The Best Video Game Music: The Fifty Greatest Game Soundtracks!by Jeremy Jeffers
Apr 20, 2007 (Updated Nov 18, 2013)
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line The Greatest Game Soundtracks of All Time. These are the Best of the Best!
If there's one thing a gamer can be attached to it's video game music. I personally pay much more attention to a game's soundtrack than I do to it's graphics. With that said, I've decided to compile my personal list of games in the order that I like their music. Which games have the best soundtracks? Read on to find out.
Note: I don't most of these soundtrack, very few of them in fact, so I'll be judging them by the in-game music. There may be differences between a game's compositions and the official soundtrack release, so keep that in mind as you read.
Also keep in mind, this is solely my opinion on each game's music, and not of the games themselves. I write this list disregarding as much bias as possible.
#50. - Mischief Makers Soundtrack
Full Review of Mischief Makers
This soundtrack falls into the category of ultra quirky - but it's full of fun music that is really, really distinct. One of the main reasons this entry made the cut on this list is because the music of Mischief Makers is completely unique and there just isn't much out there that sounds like it. On top of that the music is really catchy and fun to hum.
#49. - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Soundtrack
Full Review of Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sega brought back Sonic in a killer way, and along with that comes a fantastic soundtrack. With music as fast as the blue hedgehog himself, the melodies are much more upbeat and quick than in the original. The soundtrack definitely conveys the sense of the game's speed well. Though it lacks the "edge" of a modern Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack, that's actually a very good thing.
#48. - Tales of Vesperia Soundtrack
Full Review of Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia is the single greatest role playing game this generation has to offer as of now, and the soundtrack suits the game quite well. Admittedly the music isn't quite on par with other entries in this series but it's distinct, fun, and suits the atmosphere remarkably well. This is one of the select few soundtracks I have bothered picking up this generation.
#47. - Apollo Justice Ace Attorney
Full Review of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
The fourth and most recent of the Ace Attorney games, Apollo Justice is the only mainline game in the series to have a soundtrack custom built around the superior hardware of the Nintendo DS. With this said it's of much higher quality than the other games but falls just short of being as catchy as them. The game leans a fair bit more toward techno music than the others but it works surprisingly well.
#46. - Fatal Fury Soundtrack
Full Review of Fatal Fury
This entry is in reference to the Neo Geo version's music. Fatal Fury is the underappreciated cousin to Street Fighter. Even so, it does many things better than it's relative, including it's soundtrack. The hard hitting Geese Howard's theme is considered legendary amongst hardcore fighting game fans, and the rest of the music has more personality than any other soundtrack to this genre of gaming.
#45. - Earthbound Soundtrack
Full Review of Earthbound
A zany games needs equally zany music, and this is where Earthbound's soundtrack succeeds. It's not crazy in a typical way; Earthbound's compositions are just weird. They fit the game like a glove, and each song is extremely charming and memorable. You won't find a soundtrack that's quite like Earthbound. The Underworld Theme alone is easily amongst my favorite songs from games ever.
#44. - Star Fox Soundtrack
Full Review of Star Fox
The idea behind this game is a bit unorthodox, and so is the soundtrack. That's why I love it though. Star Fox's soundtrack has an intensely epic feel to it, while at the same time, the soundtrack has an overall Nintendo level polish to it. This is one of the few game soundtracks that I can't find anything I dislike about it. The theme of Corneria is the best of the bunch, but all are winners here.
#43. - Final Fantasy V Soundtrack
Full Review of Final Fantasy V
No listing of gaming's greatest soundtracks is complete without at least one done by Final Fantasy legend Nobutsuo Uematsu. This is by far one of the lesser mentioned soundtracks in this series, but that doesn't mean it's not chock full of quality music. The opening theme lets you know right away that your ears are in for a treat, and once you hear Gilgamesh's Theme you won't soon be able to forget about this game's soundtrack.
#42. - Illusion of Gaia Soundtrack
Full Review of Illusion of Gaia
This action RPG is chock full of mysterious and rather enchanting music. The soundtrack as a whole is rather unique and wholly atmospheric. Some of it's songs, such as the Slaves Theme go beyond being a simple video game composition. This is one group of music that aren't nearly as effective outside of the game. This is because the soundtrack is intended as mostly an atmospheric piece.
