Video game music is pretty cool. Should we just end the article there?
The internet loves to argue about almost anything and everything, so why not stoke the fires of arguments surrounding video game soundtracks?
We have put together a list of some of the best video game soundtracks, reddit suggestions included for the sake of increased variety.
Will you agree with these picks? Probably not. But have a look anyway to see whether any of them strike your fancy.
And if you’re coming across some of these soundtracks for the very first time, you’re welcome.
In conversations about some of the all-time greatest RPGs, Chrono Trigger is bound to come up.
Despite being incredibly difficult to purchase today, this game has already cemented itself as an absolute classic.
And it’s difficult to talk about the game’s soundtrack without using that same word: classic.
This soundtrack is what video games sound like in your head, especially if you grew up in the 90s.
Keeping in step with the game’s journey, the music turns to many different moods and tones, often returning to a motivating, adventurous feel.
Thankfully, you can find the full soundtrack on YouTube even if you can’t snag a copy of the game.
The soundtrack to Journey, a groundbreaking game from That Game Company, isn’t just a great video game soundtrack, it’s a historic game soundtrack.
According to what we’ve found, Journey earned the video game world’s first-ever Grammy nomination, and it was certainly fitting for such a beautiful soundtrack.
It would be pretty embarrassing to create a game literally named Journey and not have some appropriately epic, inspiring music to push the player along, or to aid in slow and careful exploration.
The Journey soundtrack has found its way into the hearts of many players around the world, and it’s a lovely sonic backdrop for an introspective evening.
Bayonetta is a big game in many different ways.
Its characters are bold and lively, especially the title character. The settings, and the monsters, can be massive. And of course, the game’s soundtrack is enormous as well.
It looks to be about 3 hours in total runtime, depending on which extras are included.
As you might expect from a high-energy title from Platinum Games, Bayonetta’s music is fast, lous, and reminiscent of a great deal of other video game music from Japan around that time.
But apart from building on influences, it’s guaranteed that the Bayonetta soundtrack also went on to inspire and influence other video game composers and probably musicians in general.
This soundtrack isn’t the best pick for casual listening, but when you happen to be in just the right mood, it hits very hard.
Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda series, simply put, has some of the best video game music ever composed, and we very easily could have included the entire game series on this list, as we’ve done with Castlevania and Final Fantasy.
But in our opinion, the Ocarina of Time soundtrack deserves special attention, both from those who already love it and newcomers alike.
The emotional center of each piece of music is clear, but in tone and instrumentation, these compositions feel like they come from another place, which works wonderfully for a game set in a strange fictional universe.
And of course, with music serving as a central component of Ocarina of Time, every track had to be just right.
Somehow, the team managed this, and if you want, you can even find fully orchestrated versions of many of these songs online– further evidence of this long-lasting impact this soundtrack has had.
At this point, Castlevania is a classic series, and its influence on other contemporary games is immediately clear: just look around for Metroidvania indie titles and you’ll get enough results to fill a book.
And the series’ music is just so good that we couldn’t settle on a single game to mention here.
Well, we say that, but if we really had to pick just one, it would be the soundtrack to Symphony of the Night.
Yes, we know, there are other Castlevania games that have soundtracks that might be technically better, more varied, or indeed just more timeless.
The soundtrack to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is not timeless at all, in contrast. In fact, just on the level of recording and instrumentation, this soundtrack is painfully dated, with its corny synth patches that sound like presets from a bargain Yamaha keyboard from 1992.
Even beyond that, there seems to be a consistent influence from smooth jazz, as in Kenny G is trying to seduce you during a long elevator ride to a dead mall.
But somehow, maybe through nostalgia alone, it’s all still incredible fun to listen to.
For jazz geeks, the big band subgenre is actually fairly looked down upon. Musicians tend to appreciate more complex work that features inventive uses of harmonies and stripped-down instrumentation and showcases of high levels of technical skill.
That said, big band jazz, even today, clearly still has the power to please crowds. For some, it might even serve as a gateway into many other types of jazz.
It’s easy on the ears, and because the genre is just so darn old, it comes back around to feeling sort of timeless.
Cuphead was almost destined to have a big band soundtrack. All that homage to the Golden Age of American Animation just fits so darn well with muted horns and plodding rhythm sections that leave room up top for show-offy solos and melodic lines.
But we do have a major complaint about the soundtrack itself, at least in the form you’ll find it on YouTube or other streaming sites.
The standalone soundtrack includes clean versions of all the songs, meaning they left out the old-timey filter they put on all the music in-game.
As a result, listening to the soundtrack on its own doesn’t have the same feel at all, and for that reason, it’s almost better just to boot up the game and die repeatedly to hear some of your favorite tunes.
Final Fantasy Everything
The Final Fantasy series is another video game industry staple that just has so much good music stretched out across so many different games, making it very tough for us to choose just one game’s soundtrack.
So we won’t.
Above we’ve linked a compilation to some of the bets songs in the series, but you’re more than welcome to disagree and mention your own favorites in the comments.