Top 20 Best Video Game Songs

Jemma Heigis  /  Articles  /  May 10, 2024

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Many piano players know this already, but video games have some of the best soundtracks of all time. Many classic themes work well on the piano because they have a classical bent. Others are a festival for the senses on a keyboard synthesizer. Here’s a list of our 20 best video game songs, from Street Fighter to Final Fantasy.

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#1. “MEGALOVANIA” from Undertale

Composer: Toby “Radiation” Fox

Let’s start with a track guaranteed to get your heart rate up! Written by Toby “Radiation” Fox, “MEGALOVANIA” was originally composed for Fox’s hack of EarthBound. It is the 100th track of Undertale’s soundtrack and plays during the final battle against Sans.

#2. “Prelude” from Final Fantasy VII

Composer: Nobuo Uematsu

Some of the best video game soundtracks ever come from the Final Fantasy series. Supposedly composed in 10 minutes by Nobuo Uematsu as a last-minute song, it’s frequently found on the file select screen and has become one of the franchise’s most iconic tunes. The track is also known as the “Crystal Theme.”

#3. “Bob-omb Battlefield” from Super Mario 64

Composer: Koji Kondo

This cheery number is also simply referred to as the Super Mario 64 theme. It was written by Koji Kondo, the legendary composer behind much of the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda franchises. In Super Mario 64, you’ll hear this theme during the Bob-omb Battlefield, Whomp’s Fortress, Tall Tall Mountain, and Tiny-Huge Island.

#4. “At Doom’s Gate” from Doom

Composer: Bobby Prince

“At Doom’s Gate” is a heavy metal track composed by Bobby Prince and one of the first tunes you’ll hear in the first-person shooter game Doom. “I heard [this song] as being on a level that went by real fast,” says Prince. “As it turns out, John Romero (who placed all of the songs on the levels) decided it was a perfect song for the first level.”

#5. “Green Hill Zone” from Sonic

Composer: Masato Nakamura

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, composer Masato Nakamura released a sung version of this theme with his band DREAMS COME TRUE called “次のせ〜の!で - ON THE GREEN HILL” (“Tsugino Seno! De – On The Green Hill”). There are two versions: a slower one paired with a music video and a faster remix more similar to the original game theme.

#6. Main Theme from The Legend of Zelda

Composer: Koji Kondo

This is one of the most iconic video game themes…ever. The game makers had originally intended to use Ravel’s “Bolero” as their theme, but found out too late that it was still under copyright. So, Koji Kondo arranged the theme for Zelda in just one night! 

> What Makes Legend of Zelda Music So Good?

#7.  Opening theme from Pokémon Red & Blue

Composer: Junichi Masuda

Junichi Masuda is the composer behind much of the Pokémon video game franchise. In addition to being a musician, he’s also a programmer and one of the founding members of Game Freak. 

#8. “Chemical Plant Zone” from Sonic 2

Composer: Masata Nakamura

This theme is another Masato Nakamura original and plays during the game’s second zone. Fun fact: Nakamura also appears as the voice of Champ in the Japanese dubbed version of the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 film.

#9. Theme from Halo

Composers: Martin O’Donnell & Michael Salvatori

The Halo theme was composed over the span of three days. It’s an iconically lavish piece with a foreboding Gregorian chant introduction, rumbling low strings, and forward-driving percussion. Musically, it’s quite sophisticated: the theme is in E Dorian and experiences a meter change from 4/4 to 12/8.

#10. Theme from Tetris

Composer: Hirokazu Tanaka (based on a Russian folk song)

Instantly recognizable even to those who don’t regularly play video games, the Tetris theme goes way back—back to 1861 when Nikolay Nekrasov first wrote a poem called “Korobeiniki.” This poem would evolve into a Russian folk song, and in 1989, Hirokazu Tanaka arranged the song for the Game Boy version of Tetris. From then, it’s been known as the Tetris “A-Type” theme.

#11. “Dr. Wily’s Castle” from Mega Man 2

Composer: Takeshi Tateishi

This frantic, heart-skipping tune was composed by Takashi Tateishi, who is credited as Ogeretsu Kun. Fun fact: Tateishi had composed a number of other songs for Mega Man that were deemed “too cute” to use. Another fun fact: this theme was used in both Dr. Wily stages because the game was low on data.

#12. “Bloody Tears” from Castlevania 2

Composer: Kenichi Matsubara

Composed by Kenichi Matsubara, “Bloody Tears” is a theme heard in outdoor locations (other than towns) during daytime in the game. It’s one of the franchise’s most recognizable themes and was featured in their 35th anniversary NFT collection.

#13.  Overworld theme from Super Mario World

Composer: Koji Kondo

Another Koji Kondo classic, the overworld theme from Super Mario World has a tropical, party-like atmosphere thanks to its steel drum instrumentation and lively, syncopated rhythms.

#14. Theme from Wii Sports

Composer: Kazumi Totaka

The welcoming theme of Wii Sports was composed by Kazumi Totaka. Fun facts: Totaka has played the voice of Yoshi and has occasionally inserted hidden songs in games as easter eggs.

#15. “Guile Theme” from Street Fighter

Composer: Yoko Shimomura

Composed by Yoko Shimomura, Guile’s theme from Street Fighter has attained meme-level viral success. It has seeded a meme—“Guile’s Theme Goes With Everything”—in which creators mash the theme with all sorts of content, from Super Mario Bros. and The Lion King to cat videos and scenes from the Maury show.

#16. “Rosalina’s Observatory” from Super Mario Galaxy

Composer: Koji Kondo

Waltzy and sophisticated, this theme (another composition by Koji Kondo) goes through three evolutions as you progress through the game. Each version is more orchestral than the previous.

#17. “Lost Woods” from The Legend of Zelda

Composer: Koji Kondo

The Lost Woods theme is heard whenever Link is in the Lost Woods in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Far from the song title’s ominous tone, it has a whimsical and inquisitive sound.

#18. “Dire, Dire Docks” from Super Mario 64

Composer: Koji Kondo

This is the iconic “water theme” from Super Mario that plays during water-based levels. It’s very peaceful…until you have to worry about holding your breath while swimming underwater!

#19. Main theme from Super Mario Brothers

Composer: Koji Kondo

Koji Kondo’s iconic, unmistakable Super Mario theme is pretty unique if you think about it. Musically, it’s quite sophisticated—it includes syncopation, chromaticism, and a good many notes. It’s not the most singable melody, but it’s super catchy and almost everyone has heard it, even non-gamers!

#20. “Great Fairy Fountain” from The Legend of Zelda

Composer: Koji Kondo

Video game music can be beautiful, and our last number from The Legend of Zelda only further proves this fact. The fountain theme has a peaceful atmosphere, but there’s also an eeriness to it. There are some interesting musical techniques too, such as sequencing and polyrhythms.

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