This is it: the top ten game soundtracks of all time. We’ve filtered out the last 20, so go check them out below before we scroll down further.
If you want the best and most swingiest music in an adventure game, look no further than this LucasArts adventure gaming masterpiece. Composed by Peter McConnell, Grim Fandango’s music is a love letter to mariachi and jazz. From the dark-toned Swanky Maximo to the chord-less free jazz of Blue Castle Bop, the music is filled with so much flavour and personality.
Standout Tracks: Blue Casket Bop, Smooth Hector, Swanky Maximo
Yeah, we are saying that all the music from Super Mario Galaxy 2 is better than the ones in past Mario games, including Super mario Bros. 3. Why? Because all of Koji Kondo’s melody work gets a massive sound boost in the Super Mario Galaxy series.
The OST keeps the charm of the 8-bit and 16-bit game’s tunes while also making new ones to bring in a whole new generation of music-goers. We must give credit to Mahito Yokota, Koji Kondo, and Ryo Nagamatsu for a job well done in blending the old with the very new and orchestral.
Standout Tracks: Puzzle Plank Galaxy, Cloudy Court Galaxy, Bowser’s Galaxy Generator
NieR Automata’s music is amazing, we’ll give it that. But if we’re counting “all-time”, we have to give eighth place to the first NieR game.
It’s an all-time hands-down favourite because it started Keiichi Okabe’s path towards relevance. The music’s made-up language sung to perfection, its haunting tunes, and its variation of the Song of the Ancients theme from serene to danger-filled: it’s no surprise that this game’s music is being remixed to kingdom come by Square Enix.
Standout Tracks: Song of the Ancients ~Fate, Kaine ~Escape, Kaine ~Salvation, Hills of Radiant Wind
Masaharu Iwata & Hitoshi Sakimoto are clearly ahead of their time. What they did with Tactics Ogre’s epic music comes full circle in this Final Fantasy spin-off that arguably overshadows its mothership counterparts in scale, narrative, gameplay, and in this feature’s case, music.
From battle anthems like Trisection and Antipyretic, to the more serene pieces like A Chapel and Random Waltz, these tracks are just beautiful to listen to. As a side note: thank you, iOS and Android, for housing this legacy game and introducing a new generation of gamers to a wealth of awesome rich orchestral synths.
This Sega Megadrive platformer classic features catchy, energetic, and fast-paced melodies that beats the pants off most games even in this day and age. This is mostly attributed to composer Masato Nakamura, a bassist and songwriter from 80s J-Pop group Dream Come True.
He somehow made magic despite the fact that he had difficulty working with the Megadrive’s inability to play more than 4 concurrent sounds. Limitations can sometimes breed innovations, right?
Standout Tracks: Green Hill Zone, Spring Yard Zone, Labyrinth Zone
This is a tough one, because Mega Man 2 has arguably one of the best NES soundtracks ever. However, Mega Man 3 was bigger and arguably better, which means more melodies and themes. Whether you hear Protoman/Blues’ trademark whistle or experience the 3 different Dr. Wiley stage themes with each of them sounding more dramatic than the last, it will stick to your head and stay there.
Yasuaki “Bun Bun” Fujita, Harumi Fujita help continue the tradition of catchy Mega Man tunes while also improving upon what Mega Man 1 and 2 did music-wise.
Standout Tracks: Title Theme, Ending Sequence, Dr. Wiley Stage 1, Snake Man
In 1997, Michiru Yamane’s name graced every gamers and PlayStation owners’ mind just through the sheer beauty and elegance of her compositions in this 2D action adventure that coined the phrase Metroidvania. Up to this day, no other action game has a score as elegant, as rock-filled, and as entrancing as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Standout Tracks: Dance of Pales, Wood Carving Partita, Lost Painting
Okay, maybe the graphics haven’t aged well but D’sonkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack is still like fine wine.
We love the sombre tone of Stickerbush Symphony. We adore the playful melodies of Jib Jig and Token Tango. And we appreciate how composer David Wise himself experiments with so many genres. Samba, rhumba, jazz, bebop: he covers it all it all in this platformer sequel.
Standout Tracks: Stickerbush Symphony, Snakey Chant, Jib Jig, Forest Interlude
Every track in Chrono Trigger is made for a purpose. No song is left unscathed, unused, and unbound. Just like a perfectly-synchronized acrobatic move or swimming formation, all the pieces of music in this game fits to accentuate the whole JRPG experience that is Chrono Trigger. Up to this day, there is literally no single game that can recreate what Chrono Trigger and the number 1 spot did in its time and what it influenced from then on out.
At the time of the game’s pre-production, Yasunori Mitsuda nearly died making this game’s soundtrack and also threatened to leave Squaresoft if he did not compose this entire project. We are glad that we get to experience Mitsuda’s first and best works before he went on to do more amazing pieces for games like this one.
Standout Tracks: Corridors of Time, Chrono Trigger, Wind Scene, Epoch, Lavos
Yes, a Final Fantasy mothership title had to be at the top of this list. But which one? Was it FFVIII’s esoteric approach to music? Was it the melancholy & depressing nature of FFX’s music?
Your answers are probably wrong, because Final Fantasy VI is the magnum opus of video game soundtracks. Just like Chrono Trigger, no soundtrack is out of place in the game. No oddities and no duds. Almost all of them are standouts in their own right, from the haunting intro theme to the many variable character themes, right down to the epic credits theme that encapsulates said leit motifs and each character theme in one grand swoop.
To be very fair, Final Fantasy XII comes very, very, VERY close in the best Final Fantasy soundtrack department. But at the end of the day, this is Nobuo Uematsu’s best work bar none, and one that was, and still is, influential to many video game composers and music makers up to this day.
Standout Tracks: Kefka, Terra, Opening Theme, Phantom Forest
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