You shouldn't be shocked anymore whenever you hand someone the aux cord and they hit you with a playlist full of video game music - we're long past the age of being embarrassed about jamming out to the full soundtrack for one of your favorite games. While saving the world from certain doom, shooting hoops in digital arenas, competing in epic martial arts encounters, etc., gamers have come to appreciate the classic themes that blare out of their TV speakers all the while. Thanks to a whole host of talented composers, gamers' ears have been filled with the type of tunes that take them back to their warmest gaming memories. Now allow us to commemorate the best video game soundtracks of all time and make sure your current playlist gets even better.
The 26 Best Video Game Soundtracks
Best Video Game Soundtracks
1. ‘Final Fantasy’
You Have to Listen to: "One-Winged Angel"
Some of the greatest video game music anyone has ever heard hails from the most renowned RPG series of all time, Final Fantasy. As each mainline series entry releases, fans emerge from their hours-long journeys in each game with a new list of favorite tunes (we personally get a kick out of the new version of the series' signature "Victory Fanfare." Because of the amazing musical efforts of individuals, such as Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Yoko Shimomura, Final Fantasy has been gifted unforgettable tunes that stand the test of time. "Liberi Fatali," "Aerith's Theme," and "Zanarkand" are just a few of the breathtaking songs that have emerged from Final Fantasy.
2. ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’
You Have to Listen to: "Ice Cap Zone (Act 1)"
There are so many funky bops that have emerged from the long line of Sonic the Hedgehog titles. Composers such as Masato Nakamura, Jun Senoue, Kenichi Tokoi, and Fumie Kumatani have lent their amazing production skills to create some of the most unmistakable tunes ever heard in gaming. The themes attached to the Green Hill & Chemical Plant Zones, the "Sonic Boom" theme for Sonic CD, and all those rocking Crush 40 tunes are just a sample size of the musical greatness this series has released thus far.
3. ‘Super Mario’
You Have to Listen to: "Jump Up, Super Star!"
The Super Mario series encompasses so many landmark games that also happen to include tunes that will long outlive us all. As soon as you think about Nintendo's mushroom-consuming hop-and-bopper, the main theme from the very first Super Mario Bros. instantly becomes the next tune you hum to yourself. The "Cave Theme" from Super Mario Bros 2, "Inside the Castle Walls" from Super Mario 64, and damn near every song from the original Super Mario Kart are all banger material. Koji Kondo, Soyo Oka, Naoto Kubo, and Shiho Fujii were definitely in their music production bag when they crafted the unmistakable tunes for this franchise.
You Have to Listen to: "The Only Thing They Fear Is You"
Speaking on the best video game soundtracks means you need to acknowledge the hard rock and intense metal sounds that define DOOM. The metalheads responsible for the tracks you've torn apart demons to include Robert Prince, Ed Lima, and Mick Gordon. Every time you get the urge to take on the twisted villains that make up the entirety of Hell, chances are you do it at an intensely high volume thanks to the awesome music that blares out of your TV speakers. "At Doom's Gate," "Rip & Tear," "BFG Division," and "The Only Thing They Fear Is You" are Headbangers Ball-worthy material.
5. ‘Street Fighter’
You Have to Listen to: 'Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike' Main Theme
Capcom's arcade cabinet quarter-munching classic has played host to so many catchy tunes. Guile's theme from Street Fighter II in particular even turned into meme-worthy material that made everyone determine that song fits anything and everything. As the series evolved, the music improved to an even greater degree by featuring remixes of classic tunes and all-new musical renditions that have covered various genres. Street Fighter III: Third Strike's iconic OST features so many house music and electronic dance music bangers, Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha keeps the adrenaline flowing with hype-inducing tunes, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 blessed us all with that amazing Dan theme. Big shout out to series composers such as Yoko Shimomura, Takayuki Aihara, and Hideki Okugawa.
6. ‘The Legend of Zelda’
You Have to Listen to: 'The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword' - Staff Roll Music
The kingdom of Hyrule has put its trust in Link for the longest time now due to his commitment to saving them from Ganondorf and so many other mythical menaces. And every time players embark on a new journey across vast wildlands, dark multiverses, and dangerous dungeons, their ears are treated to so many memorable tunes. The Legend of Zelda series owes its musical splendor to the likes of Koji Kondo, Hajime Wakai, Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota, and Takeshi Hama. The "Overworld" theme from the first game, "Gerudo Valley," and "Revali's Theme" define just how effective the music behind The Legend of Zelda series has been and always will be.
