I’ve got an experiment for you. Try and find me any gamer that doesn’t have at least one strong memory about the soundtrack of a game. You can’t do it. As endearing as the story in many a Final Fantasy, or the excellent gameplay of titles like Uncharted 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3, music in games has left an undeniable impact on gamers. Whether it’s the blips and bleeps of the Atari 2600, the MIDI music from the SNES, or the fully orchestrated masterpieces heard in the current generation of consoles, music has played an ever important role in shaping a video game. I want to take this time to share some of my personal favorites from my gaming past. I highly encourage you to sit back, pump up the volume, and bask in the warmth that a finely tuned gaming song can give you.
Kirby’s Dream Land – King Dedede’s Theme
King Dedede’s theme does the whole boss battle theme thing right. It’s tense while catchy, putting you in an all-or-nothing mood while still enjoying yourself. The tempo is quick and the beat is smooth, the perfect combination for laying the smackdown.
Tekken Tag Tournament – Yoshimitsu’s Theme
With all the fighting and mental focus that goes on when playing a fighting game, it becomes easy to overlook the soundtrack.Tekken Tag Tournament had a lot of great songs to fight to, but nothing sticks out more than Yoshimitsu’s Theme. The robotic voice combined with the electro sound makes for great fight music.
Castlevania series – Bloody Tears
The Castlevania series is well known for having some of the best music in any gaming franchise. I’m just looking at one song per series though, and I have to go with Bloody Tears. The sheer epicness of the song is only made better by the adrenaline pumping introduction! Slaying vampires and all things that go bump in the night has never been more enjoyable.
Final Fantasy XI – The Federation of Windurst
Many players likely skipped over Final Fantasy XI due to it being an MMO, but those that did play it found a competent, engaging RPG. Best of all, the series knack for superior soundtracks was kept intact. The Federation of Windurst can be one of the first songs you hear depending on which race you choose to begin the game, and it’s easily one of the best in the whole game.
Cool Spot – Bonus Round Music
Holy crap, this one brings back so many memories! Cool Spot was a game where you play as Spot, the little red dot in the 7-Up logo. Aside from being a surprisingly awesome platformer, Cool Spot also had a totally rocking soundtrack. The Bonus Round took place inside a 7-Up bottle where you had a time limit to collect as many points as you can. This puppy put the pressure on thick with it’s heavy bass, strong beat, and synthesized melody. Honorable mention goes to Pier Pressure, the game’s second stage.
Mortal Kombat II – The Dead Pool
Another possibly hidden gem to fighting fans unless you keep your ears open, Mortal Kombat II’s Dead Pool stage music gets me in the fighting mood whenever I hear it. The beat compliments the brutal gameplay, and the chimes and drum beats are perfect for the series. The Dead Pool music, and really the entire MKII soundtrack, is some of the best in the series.
Tin Star – Out in the West
Alright, I’m pretty sure no one else playedTin Star on the SNES besides my brothers and me, but the game was actually decent. This song features classic cowboy/wild west elements that you’d expect from a game about a robotic cowboy. By that I mean a fast tempo, banjos up the wahzoo, and whip cracks. What else could you want?
Mega Man X – Armored Armadillo Stage
A lot of gamers have likely heard this one a lot for two reasons: 1, you played and enjoyed Mega Man X because it was a fantastic title, or 2 you have this song burned into your brain because you heard it countless times trying to get the Street Fighter Hadouken power. Regardless, Armored Armadillo’s music is fast, frantic, and a the best way to represent MMX musically.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 – Swing Your Body (Swamp Stage)
Love it or hate it, the jazzy soundtrack toMarvel vs. Capcom 2 had some of the most memorable tracks of any fighter. The Swamp Stage in particular stands out because of it’s almost dance-like qualities. Sure, the lady singing is telling me to swing my body, but it’s that guitar riff that makes me want to get up and move. Couple that with the crazy fighting that’s going on and you’ve got an easy winner!
Sonic CD – Sonic Boom
Now that Sonic CD has been released on a successful console (i.e. the 360 and PS3), gamers can finally enjoy one of Sonic’s last great 2D adventures. Awaiting said gamers before the first stage begins is this gem that is both catchy and somehow fitting. Sonic Boom is straight out of the 90’s and speeds into my heart as and often often forgotten qualitySonic track.
Silent Hill 3 – You’re Not Here
Sometimes a song in the common definition (so with lyrics and a chorus) is just as memorable as chiptunes. You’re Not Here from Silent Hill 3 is a song that just infects your ears and stays with you long after you’ve finished listening to it. Having not actually played Silent Hill 3 (I first heard the song through DDR), I can’t say how much it has to do with the game, but I can say that it’s awesome to listen to!
Super Mario RPG – And My Name’s Bukki
Square Enix, please please PLEASE make another Mario RPG with Nintendo, and make it a legit sequel to this game. Oh, and include kickass songs like this one. And My Name’s Bukki plays when you’re exploring Booster’s tower close to the halfway point through the game. I don’t know why, but I associate this one song with the entire game. I think it might be that breakdown of the beat where it’s just the bass and no background beat. Whatever it is, this song just gets me in the goomba stomping mood.
Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage – Streets of New York
An absolute classic SNES/Genesis beat-em up, Maximum Carnage was one of the games that got me into reading more comics. Helping out greatly with that was the game’s rock soundtrack composed by the band Green Jelly. Streets of New York is the first stage’s music, and it only gets better from there. Seriously, I had a very hard time deciding which song to put on this list!
Persona 3 – Mass Destruction
Okay, if you’ve played any of Persona 3 beyond the introduction, you have to know this song. Usually battle music for an RPG is a lyric-free ordeal, with pounding, upbeat rhythms to accompany the combat going on. But Mass Destruction completely steals the show and makes each battle a dance party yet still feels appropriate for the situation at hand. Bunch of demons blocking your way and terrorizing your high school? Turn up the music, feel the rhythm, and lay down the Mass Destruction!
If you’ve listened to every song and want more, then I encourage you to explore the rest of the soundtrack for any game listed here. Were there some songs that I missed, or one that you think should have been chosen for the series that I overlooked? Or perhaps you’d like to hear more of my musical recap? Let me know in the comments.