A God That Loves People ~ Romantic Fall: What a dramatic song this is for an opening stage. Right from the start of this, you can tell how ZUN was able to evolve his music with this new engine, and the series’ music has been better off as a result. The opening notes and the ZUNpets in this are particularly strong points.
Because Princess Inada Is Scolding Me: This is damn short, but even so the main beat of it is still really very good. There’s not a lot of time to take it in, but you’ll be hearing this and its accompanying stage theme over again as you play MoF – and every time it still seems really very good.
Path of the Apotropaic God ~ Dark Road: MoF’s dramatic start continues apace with this fantastic Stage 2 theme. This always sounds good no matter when I play it. It’s a song that’s clearly composed magnificently. The ZUNpets are at full pelt here and show off some of their best qualities in this stage. This is a top, top song.
Fall of Fall ~ Autumnal Waterfall: If you can pay it any attention within the god-awful stage this song is on, you’ll notice this song is really quite magical. A riveting song for a bright scene, it’s as atmospheric a Touhou song as you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, MoF’s Stage 4 isn’t even long enough for the song – just as its finale starts the stage ends! God’s sake, what the hell is wrong with this stupid stage?
Cemetary of Onbashira ~ Grave of Being: I heard this song a lot in my attempts to beat MoF and each and every time it didn’t even slightly disappoint. In fact, this song is wonderful. It captures an unbelievable amount of action in just one minute of music, and the instrumentation and composition is done perfectly. It feels damn incredible, the stage matches it perfectly – make no mistake, this is one incredible song. It’s in my top 5, even.
Mystic Oriental Love Consultation (SWR): Yay, more PC-98 comebacks! And this is a fantastic remix from U2 Akiyama, with an incredibly exciting tone to it all, fast tempo making it feel even more action-packed, and some terrific instrumentation going on. Reimu’s got a lot of themes, and remixes to those themes, but this is probably the best of the lot.
Hiroari Shoots A Strange Bird ~ Till When? (SWR): U2 Akiyama really mixes it up with a lot of SWR’s arranges, and this one of Youmu’s theme is another great sounding track. The piano adds a little bit of light drama to it all, and even with some rather experimental instrumentation, the song still manages to fit SWR’s action very well.
Lunatic Eyes ~ Invisible Full Moon (SWR): I said Invisible Full Moon had a ton of great remixes, and this is one of them. This is a nice, intense spin on the original with all kinds of befitting instruments doing the job of carrying out this brilliantly composed song. The piano-first bits are my personal favourite sections of the song, but it’s all great really.
The Sealed-Away Youkai ~ Lost Place: SA’s soundtrack is damn near perfect, but it can’t hog this entire piece, so I’m just going with its best five. And first of all is first stage boss Yamame’s theme, which again manages to cram a lot of song into very little time, whilst still being an incredibly effective song. The tone this sets is awesome, and you can feel drama all around this song.
A Flower-Studded Sake Dish on Mt. Ooe: An upbeat and very highly-tempoed song, highly befitting of some of Yuugi’s mad and magnificent spell cards. It’s action all the way through for this song, and the dramatic little intro beat, which reappears soon after, captures the intensity of this song right from the start.
Solar Sect of Mystic Wisdom ~ Nuclear Fusion: When I heard this song for the first time in the midst of Reiuji Utsuho’s fight it was something truly special. Even by itself, the drama this song gives off is almost indescribable. Put to Reiuji’s utterly magnificent fight, it not only makes the song even more special, but makes the fight one of the best things to behold in the entire series. This is a truly stunning song, and by far one of the best in the series, but even more stunning is the fact it isn’t even my favourite song in the game.
Last Remote: Normally it’s always boss themes that take prominence in Touhou, due to the sheer occasion of them all, but allow me to argue my case for Last Remote. Because the song is just perfect. There isn’t a bad note in it anywhere, the tone is magnificent, it fits the stage so, so well, all the instruments are right – especially for the entire first section of the song – and the song builds-up to a most terrific crescendo. This is about as good as a video-game song can really get, and it’s my favourite in the entire series. It is a big part of what makes SA’s Extra Stage my favourite in Touhou, among its many other positives. Another big part comes straight after Last Remote.
