Great games don’t necessarily have great soundtracks. To achieve a level of greatness in both a game and its accompanying music is something truly special. Together, theses two elements create the ultimate gaming experience. Add intriguing gameplay with a catchy entrancing soundtrack and you’ve struck gold. This is proven when taking into account many of the “classic” franchises such as Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy and so on. Players are not only reminiscent of the memories had experiencing the game, but of the music that played alongside it as well. Oftentimes it’s hearing a song from one of your favorite games that triggers that feeling of nostalgia.
A great soundtrack doesn’t only fit with the atmosphere of the game but it also draws players in, becoming essential to the experience. Games themselves are guaranteed to be replaced by newer and supposedly better products, whereas a song from a game from twenty years ago can still be just as popular today as it was when it first came out.
Here are the Top 10 Video Game OST’s of All Time.
10. Final Fantasy X – (2001)
Final Fantasy X served as the tenth entry in the iconic series. It marked the first time that long-time composer Nobuo Uematsu didn’t score a whole Final Fantasy game. Along with him were composers Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. The trio had previously worked on the score of Front Mission: Gun Hazard together, so Final Fantasy X marked the second time they combined their efforts on a project. The soundtrack itself is a juxtaposition of slow melodic music and upbeat electronic tunes with some heavy metal thrown in.
9. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – (1988)
The follow-up to the 1986 game Castlevania, Simon’s Quest had some of the best music in the entire series. The music was composed by Kenichi Matsubara who composed the soundtrack for the first Castlevania game and later went on to write the soundtrack for the arcade game Haunted Castle. Matsubara’s electronic synth-driven soundtrack is still praised over 20 years after the game’s initial release. Perhaps the most iconic song in the entire Castlevania series, “Bloody Tears” appears on this soundtrack. As proof of its popularity among the series’ fans, the song has been remixed several different times.
8. Silent Hill – (1999)
Welcome to Silent Hill. The first entry in the iconic survival horror franchise followed Harry Mason as he searched for his daughter – Cheryl – in the little slice of hell called Silent Hill. The game’s soundtrack was composed by Akira Yamaoka who, inspired by Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti, decided to focus heavily on atmospheric industrial music. The end product paired beautifully with Silent Hill’s gameplay. Whether it was running through the dark halls of Midwich Elementary, or being chased through the foggy streets of the town, the myriad of low key, whining synths along with tribal sounding drums and startling crashes playing in the background was more than enough to scare players silly.
7. Chrono Cross – (1999)
Chrono Cross was the successor to the immensely popular SNES title Chrono Trigger. The music was written by Shadow Hearts, Mario Party and Soul Sacrifice composer Yasunori Mitsuda who was also in charge of the score of Chrono Trigger. The game’s music had old world influences that included South Asian, Greek, and Mediterranean as well as African and Celtic music. Mitsuda used visual aids such as artwork as inspiration when composing the soundtrack. The end result was a beautiful and brooding compilation of melancholic ambience. The soundtrack has been played during multiple video game concerts including the Video Games Live concert series by the Eminence Orchestra.
6. Chrono Trigger – (1995)
Before Chrono Cross, Yasunori Mitsuda got his start as composer for Square’s Chrono Trigger in 1995. Mitsuda, who was just a programmer, got the job after threatening to leave Square if he did not get the opportunity to compose. The game, whose character art was done by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, was headed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi who suggested Mitsuda score the game. While most of the soundtrack was done by Mitsuda, Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu contributed some work as well. The soundtrack, widely considered to be one of the best video game soundtracks ever, was describes by Mitsuda as something that “wouldn’t fit into any established genre.” Like Chrono Cross, the music of Chrono Trigger has been played live by many symphonic orchestras across the world.
5. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2006)
The third in Atlus’ Persona series, Persona 3 brought a much darker tone to the series. The soundtrack was composed by longtime Shin Megami Tensei composer Shoji Meguro, with the exception of one song, “Adventured Act”, composed by Yosuke Uda. The game’s music varied from upbeat jazzy pop for the routine day-to-day sequences of the game, to engaging battle music and eerie suspenseful background music to go along with the darker aspects of the game’s story. An add-on disc named Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES was released the following year with 17 new additions to the original soundtrack along with an epilogue to the original story.
4. Tetris (Game Boy) – (1989)
The original Tetris was designed by Russian video game designer Alexey Pajitnov and first dropped for the Elektronika 60 in the USSR in 1984. The game itself is available on a ridiculous amount of gaming consoles, being incredibly popular on handheld devices. However, it is the Game Boy version of Tetris that is most popular, having sold over 35 million copies. The music for the Game Boy version of Tetris was created by Hirokazu Tanaka who has scored such games as Dr. Mario, Metroid and Kid Icarus. The Game Boy version offers three types of background music. Type A being a chiptune version of the Russian folk song “Korobeiniki” which has become synonymous with the game itself.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – (1998)
Ocarina of Time is probably the most successful and most recognized game in The Legend of Zelda series, holding a rating of 99% on Metacritic based on 22 reviews. The music was composed by Koji Kondo who had worked on most of the games in The Legend of Zelda series. Characters along with certain areas of Hyrule were given their own songs, giving spirit to not only the characters themselves but the many settings in the game as well. Music plays an integral part in Ocarina of Time apart from being in the background. Players must learn how to play several songs in game, with the buttons of the N64 controller serving as the holes of the ocarina and the analogue stick serving as a pitch bender, making the game’s music a key part of the gameplay.
2. Pokémon Red\Blue – (1996)
The games that started it all. The insanely popular Red and Blue Versions of Game Freaks’ Pokémon series contains one of the catchiest soundtracks known to man. Composed by Juichi Masuda, the score included a variety of low, distorted sound effects that served as the different Pokémon’s cries in the game. Differing from the soundtrack’s usually cheery tone is the Lavender Town theme. The piece’s haunting atmosphere is so different from the rest of the soundtrack that it spawned some pretty disturbing stories regarding its effects on young listeners, better known as the Lavender Town Syndrome. While the music itself is fantastic, it’s the use of 8-bit synthesisers throughout the game that made this one of the more memorable soundtracks in video game history.
1. Super Mario Bros. – (1985)
Alright, well everyone saw this one coming, right? It’s only fair that one of the biggest franchises in the video game industry also has one of the most recognizable soundtracks. The game’s main theme is easily not only one of the most recognized songs in the video game world, it’s recognized world wide. It’s so good and has become so popular that composer Koji Kondo stated that he was unsure if he could ever create something that would reach the same levels of popularity. The soundtrack spawned a number of songs that have lived on over the years, through gamers’ hearts and the many Mario sequels which theses songs were remixed into.