Game Sack covered this on the most recent episode and since I’m particularly fond of video game music, I thought I’d join in too. I’m not on Twitter or any social media and I usually avoid low-effort content here so I will do this a bit differently. I’m going to do all thirty in one post rather than every day and include links and a litle commentary to go with each.
Title Screen Music
Pikmin 3 – Title Theme
I had some trouble choosing this but I went with this as the music on the title screen really sets the tone for the game before you even press start. I can even remember going back to it to listen to this track again and again.
Opening Level Music
Super Mario Galaxy – Good Egg Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy was the first game that used an orchestra for the soundtrack and it really shows in the opening of the game. The first level sets the tone for a whimsical adventure and that certainly is what the game is.
Zelda II: The Adventure’s of Link – Palace
This isn’t the only 8-bit track I have here but it is one of my favourite from the NES era. I like this one more for what has subsequently been done with it in later titles like the Super Smash Bros. series and various remixes.
Music from a Console Exclusive Series
Metroid Prime – Phendrana Drifts
I’m going to assume that “console exclusive” just means not on PC for this. It would be a lot of effort to find a series that has never been in the arcade, on PC or on a handheld device. Even Mario started in the arcade. I wanted to include something from Metroid Prime and this is probably the track I most associate with the series. This is not the kind of music you listen to for pleasure but it really brings out the sense of isolation you feel while immersed in the game.
Hub World or Overworld Music
Lost Odyssey – Neverending Journey
I don’t play a whole lot of Japanese RPG games due to the high repetition and time commitment. I’m glad I spent time on Lost Odyssey though as it still represents the height of the genre to this day. The soundtrack by Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu is one very important part of that.
Music that makes you Feel Relaxed
Wonder Boy in Monster World – Beginning
This a game that I played over and over again when I was young. The opening of the game moves along slowly due to you character speed until you get better boots. From there the game speeds up but slowly learning the mechanics with this relaxing music in the background makes for a great tutorial.
Music from an Indie Game
World of Goo – Brave Adventurers
Indie game has become a blurred category due to how many “indie games” are now financially backed by major publishers. World of Goo was one of the early prominent games on the indie scene until the definition was blurred. It is also a game that still holds up all these years later and the soundtrack is no exception.
Music from a Shooter (First or Third-Person)
Halo – Halo Theme
A lot of shooters don’t have particularly memorable soundtracks with the notable exception of Halo. This is a series that I’ve began to appreciate more over time than initially and the wonderful soundtrack by Martin O’Donnell is a major reason for that.
Music from a Licensed Game
GoldenEye 007 – Dam
This is probably the greatest licensed game ever released but the soundtrack also deserves to be applauded due to how well it came out on otherwise limited hardware. Unlike other selections, it is harder to appreciate what was done here without comparing it to what was available at the time.
RPG Battle Music
Tales of Vesperia – Furnace of War
As already mentioned, I don’t play a lot of Japanese RPGs but I have played four in the Tales series. The fast paced real-time battles are a big part of this but so are the energetic soundtracks that accompany them.
Puzzle Game Music
Bejeweled 3 – Classic Mode
I don’t always play puzzle games but when I do, I play them a lot. Bejeweled 3 is probably my favourite puzzle game if you look at my play time and classic mode was where I spent most of my time. I never got sick of the lengthy track above.
Music that Makes You Sad
Chrono Trigger – Wind Scene
For a genre I don’t play a lot, they certainly appear quite a bit on this list. I’ve only played this through once but I would consider this the perfect place to start for anyone who wants to try a Japanese RPG. It doesn’t demand the time that many do but it offers a lot of replayability for those that want it. It also has plenty of lovable characters and an often hauntingly beautiful soundtrack as demonstrated here.
Music You Like from a Game You Don’t Like
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver – Ozar Midrashim
This is a game that has been on my list for a long time and I only recently played through it. I think this is a game you had to be there at the time to appreciate. Playing it today, it is a very simple and brief open world game with clunky controls. The music somewhat makes up for it though.
Music Featuring Vocals
Double Dragon Neon – City Streets 2 (Mango Tango – Neon Jungle)
This came out around the time when people were beginning to love the 1980s and this came at the perfect time to capitalise on it. This is by Jake Kaufman who is well known for the Shantae series and I had to include something from him somewhere in here.
Boss Battle Music
Thunder Force IV – Evil Destroyer
The video that inspired this already did my favourite track — Metal Squad but this is not at all a bad second choice. This thumping track will usually be heard at the first battle if you choose the default path at the start. It is also depicted on the cover art in the video.
