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Best Video Game Music Ever (You listen now!)

Simple criteria for making it on this list: does it have a knack for getting stuck in my head? Does it remind me of why I love video games in the first place? The following ten are all a given based on those qualifications.

#10 Batman - Stage 1

This song is too grand for the unassuming visuals that accompany it. Imagine Christian Bale in the climax to Dark Knight: Running around taking out swat team members, ninja style. Now imagine that same scene set to this song. Better? I thought so.

#9 Castlevania 4 Treasury Room

I remember going to the BGM section of the options page just to listen to this song. A lot. I love the stumbling, off-putting piano in the beginning; then at the 1:02 mark the song stops fucking around and lets you know it's time to get down to brass tacks. An unforgettable (yet unfortunately forgotten) piece of music. It's a shame that this tune hasn't made a re-appearance in a later Castlevania.

#8 Mario Galaxy – Observatory Music

Pure Joy. This waltzy 6/8 song is brimming with whimsy, and it's impossible to feel sad while it's playing. Oh, by the way, you won't get that shit out of your head for DAYS.

#7 F-zero - big blue

The Big, simple, almost silly notes that open Big Blue contradict the complex melodies to come. This is a tune I'll catch myself whistling randomly, on a weekly basis. The song has a death grip on my subconscious, and when it wants to be heard I'm its unaware vessel. I'm ok with that.

#6 Ducktales - Moon

What makes this song great? How about the unlikely 7/8 intro, the delightful interplay of the various melodies, or the saccharin pop that permeates every note and chord? The song is drenched in nostalgia, and makes me long for two-button controllers and blowing dust out of cartridges. Also, Ducktales is a fucking awesome game.

# 5 Windwaker - Dragon Roost Island

If happiness could be captured in music form, this would be the result. This song alone conveys what Windwaker is all about: lighthearted, joyous adventure. I want to stop writing this and go play this game right now. Dammit.

#4 Kefka's theme

Where to begin with this masterpiece? Starts off brilliantly: light, charming, innocent notes lead into a more questionable, unnerving melody that tells you all is not well. Then the facade is dropped, and the song explodes into an outright fascist death march. A sequence that is perfectly suited to its Joker-esque namesake.

#3 Actraiser - Fillmore

Every moment with Actraiser is aural ecstasy; Just when you've gotten comfy with the safe, docile tones of your sky kingdom the game shakes you out of complacency with this turbulent, beautiful, juggernaut of a song. Mark me: this is what will be playing during the biblical Apocalypse.

#2 Castlevania 4 Bloody Tears

It speaks to the spectacular soundtrack of Castlevania 4 that I can't even go a full top ten list without including two entries from the game. But I simply can't. Hands down the best Castlevania song ever, and that's saying a lot. Even in simple midi form, this song still makes the hair on my neck stand up. I taught myself the deceptively simple main riff on electric guitar, and used to play it loudly, ad nauseum, with lots of distortion. I'm sure my neighbors appreciated that.

#1 megaman 2 - wily's castle

I could say the theme to Wily's castle is epic, but that word isn't strong enough. This song IS video games to me. It belies the humble 8 bit graphics and transcends the silly comic book story. It makes me feel determined, angry. I have to save the world, and I alone. Hear that driving bass? That means I also have to save it in a big damn hurry.

Take a moment to consider that this is on the original Nintendo. Astonishing.

Almost made the list:

Rush n' attack stage 2

Another gem of the 8-bit era. Worth playing this brutally hard game for this song alone.

Megaman X Storm Eagle

An epic tune, but a little too repetitive in hindsight to make my top ten.

Metal Gear Solid Alert music

Nothing activates the 'oh shit' part of your brain faster than hearing this classic kick into action. Also, I definitely prefer this version to the neutered, chemical brothers-esque alert music from Twin Snakes. Why fix it if it isn't broken?

Terra's theme

I found myself whistling the haunting introductory notes of this song on my bike ride to work the other day. I knew it was from some Final Fantasy game but I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was called, or even which FF it was from. I haven't played FF6 in years, yet this magnificent tune lodged itself in the recesses of my brain and decided to remind me of its greatness at 5:30 in the morning. Thanks, Terra's theme, for making my ride to work much more enjoyable. This one's a keeper.

I'm sure I forgot some of my absolute favorites while compiling this list, so throw in a comment and refresh my memory. What are your favorites?
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About copilotlindyone of us since 11:46 AM on 08.07.2009

20% gamer, 80% misanthrope.

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