7. ‘Streets of Rage’
You Have to Listen to: "Go Straight"
Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima, and Olivier Derivière clearly have a strong appreciation for the genre of electronic dance music. And that's become quite clear thanks to their great contributions to the classic Streets of Rage beat 'em up series. We think it's worth awarding this franchise for having one of the best video game soundtracks thanks to the iconic batch of tracks featured in all four mainline entries. "Fighting in the Street," "In The Bar," and "Overflow" are all total bops that wouldn't sound out of place in an underground dance club.
8. ‘Chrono Trigger’
You Have to Listen to: "Corridors of Time"
Chrono Trigger is considered RPG royalty and a true pioneer for the genre during the 16-bit console era. The time-traveling adventures of Chrono and his crew enraptured gamers back then and still have a profound effect on folks who play it for the very first time. During those travels through various time periods, an OST for the ages played during its most climactic moments and more relaxing periods. We have the utmost respect for Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu as they're the composers who treated our ears to audio greatness - "Bike Chase," "The Brink of Time," and "Wind Scene" make up just a few of the incredible tunes that Chrono Trigger is known for.
You Have to Listen to: "Bloodlines"
Taking down Dracula and his army of ruthless demons has been a joy since the Castlevania series came to be in 1987. Aiding the Belmont family in their bid to rid the world of evil has remained a favorite pastime of ours, especially due to the fact that the music that accompanies their battles is incredible. Songs like "Vampire Killer," "Clockwork Mansion," "Bloody Tears," and "The Tragic Prince" perfectly encapsulate the epic struggles between the demon hunters and Dracula that's been raging on for centuries. Kinuyo Yamashita, Satoe Terashima, Michiru Yamane, and more are responsible for blessing the Castlevania series with so much unforgettable music to vibe to.
You Have to Listen to: 'Metroid: Zero Mission' - "Kraid's Lair"
It's time to show some love to another Nintendo IP on this list of the best video game soundtracks. And for this entry, we're going to show our admiration for the series that made Samus Aran a star - Metroid. The armored heroine who is quite adept at shooting off charged laser blasts and navigating tight corridors in Morph Ball form is iconic - thankfully, the music that backs her up during her action-packed moments is top-tier. "Kraids Hideout," the final boss theme from Super Metroid, and "Tallon Overworld Depths" stand out as the main tunes that blew our minds the first time we heard them during our time spent with Miss Aran.
11. ‘Donkey Long Country’
You Have to Listen to: "Stickerbrush Symphony"
The impressive 3D visuals of the first Donkey Kong Country dropped in 1994 left plenty of gamers flabbergasted by what they were witnessing. Donkey Kong made the comeback of a lifetime with his little bro Diddy Kong in tow for some platforming hijinks on the SNES. The six total games that came our way from the good folks at Rare and Retro Studios came through with so many notable tunes that are either super funky or super mellow. "Flight of the Zinger," "Life in the Mines," "Aquatic Ambience," and "Seaside Tide" will always be favorites of ours. Salute to composers David Wise, Eveline Novakovic, Robin Beanland, Kenji Yamamoto, and David Wise for everything they made us jam to in this series!
You Have to Listen to: "Halo"
The haunting vocals of the orchestra that belt out the opening notes to the theme for Halo are so celebrated that there's a video of a bathroom full of boys singing it in unison (and beautifully, we might add). Master Chief has been at the forefront of this franchise for his heroic exploits that entail shooting down The Covenant, The Flood, and Promethean Knights. Running and gunning as the most badass Spartan of them all will always be a joy thanks to the inspiring tunes put in place by Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, Neil Davidge, Kazuma Jinnouchi, and more. "Unwearied Heart," "Wake Me When You Need Me, and "To Galaxy" point to why the Halo series has one of the best video game soundtracks.
13. ’Kingdom Hearts’
You Have to Listen to: "Sanctuary"
Gamers who've spent countless hours diving into the Square Enix/Disney JRPG crossover known as the Kingdom Hearts series regarded Japanese singer/songwriter Hikaru Utada as their beloved queen. That's because she's given us three bangers that immediately make them reminisce about their adventures with Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Those tunes are "Simple and Clean," "Sanctuary," and "Face My Fears." On the orchestral side of things, Yoko Shimomura, Takeharu Ishimoto, and Tsuyoshi Sekito have treated our ears to the greatness of "Vector to the Heavens," "Dearly Beloved," and "Night in the Dark Dream," just to name a few.
