This is my favorite game music from the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation:
“End of Small Sanctuary” by Akira Yamaoka – Silent Hill 3 HD Collection (PS3, Xbox 360)
This is actually two generations old, but I feel that with the Silent Hill HD Collection release, this technically fits the bill. This plays near the beginning of the game and it totally contrasts the horror to come with its soothing, repetitious riff. More than an excellent video game song, this is one of my absolute favorite songs. Akira Yamaoka is a talented composer: the entire soundtrack to Silent Hill 3 is special.
“Less Talk, More Rokk” by Freezepop – Guitar Hero II (PS2, Xbox 360)
At the time when Guitar Hero was really getting popular, I knew Freezepop only from its first Guitar Hero contribution, “Get Ready 2 Rokk.” I enjoyed that one, too, but it wasn't until I played through and unlocked “Less Talk” that I pursued more of the synthpop sounds that they now had bouncing around my head. To this day, this is a top-10 song in my personal favorites.
“Jumper” by capsule and “ポリリズム“ (Poly-Rhythm) by Perfume – Groovecoaster (Arcade)
capsule (sic) is interesting. If you’re at all familiar with J-Pop, or perhaps if you’ve read Kotaku at some point in the last year, you’ll have heard of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and you probably know her as the Queen of Cute Pop. Yasutaka Nakata, the man who writes, records, and produces Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, writes, records, and produces two other J-Pop music groups as well: capsule and Perfume.
capsule, Yasutaka Nakata’s personal project band, is anything but “cute.” It’s gritty J-Pop. It’s sexy. It’s fast. It’s in a surprising amount of English. I like it.
Perfume is Japan’s electronic, disco answer to Destiny’s Child. They’re three gorgeous, early 20s women who happen to have a producer who knows how to get the best out of them.
I’ve highlighted two other music arcade games before in my articles and this one is similar in concept, but far different in application. This game utilizes two hand-sized joysticks with buttons that you move in time with the beat and in the directions indicated on-screen. (This is the best video I could find where you could see both the game and the person playing it, even though it's neither of the songs I highlighted.) It’s great fun and it’s got an excellent musical selection… if you’re into J-Pop.
“Want You Gone” by Jonathan Coulton – Portal 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Man, do I want to write songs like Mr. Coulton. He’s so good at it. The song’s catchy, too.
“Simple and Clean/Hikari” – Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix (PS3)
This is also technically two generations ago, but with the remake and subsequent release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix, I feel like this can make the list. Hikaru Utada is American-born, Japanese-raised and did a hell of a job on both Kingdom Hearts games to date. This is the title song and the first top-40 quality song (granted, Japan) I can remember hearing in a video game. Hopefully, she will come back and work on Kingdom Hearts 3 also, but with the recent death of her mother, it's difficult to say.