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Game Reviews

The Best Video Game Music Ever

Photograph of the blog post author, Chioma Eguzoraku

Chioma Eguzoraku


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Video Game Music

Video game music is an integral part of the gaming experience, providing an immersive and emotional backdrop to gameplay. It has evolved from simple, repetitive melodies to complex compositions that rival those found in film scores. Video game music has become a recognized genre in its own right, with dedicated composers and orchestras performing live concerts around the world.

The grand choir hymns in Skyrim energize you to battle a dragon, the solitary piano tune in Breath of the Wild amplifies the tranquil solitude of Hyrule, and The Witcher 3’s rustic instrumentals provide a sense of familiarity while wandering around the Continent.

Best Video Game Music Ever

Final Fantasy VI 

When crafting a vast narrative of monumental scale, an equally impressive soundtrack is essential. It’s hard to separate Final Fantasy VI, the pinnacle RPG of the 16-bit era and one of the all-time bests, from its score by Nobuo Uematsu. The Super NES’s sound chip is stretched to its maximum capacity due to the diverse range of tracks required by the game, ranging from intense boss battle music like “The Decisive Battle” to more melancholic pieces such as those found in the opera scene.

Best Video Game Music – Doom

Bobby Prince revolutionized video game music composition with his original Doom soundtrack. Drawing from punk and heavy metal influences such as Slayer, King Diamond, and Metallica, Prince’s compositions were relentless and aggressive, maximizing the potential of the rudimentary sound cards of that era. His more ambient pieces offered a soothing break from the intense musical onslaught.

Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Choosing the finest soundtrack from a series overflowing with captivating tunes can be challenging. Yet, the diverse melodies of Breath of the Wild are too compelling to overlook. Although the game predominantly showcases ambient piano music, it also features an eclectic mix of atmospheric wind instruments, invigorating horns, somber piano tones, and even some accordion accents. It’s indeed an auditory adventure.

The soundtrack, with its focus on atmosphere and simplicity, beautifully mirrors the game’s novel world as you ride across breezy meadows and skydive. This represented a fresh Zelda, a courageous new Link, and an ingenious reinterpretation of ageless classics.

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Shadow Of The Colossus

Fumito Ueda’s extraordinary PlayStation 2 game is eerie yet captivating, assigning the player as an unidentified man with the mission of eliminating twelve gigantic, lumbering creatures. The music score, composed by Kow Otani, beautifully enhances the desolate environment in which you are immersed, absent of any other human presence. It oscillates between tranquil acoustic guitar during travel sequences and dramatic, occasionally discordant orchestration during confrontations with the Colossi.

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Best Video Game Music – Persona 5

Enthusiasts of Atlus’s chic Persona series concur on all points but one – determining which game boasts the superior soundtrack, as each is packed with phenomenal tunes. However, if forced to choose, we’d select P5. This game allows composer Shoji Meguro to explore smooth jazz with a touch of cinematic elegance. Given that RPG soundtracks must maintain quality across their typically lengthy playtimes, this one truly excels.

Its distinct character is a blend of varied elements that may seem unrelated. Components from funk, jazz, opera, pop, 8-bit video game tunes, and rock are incorporated – occasionally within a single track. It can be overwhelming initially but for those familiar with it, its brilliance is unparalleled.

Hollow Night 

Hollow Knight is a unique indie game with charming character designs and impressive background art that’s delightful to observe. Yet, at its core, the game’s world and its somewhat hidden narrative harbor a profound depth of emotion. This thoughtful sadness is surprisingly powerful and impactful in the realm of video game theme songs.

I firmly believe that the splendid compositions of Australian composer Christopher Larkin play a significant role. Despite being relatively new compared to others on this list, his career is undoubtedly ascending – he’s one of the primary reasons we eagerly anticipate the sequel to Hollow Knight, Silksong.

Best Video Game Music – Halo 2

The Combat Evolved not only revolutionized the first-person shooter genre, but its soundtrack also made a significant impact on the industry. After Microsoft and Bungie’s monumental success with this game, they continued to impress us with yet another flawless creation.

Similar to how Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Matrix Reloaded, and Aliens amplified their respective franchises, Halo 2 enhanced everything that made the initial game legendary and pushed it to the extreme. The action, technology, soundtrack, and notably the budget were all expanded. As a result, Halo’s iconic status was further elevated.

Michael Salvatore and Martin O’Donnell reprised their roles as composers for the Halo 2 Original Sound Track (OST), this time collaborating with renowned producer Nile Rogers and a 50-member orchestra to enrich the game’s music. Additionally, Steve Vai, a highly esteemed guitarist, contributed his skills to enhance the Halo Theme in Halo 2 with a rock ‘n’ roll twist.

Super Mario Bros

Koji Kondo’s creation of instantly engaging and highly memorable melodies for video game themes is a remarkable instance of the “less is more” principle in composition history. The limited audio memory capacity on NES cartridges prompted this innovative approach.