You Have to Listen to: "Admission to Perdition"
While we were beyond pissed every time we got killed (yet again...) by one of Cuphead's difficult bosses, our mood switched from angry to content once we started jamming to the background music for each encounter. This game's soundtrack matches up so well with the game's animation, which owes its inspiration to the sort of cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios and Walter Lantz Productions. With composer Kristofer Maddigan behind the game's OST, amazing jazz, early big band, and ragtime tunes came our way every time we boot up this game and its DLC expansion. "Fiery Frolic," "Forest Follies," and "Carnival Kerfuffle" always make us wanna get up and do a little jig.
You Have to Listen to: "Mishima Dojo - Round 1 (Dojo 1st)"
Tekken is not only "The King of the Iron Fist," but it's also the king of 3D fighting games. Every entry in the series has come with momentous opening cutscenes that are backed by some of the greatest tunes ever featured in a fighting game. The character and stage themes are what truly make us love each and every part of Tekken's many electronic dance music-inspired soundtracks. This series has to make it onto any list of the best video game soundtracks thanks to these classic tunes - Jin Kazama's theme from Tekken 3, "School" from Tekken Tag Tournament, "Eastern Dance" from Tekken 2, and "Estrada Da Estrela" from Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection.
16. ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time’/’Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist’
You Have to Listen to: "Neon Night Riders ~AD 2020~"
This might seem like cheating to feature two games here for this selection, but it makes sense since both gamers are super similar in so many aspects. The gameplay, the visuals, and the music are easily comparable. Besides a few different stages and themes, these TMNT beat 'em games are practically twins. The soundtracks for both games sound super catchy thanks to the different sound processors contained within the SNES and Sega Genesis (the arcade version for Turtles in Time makes each and every song sound incredible, too!). "Inside Shredder's Hideout," "Alleycat Blues," and "Sewer Surfin'" are all totally cool (the kids still say that nowadays, right?). Some of the talented composers responsible for such strong tracks include Masami Inafuku, Kumiko Ogawa, and Kozo Nakamura.
17. ‘Metal Gear Solid’
You Have to Listen to: "Snake Eater"
MAN, LISTEN! We still get goosebumps from that ladder-climbing sequence in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. That one moment alone personifies the remarkable tracks that have defined the legacy of Hideo Kojima's magnum opus. The Metal Gear Solid games have provided so many iconic moments that are attached to equally indelible themes that we hold in high regard. "Encounter" (which is the alert battle theme) should be instantly familiar to a lot of old head 90s gamers out there. "Old Snake," "Father and Son," and "Calling to the Night" are all super dope musical arrangements that accompany Snake's most explosive missions.
18. ‘God of War’
You Have to Listen to: "The End Begins"
Now allow us to acknowledge a God/God killer on our list of the best video game soundtracks. Kratos is the always pissed-off turned sometimes pissed-off destroyer of vengeful gods that's been doing damage in Ancient Greece and ancient Scandinavia. Charting his growth has been exciting to follow - we have that same exact sentiment when it comes to listening to all the high-quality orchestral arrangements that have accompanied Kratos' adventures. Some of the composers attached to the series, which include Gerard Marino, Ron Fish, Cris Velasco, and Bear McCreary, are responsible for getting us hyped up every time we got to bludgeon a god to death to some great music. God of War II's main theme, the final battle theme for Kratos vs. Zeus in God of War III, and "The Dragon" from God of War (2018) are all classic compositions.
19. ‘Killer Instinct’
You Have to Listen to: "Warlord"
The classic guitar riff that drives the main theme of the first Killer Instinct sounded so damn good when it came through the speakers of the arcade cabinet. And it sounded that much better if you were lucky enough to play the Killer Cuts album through your stereo system. There's just something about the songs from this fighting game franchise that always gets us in a nostalgic mood. The remixes that arrived in the 2013 reboot of the series went ahead and improved on audio perfection, which is certainly not a small task. "Interior Castle," Orchid's theme from Killer Instinct 2, and "Village of Whispers" (Hisako's Theme) are the sort of songs that'll get played whenever we're handed the aux chord. Robin Beanland, Graeme Norgate, Mick Gordon, Atlas Plug, and Celldweller have done some astounding work with the KI soundtracks.
