Get your groove on, girl.
Hey Baabuska. Cool site.
Point is, an amazing song can turn a good game into a great game, and an amazing soundtrack can turn a great game into a masterpiece. These songs matter so much more than people realise, and if they do their job right they’ll often enhance your experience without you even realising it. Whether it’s a haunting orchestral piece that makes the spooky mansion even spookier or a raging battle anthem that makes a regular 1v1 fight feel like Rocky vs Ivan, and you’re boxing for the American dream!
And of course, there are the types of soundtracks that are just nice to listen to on their own. The songs that exist to be catchy and replayable just as much as accompany their respective games. I mean, I think we can all agree that we don’t need to be playing DuckTales Remastered to appreciate how amazing the Moon theme is. And if that doesn’t sound familiar, here.
Let that majesty wash over you for a bit.
So today I’m going to be going through my personal favourite video games with absolutely amazing soundtracks. I should say, these are all just my choices, and I’m sure there’s much out there I haven’t heard, so be gentle.
And naturally, because this is a list of music you can expect to see me use the words Jam, Banger, Slaps, and other similar nonsense words quite a bit.
You’ve been warned.
I was genuinely debating with myself for a while, probably too long, about which Lethal League game should be put on this list, and it was actually way harder than I expected. I mean, picking between Scream and Killa Swing? It would be easier to pick my favourite child! …much easier.
In the end, I just decided to put both of them here because this is my list and also, shut up.
Both of these games are filled with impossibly catchy techno and dance tracks, which usually aren’t my thing, but they fit these games so well I can’t help but adore them. You see, the Lethal League games are about whacking your opponent as hard as you can with a bouncing ball that can move so fast it would break the sound barrier. So naturally, for such a high energy game you’d need some headbanging tracks to accompany the ball whacking madness.
And both games more than deliver in that aspect. Some of the tracks are grimy and hard, whilst others are upbeat and completely funkadelic. Seriously, listen to AIN’T’ NOTHIN’ LIKE A FUNKY BEAT by Hideki Naganuma right now, and tell me you don’t instantly feel in a good mood.
… told ya.
2 Lethal League and Lethal League Blaze
And you may think I’m being biased putting Bully on this list, seeing as it’s one of my all-time favourite games, but trust me, it belongs on this list. I mean, the main theme is catchy and iconic enough to put Bully on this list by itself, with it’s playful and mischievous tones and more xylophone than any other song in existence.
That’s a compliment, by the way.
But it’s the consistent quality of Bully’s songs that puts it on this list. Every single track is funky, memorable, and always fits the situation perfectly. The Nerd’s theme is appropriately 8-bit and chiptune. Greaser’s theme is more rockabilly and guitar-heavy. And every single one of the chase songs makes you feel like fleeing from the fuzz in an old muscle car with a comedic talking dog.
There’s literally no song in this game that doesn’t get my foot tapping, and they’ve pretty much all been burned into my mind permanently. I mean, that might be because I’ve played through this game so many times I could do the intro in my sleep, but still.
Meglovania is a JAM.
It’s one of the best and most catchy boss themes of all time. You know it, I know it, and all the people who claim that they’re too cool to enjoy Undertale know it, even if they won’t admit it, the bastards.
But Meglovania is just one small fish in a huge pond, and I do mean a HUGE pond. Undertale has a mind-blowingly huge list of songs, each one more banging than the last. Seriously, this game has over 100 tracks that I adore, including Papyrus’s theme, Undyne’s battle music, the badass brilliant ballad of THUNDERSNAIL!
It’s one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time, and the fact that it was all done by one dude makes it 10x more impressive. Toby Fox, you are an absolute mad lad, and I’m so very glad you got to compose for the new Pokemon game.
Also, could you get a message to GameFreak for me? I have a few notes…
Not to mention, it has one of the best acoustic-heavy soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a game. Every single song has this strong underlining of sadness, hopelessness, but also strength and determination to persevere, which fits the tone of the game very well. These beautiful melodies that serve to inspire as much as discourage, make the game feel twice as emotional.
