I guess nothing would rule out orchestral soundtracks like Shadow of the Colossus and Super Mario Galaxy, but I'm concerning myself more with 8 and 16 bit sound chips and the otherworldly sounds they produce.
I own this game, but I haven't played it as much as I've streamed the soundtrack on YouTube. The melody is really catchy and satisfying. On top of that, though, it's not bad to study to, which is neat because not all music is suitable for mentally demanding work.
FM synth music really fascinates me, so I adore this soundtrack. The game is a Sega Mega Drive port of a Sharp X68000 space opera sim with polygon graphics. It was never released outside of Japan, although a fan translation patch was released online recently. I haven't gotten around to playing it, but I've listened to the soundtrack on YouTube a few dozen times. It's so good.
DKC's gameplay has lost the appeal it had for me when I was a kid, but I really admire Rareware's work on this soundtrack. The tone goes everywhere from funky and upbeat to soothing and mysterious. I'm also really impressed with how they used the SNES's sound sampling technology. This game's soundtrack would have been fundamentally impossible on earlier 8-bit systems or competing systems like the Sega Genesis. The "Aquatic Ambiance" theme stands out to me as the game's most impressive song.
I am not a fan at all of classical orchestral soundtracks, at best I find them boring, at worst "symphonic sludge". Give me sampler-tracker based tunes or FM synthesized OSTs all day every day. That Starcruiser OST you posted is great stuff, and I've never heard Turrican music that wasn't good (the SNES Turrican OSTs are awesome).
Boy oh boy, I listen to a lot of game music. A lot of the remixed variety, but I still listen to unaltered tracks, too. It's not chiptune, but I definitely had Shadow of the Colossus in my rotation for what seemed like forever.
My favorite ones that come to mind immediately (sticking to 8/16-bit):
Streets of Rage I & II Chrono Trigger Gauntlet IV Langrisser 2 Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Shatterhand Mega Man 2 Batman: The Video Game (NES) Shadow of the Ninja Silver Surfer Treasure of the Rudras
That's probably enough for now. There's so many good tracks out there!
If you guys enjoy podcasts and VGM, I have a few recommendations:
legacymusichour.blogspot.com/ - post 16bit is "illegal" www.thevgmjukebox.com/ - KeyGlyph's podcast, usually a nice dose of retro in the mix pixelatedaudio.com/ - usually retro and themes per episode. The cool thing about these guys is one of them is fluent in Japanese and they get interviews with classic composers. They had a Lunar episode a few months back that was really elaborate and amazing.
I've always loved the drum 'n bass influence in Kirby's Dream Land 3. Trip World has a stupendously great OST, I assume it has the same composer as Gimmick!, they sound so similar. I agree about the MOD format. Shatterhand is another one of my favorites too, Sarge.
I played Dream Land 3 last summer but then heard that track more recently on a podcast, they were discussing how odd that track was for a Kirby song and I can totally see why when I heard it again. It almost invokes some of the darker tracks of Terranigma, or the Kirby composers more epic work on Alcahest. Love when Kirby music gets weird and dark like that.
I guess a few short years with the MOD tracker around it was quickly robbed once technology continued to improve and the wave of orchestrated/ambient/Western styles took over. The MOD format has one of the coolest sounds in the world to me. It's like the SNES on steroids with such an imposing cool and metallic atmosphere.
If some of you didn't know, Alexander Brandon and others also did the OST for the original Unreal, which is a separate thing from Unreal Tournament. Unreal Gold is a full campaign and expansion pack, took me years to realize that. I have more nostalgia for the Deus Ex soundtrack but the Unreal music is my go to source for just about anything, whether I'm happy or moody, need some BGM while doing something, just want to lay back, or grinding out aimlessly in a game that has no music or whatnot, playing it in the car, lost track of how much this soundtrack has taken over my time. If I could somehow make a videogame with my mind this is what the music would be like.
The Unreal Tournament score is a little more techno and 90's dance, still fun but if some didn't know there's like 100 some plus tracks in the vein of Deus Ex's style for the original Unreal, you're in for a treat.
I guess a few short years with the MOD tracker around it was quickly robbed once technology continued to improve and the wave of orchestrated/ambient/Western styles took over.
You are so correct (lamentably so). There was a time when PC games were all about MOD OSTs. (I used to create MOD tunes myself using FastTracker 2 in eons past.) One of the reasons I still enjoy 8 and 16-bit RPGs is because they often use MOD based or chiptune based music. I prefer those sounds fervently over the typical symphonic orchestrated stuff modern RPGs almost always utilize.
You're really making me want to get Jewel Master off my shelf and start playing it.
Jewel Master is good. The best things about it, are its OST and unique (for its time) combat system. In Jewel Master, the player has the ability to mix and match jewel encrusted rings to create different spells. For example, if you mixed air and fire, you could shoot fireballs. (I believe Jewel Master was a big influence on FromSoftware's PS2 title "Eternal Ring", but I digress.)
What is not so hot about Jewel Master, is the game gets to be very difficult. So much so, I never beat it. I still plan to beat it eventually, maybe even this year. However, some might find the challenge of Jewel Master to be an asset. At any rate, I'd almost call Jewel Master a hidden gem. It's certainly worth giving a chance if you're a fan of 16-bit action adventure/platformer hybrids.