20. ‘Guilty Gear’
You Have to Listen to: "Armor-clad Faith"
The hardest rock & roll tunes one has ever heard from a video game most likely came from Arc System Works' exceptional fighting game franchise. Guilty Gear has put forth one of the best video game soundtracks thanks to a variety of rocking tunes produced by the great Daisuke Ishiwatari. "Burly Heart," "Heavy Day," and "Haven't You Got Eyes In Your Head?" wouldn't sound out of place at your local rock concert. And the Korean OST? It goes just as hard as its Japanese counterpart (and goes even harder in some cases!). Do yourself a solid and play "Pillars of the Underworld" at the loudest volume possible. You're welcome.
You Have to Listen to: "Meridian Dance"
This is gonna shock a few of you out there, but here goes - the Mana series got its start as a Final Fantasy spinoff game called Final Fantasy Adventure. Things really kicked into a higher gear once it got its own name and arrived on the SNES as Secret of Mana in 1993. The brightly colored world players get to navigate in each game goes hand in hand with the cheerful & moving soundtracks that have become synonymous with the series. Secret of Mana (which had its OST composed by Hiroki Kikuta) pleases our ears to this day via "The Oracle," "Did You See the Ocean," and "Steel and Snare." "Female Turbulence" from Trials of Mana gets us going with its catchy military drum rhythm, too!
22. ‘Soul Edge/Blade/Calibur’
You Have to Listen to: "Future Dancin'"
The history-spanning conflicts of the Soul Edge/Blade/Calibur franchise have been accompanied by some of the most majestic tunes we've ever heard in a fighting game. Whenever we think back on the back-and-forth battles we had with our friends, our ears fill with tunes such as "Kkaduri," "Sail Over the Storm," "Guided By Wind," and "The Lionhearted." And every time we boot up the first game in the series, we always make sure to let the intro rock just so we can sing the words to "The Edge of Soul." The fine compositional work of Junichi Nakatsuru, Yoshihito Yano, Akitaka Tohyama, Takanori Otsuka, etc. have made each fight in this series a jow to play.
You Have to Listen to: "Moon Presence"
Ryan Amon. Tsukasa Saitoh. Yuka Kitamura. Nobuyoshi Suzuki. Cris Velasco. Michael Wandmacher. These five music maestros deserve all the praise and flowers in the world for crafting such a fittingly tense and sometimes terror-inducing OST for this brutal "Soulsbourne" experience. Whenever players found themselves on the opposite end of a vicious boss, they were usually gifted with an amazing theme song that plays out while they get killed more times than they can count. Some of Bloodborne's most haunting tracks include "The First Hunter," "The Hunter," and "Darkbeast."
You Have to Listen to: "Pollyanna (I Believe in You)"
It doesn't matter which name you'd like to refer to this quirky RPG franchise by - both camps totally agree on the fact that its soundtrack is full of music that's been heralded by many. What's so enjoyable about the music that's on offer here is just how it's able to convey the whimsical small-town travels of the game's many young adventurers. "Hippie Battle," "Bein' Friends," and "Alec's Log House" convey that sentiment oh so well. Then you have more heart-pumping and eerie tracks, such as "Pokey Means Business!" and "Master Porky's Theme" that are also equally infectious. Mother/Earthbound's OSTs are filled with so many noteworthy video game tunes.
25. ‘The Elder Scrolls’
You Have to Listen to: "Nerevar Rising"
You can't compile a list of the best video game soundtracks without showing The Elder Scrolls series its proper due. The fully 3D games we've come across happened to grace our ears with the most invigorating battle music we've ever heard in gaming. Even some of its calmer tunes mentally bring us to a green expanse full of wondrous sights to behold and clever mysteries to discover. "Glory of Cyrodiil," "Dragonborn," and "Far Horizons" exemplify the strong medieval fantasy RPG vibes this series has fully mastered. Series composers such as Jeremy Soule and Brad Derrick certainly outdid themselves with their stirring musical efforts here.
26. ‘The King of Fighters’
You Have to Listen: 'The King of Fighters '97' - "Bloody"
Across 15 mainline games and several fun spinoffs, SNK's The King of Fighters has provided fighting game fans with its signature brand of team elimination skirmishes. And just like the wide gamut of characters that have become esteemed for years to come, the themes that have been entrusted with making each fight that much more exciting have become worshipped. "Jungle Bouncer," "Funky Esaka," "London March," and "Nerichagi" bring plenty of hype for us. When you mention the most preeminent fighting game soundtracks, KOF has to come to mind. Masahiko Hataya, Hideki Asanaka, and Yasuo Yamate are just a few of the amazing series composers we owe our thanks to.
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