#41. - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Soundtrack
Full Review of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
It's dark, it's creepy, it's the music from Castlevania II! The series is pretty well known for having good music, and part II is no exception, and it makes slaying Dracula all that much more melodious. Bloody Tears is the standout track here, and as such, it's also the most mentioned song from the entire Castlevania series.
#40. - Sonic CD Soundtrack
Full Review of Sonic CD
The CD format did wonders for game soundtracks, and this is one of the earliest examples of that. Sonic CD features some pretty rockin tunes, along with completely vocalized opening music which sounds great and was pretty freaking cool for it's time. A pretty darn good all around soundtrack. They just don't make Sonic's music like they used to.
#39. - Breath of Fire II Soundtrack
This is the only Breath of Fire soundtrack I saw fit to put on the soundtrack. Much of the music lacks the quality that you'd find in most RPGs, but other songs more than make up for it. The boss battle theme in particular is amazing, and it's a song that'll never completely get out of my head. Other standouts include the cave theme, and the standard battle song.
#38. - Tales of Phantasia Soundtrack
Full Review of Tales of Phantasia
The Super Famicom version of Tales of Phantasia features one of the most lush and detailed soundtracks of any RPG. The music is a bit gentler and softer than in most games, and this is part of what makes it so memorable. Fighting of the Spirits creates a broad contrast, as it's one of the most adrenaline pumping battle themes I've ever heard. There's a bit of variety here which is definitely good.
#37. - Phantasy Star Soundtrack
Full Review of Phantasy Star
I never thought I'd find such a memorable, adventurous but sweet song in an 8-bit game, but it's here alright. I'm speaking of course of the world map theme to Phantasy Star. The pounding dungeon theme is also quite a well made song. Everything else is pretty good (except the battle theme, ugh), but those two songs alone are what makes this soundtrack so special.
#36. - Actraiser Soundtrack
People are pretty split on the game itself, but we can all agree that this game has a spectacular soundtrack. There's a vast contrast in the music, which is in direct correlation with the two separate aspects of gameplay. On one side you've got fantastic and moody dungeon compositions, and on the other, you've got a lighthearted and airy themes. It's a pretty good contrast, and thanks to the composer, Yuzo Koshiro, it's highly memorable.
#35. - Christmas NiGHTs Soundtrack
Full Review of Christmas NiGHTs
Imagine one of your favorite game soundtracks of all time, partially remade to fit the theme of Christmas. That's what I've got here with the Christmas NiGHTs soundtrack. This is a highly imaginative assemblage of songs from the game, remade to match classic Christmas music. Not only is this my thirty fifth favorite game soundtrack, but I'm convinced it's also my favorite assembly of Christmas music too.
#34. - The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time Soundtrack
Full Review for The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
I'm sure I'll catch heck for putting this one so far down the list, but that's what ya get I guess. Ocarina of Time features some of the best midi format game music ever, with a lot of emphasis put into making it all feel adventurous. Mission accomplished, as this is one of the most epic soundtracks on the list and easily the best sounding N64 game. Ocarina of Time gets extra props on this list for being a game with large emphasis on music.
#33. - Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King Soundtrack
Full Review for Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Dragon Quest VIII was one of the biggest budget role playing games of all time. Square-Enix went all out on every aspect here, but the most noticeable was the effort they put into the vast sweeping fully orchestrated soundtrack that took old stuff and made it brand new. While it isn't the series' best soundtrack it is one of the many aspects that made the game stand out a great deal.
#32. - Castlevania: Dracula X Soundtrack
Take your average Castlevania soundtrack. Now add a techno twist, and you've got the soundtrack to Castlevania Dracula X. This is some very high quality stuff. Although a lot of it sounds quite different from your typical Castlevania stuff, the overall style still reeks of the series.