And don’t forget, this game is about fantasy basketball.
Just let that sink in for a second.
But of course, there are some songs that have to have enough energy and tempo to accompany a fast-paced fantasy slam jam, so It’s got it’s quicker tracks as well. But even those ones carry the same weight as the sombre tracks, just for different reasons. The matches you play are important and they all come with consequences whether you win or lose, so It’s only natural that you’d want a more powerful song to compliment your important game, and they pull that off perfectly as well.
F*ck me, I love this game.
And yeah, I know it got plenty of love when it came out, but it deserves MORE dammit!
The amount of work Studio MDHR put into making Cuphead seem authentically old school is nothing short of magnificent. Not only did they animate the game in an outdated style of animation that takes twice as long, just so they could get the characters to move exactly how they want, but they also recorded all their tracks with a real orchestral jazz band every single time. That’s insane to me.
As a professional procrastinator, I am both offended, and terrified.
The soundtrack is filled with these lively, upbeat, and immensely catchy jazz songs and every single stage and boss has a brand new one that always seems to fit its theme perfectly. I gotta say, Cuphead is a game that is absolutely bursting with energy from start to finish, but I don’t think it would feel nearly as full of life if it wasn’t for these incredible songs.
They’re even so good that they made all the deaths I suffered somewhat tolerable.
I mean, they would have if I ever actually died in video games. Which of course, I don’t.
6 Red Dead Redemption 2
Maybe It’s biased to put RDR 2 on this list just because it’s my favourite game of all time and I’ll take literally any opportunity I can get to talk about it. But hey, you look at me in the eye and tell me you didn’t cry when Arthur was riding back to the camp at the end, whilst “That’s The Way It Is” was playing, and I’ll remove this game right now.
Yeah… That’s what I f*cking thought.
Seriously though, Red Dead Redemption 2 deserves to be on this list just as much as any other game here. Its wonderful mix of slow atmosphere building tracks, badass western battle songs, and beautiful solemn tear-jerking melody’s, makes for one hell of a soundtrack. It offers plenty of different styles whilst always remaining true to its wild western theme, and making all those tense and shocking moments even better.
Especially when they built that house to “Cruel, Cruel World”. I freaking pissed myself with excitement.
Seriously though, Red Dead Redemption 2’s soundtrack can only be described as beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s easy to overlook the soundtrack since the game has so many other aspects it excels in, but we should always remember, that ending wouldn’t have been half as touching without “May I Stand Unshaken” in the background.
So I’m definitely keeping this game on this list.
I have to insist.
7 Super Mario Odyssey
Like seriously, you can put the Super Mario World ending theme over basically anything, and I’ll be completely satisfied with it.
But for my money, I’d say Odyssey is at the top of the list, mostly because of how incredibly well made the songs sound. They went for a grand orchestral theme mixed with some wonderfully uplifting jazz, and made a soundtrack that makes every single stage feel twice as epic. The stages really felt more important and meaningful when they were accompanied by these beautiful pleasant orchestras that made everything just that little bit nicer.
And of course we can’t forget the games magnum opus, “Jump Up, Super Star!”. I mean come on, you can’t tell me that the bit where you run through the 2D walls of New Donk City, listening to Pauline serenade you, and seeing the gorgeous fireworks in the background didn’t get you at least half erect.
At LEAST half, cmon.
8 Jet Set Radio
To put it simply, Jet Set has one of the grooviest soundtracks ever made. They’re very much songs of their time, providing just the right mix of Electronica, Funk, Rock, and of course all the record scratching and random audio clips you could possibly want. It’s a soundtrack filled to the brim with late 90’s attitude and it’s basically the raw embodiment of the word “Radical”.
Actually, radical is more 80’s than 90’s. Maybe “Fly” would be better.