In addition to composing the Overworld Theme (one of the best video game soundtracks), Kondo was also responsible for the game’s sound design. This includes creating the now-iconic sounds of coins, bricks, power-ups, and invincible stars that remain integral elements of the Mario universe.

The Last Of Us

The Last of Us, universally acclaimed as a gaming triumph, owes a significant portion of its success to Gustavo Santaolalla’s eerie soundtrack. Its heart-wrenching cello solos, rustic percussion, and guitar lines strummed on nylon strings inject an emotional depth that should be standard for all post-apocalyptic games and their corresponding playlists.

Santaolalla, akin to top modern composers, expertly uses restraint. The terror here is truly evoked by the silence. This soundtrack stands among the greatest in video gaming history and is succeeded by an equally impressive sequel score.

Best Video Game Music – Minecraft

As Daniel Rosenfeld (C418) composed music and Markus Persson (Notch) developed Minecraft, one can only speculate if they realized the extraordinary project they were creating. Now, with more than 230 million copies sold, it’s challenging to conceive of any other game that has received as much dedicated playtime as Minecraft.

It’s difficult to envision players returning for countless hours without the beautiful, nuanced music of C418 enhancing their building journeys. Whether the player was hunting for diamonds, avoiding creepers, or simply pausing to appreciate the pixelated scenery, the original soundtrack consistently added an extra touch of magic to their experience.

The composer of video game music was influenced by ambient music pioneers like Brian Eno and Aphex Twin. Appropriately, C418 has now joined them as one of the few who have successfully popularized ambient music among the public.

Sonic The Hedgehog

The common belief is that Michael Jackson composed the music for Sonic 3 incognito, but regardless of its validity, this Sega Genesis game features some of the most impressive hits from the 16-bit era. Tunes such as Hydro City Zone Act 2 and Ice Cap Zone are memorable and energetic, seamlessly enhancing the gameplay. No doubt Sonic The Hedgehog had one of the best soundtracks if all time.

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Best Video Game Music – Mafia 3

Hangar 13’s third Mafia game has numerous problems, but its music isn’t among them. The soundtrack, fitting for the era, features 100 classics from 1968 such as “96 Tears” and “Born On The Bayou.” What truly makes it exceptional is a twist in the game’s third act—while seeking revenge, all classic tracks are replaced by contemporary covers. This unexpected change underscores the significance of music in the game.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

When compiling a list of the top video game soundtracks ever, it’s crucial to establish criteria. Some members of our editorial team were uncertain about featuring games that prioritized song selection over original scores. However, there was no dispute that if we did include such games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 would undoubtedly claim the top spot among them.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, with its eclectic mix of punk (Millencolin), hip-hop (Mos Def, Public Enemy), and metal (Anthrax, Rage Against the Machine) tracks, set a new standard for video game playlists. Its genuine representation appealed to actual skaters and also shaped the music preferences of a whole generation of gamers.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

The Grand Theft Auto series’ in-game worlds are greatly enhanced by the creative radio system, with its flamboyant DJs and impeccable song selection immersing players in a thrilling, crime-filled city full of extraordinary characters.

The distinguishing and superior element of GTA Vice City compared to its counterparts is straightforward: it’s all about the ’80s. Unlike other versions that generally adopt the ‘music as a player’s choice’ approach, the creators of Vice City recognized that crafting top-notch video game music was crucial for their ambition of constructing a world imbued with nostalgia. Plus, it’s brimming with hit tracks.

Best Video Game Music – Bastion

The global admiration for Hades has significantly boosted the popularity of its creator, Supergiant Games. However, their first claim to fame was Bastion, an isolated yet stunning action game with a perfect soundtrack, which made its debut in 2011.

Logan Cunningham’s exceptional vocal performance as the game’s seasoned narrator enhances Bastion, which features a score by Darren Korb. The soundtrack is a rich tapestry of songs that deftly balance elements of hope, adventure, and despair.

Legend Of Zelda Ocarina

Ocarina of Time essentially featured two soundtracks; one that accompanied the cheerful, carefree explorations of young Link, and the other comprising mostly melancholic melodies that resonated in the distressed Hyrule which an older Link was fated to rescue.

The multitude of characters and areas within the game were each given unique musical themes, often related to the simple tunes players would learn on Link’s ocarina. This soundtrack infused vitality into the game in a way few others have ever achieved, subtly forging neural links between characters and locations – occasionally even before their actual introduction.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, video game music has become an integral part of the gaming experience, enhancing the immersion and emotional impact of the gameplay. From the iconic melodies of classic games to the orchestral masterpieces of modern titles, video game music has proven to be a powerful and memorable art form in its own right. As games continue to evolve and push the boundaries of storytelling and gameplay, we can only imagine what incredible soundscapes and musical journeys lie ahead.


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