As a musician, music is an enormous part of my life. Even without an instrument, listening to music is one of my favorite things to do. As is playing video games. So it stands to reason that music in video games is something I love as well, and fortunately, many games have incredible music. And lots of times, the music in an entire series of video games has consistently amazing soundtracks.
So today, I am going to name what are likely my top 10 favorite series with the best music. Heck, I’ll even throw in my favorite track from each series.
What initially fascinated me about the music in Metroid as a child was how atmospheric it all was. Not only does it nail the underground space theme, but also always felt foreboding and tense, and yet at the same time, flippin’ awesome. For instance, the boss music in pretty much every game is so intense and frightening.
And the incredible part is every game manages to achieve this musical nirvana, and I can’t tell you how much that enhances the typically incredible gameplay.
My Favorite Track: “Ridley’s Lair”
What makes this track special, aside from being awesome, is it’s intensity and urgency. It takes place in the area before you finally confront the bastard who stole your Metroid pal. Samus pretty much gets fully powered-up in this area, so you get to run around annihilating the many enemies, while avoiding deadly lava all over the place, and traversing the tricky terrain by mainly Screw Attacking through everything.
This part is intense and a lot of fun, and the music increases every thing tenfold.
So I’m already kind of cheating on this one. The music is very good in this series, but not that much, with the exception of one game…or two I guess. And that is WarCraft II. Holy crap is that music good. It sounds fully orchestrated, but I don’t believe it is.
The music itself is very intense and powerful, and there are more than a few long tracks, perfect for building up your army to go slaughter another. This generally takes a long while, but I always find myself getting lost in the music, so that time seems to fly by while I mindlessly collect resources and build up my base.
Favorite Track: “Disco Song”
This isn’t technically a real song in the game. To get it to play, you have to enter a cheat, which might simply be “disco.” I can’t remember, it’s been like 20 years since I’ve played this game. But the music has stuck with me all these years!
The Legend of Zelda
Music has always been a key part in the Zelda series in some shape or form. Every game has an epic, powerful soundtrack filled with killer songs that fit perfectly into the world or area in which they are played over. Not to mention, the songs also portray some heavy emotion, thus amplifying the mood or scenario of whatever is going on at the time.
Favorite Track: “Midna’s Lament”
This song is played at a tense and urgent, very bleak situation. The track is so beautiful, yet so solemn, reflecting not only the dire need to help out Midna, but also fits in perfectly with the Twilight setting and graphical appearance.
The Donkey Kong series always has amazing music, but none quite compare to the Donkey Kong Country series for Super Nintendo. To be even more specific, DKC2 has one of the most amazing soundtracks of all time. Each track in the series fits the area you are playing in, while also being so stinking good.
Favorite Track: “Kaptain K. Rool Theme”
In a long list of close second’s this one comes out on top. It’s one of the games that makes playing a very hard boss fun, cuz you’re too busy rocking to the music to pay attention to what you’re doing. I can hear all the sound effects in my head just from listening to this.
Fun fact- this song is stuck in my head about 2-3 hours a day.
Mega Man X
This whole series has pretty great music, but just like Donkey Kong, the trilogy on SNES takes the cake. There isn’t anything atmospheric or anything to these songs. They kind of relate to their levels however. There are a lot of Mavericks to kill in this series, and each of their stages has it’s own track, which is pretty amazing to think about.
Favorite Track: “Boomer Kuwanger”
It’s been a very long time since I’ve played these games, so most of the music eludes me today. I mean, it’s hard to keep track of several dozen songs after all, but this one has always stuck with me. It’s very powerful and emotional, and gets me so pumped.
Hoo boy, talk about a series with incredible music! The later games have eerie, atmospheric music, but back in the early days, the music was pretty much just awesome, intense chip tunes.
Favorite Track: “Bloody Tears”
In a long list of amazing tracks, this one just barely pulls ahead from the rest. It’s so good! Killing hordes of monsters to this tune never gets old!
This series has some great music, but all pales in comparison to the NES titles. They are like actual structured songs rather than just a 20 second chip tune repeated over and over.
Favorite Track: “Wily Stage 1-2”
Picking out a song for me was impossible for this series, mainly because I’ve only played each of these games pretty much once, and well over a decade ago. But this song is probably the most well known and for good reason…
This is the perfect song for storming your enemy’s base. It gets me so pumped on top of being a very well put-together song. The rhythms and leads are so fantastic. It’s like listening to a real band trapped inside the NES.
Sonic The Hedgehog
This entire series has fantastic music. It’s always so uplifting and catchy, and chances are there is some song from this series in my head. And while the Genesis games undoubtedly have the best overall, the incredible music has stuck around for pretty much every game since.
Favorite Track: “Live and Learn”
This is the song that plays during the epic final battle in Sonic Adventure 2. This song is so fantastic to be playing as a duo of shiny golden hedgehogs. The first time I ever fought the boss, I became so uplifted and empowered that I lost myself, feeling that I actually was Super Sonic. I beat the boss without getting hit a single time, and had no idea what I was doing the whole time. The music guided me through it.
I have played the boss like six times since, and can hardly beat him without dying now, let alone never getting hit. And what makes this worse, now I know what I’m doing. That first time was truly a bizarre and magical moment in my life.
When I see people talk about the best video game music and all that, somehow no one ever seems to mention the Kirby series. Literally every single game delivers a jaw-dropping soundtrack. The songs are so technical and creative, and it’s almost more fun to listen to the music than play the actual games, which are almost all really, really fun.
Favorite Track: “King Dedede’s Theme”
It’s really tough to pick out the best of literally like over 100 amazing songs, but this one has to be my favorite. It’s so intense and gets you pumped to kick Dedede’s butt!
The Kingdom Hearts music takes video game music to places it’s never been before. Every song is carefully crafted and executed. The Disney songs capture the essence of those films, while being revamped to fit the situation or setting that they are played over.
The original tracks are simply beautiful, and filled with the powerful emotions that drive the series’ story.
Whether it’s battling enemies, characters having heart-to-hearts, or watching the sweet trademark opening videos to a Utada Hikaru song, there is an incredible track to go with it. In fact, I fell in love with this series the moment I turned the game on and the “Dearly Beloved” title theme started playing. If a song can grip you so fiercely in mere seconds that you become hopelessly devoted to an entire series, then the composer knows she’s done something right.
The fact that they made a rhythm game featuring most of the tracks from the series is truly a blessing to me.
Favorite Track: “Don’t Think Twice”
This song touches my very soul. It’s so powerful. It perfectly embodies all that the characters have gone through; defeats, heartaches, victories, connections, you can feel it all in these verses and music. And in a crazy convoluted series like this, that says a lot.
It basically says, “Yeah life has sucked for a long time, but everything is going to be okay.”
Simply hearing this song makes me want to play the entire series over again. And it would be worth it, just to hear this song at the end to wrap up the Xehanort arc.
So there you have it. Arguably my top 10 favorite music from series’ that I have played and loved most of my life with my favorite track from each one!