Feature

Top 10 Boss Battle Themes

by Justin Mikos on Apr 21, 2015 at 12:47 PM

A good boss battle serves as a climax for your journey. It often takes everything you have learned to triumph over the most deadly and epic of foes. These battles require suitably complex and epic boss-battle music to elevate the action and make them even more memorable. Here are 10 of the best boss-battle themes of all time.

10: Ballad of Lil’ Slugger – Super Meat Boy
Composer:
Danny Baranowsky

Lil’ Slugger is the first boss in Super Meat Boy, and to defeat him you simply need to run away. The music that accompanies the battle is excellent and features an awesome electric guitar solo. While the solo is a delight to listen to, it is very challenging to actually perform. Players found this out for themselves when “The Ballad of Lil’ Slugger” was featured as DLC for Rock Band 3.

9: Battle With Magus – Chrono Trigger
Composer:
Yasunori Mitsuda

The battle with Magus is a climactic event in Chrono Trigger, and worthy of its own unique boss-battle theme. You need to travel through time to fully prepare your party to enter Magus’ castle, and then you need defeat his hordes in order to confront the demon lord. The eerie start to the song is followed by a bombastic MIDI orchestra, and also contains some of the same wailing and moaning sounds you heard throughout the castle. This song expands Magus’ personality long before he joins your party.

8: Awakening the Chaos – BlazBlue
Composer:
Daisuke Ishiwatari

“Awakening the Chaos” is final boss Nu-13’s theme in BlazBlue Calamity Trigger. While the song is still guitar heavy like the rest of BlazBlue’s soundtrack, it is actually the vocal “Ahs” of the song that drive it forward. “Awakening the Chaos” also has a nice break in the middle that features a flute carrying on the melody in the absence of the vocals. The song frequently appeared in the menus of the first two games, which gave it even more prominence.

7: Star Wolf – Star Fox 64
Composer:
Koji Kondo and Hajime Wakai

Star Wolf are rivals with Star Fox, and their theme features peppy horns and drums that never let up. Star Wolf’s theme really sells the space-opera feel of Star Fox and makes each encounter with them feel like an event. The theme has been remixed several times, which often leads to the theme becoming slower and more sweeping, as heard in Star Fox Assault. The N64-inspired version of the song featured in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is especially powerful because it amps up all of the percussion and horns to make it even punchier.

6: The Opened Way – Shadow of the Colossus
Composer:
Kow Otani

“The Opened Way” is the most iconic song from the Shadow of the Colossus soundtrack. It plays during fights with four of the colossi, and always begins the moment the tide of battle has shifted in your favor, like when you stab the back of the leg of the first colossus to cause it to collapse. “The Opened Way” does a terrific job of capturing and even elevating the scale of the encounter to make each fight feel truly substantial.

5: Vs. Ridley (Big Boss Confrontation – Ridley and Draygon) – Super Metroid
Composer:
Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano 

While the original name of this track in Super Metroid was simply “Big Boss Confrontation,” (a name it shares with another track that plays with different bosses like Kraid and Phantoon) this song has since gone on to be known as “Vs. Ridley.” Every showdown with the big purple space dragon has music that expands on the small core loop of the intense original track. “Vs. Ridley” memorably keeps playing during the opening escape sequence of Super Metroid after Ridley escapes; making it feel even more stressful.

4: You Will Know Our Names – Xenoblade
Composer:
Ace+

You know you are getting into an awesome fight once “You Will Know Our Names” starts playing. The guitar-heavy track gets your blood pumping and alerts you that you are either entering a boss fight or will be battling against an extra deadly unique monster out in the field. “You Will Know Our Names” stands as one of the most iconic songs from Xenoblade, and is often used by Nintendo and fans alike to promote the game. The song went on to become Shulk’s victory theme in Smash Bros.

3: Serpent Eating the Ground – Bravely Default
Composer:
Revo (Linked Horizon)

“Serpent Eating the Ground” is the high-energy final-boss theme for Bravely Default. It starts with choral chanting and epic orchestral music befitting of a final boss. What really completes the track though is how it integrates all of the character themes into a cohesive whole in the middle of the song. “Serpent Eating the Ground,” like the rest of the Bravely Default soundtrack, was composed by Revo and Linked Horizon, which you may know as the creators of the “Attack on Titan” opening songs. 

2: Through the Fire and Flames – Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock
Composer:
DragonForce

“Bark at the Moon,” “Free Bird,” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” are the boss-battle songs that conclude the first three Guitar Hero games, and each was harder and more satisfying to conquer than the last. Starting with “Jordan” in Guitar Hero II, the series introduced super boss songs to conquer removed from the normal setlist. The most infamous of them all was “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce. On Expert, “Through the Fire and Flames” starts with a soul-crushing intro that is perhaps the hardest section to play in any Guitar Hero or Rock Band game – especially since you didn’t have any Star Power to coast through it. If you were good enough to conquer the opening you likely could finish the song, but that didn’t make it any less fun to play as you blasted through each of the many ludicrous guitar solos to claim The Inhuman Achievement.

1. One Winged Angel – Final Fantasy VII
Composer:
Nobuo Uematsu

Final boss music in RPGs became increasingly epic as technology improved because it allowed the songs to become more complex and nuanced. “One Winged Angel” is a culmination of final boss music up until its release, and was influential for many others to come. The Latin vocals, a first for the series, complete the orchestral feel and make Sephiroth’s final form feel appropriately ominous and disconcerting. The popularity of the song has led to countless remixes – including a heavier, metal version used in the film Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and also in the Kingdom Hearts series, where Sephiroth serves as an optional super boss.

(Thanks to Youtube users Xbox 360 Gamer & Modder, Dean Thomson, EightGiratina, BrawlBRSTMs3, ZEROzxCross, The Autarch, and IndieGameMusicHD for uploading the videos.)

What are your favorite boss-battle themes? Be sure to share in the comments below!