Welcome to the eighth part of a brand new CelJaded Top 100 for Best Video Game Music. This post features entries #30 to #21.
If you haven’t already done so, read the introduction post first as it contains all the house rules that this list follows along with a few other musings that you might find interesting.
If you’re looking for another post in this same series then also consider visiting the associated index which includes a readout of all currently published entries and the posts in which they appear.
As always, please remember that I do not own any of the music samples you see embedded below; they are the property of their respective copyright owners.
#30 – In the Beginning …for Mortal Kombat
Principal Platforms: Arcade, Mega Drive, SNES | Composers: Dan Forden | Year: 1992 | Copyright: Warner Bros.
Of the thousands upon thousands of character select themes across gaming history, this one will always be my favourite.
In under 60 seconds you’re treated to a dramatic piece that very quickly sets the scene for the bloody duel to come. This is Mortal Kombat at its most pure; a far cry from the techno-inspired lark of Mortal Kombat 3 onwards.
Granted, the overall soundtrack isn’t exactly an easy listen by today’s standards, but the sheer flavour that tunes like this one add to the game’s unique blend of magic and martial arts is unmistakable.
#29 – Shop …For Lords of Thunder (Mega-CD Version)
Principal Platforms: Sega Mega-CD | Composers: Satoshi Miyashita | Year: 1995
The soundtrack to Lords of Thunder is among the Mega-CD’s finest offerings in terms of audio and considering the esteemed company it keeps, that’s a hugely impressive feat if you ask me.
Essentially a heavy metal album in disguise, this enhanced soundtrack to a rather obscure TurboGrafx shoot ’em up is pure gold with every single track being worthy of a listen.
Of particular note is this Shop theme. For the music that plays when you’re purchasing power-ups from a simple shop display, you’d surely just expect something short and peppy to accompany, but nope- this track rocks!
It’s hilarious more than anything else- when the shopping music alone is this heavy, then you know you’re in for something special!
#28 – Ambient 8 …For Warlords Battlecry
Principal Platforms: PC | Composers: Steve Falkner | Year: 2000
This track from the original Warlords Battlecry doesn’t have any official name or title that I can find, but somehow it’s always been the piece of music that I most associate with this underrated franchise.
A very similar piece of music can be heard in Heroes of Might and Magic IV as it happens which may hint towards a shared influence between the two franchises.
#27 – Menu Theme …For BattleBlock Theatre
Principal Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 | Composers: Analogik | Year: 2013
The incomparable menu music from BattleBlock Theater was put together by a Danish band called Analogik.
What else is there to really say about something so unique? It’s a really fun tune that’s just ominous enough to suit the humour and oddball style of the game it represents.
#26 – Can’t Go Back …For Diehard Trilogy
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Sega Saturn | Composers: Stephen Root, Neil Palmer | Year: 1996
For such a poor video game, Diehard Trilogy has some pretty good music. This particular theme accompanies the opening airport terminal level of the Die Hard 2 suite, which takes the form of a ropey light-gun shooter featuring repetitive gameplay and even worse graphics.
The music to this level is something very special though. It’s so subtle and arguably ill-suited to the utter mayhem taking place on screen, but amidst the shrill SFX of guns and distressed civilians, it just sort of works.
#25 – An Underlying Problem …For Shovel Knight
Principal Platforms: PC, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U | Composers: Jake Kaufman, Manami Matsumae | Year: 2014
I’ll keep my thoughts on this one brief as I plan on putting together a Wii U Journal entry for Shovel Knight sometime soon.
This is one of those games that’s proud to acknowledge a few inspirations and its retro chic soundtrack is about as inspired as it gets.
There’s more than nostalgia at work here though. This is a really cool stage tune for one and it has plenty of embellishment on the standard 8-bit style to create something that sounds both catchy and familiar.
#24 – Sir Alonne …For Dark Souls II
Principal Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 | Composers: Motoi Sakuraba | Year: 2014
Music is subjective of course, but I think most players would agree that the soundtrack to Dark Souls II isn’t as memorable as the one from the first game.
It may be higher up on the Top 100, but the consistency in this sequel’s audio production isn’t always on-point. Once again mainly consisting of boss music, the Dark Souls II soundtrack tries to juggle so many different themes that a lot of them lack distinction and are hard to pick out if you’re not actively checking track names.
There is still some good music to be heard amidst a slightly samey whole though and a particular high comes with the theme for Sir Alonne. Accompanying a truly epic showdown from the game’s second DLC pack, this theme has all the drama and energy that you could ever want from another balls-difficult dodging exhibition.
#23 – Medieval Dragon…For Rayman Legends
Principal Platforms: Wii U, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One | Composers: Christophe Héral | Year: 2013
Rayman Legends is the most recent entry in my ongoing Wii U play journal and if you haven’t played it for yourself yet then shame on you!
Aside from just being marvellous though, Rayman Legends also sounds brilliant too and this particular boss theme, which is somewhat interchangeable with the medieval level theme itself, just squeaks by as my favourite of the lot.
#22 – The Legend of Aesir …For Bayonetta 2
Principal Platforms: Wii U | Composers: Hiroshi Yamaguchi | Year: 2014
Bayonetta 2’s prologue level kicks things off in a similar fashion to the first game by thrusting players into an immediate whirlwind of over-the-top combat amidst a free-falling structure.
During this introductory sequence (where no damage or score is calculated), players are free to experiment with the control scheme and learn more about the game’s impending story.
Whilst the narration will be difficult to digest amidst the cacophony of sepia-toned violence, the operatic music that sells this explosive scene more than picks up the slack.
#21 – Tsoul’i …For Evil Twin: Cyprien’s Chronicles
Principal Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 | Composers: Bertrand Eluerd | Year: 2001
The tale of Evil Twin is a melancholy one indeed. The developers’ commendable ambition of realizing a large-scale Burtonesque adventure game resulted in numerous delays and it wouldn’t be long before this once Dreamcast exclusive would be without an active console to support it.
Evil Twin did eventually see a release in Europe, but its limited availability and short production run immediately earned it a place in gaming obscurity and on Dreamcast at least, the game became an extremely valuable collectible in the process.
Its Gothic fantasy soundtrack by the late composer Bertrand Eluerd is what the game will truly be remembered for though as its many majestic compositions, like the curiously titled Tsoul’i, are a real delight to hear over and over again.