Top Ten Tuesday 36

My Top Ten Original Video Game Songs

Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists but this one is mine, if you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.

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Pre-List Notes

The fourth list in my ongoing series of Top Ten Video Game Music, My Top Ten Songs wasn't actually as difficult to form as I originally imagined. Partially thanks to giving some well-deserved credit in previous lists, but also as I simple considered each individual song in my primary VGM playlist and identified those tracks that bring about the most amount of nostalgia and pure joy every time I hear them. The final nominee list was still quite long and I was forced to make some difficult decisions, but what follows are what I hope are my final Top Ten Songs. I've embedded the original (or near original) version of each song, but where applicable I also link to my favorite non-remix versions and arrangements.

Note: Throughout this list I will undoubtedly mention the following previous musical Top Ten lists:

My Top Ten Game Composers

My Top Ten Soundtracks

My Top Ten Video Game Title Themes


My Top Ten Original Songs



10) "Entryway/Main Theme" (Shadowgate)

Disappointed in myself that I failed to even give an honorable mention to this very chiptune and evocative soundtrack, I'm very pleased the main theme found a spot on this coveted list. The main theme for Shadowgate has haunted me for years; the unique first person adventure title found its way very high on my Top Ten NES list, and was one of the first console games I ever played. The nostalgia factor is off the charts, and the theme is so incredibly moody and memorable that it's stuck with me for decades.

When news of a Shadowgate remake on Kickstarter hit last year, I was all over it; though I admit I was just as excited and maybe even more so to get modern adaptations of the classic music. The new soundtrack does not disappoint!



9) "NecroTown" (Heroes of Might and Magic III)

The soundtrack to Heroes III did get an honorable mention in my last music list but the more I debated the higher one particular song clawed its way onto this list. In true Hereos fashion each faction gets their own theme song when vising their castle; the good aligned castles get symphonies and marches while the evil towns are much more digre-like. The theme song to the undead Necropolis, however, is an astonishingly amazing symphony of violins that always forced me to stay on the screen a bit longer to hear the whole track. Were the zombies my favorite faction because of the crazy amount of skeletons you could eventually possess or was it more about that theme song that I loved so much? Tough to say, even as HoMM3 remains infinitely playable to this day, and who's nearly entire soundtrack finds its way onto my VGM playlist, "NecroTown" remains head and rotting shoulders above the rest.



8) "Celes" (Final Fantasy VI)

My personal go-to song for lullabies, Celes' Theme catapulted up my personal chart after the birth of my daughter and I not only hummed various melodies to sooth her to sleep, but created some lullaby playlists filled with soothing video game tracks. This sad but triumphant track is the best of that bunch, and before where it brought waves of nostalgia and good memories (like the entire awesome opera sequence that's set to this song) now hits me right in the feels as I think about slow dancing with my baby girl in my arms.

Note: I specifically use Nobuo Uematsu's own piano arrangement for all my lullaby needs.



7) "Baba Yetu" (Civilization 4)

You can be sure that my #1 favorite title theme song would find its way onto this list, and as it was written specifically for the game it totally counts for this list! See my entry for top title themes for all my gushing towards this one of a kind song.



6) "Arni Village (Home World)" (Chrono Cross)

It's actually really tricky to pick my favorite song from my favorite soundtrack. Most of them are just mind-blowingly amazing and though a few stand out, they fit so well into the soundtrack that it's kind of weird to single one out. The incredible theme song "Time's Scar" for example, meshes so perfectly with the intro video that it's hard for me to even listen to it without also watching the accompanying visuals.

I have no such hang ups with the theme song to protagonist Serge's idyllic seaside village, however. Perfectly encapsulating the safe, quiet, and somehow nostalgic feelings of your hometown within a beautiful acoustic track and sexy violins, the Home Village of Arni was one of the first songs that I put on my daughter's custom half-VGM lullaby CD, and remains the most memorable song from the soundtrack.



5) "Tristram" (Diablo)

Any self-respecting gamer that has ever held an acoustic guitar and didn't find and strum those two classic chords is a *** liar. Few simple riffs set the mood so well for an entire game, and the theme to Diablo's sole village and place of refuge is as memorable as they come. Kudos to Blizzard for recognizing its greatness and making sure it's included in the sequels.



4) "Frog's Theme" (Chrono Trigger)

Chrono Trigger has an amazing soundtrack full of great songs, and everyone has their own favorites, and they're all the right choice. For me, few things beat the theme song to everyone's favorite cursed anthropomorphic frog instilled with chivalrous heroism. Frog's Theme is the very pinnacle of the hero's march and just begs to be whistled at uncomfortable volumes to those around you.



3) "Super Mario Bros. Theme" (Super Mario Bros.)

Hopefully still the most recognizable video game track ever created, the very genesis of the chiptunes sound and upbeat, addictive style of the Super Mario Bros. Theme enchanted an entire generation and never let go. It's become as second nature to me as "Happy Birthday," I can play it on guitar, trombone, and piano, and it's infinitely remixable and equally suited to large scale symphonic orchestras. You always remember your first video game song, and thankfully the SMB Theme was an instant classic.

Favorite versions: "Super Pipe House" (Super Mario RPG), "Super Mario Bros." (Super Mario World OST)



2) "Delightful Spekkio" (Chrono Trigger)

I have an unnatural attachment to this random and quirky song (sometimes translated to "Jolly Ol' Spekkio"). Named after the small, fluffy, trans-dimensional god-like creature that acts as optional and progressively stronger boss battles, his theme song is anything but perilous. Instead it's the manifestation of pure joy and adventure and one that I hum on a near daily basis whenever I'm in a good mood.



1) "Terra" (Final Fantasy VI)

Well Final Fantasy VI is one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, and when trying to find my favorite song it kept coming back to Terra. As the closest one to a central protagonist, Terra's Theme also acts as the main theme song to the game and it's so brilliantly written that it can serve as both an optimistic, glorious cheer and an introspective melancholy piece, often depending on the instrument and style in which it's played. Terra's Theme has the best remixes, the best iterations, a soothing melody and is my favorite video game song of all time.

Favorite version: Same as Celes, Uematsu's piano version is the best ever.



Wrap Up

The musical lists continue to be a heartbreaking venture for me; how can I make a list of my favorite songs and neglect the likes of Mass Effect, Bastion, Ocarina of Time, and the incredibly fun music video "Zombies on Your Lawn?" I tried giving myself a rule of only one song per game, but quickly realized that was folly. I do like to think that I have a fairly wide interest when it comes to video game music - from chiptunes and electronica to orchestrated symphonies and everything in between, which makes creating a top ten list all the more difficult. My tastes and favorites constantly evolve as I get older and experience more game music and more of life in general, so consider this list as only a snapshot of my current preferences. As with my previous music lists I recognize that musical taste is highly subjective, but feel free to let me know your favorites in the comments: I'm always on the lookout for more great music!