#31. - The Legend of the Mystical Ninja Soundtrack
Full Review of The Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Here's another wacky Japanese game soundtrack that PERFECTLY fits the game. I'm quite surprised that Konami was able to squeeze so much out of the SNES' sound chip. This soundtrack is unique in it's approach. Though it has a lot of wacky music, everything has a definite Eastern twinge to it. One of the best (and most unique) SNES game soundtracks, easily.
#30. - Kingdom Hearts Soundtrack
Full Review of Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is a mix of Final Fantasy and Disney, and is appropriately scored. The soundtrack consists mainly of re-arranged classic Disney themes which all sound fantastic. The original stuff is quite good too, especially the Gummi Ship theme. The real highlight though is Utada Hikaru's song, Hikari, which is the main theme to the game.
#29. - Dragon Quest III Soundtrack
Full Review of Dragon Quest III
Dragon Warrior III on the NES is the biggest most complex role playing game the system has to offer, and it is also one of the most technically sound well produced soundtracks you'll find. With this soundtrack Enix raised the bar a great deal when it came to bleep and blip sound compositions.
#28. - Suikoden V Soundtrack
Full Review of Suikoden V
A newer soundtrack for sure, but a fantastic one nonetheless. Suikoden V's soundtrack is an extremely emotional one, and anything less would have ruined such a fantastic game. There's something, almost magical, about this game's various compositions. The Army Battle Theme is one of the song's worth mentioning, along with Desparate Battle .
#27. - Final Fantasy IX Soundtrack
Full Review of Final Fantasy IX
The game was meant as homage to classic Final Fantasy, and quite appropriately, so is the soundtrack. It's a bit of new meets old, with a classic sounding battle system and fanfare theme, but there are some truly amazing songs that sound like nothing else in the series. Loss of Me gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
#26. - The Legend of Zelda Soundtrack
Full Review of The Legend of Zelda
The original game's soundtrack is my most favorite of the Zelda bunch, and with good reason. Though it only features a handful of different songs, these are what started it all. The overworld theme makes you really feel like you're setting out on an adventure, while the dungeon theme is appropriately creepy and can actually make you feel like you're lost.
#25. - Tales of Symphonia Soundtrack
Full Review for Tales of Symphonia
This is easily the best soundtrack the 'Tales of' series has seen. The music has a very dreamy atmosphere to it, and songs such as Dry Trail and Desert Rose have an incredibly surreal fantasy feel. Fighting of the Spirits, the best game from the Tales of Phantasia soundtrack, makes a glorious return for Symphonia, only this version is remade and sounds even more awesome.
#24. - Chrono Cross Soundtrack
Chrono Cross' soundtrack had a lot to live up to after because of the esteem the first game in this series is held in. For the most part it was successful, and on it's own legs at that. The most memorable part of this soundtrack is the arranged Chrono Trigger songs which sound like they've never sounded before. The soundtrack wraps the game up in a feeling of mystery like few others have been able to do.
#23. - Final Fantasy VI Soundtrack
Full Review for Final Fantasy VI
One of the more overrated game soundtracks, Final Fantasy VI features some very lush and surprisingly orchestrate music. The world map theme is above and beyond anything I thought possible on a cartridge, and Atma Weapon's theme is one of the creepiest battle themes I've ever heard. This one is a definite fan favorite, and while I don't altogether agree with it's enthusiasts, there's undeniable quality in these compositions.
#22. - Dragon Quest V Soundtrack
Full Review for Dragon Quest V
Dragon Quest V was the first game in the series to debut on a system that wasn't the Famicom (Japanese NES) and it's amazing what they managed to push out of the hardware's sound chip. This is the closest to a fully orchestrated soundtrack you're going to find on the Super Nintendo and it sounds absolutely incredible.
#21. - Grandia Soundtrack
Full Review for Grandia
Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? That's exactly what the Theme of Grandia asks you even though it doesn't speak a single word. The soundtrack features some very imaginative songs that range from adventurous, sad, to a few high energy adrenaline pumping action packed compositions. The soundtrack has a huge scope, and it alone lets you in on the fact that you're going to have an unforgettable experience with the game.
