Welcome to the sixth part of the CelJaded Top 100 for Best Video Game Music. This post features entries #50 to #41.
Make sure that you’ve read the introduction post first though 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.
#50 – Lewanda’s Love …For Toejam & Earl in Panic On Funkotron
Principal Platforms: Mega Drive | Composers: John Baker | Year: 1993
The top 50 approaches and so too does an admission because Lewanda’s Love is a little bit of a cheat on my part.
Whilst I’m very fond of the in-game tune itself, it’s the studio quality version from the matching Sega Tunes album that really cements it as a favourite of mine.
Irrespective of that minor discrepancy though, this melodic stage theme from Toejam & Earl’s sequel is still one funky joint and it’s nice to see it blessed with the odd fan-made remix over the years.
#49 – Mr Meanie’s Future World …For Saturn Bomberman
Principal Platforms: Sega Saturn | Composers: Jun Chikuma | Year: 1996
Western video game music has been steadily dominating this list so far, so here’s to a change of pace.
Mr. Meanie’s Future World is a story mode tune mixed with techno-like vibes and one heck of a mean beat.
It may seem a little high up on the list for such an unassuming track, but that bassline that kicks in around the 80 second mark is a real pleasure and overall the melody is just a really good fit for Saturn Bomberman’s systematic gameplay.
#48 – Great Grey Wolf Sif…For Dark Souls
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 | Composers: Motoi Sakuraba | Year: 2011
One of the best boss fights in the entire Dark Souls franchise. Great Grey Wolf Sif is an emotional duel of wits backed by music that eschews that typically bombastic sound and instead orientates itself as more of a solemn requiem.
This is a piece tinged with both fury and sadness and it’s one that Dark Souls players will likely remember for a long time after.
#47 – Never Look Back (Sam’s Theme) …For Gray Matter
Principal Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 | Composers: Robert Holmes, The Scarlet Furies | Year: 2010
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to suggest that Gray Matter has one of the best stories ever seen in a modern adventure game.
Sure, you get your fair share of cliché or otherwise convoluted moments, but this suspenseful yarn written by Jane Jensen is gripping stuff nonetheless.
Jensen’s style of storytelling really adds to the sense of mystery here and it helps make an otherwise mediocre point and click adventure into something that feels unique and worthwhile.
It’s not just the story that’s on point though as Robert Holmes’ darkly ambient soundtrack is a real success too.
The vocalized numbers performed by his band called The Scarlet Furies are the most memorable on the album and this featured theme to Gray Matter’s attractive young protagonist Samantha Everett ranks as my favourite of the lot.
If you’re interested in learning more about this obscure title then be sure to read Sam Derboo’s superb write-up at Hardcore Gaming 101.
#46 – Halo …For Halo
Principal Platforms: Xbox | Composers: Martin O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori | Year: 2001
Anyone who has even a vague interest in video game music should be well aware of this theme by now.
Frenetic strings and booming drums set the tone for this staple track of the entire Halo franchise and it has since been remixed and re-used many times, perhaps most notably in the guitar-driven Mjolnir Mix for Halo 2.
The original composition is still my favourite though and this extended version from Halo’s climactic final level is perhaps the most ‘complete’ mix that you can hear in-game.
#45 – Everybody Jump Around …For Jet Set Radio
Principal Platforms: Dreamcast | Composers: Richard Jacques | Year: 2000
Now we’ve entered the top 50 you can expect to hear a lot more from composer Richard Jacques and first up is one of his funked-up tracks from the most stylish game that I’ve ever played; Jet Set Radio.
The totally unique stage tunes featured in this game manage to delight, mystify and downright annoy in equal measure! It’s all part of what makes this game so weirdly irresistible.
#44 – The Fallen Ground …For Panzer Dragoon Orta
Principal Platforms: Xbox | Composers: Saori Kobayashi, Yutaka Minobe | Year: 2002
Featuring a loving mix of orchestral and synthesized music, this soundtrack to one of my all time favourite video games is not short on variety.
The Fallen Ground is the backing music to the desert world featured in level 3 of Panzer Dragoon Orta. For such a bleak and hostile area – where the sand is actually the grey ash of a scorched kingdom – this track is actually very relaxing.
It’s just as pleasing to hear in isolation from the game too, as it’s much easier to appreciate such majestic quality when you don’t have the SFX of swooping wings and laser beams playing over the top of it.
#43 – Uncharted Worlds …For Mass Effect
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 | Composers: Sam Hulick | Year: 2007
Quite likely the most famous piece of music from BioWare’s popular RPG trilogy, Uncharted Worlds has accompanied the map screen of every Mass Effect game released thus far.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
#42 – The Streets of Whiterun …For The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Principal Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 | Composers: Jeremy Soule | Year: 2011
The Elder Scrolls series is blessed with some truly beautiful music and whilst previous games in the franchise had tended to sound a bit repetitive after a while, Skyrim’s more low-key compositions keep the game feeling fresh for longer.
Whiterun itself is an in-game location that you’ll visit a lot when playing, so it only makes sense that its backing music follows suit by being a pleasant listening experience regardless of whether it’s the first or first hundred times you’ve journeyed there.
#41 – V8 Theme …For Vigilante 8 (N64 Version)
Principal Platforms: Nintendo 64 | Composers: Howard Drossin | Year: 1999
An unforgettable 70s-inspired title theme by veteran composer Howard Drossin.
Some may prefer the vocalized title song of Vigilante 8’s execrable sequel, but I’m all about the old school on this one!
The V8 Theme also appears on the 32-bit PlayStation version in CD-ROM quality no less, but I much prefer this cartridge version because of how more upbeat and melodic it sounds in comparison.
“Let’s move to the groove!”