Hartmann’s Youkai Girl: This is another stormer of a track, and one that will always be associated to me with some of the greatest spell cards Touhou has seen thanks to the terrific Koishi fight this goes with. But the song does its part in conveying the terror of it all, changing tone all the time, capturing the relative creepiness of its character in spite of it seeming all comparatively ordinary. Of course, the song itself is also magnificently composed as well, and lends itself well to a considerable number of arranges. This is another big favourite of mine. It’s worth noting that perhaps my three favourite songs all come in three consecutive places. That’s just the kind of game SA is. It speaks volumes as to just how brilliant and incredible the game is.
At the End of Spring: Yet another strong start, but this one feels lighter than the two Stage 1 themes before it, yet is still a rhythmic song all the same. It does a great job of capturing the feel of UFO right from the start, letting it be known that it is a rather more joyful game than the tense affairs that were MoF and SA. The start and end of this song are my personal favourite bits of it all.
A Tiny, Tiny, Clever Commander: A surprisingly upbeat song given its composition, and a surprising diversion towards rock for the Touhou series. Either way, one thing’s for sure: this is an action-filled song, and it gets a lot more time than its two direct predecessors did. Which probably makes it even better.
The Sealed Cloud Route: Another strong theme right at the start of the game, this one takes a surprising turn compared to the stage before, one towards a great deal more drama, most of which comes about after the strong intro to the song. The crescendo to the song is also really rather epic, and it’s fair to say this is a song quite unlike any Stage 2 song before or since.
Interdimensional Voyage of a Ghostly Passenger Ship: No other Touhou song sounds quite like this one, and yet it still manages to capture the totally frantic action of Stage 4 thanks to its intense second half. But the first half is still a lot of fun too, a section of Touhou music notable simply for its fun-loving sound. I’d probably call this my favourite from UFO, largely through its sheer quirkiness.
The Tiger-Patterned Vaisravana: Shou’s theme cranks up the drama to 11, in large part thanks to some very strong instrumentation, most specifically the heavy keyboard sounds through the majority of the song. But in between the main sections of the song, the composition does it a lot of favours as well. This is a strong piece of music.
Memory of Foregathering Dream (Soku): I got away with the character select theme in PoDD, and Soku has another brilliant one. It’s a remix of IaMP’s menu theme, but done much better, thanks to an incredibly intense sounding instrumentation and tone. Again, it’s worth noting that this is a song for nothing more exciting than selecting characters. ZUN gives a damn about everything, no matter what it is.
Beloved Tomboyish Girl (Soku): I said Beloved Tomboyish Girl condoned itself well to arranges, and this is conclusive proof of that. This is one fun-loving song, and when that keyboard drops…oh yeah, that’s the most awesome part of this whole thing! Yeah, this is a damn cool song. And not just because it’s Cirno’s theme. This really does fit a fighting game like Soku very well.
Unknown X ~ Unfound Adventure: It’s the dramatic opening beat (which shows up again soon after) courtesy of the ZUNpets that makes this song most of all, setting the tone for what is a highly charged, intense final fight with all three of Soku’s playable characters. Throughout, it’s a well composed song, and they even went and brought it back for ULiL on PS4.
Youkai Mountain ~ Mysterious Mountain: This song was already a pretty good one in MoF, a dramatic piece that was once again dominated by the fight it was paired with (Aya’s in Stage 4). The reason it’s down here is because of the simple, but effective touch-up it was given for Double Spoiler, used in shoot-outs with Hatate. It takes out a little of the sheer action from the original and replaces it with a considerable amount of atmosphere, which makes the track a whole lot better. The composition already lends itself to action anyway, so this is a nice spin on an already very good song.