Honestly, it was really important that this game had a good soundtrack. Roller Skating around the lively city, tagging walls, grinding rails, and constantly f-ing the police wouldn’t feel nearly as cool and rebellious if you didn’t have your high energy jams with you. It would be like going to Coachella without getting high out of your mind.
It’s like, what’s even the point, right?
Here’s hoping we can one day get the third game, so we can once again experience the pleasure of ruining public property, causing traffic jams, and actively assaulting police officials.
In a family friendly way, of course.
9 Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami is one of the most fast paced, brutally unforgiving, and blood pumping video games ever made. So naturally, it needed an insane and speedy soundtrack to go with it, and holy sh*t, did they nail it. Just listening to it makes you feel like your driving a bright red sports car through a weird vaporwave video whilst covered in blood and wearing shutter shades.
Also there is a white tiger in the back of the car.
He is also wearing shutter shades.
What I’m saying is this synth heavy 80’s style soundtrack is every bit as weird and captivating as it needed to be. When I was playing this game, it didn’t matter that I would die 800 time on the exact same level to the exact same angry dog and let out the exact same frustrated yelp. I would always just instantly restart, dive back in, and constantly be nodding my head to the funky rhythm. These songs made the brutal murder sessions seem way more sureal and psycadelic, which was crucial to the tone of the game.
Without them the whole thing would have been WAY more depressing, I mean really…
Wonderful animation and art style? Nailed it.
Satisfying combat? Nailed it.
Providing the internet with many waifus that they would cherish for years to come? DEFINITELY nailed it.
And of course we can’t forget it’s spectacularly catchy jazz soundtrack. It may not have all been performed live like Cupheads was, but my god is a wonderful selection of songs. Being a fighting game you naturally need your tracks to be appropriately lively, which is hard to do with a jazz soundtrack. But they pulled it off wonderfully with plenty of splashy drums, sharp piano, and a bit of that cool type of saxophone with the cup thing on the end.
It honestly never ceases to impress me just how well made Skullgirls was from top to bottom, especially considering it was an Indie game, and a first attempt by Reverge Labs, who are now Lab Zero. Plus, their new game Indivisible has some pretty bangin tunes as well. Maybe not quite on the jazz-tastic level of Skullgirls, but still pretty good.
Anyway, Skullgirls soundtrack is great, Skullgirls visuals are great, and Skullgirls is just generally all around great. And I imagine I would enjoy it even more if I didn’t have the fighting game skill of wet toast.
11 Donkey Kong Country
My friend, that’s just how good Donkey Kong Country’s soundtrack is.
Also, don’t think like that. That’s stupid.
But seriously, in my opinion Donkey Kong Country doesn’t just have the best music on the SNES, but it might just be the finest old school soundtrack of all time, next to DuckTales, Mega Man 2, and Sonic R, naturally.
The songs are immensely captivating and unforgettable, but at the same time appropriately low key. This isn’t one of those soundtracks that’s great because it smacks you in the face from the second you hit play. This is one of those soundtracks that fits the game and it’s world so unbelievably perfectly, that it burrows its way into your brain and stays there forever. Then once you listen to the songs on their own, you can fully appreciate just how fitting they really where, and how brilliant they are on their own as well.
To me, Donkey Kong Country’s soundtrack is nothing short of a masterpiece, and It contains the best music we’ve ever seen out of a Donkey Kong game, which is saying a whole lot. I mean, The DK Rap was the most fire track of 1999, and we all know it.
Still D.R.E aint got sh*t on my man Chunky Kong.
A game’s soundtrack is one of the pillars that creates its atmosphere. Whether we notice it or not, it can turn our emotion on a dime, from a soulful sad song to squeeze out a tear or an epic drum to get us hyped for a boss battle. Good video game sountracks can be catchy. However, the best video game sountracks will put us in the moment, even when we’re not playing and it randomly pops up on YouTube or Spotify.
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