Popular Game OSTs By Year
I decided to go through my Impressive VGM by Year lists and rank game OSTs by popularity based on Youtube views. I went with YT since it's linked to Google and those two are by far the most popular in their respective fields.
A few things to note about YT uploads:
1. Various video uploads to YT have been removed over the years, some as recently as 2018-2021 and a bunch of them had been up for a long time and/or gathered a lot of views. I've tried to note this when I could, but sadly I can't recover the numbers on the removed videos and there are only a few cases where I had written down a number earlier (I started on a list over a year ago but then restarted a couple of months back) and noticed the video having been removed and the current number being lower now. Some OSTs that I'm pretty sure are popular will rank lower than they're supposed to. These numbers are from April-May, 2022.
2. Earlier games in long running series benefit a lot from later games' popularity
3. A game on a popular system or by a popular company will generally benefit from that and get more views. Similarly a popular game's OST will often benefit
4. A lot of NES uploads specifically have been remastered by fans with added reverb, stereo and more and these tend to be more popular. I went with the most popular upload while commenting on the changes and tried to also list the most popular authentic upload.
5. Early PC games seem to have their views divided due to there being different sound setups and some (such as MT-32) being more expensive. The former is sometimes the case with NES, MSX, X68K and SMS games as well
6. Numbers are based on the most viewed song in an OST if the full OST video isn't the most viewed
7. Some uploads become memes and gain much more views because of it
8. You don't get any info on popularity over time, just the total amount of views since the video was uploaded. These stats used to be a YT feature, but it was removed for some reason.
9. I've generally used a "(game) (system) music" format for seaching, or variants like ost or bgm instead of music if I don't come up with anything.
So with that said, this should give some idea of which game soundtracks are still held in high regard, as well as what can reasonably be considered a hidden gem (my own lists focus more on technical achievement as I've mentioned elsewhere). Oh and a 1990s page is something I'm working on, though it will be a WIP for quite a while. Enjoy!
One last note: The lists are based on original release dates, not any later, localized dates.
NES=NES & Famicom (VRC6-7, N163, etc. are audio expansions placed in the carts themselves)
FDS=Famicom Disk System (adds the Ricoh 2C33 chip to the NES sound chip)
SMS FM & MSX FM=YM2413
MSX SCC=Uses the Konami SCC sound chip, not to be confused with the MIDI module
PCE=PC Engine & TurboGrafx-16
X68K=Sharp X68000 (OPM=YM2151 (FM synth)+MSM6258)
MD=Mega Drive & Genesis
FMT=FM Towns (FMT FM=YM2612+Ricoh RF5c68)
PCE CD=PC Engine CD-ROM, TurboGrafx-CD & Super CD-ROM
OPL2=AdLib aka YM3812
SB=Sound Blaster (can be either streaming audio or tracker music, Mod/.mod=common tracker music format, PCM=samples (usually drums) accompanying FM synth; the later AWE32-64 versions are listed when their MIDI hardware is used)
SNES=Super NES & Super Famicom
GM=General MIDI, the MIDI standard that replaced Roland's MT-32 and LAPC-I modules.
MCD=Mega CD & Sega CD (MD+Ricoh RF5C68 samples when chip music is used)
OPL4=Sound Edge SW20-PC aka MoonSound
OTTO=Ensoniq Soundscape DB
NGP/NGPC=Neo Geo Pocket/NGP Color
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