There’s been so, so many iconic tunes in video games over the years. Nostalgia inducing themes that hit you right in the feels, no matter where you are when you listen to a song you haven’t heard since childhood. We all have them and if you’ve been gaming as long as I have (25+ years), I am sure there will be at least two or three tunes on this list that bring back those good feelings of not having to adult!
This list has a range of themes, expanding from two and a half decades of gaming. Every time I hear one of these songs, I am transported back in time to sitting (usually in my pants and nothing else) and playing what usually was, an absolute awesome game.
Dynasty Warriors 3 – Nan Man Campaign Track
The song I have heard most recently, this quickly took me back to sitting on my bed and replaying the same level on the demo over and over again. Dynasty Warriors quickly became one of my most beloved series after being so immersed in the Nan Man Campaign level of the demo.
Pitting you in the shoes of one of three heroes of your choosing, dispatching countless numbers of enemies that seem to just charge into your spear and attempting to secure the Nan Man region so that the story can progress. Unfortunately, the demo only had this level although it was a good amount of game time which let you experience the game and the music that was replayed over and over again which has seemingly burned itself into my subconscious, but that is more than welcome to stay in there as it was such a glorious tune.
Doom – E1M1
“Dun, dun, dun, dudu, dun, dun, dunnnnn”. Such an adrenaline pumping song to get those juices flowing so that you were in the zone to take down mind controlled marines and demons which have transported themselves from Hell to Mars. The E1M1 song from the original Doom was an absolute master piece which really got you psyched for what was to come.
Thrust straight into the opening level, not really sure what has happened, you are tasked with eliminating the mind controlled marines on the Mars base and the demons not long behind them. This song really got you going and got you in the zone where marines and demons just didn’t stand a chance of survival from your unrelenting pistol and shotgun blasts to the face.
Parappa the Rappa – Onion Song
Not often are you tasked with completing a series of moves and dances to the orders of an onion headed man, but in Parappa the Rappa, this is exactly what the first level entails. Following the moves of a martial artist Onion, you’re tasked with following him in time to the music and displaying your moves to his satisfaction.
“Kick..punch…” over and over again for about three minutes. It sounds painful, unimaginative and a little weird but strangely, it works really well especially with what can only be described as an absolutely amazing song for an opening level. Forever will the dance moves “kick..punch…chop…and block” be ingrained into my brain.
Shadow Hearts – China Battle
Next on the list is from a game series which I absolutely loved back in the day, but unfortunately went quite under the radar and unless you were a big fan of RPGs, it probably missed you. The music in particular from the entire game really bought along a sense of mystery and tension which was perfect for the game but the theme that will always stay with me is the battle theme from the China region from early in the game, strangely named “Brain Hopper”.
This was actually my alarm on my phone for a considerable amount of time and boy, did it wake you up! Fighting battles as you progress through the story in the early sections of the original Shadow Hearts, this theme played and really psyched you up for some fights.
Diablo 2 – Tristram
Diablo 2, where do I even begin in explaining how awesome that game was (and still is!). For a game to keep a solid and loyal fan base years and years after it was released obviously goes to show there is something incredibly exceptional and special about the game.
There’s so many songs from the game I could of put here but I’ve decided to go with the Tristram theme after hearing it again for the first time in years in the Tristram event currently happening in Diablo 3. A song which stirs a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness but has that small glimmer of hope and bravery. An absolute perfect song to draw you into the dark world of the Diablo series.
Rogue Galaxy – The Sandy Desert
Being an RPG fan boy, not many RPGs pass me by. Another game that was fairly unknown and under the radar which if you didn’t keep an eye out, could easily be overlooked and usually was. Although given an HD version available on the Playstation store, I still don’t think the game gets the recollection it deserves.
The first tune was the one that stuck in my mind when I finally got the game though (damn you Darryl for stealing it from my grasp in the shop!). The theme that plays as you’re exploring the sandy town that you, Jasper, call home. Monsters have taken over and you need to eradicate them, playing this music full blast helped big time!
Chrono Trigger – Magus Theme
I say it over and over again, and I will continue saying it till the day I die. Chrono Trigger is, was, and always will be the best RPG on the SNES (Super Nintendo) and the music that came with it, as equal a masterpiece as the actual game itself. Back in the glory days of Squaresoft, the days where every single game released was an absolute perfect master class on how an RPG should be, they released Chrono Trigger.
Meeting Magus, the main bad guy of the game, you get the privilege of hearing this absolutely glorious tune which upon hearing it, does fill you with a bit of dread. Listening to the song more closely reveals a hidden depth however. Part way through the song in its 8 bit goodness, Magus “laughs”, although listening now, it sounds as if this is more a cry for help rather than evil chuckle.
Resident Evil 2 – Police Station
Where to start with Resident Evil 2? I remember running home from school just so that I could squeeze another couple of hours on the demo that came with the Playstation magazine, fleeing through the streets being chased by multiple unrelenting zombies looking for their next meal.
It’s not until you get into the Police Station however, that you hear this creepy yet oddly beautiful song being played as you explore the offices of the Police Station located deep in Raccoon City. Not even zombies bursting through the windows or lickers chasing you down the halls can take your mind away too long from this song and hearing it years and years later on, still brings a chill down my spine.
Metal Gear Solid – The Best is yet to come
It was a difficult choice this one, as I almost chose the song that played alongside the boss battle with Psycho Mantis. I decided on this one though as when I heard it again for the first time the other day, I literally stopped what I was doing and for just under 5 minutes, I was taken back to a time where I discovered the joys of pulling an all-nighter after lying to the shopkeeper that my Mum couldn’t rent Metal Gear Solid as she was too busy looking after my siblings.
This song played momentarily at the start of the game before transitioning into another song, as Snake slowly popped his head out of the water in his stealth suit. It wasn’t until the end of the game that you got to experience the delights of this music in its entire glory, with the sun shining as you had just escaped from Shadow Moses.
Final Fantasy 8 – Dollet City Landing
Probably the most difficult but also the easiest of choices on this entire list. I could have picked an entire handful of songs from any game of the Final Fantasy series (even FF13, seriously!) but this song just gets me, every single damn time.
FF8 does just clench it for me over FF7 due to where I was in life when I first played it, it seemed to have a much more significant impact on me growing up than any other Final Fantasy game or any game at all in fact.
Early on in the game, you’re tasked with retaking a city that had just been occupied by an enemy force. Not only this, it was also your test to see if you were good enough to join the elite SeeD force. Along with your fellow students and instructors, you were put onto submarine type boats and as you got closer to the city, this music slowly starts kicking in with what can be described as an absolute adrenaline pumping and psyching up FMV, smashing through a wall and landing on a beach for a quick drop straight into battle!