It is with zero hesitation that I state that video game music is one of my favorite aspects of video games. Period. In some cases, I’d even go as far as to put it on an equal footing with gameplay. VG’s have produced some of the most timeless and enchanting tunes this world has ever heard. These soundtracks are invaluable pieces of any gaming experience, and the best of them vastly impact the overall perception of a game. So get some headphones and your music-listening devices of choice ready, because I am about to once again gift you with a playlist of melodic, gaming excellence.
Here are 10 more video game soundtracks you must listen to.
The Shootist (Red Dead Redemption, 2010)
This epic theme is one from a critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption series that has produced some of the best collections of video game music in the past decade. “The Shootist” is an incredible listening experience in part for its mastery of capturing the gunslinging, Western ambience of the Red Dead games. Everything from the distinctive, eerie beginning to the gradual buildup throughout just doesn’t miss. The deadeye marksmen over at Rockstar Games hit a bullseye when they created this masterpiece.
Everybody Falls (Fall Guys, 2020)
And the 2020 feel good tune award goes to… this certified bop from this summers’ smash hit, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. “Everybody Falls” is the appropriately titled main theme from the wacky battle royale game that was a Godsend during a worldwide pandemic. With super lively melodies and an infectious head bopping beat, this theme just oozes good vibes and is the perfect soundtrack for the Fall Guys experience.
Ken’s Theme (Street Fighter II Turbo, 1994)
Ken’s theme is one of the greatest soundtracks in the Street Fighter franchise, but is at times overlooked due to the massive appeal of Guile’s theme. Nonetheless, this soundtrack from Street Fighter II Turbo embodies the same fighting spirit, and is the best of many renditions over the years in my opinion. If supreme discipline, honor, and will to become stronger in mind, body, and spirit was a song, this would be it.
Vector to the Heavens (Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, 2013)
For three minutes and fifty seconds, your very perspective of life itself changes as you become lost in your own thoughts.
“Vector to the Heavens” is one of the MANY brilliant soundtracks in the illustrious Kingdom Hearts series. Its majestic blend of harmony, pianos, woodwinds, brass, and strings instruments is truly a masterful display of an emotional composition.
What’s crazy is that the version from the Kingdom Hearts World Tour orchestra is even better…
Mario Kart 8 Main Theme (Mario Kart 8, 2014)
The Mario franchise is undoubtedly one of the most iconic series of games this galaxy has ever seen—if not THE most iconic. The timeless collection of games matches its exceptional resume with a library of soundtracks that also are legendary in its greatness. The main theme for Mario Kart 8 gives you a bit of everything, with its combined elements of jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, and rock accompanied with some PHAT bass. Just a bunch of good vibes!
And the nod to the original Super Mario Kart Theme at the 1:02 mark is such a beautiful sound to behold.
Bleek ‘N Freeway (NBA Street Vol. 2, 2003)
Legendary hip hop producer Just Blaze absolutely torched the NBA Street Vol.2 soundtrack with some bangers. “Bleek ‘N Freeway” is one of many fire instrumentals he provided for one of the most critically acclaimed sports games ever created. This track is equal parts groovy, stylish, and flashy, befitting of the culture of hip hop and streetball at the time.
It’s two minutes and fifty-six seconds of swag.
Cyberwildlife Park (Cyberpunk 2077, 2020)
Eight long years of Cyberpunk hype and anticipation unfortunately for many was met with a broken playing experience. Its soundtrack however, was far from a broken listening experience. Much of the games’ instrumentals are acquired tastes admittedly, but “Cyberwildlife Park” is one those just built different. This track encapsulates all of the anticipation, and in its own way mirrors it with a repetitive 1,2 drum pattern throughout and some uncanny melodies.
And then the lone thirty seconds of hype hit at the :58 seconds mark, with some dope electronic rock type overtones.
Ground Zero Funk (Tekken 5, 2004)
There’s no fighting game series whose music gets you more hype for some simulated combat than Tekken. “Ground Zero Funk” is one for the jukeboxes with its adrenaline-laced energy and insane cadence. This, plus it’s creative use of an opera singer, combined with its marvelous chord progressions and strong rhythmic groove, makes it a must-listen.
A shot of caffeine for the soul and a spark to the membrane. #TurnUp
Goin’ Down the Fast Way (Rise of the Triad, 1994)
This track has one of the most thrilling, exhilarating, and tantalizing starts to video game music you’ll ever hear. With a super frantic pace that lives up to its title, this tune electrifies throughout with marvelous, modulated synths that work in perfect symmetry with the lively tempo.
Staff Roll (The Wind Waker Theme) | (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, 2002)
Close your eyes and think of as many happy memories from your childhood as possible while listening to this.
Or don’t… Either way, I promise you this: the combination of reflecting on those thoughts, and the divine harmonies in this soundtrack will manifest an immensely powerful wave of nostalgia and emotion. This extended version of the Wind Waker theme flourishes with a signature Irish-type sound in a long line of amazing soundtracks in the legendary Zelda series.
It’s a ballad of perfection; a melody of bliss; a soundtrack to a prosperous journey.
The first comment in this video is simply too perfect not to steal for use here, and summarizes this track perfectly: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
**Bonus Track | Electronic Transfer (Commodore 64 – Music, 2001)
While not attached to a specific game, this track is highly emblematic of the vintage video game sound. It’s signature use of 8-bit melodies and synths comes from the Commodore 64, an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 which was held in high regard for it’s amazing sound quality at the time. You can understand why after listening to this.
Also, this tune has some of the most absurd baselines you’ll ever hear, especially for video game/8-bit music!
Simply put, video games are not the same without the complementary music that comes with. These soundtracks are ripe with emotion, replayability, and many of the best qualities of great music creating more than pleasant gaming experiences.
The aforementioned tracks above are just a few of the MANY musical gems in the world of video games. You can check out 10 more in Volume 1 of the Syft exclusive two-disc set (a.k.a. the first of two articles 😆)