#20. - Panzer Dragoon Soundtrack
Speaking of epic, Panzer Dragoon also features a rather epic soundtrack. This soundtrack is orchestrated giving it an incredibly epic feeling. The first level's theme alone is enough to get you pumped for a grand scale, high flying adventure. You could ask for little more from a soundtrack.
#19. - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Soundtrack
Full Review for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
And here we have one of the best soundtracks to ever grace a gaming system - handheld or not. The game is a logic puzzle adventure title but it contains within it one of the most quirky and amazing soundtracks you'll ever find. The soundtrack basically makes the game - it's that amazing.
#18. - Lunar: The Silver Star Soundtrack
Full Review for Lunar: The Silver Star
This Sega CD game soundtrack features some of the most charming and loveable music around. The songs are all fantastic and there's no weak link here. There was simply nothing else that matched this soundtrack in it's heyday. I might go so far as to say that this is the most memorable soundtrack ever.
#17. - Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations Soundtrack
Full Review for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
The first Phoenix Wright was the surprise hit of a lifetime for me. The game is tense, cinematic, and it has a soundtrack that perfectly complements the action. With that said Trials and Tribulations, the third game in the series, takes everything to the next level - including its music. The music is super catchy and gets you pumped which is not something you would expect from a game in which you play as a defense attorney.
#16. - Star Ocean: The Second Story Soundtrack
Full Review for Star Ocean: The Second Story
When I was first playing through this game I was going through a hard time in my life, and surprisingly, the music was quite comforting. Maybe that's why it holds a special place in my heart. The various compositions are lush and very high quality. There's something almost organic about many of the songs in it. It's quite strange but true. Overall a high quality soundtrack, but not quite unforgettable.
#15. - Skies of Arcadia Soundtrack
Full Review for Skies of Arcadia
Like that of Grandia, Skies of Arcadia contains some highly adventurous themes. This soundtrack is quite the lighthearted romp and has a vast range of different sounds to it. The Blue Rogue's theme gives me goosebumps each time I hear it, and the final battle theme has the same effect. This is one of the soundtracks I actually own because it's that good.
#14. - Suikoden II Soundtrack
Full Review for Suikoden II
This soundtrack just plain has a ton of songs in it. It definitely helps that they're all great quality, and some so good I would call them legendary. The song, Gothic Neclord is one that I could listen to all day. Along with that there's also a lot of mellow melodies worth listening to, such as the theme of Suikoden. This is another soundtrack that I actually own, and it was worth every penny.
#13. - Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack
Full Review for Super Mario Bros.
The Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack is on pretty much everyone's list by default. There's plenty of reason behind it though. The outdoor level theme is probably the most recognized song in the entire history of video games. Seriously, play it for someone, anyone, and they'll be able to recognize it right off the bat. It's catchy, it's fun, and you'll never escape it, ever.
#12. - Super Mario Galaxy Soundtrack
Full Review for Super Mario Galaxy
Music is not something that Nintendo normally puts a ton of effort in. After The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess was composed of purely midi music it seemed that the lower budget Super Mario Galaxy would suffer the same fate. Nintendo shocked us all when they released the game with a fully orchestrated soundtrack and it is simply the best soundtrack of this entire current generation. You would never think that they had it in them after years of low effort soundtracks, but they wrote some amazing music for this game.
#11. - Sonic R Soundtrack
Full Review for Sonic R
Most people probably think this game's soundtrack is annoying due to it's rather j-poppy nature, but I personally found that it has some of the most catchy music around. The music also has a magical feel to it which gives it bonus points. It also features some of the funniest (and most quoteable) lyrics around.
Get Ready For The Big Hitters...
#10. - Final Fantasy IV Soundtrack
Full Review for Final Fantasy IV
My favorite game of all time features my tenth favorite soundtrack of all time. This is Nobuo Uematsu in his midi-prime. FFIV's soundtrack is a rather magical affair brimming over the top with fantasy and intrigue. Songs such as the Underworld Theme, or Giant of Babil make me giddy like a school-girl. This soundtrack was quite ahead of it's time, and you'll find few people who can say anything bad at all about it.