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master – Idaten
I originally thought to put in a track from The Revenge of Shinobi but since Yuzo Koshiro is already represented below and I’ve covered it in a similar post, I decided to use this instead. The Super Nintendo deserves a lot of praise for the great soundtracks produced on it but this is yet another example of what could be done when the right tools, knowledge and talent came together.
Music You Never Get Tired Of
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – Ice Cap Zone Act 1
If I wasn’t going for the hard rule, I could have easily included tracks from Sonic 3 & Knuckles multiple times. Not just this track but the soundtrack as a whole is one I never get tired of. Multiple composers (including Michael Jackson himself), worked on this soundtrack so I’m never sure who to praise on any one.
Game Over Music
Mass Effect – Game Over
This is another game I felt I had to include somewhere and there were multiple categories where I could have. This is another soundtrack heavily influenced by 1980s synth which I quite like. The game isn’t too hard (even on harder difficulties), so I didn’t see the game over screen a lot but when I did, I didn’t mind.
Cover of Music by a Different Artist
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest – Mining Melancholy Cover by PPF
This is my favourite track from DKC2 and this cover is excellent not merely because of the unique instruments but in how well it replicates the sound. There are many more great covers on this channel and I can’t believe he doesn’t get more attention.
Music from a Racing Game
F-Zero GX – For the Glory (Mute City)
This is the last major release of an F-Zero game and if this is where it ends, it still ended on a high note. Even today, the game looks amazing and the soundtrack is as fast-paced and intense as each race.
Music you Associate with Frustration
Super Smash Bros. Melee – Break The Targets
I didn’t play this game much but I do remember my little brother getting frustrated with this over and over again. This music along with the rage-inducing “Failure” screen are frustrating just to think about.
Soleil – Town
Another childhood favourite. The game begins and ends with this track and it is one you hear over and over again throughout. It’s upbeat and happy when much of the game is sombre and well… strange.
Star Fox Zero – Mission Select
This game was released, panned and forgotten pretty fast. It also had poor sales which means it could be the end for the whole series. I believe both the game and soundtrack are underrated and that if people took the time to learn the mechanics, they would have found a lot more to like about it.
Music You Constantly Have Stuck in Your Head
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Busted Bayou
Another Donkey Kong Country track from the most recent release. This is one I have stuck in my head just writing about it. Something interesting is despite it’s quality, it only appears in one level in the whole game.
Music That Gets You Pumped
Red Alert – Hell March
This track is taken from one of the best gaming intros ever. Frank Klepacki is known for composing much of the Command & Conquer series which is still to this day, one of the best. If you ever feel like getting ready to war against something, this is a great way to get you there.
Music You Like from a Game You Haven’t Played
Chrono Cross – Dream of the Shore Near Another World
I’ve never played this and I probably never will but I will never get sick of this music. I don’t quite remember how I came across this but I still sometimes go and listen to it when I get it into my head.
Music from a Handheld Game
Tearaway – Gibbet Hill – Pilgrimage
This was a handheld exclusive but as with console exclusives, time rarely keeps them that way. This has since been re-released on PlayStation 4 but I played it on the PlayStation Vita. It is still one of my favourite games on the system.
Music that Makes You Nostalgic
Super Mario Bros. 3 – Overworld Theme
I played the original Super Mario Bros. before this but hearing this music takes me back to Saturday morning cartoons and video games like few others. I didn’t have a NES when I was young but friends and family did and I used to play them a lot at sleepovers. The third in the series got more play than most games.
Final Boss Music
Donkey Kong Country – Gang-Plank Galleon
The Donkey Kong Country games appear here multiple times and that’s because they have some of the best soundtracks mostly thanks to David Wise. The final boss should feel like an epic encounter and the music plays a big part in this. This track speeds up in time with the intensity of the battle on to a very satisfying conclusion to a great game.
Streets of Rage 2 – Good Ending
I recently played Streets of Rage 4 and I enjoyed it. While it took a lot of the best aspects of the series, the rather abrupt ending was disappointing. This track really made you feel like you accomplished something (though really you hadn’t).
This list includes 6 Sega Mega Drive, 2 NES, 3 SNES, 1 N64, 3 GameCube, 1 Wii, 3 Wii U (Total 13 Nintendo), 3 Xbox 360, 1 Xbox. 2 PlayStation and 1 PlayStation Vita game. The rest were multiplatform from release and many games now are multiplatform. Looking over this, I wish I had included a Dreamcast game but Soul Reaver counts though it is associated more with the original PlayStation and PC.