Welcome to the fifth part of a brand new CelJaded Top 100 for Best Video Game Music. This post features entries #60 to #51.
Unsure of where to start? 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.
#60 – Terrible Beat …For The Revenge of Shinobi
Principal Platforms: Mega Drive | Composers: Yuzo Koshiro | Year: 1989
In an era of lavish orchestral scores and big budget audio production, it may be hard for some listeners to appreciate an ageing piece like Terrible Beat.
Make no mistake though: this is one of gaming’s very best boss themes and you’ll find it a perfect fit for all the gruelling end-of-level showdowns that characterize this rock-hard Sega classic.
#59 – Vs. Elite Four …For Pokémon Black & White
Principal Platforms: Nintendo DS | Composers: Shota Kageyama, Go Ichinose, Hitomi Sato et al. | Year: 2010
Even though the music from the Pokémon series is heavily reliant on established themes, every once in a while you’re treated to something that sounds really unique.
Such is the case with this tense and frenetic track that plays over the group of climactic battles against the Elite Four in Pokémon: Black & White.
#58 – Fighting in the Streets …For Streets of Rage
Principal Platforms: Mega Drive | Composers: Yuzo Koshiro | Year: 1991
Influenced by an array of different genres including dance, techno and house music among others, Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the Streets of Rage soundtrack is famous for its irresistible beats and club-like quality.
Fighting in the Streets is the backing music to the opening level and it’s easily one of the most memorable and stylish tracks in the whole game.
In its home country of Japan, Streets of Rage (or Bare Knuckle as it’s known over there) was supported by an official CD-ROM soundtrack which has now become a sought after collectible due to its rarity.
#57 – R.A.X. …For Eternal Champions: Challenge From the Dark Side
Principal Platforms: Mega-CD | Composers: Tristan des Prés | Year: 1994
Eternal Champions was a noble yet largely unsuccessful attempt by Sega to cash in on the 2D fighting game craze of the mid Nineties.
The sequel subtitled Challenge From the Dark Side added more characters, a tighter control scheme, and a general game-wide upping of violence.
The switch to CD-ROM format afforded room for an improved soundtrack too and you’ll hear many new and improved tunes over that of the cartridge-based prequel.
R.A.X. is the game’s obligatory cyborg character and the music to his stage lets you know it with a metallic riff that gives way to a machinelike bass.
There are plenty of really good stage themes in this game, but perhaps none sound quite as unique and fitting as this one does.
#56 – Ideal …For Ikaruga
Principal Platforms: Dreamcast, GameCube, PC, Xbox 360 | Composers: Hiroshi Iuchi | Year: 2001
Another opening level theme here, this time from the elegant yet brutal shoot ’em up Ikaruga.
I’ve always been a big fan of this music, but then it might be because this is the only level I can actually play without getting my ass handed to me!
#55 – Main Theme …For Warlords Battlecry III
Principal Platforms: PC | Composers: Marc Derell | Year: 2004
An obscure entry from one of my all time favourite video games ever.
Yep, there’s nothing quite like loading up a game of Warlords Battlecry III and being confronted by this rousing anthem that makes you just want to scream “shaaaarrrpen the ahhhxes!” at the top of your lungs!
#54 – Save Me …For Unreal Tournament
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast | Composers: Alexander Brandon | Year: 1999
A track that somehow epitomizes everything about first-person shooters back then as opposed to now.
Violent, unsubtle and just plain relentless.
Save me, indeed.
#53 – Destinations Unknown …For The Terminator (Mega-CD Version)
Principal Platforms: Mega-CD | Composers: Tommy Tallarico | Year: 1993
If you’re a seasoned gamer then it’s quite likely you just did a massive double-take upon scrolling down to this entry.
A licensed movie tie-in on a list that isn’t one for the worst video games of all time? Surely this is a joke, right!?
It’s true that the Mega-CD version of The Terminator is a mediocre experience at best, but its CD-ROM soundtrack by gaming rockstar Tommy Tallarico is simply out of this world.
It’s just a shame that this sweet piece of background music plays so late into the game itself, as most players will likely have grown bored or frustrated by then and missed out on hearing it.
Through the magic of YouTube however, we now have the power to preserve awesome music like this. Excellent!
#52 – Soviet March …For Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 | Composers: James Hannigan | Year: 2008
Surely one of the most memorable menu themes to anyone who has ever heard it, Soviet March leaves an oppressive boot-like impression all over your face.
It wasn’t long ago that some bright spark tracked down a literal translation of the lyrics from its native Russian and it goes something like this:
Our Soviet Union subjugates the whole world
Like a gigantic bear from the East.
The sheep wander aimlessly, without any cause,
Yet the Soviet bear’s on the hunt.
Our brotherhood’s a good life, Our generosity is without compare.
All those with us are strong,
All those against us, beware.
It’d be a shame if we had hardships.
To all those around us, it’s not worth your while
If we were to turn you to ashes.
We thank you profoundly, and bow to you deeply,
From the mightiest nation in all the world.
#51 – Floating Across Water …For Heroes of Might & Magic IV
Principal Platforms: PC | Composers: Paul Romero, Rob King, Steve Baca | Year: 2002
A hugely divisive game to hardcore fans of the series, Heroes of Might and Magic IV is nevertheless blessed with a superb original soundtrack full of fantastical tunes to punctuate a budding warlord’s journey with a hint of both wonder and elegance.
Floating Across Water is, as you’d expect, a theme that plays when your character travels over the ocean.
This is a beautiful piece, one dotted with many Celtic-sounding samples that perfectly suit its intended maritime flavour.