#9. - Chrono Trigger Soundtrack
Full Review for Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger was designed by a dream team of sorts, and such a legendary project deserves an equal soundtrack. There's no room for me to argue when someone claims this to be the best, or even most memorable soundtrack of all time. It's absolutely fantastic and every single song is entirely fitting to the game. There are few that are better, or even on the same level as this soundtrack.
#8. - Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean Soundtrack
Full Review for Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean
The soundtrack to this little Sega Saturn RPG is the lushest and best composed I've ever heard, ever. The world map theme is breathtakingly awesome, but this is no one hit wonder. The Knights of Gaiden is an absolutely unforgettable fantasy composition. While not every song is as memorable as the aforementioned two, it's all very high quality.
#7. - Final Fantasy X Soundtrack
Full Review for Final Fantasy X
This is just about the only 'best of' list that Final Fantasy X belongs on. FFX is not a good game but the soundtrack is incredible. For this venture Nobutsuo Uematsu gathered a few of his friends to help out, and together, they created one of the most amazing, highest quality soundtrack I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. I may hate the game but it's worth playing for it's soundtrack alone. Even as I write this I'm listening to this game's music as I do almost every day since I first played the game. This soundtrack is truly the stuff legends are made of.
#6. - Mega Man 2 Soundtrack
Full Review for Mega Man 2
Here you have it - the greatest NES soundtrack of all time. The quality here is absolutely undeniable. Who could have thought that a few low quality bleeps and blips could make something so awesome? Not I, certainly. Wily Stage 1-2 is the best song by far, and is amongst the greatest video game songs of all time. Think you've seen the last of Mega Man on this list? Think again.
#5. - Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete Soundtrack
Full Review for Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete
The imagination and quality is incredible here. The RPG is a love story, and it has a soundtrack that perfectly conveys this theme. The songs are all heavily fantasy based, but many of them have a real sense of urgency and passion to them. The battle theme always gives me goosebumps when I hear it, which is a lot when you're playing the game. Lucia's theme is quite haunting and beautiful, and best of all, it's fully vocal. Lunar 2's soundtrack tells a beautiful story without words, which is quite amazing.
#4. - Soul Blazer Soundtrack
Full Review for Soul Blazer
Not all the songs are quality in this soundtrack, but two in particular, are what makes this place so high on my list. Lisa's theme is probably the most beautiful video game song I've ever heard. It's a rather emotional piece that, when coupled with the ending of the game, can almost bring you to tears. The ending theme is the other I speak of, and it is the perfect closing to a nearly perfect game.
#3. - Final Fantasy VII Soundtrack
Full Review for Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII led the industry in the direction of RPGs, and the soundtrack inspired many to put more work into their feature's musical scores. This is a huge scale assemblage of music, and it does a lot of the storytelling within the game itself. There's also a vast variety of different themes which are perfectly conveyed through the music. The game can make you feel happy, lonely, sad, or pump up your adrenaline all through it's music. Nobutsuo Uematsu is the man!
#2. - Mega Man X Soundtrack
Full Review for Mega Man X
X did for future Mega Man soundtracks what Sonic Adventure's did for that series, but in a good way. The game introduces a more techno edgy theme, and the music is used to influence this new Mega Man. The themes from each of Sigma's levels are incredible. I don't think I could ever tire of them, which is saying a lot. Mega Man X contains the best soundtrack to any side scroller, ever.
#1. - NiGHTs Into Dreams Soundtrack
Full Review for NiGHTs Into Dreams
I'm sorry but NiGHTs Into Dreams contains the absolute best soundtrack ever to grace a video game, and no matter what anyone tells me I won't soon drop this notion. The music is incredibly light-hearted, to the degree that some can't stand it, but I find it amazing. The game is about dreams, and thus the soundtrack has a rather surreal fantasy nature to it. Either way, this is a soundtrack of amazing quality. The only weak point to this amazing semblage of music is the main theme known as Dream Dreams, but even this cheesy track can not bring down this phenomenal soundtrack.
That wraps up this list, and what a way to end it. I encourage anyone who has a different opinion to write their own.
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