Best Music: Back to the Future: The Game
When we consider the best composers for soundtracks, we usually think of movie greats like John Williams or game music virtuosos like Nobuo Uematsu and Michael Land; those who created iconic scores from scratch. Certainly Alan Silvestri’s original scores for the Back to the Future film trilogy are as memorable as they come. But it takes another kind of skill to take someone else’s work and expand on it while keeping true to the original spirit of the music, and that’s exactly what Jared Emerson-Johnson has done with Back to the Future: The Game. We’ll admit, we were hooked right from the familiar opening piano notes that giddily sent us straight back to 1985, but it takes more than that to carry a five-episode game series, and we were never disappointed right to the wonderful closing melody.
Silvestri’s original score triumphed because of its careful balance of whimsy, danger, melancholy, and awe. Rather than simply recycling the exact same tunes, Emerson-Johnson built on those popular themes over the course of each episode, taking them in new directions like the rigid, militaristic tones of Episode 3: Citizen Brown, while playing off just the right amount of nostalgia. This successful blend is a shared effort between the two composers, but of course it just wouldn’t be Back to the Future without some Huey Lewis and the News as well! Granted, our Best Music award for 2011 will resonate far more with existing fans of the franchise, but the superb soundtrack went a long way in making the game a worthy addition to the beloved series.
Runners-Up: L.A. Noire, Stacking, Portal 2, Gray Matter
Readers’ Choice: Gray Matter
Sure hope there’s still room on Jane Jensen’s mantel, because hubby Robert Holmes is largely responsible for the reader award for best music in 2011, just barely edging out all four of the other finalists. The composer’s atmospheric soundtrack includes a wonderful mix of brooding instrumentals with haunting vocals by The Scarlet Furies, a band in which both Holmes and his daughter play.
Runners-Up: L.A. Noire, The Book of Unwritten Tales, Portal 2, To the Moon
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Next up: Best Voice Acting... the envelope, please!
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