What are the most integral parts of a video game? Gameplay, of course, has to be high on that list, followed maybe by story. But what about music? Can you imagine some of your favorite games without the memorable scores that accompany them? I know I can’t.
A game’s soundtrack is pivotal to rounding out the whole experience. Fueling cutscenes and the most exciting moments, the score is what helps give us that adrenaline rush or flesh out the emotion of the scene.
Along with their unforgettable gameplay, we won’t soon forget the songs that fuel the journey of these 6 games.
Metal Gear Solid
It all starts with a synthesized bell that holds for just one second. Then, that signature 5-note repeating melody kicks in and suddenly we’re back on Shadow Moses Island. There is an argument for saying Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater had better overall soundtracks, but the Metal Gear Solid main theme is a golden piece of gaming history. That it was ultimately dropped from the series for having a close resemblance to a 1974 song by Russian composer Georgy Sviridov’s only makes it more iconic.
The soundtrack also features the powerful “The Best is Yet to Come” and “Enclosure,” which brought tears to many eyes as Ocelot sobbed over… well… I won’t spoil anything for those 21 years behind.
Halo: Combat Evolved
It starts off low and slow, building up to a haunting chant. Close your eyes and you can see the ring-shaped planet rotating on the title screen. As the beat picks up, you’re in a Warthog, slamming into Covenant forces as you maneuver through the exploding Pillar of Autumn. The Halo theme is an undeniable icon of gaming, and the rest of the soundtrack does a suitable job of keeping up with the leading track.
There is something very primal about Halo’s soundtrack as it mixes rhythmic tribal music with synthesized sci-fi tracks. It all seems to fit perfectly with the environments of the unique world and the persistent battle against the alien Covenant. Throughout the game, the soundtrack pops in and out, filling the action sequences perfectly.
The Halo soundtrack is much like the game – exciting and memorable.
Final Fantasy VII
Let’s be real. There are few songs in the history of gaming that are as well known as the Final Fantasy VII battle and subsequent “Fanfare” tracks. But that’s not all we remember from this jampacked collection of songs. With over 50 tracks, players that have made it through the game’s lengthy story can close their eyes and pinpoint at which thrilling part of the experience each song played.
Most memorable of all the tracks, though, has to be the selection of 5 songs pertaining to chocobos. In all seriousness, Final Fantasy VII’s massive soundtrack is a work of art that brings the characters to life with individual themes and pairs splendidly with the unforgettable story. There is over 4.5 hours of music, which beats out Uematso’s collection of songs in Final Fantasy VIII.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It’s not easy to choose one soundtrack among the many within The Legend of Zelda series. However, Ocarina of Time is the perfect combination of memorable melodies, eerie chants, playful songs, and fast-paced battle music. Link’s adventure in Ocarina is about as varied as the 35 tracks that make up this unforgettable collection.
Tracks like “Lost Woods,” the main theme of Hyrule Field, “Lon Lon Ranch,” and “Last Battle” orchestrate the Hyrulian’s quest perfectly as he explores peaceful villages and goes head-to-head with his greatest foe. Ocarina of Time is such a well-liked soundtrack that even the “Video Game Music Orchestra” station on Pandora has much of it in the queue.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
You could forget the bulk of Skyrim’s soundtrack and its thunderous main theme would still earn it a spot on this list. The Song of the Dragonborn is just one of those songs destined to go down in gaming history. Ten years from now, gamers will definitely still be chanting “Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin!” That’s not to completely discredit the rest of the soundtrack, which is a mix of beautiful melodies and more sinister music. There is certainly no shortage of drums and powerful percussion instruments to keep the tension up during those most difficult battles.
Since Skyrim isn’t a game with constant action, the soundtrack tends to be lighter and subdued as it accompanies you on your trek across the vast lands. No matter what your mood is, there is a track to accompany it on Skyrim’s list of over 50 songs.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nintendo tried hard to appease every fan imaginable with its roster of 63 characters and a selection of 103 stages in Ultimate. Heroes and villains gathered from The Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, Onett, Shadow Moses, Tokyo, and lands from all over to partake in the largest Super Smash Bros. iteration to date. With classic and newcomer fighters comes a soundtrack that’s more than 800 in-game tracks large. That’s not even including main menu and ambient music, which round out the collection of audio nostalgia.
Songs can be enjoyed from series like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Galaga, F-Zero, Mega Man 4, Street Fighter, Fire Emblem – the list goes on and on. There is something for everyone, which makes it difficult to overlook Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as one of the best – and most intimidating – gaming soundtracks out there.