Hot Japanese Imports: Video game soundtracks

August 10, 2009 - 4:28 pm No Comments

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Gear, Audio

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If you love video games, there’s a very strong chance that you also adore video game music. While video game soundtracks are starting to appear more often in stores, they still can be quite hard to find, especially if you’re looking for music from a title that isn’t a mainstream game.

The best place to go for soundtracks is straight to the source – Japan. Practically every notable video game release also has a soundtrack release, which means it’s much easier to find the track to the song that just won’t get out of your head.

Ever Anime bootleg CD Dir En Grey Gauze NP-019

Is the video game soundtrack authentic?

Since Japanese CDs can often be quite expensive, you’ll also come across quite a few bootlegs. Bootlegs usually easier to discern after the CD’s been opened, but it is also incredibly simple to determine authenticity without actually purchasing and opening the CD.

  1. The Price: The price of the CD or CDs should be a giveaway. Typically, a single, authentic Japanese CD will cost around $24. Longer soundtracks, perhaps to an RPG, will easily cost between $32-$51. If the price of the CD(s) you’re buying is between $12-$19, you’re looking at a bootleg.
  2. The Artwork: The cover art might not be right. Before making a purchase, double check authentic cover art to see if it matches up.
  3. The Location: If you can, see the location where the CD was made. If it says anything other than “Japan,” chances are it isn’t authentic.
  4. The Language: If the CD has Chinese on the cover, insert and CD instead of Japanese, it’s a dead giveaway.
  5. The Company: This is quite possibly the most important tell. If the company listed on the CD cover isn’t Sony Music, Konami, Square, Pioneer, Avex, Columbia Japan, Toshiba-EMI, Warner Music or an established company, it’s a bootleg. Some bootleg companies include Ever Anime, Miya Records, Smiley Face Records, and Son May (SM).

In case you’re wondering, these bootleg tells also apply to Japanese rock/pop/anime CDs. The CD picture at the right is an Ever Anime bootleg CD of Dir En Grey’s Gauze. As you can tell, the CD itself doesn’t look right, and has the Ever Anime logo on the front along with the code NP-016. The sound quality is also inferior, when compared to an authentic CD from Japan.

Katamari Damacy soundtrack CD Katamari Fortissimo Damashii

Finding authentic soundtracks

If you live near a Japanese bookstore, you should have no problem finding authentic soundtracks. Most Japanese bookstores also include a music section. Kinokuniya, Sanseido Bookstore and Asahiya all have locations in the US, though locations are most often found in California and New York. If you’re near one of the Mitsuwa Marketplace stores, they often include a Japanese bookstore.

Another option is to invest in games that come with a soundtrack. Occasionally, companies will include a soundtrack with a game, as part of a preorder or special edition deal. Lately Atlus has been running a promotion called Atlus Spoils, where standard copies of the games include a soundtrack. Knights in the Nightmare, Luminous Arc 2 and Persona 4  are examples of recent Atlus games with soundtracks included.

If you’re looking to buy online, then it’s best to go with an established store., Play-Asia and CDJapan are all reputable retailers.

Final Fantasy The Black Mages II The Skies Above Soundtrack

Video game soundtrack suggestions:

When it comes to picking out video game soundtracks, it’s all pretty much up to personal tastes. The person buying knows exactly what games he or she loves and is the best judge of what soundtrack to buy.

If you’re just getting started building a video game music library and are looking for a few classic soundtrack suggestions, why not consider these:

  • Shadow of the Colossus – Grand Music
  • Persona 4 Original Soundtrack
  • Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
  • 20th Anniversary Rockman 1-6 Rock Arrange Version
  • Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtrack
  • Nintendo Sound History Series – Zelda the Music
  • Katamari Damashii Soundtrack: Katamari Fortissimo Damashii
  • Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party Original Soundtrack
  • Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy
  • Subarashiki Kono Sekai: It’s a Wonderful World Original Soundtrack (aka: The World Ends with You soundtrack)

If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy music, I also recommend checking out the albums from The Black Mages.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables will teach you how to make purchases from the Japanese iTunes store.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewed Angel Collection: Mezase! Gakuen no Fashion Leader..

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Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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