to think some more and see if i can come up with some older examples that other folks haven’t posted.
'Neath Dark Waters is one of my fave FFXIV tracks.
And for those without spotify that don’t mind some Shadowbringers visual and area spoilers:
Dropping some Phantasy Star 2 in here
This one is kinda conflicted feeling
This one is a long drive on a snowy road trying to leave the past behind
Do you think that we are enemies?
I wonder what they will see in those final days…
That Darius Gaiden track is truly amazing
this belongs in an edwardian disaster picture
This was the obvious choice. Does it get any better than this?
There are a lot of dq songs that kind of fit this mold, but this stands out to me, I guess bc the choice of instrument samples by Hitoshi Sakimoto, plus dq6 in general is just a very heavy game.
E.G.G. is so good
Damn this has a relatively high number of views. A lot of sad people out there who like Legaia.