Top 10 Greatest Video Game Theme Songs of All Time

RELATED VIDEOS

Share

Top 10 Greatest Video Game Theme Songs of All Time

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
These theme are so great, they make their games stay with us for much longer. For this list, we'll be looking at the best main themes from video games or franchises. As such, we won't be including level themes. Our countdown includes "Type A" from the "Tetris" Series (1988-2020), "Nate's Theme" from the "Uncharted" Series (2007-17), "At Doom's Gate" from the "DOOM" Series (1993-), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

These theme are so great, they make their games stay with us for much longer. For this list, we’ll be looking at the best main themes from video games or franchises. As such, we won’t be including level themes. Our countdown includes "Type A" from the "Tetris" Series (1988-2020), "Nate's Theme" from the "Uncharted" Series (2007-17), "At Doom's Gate" from the "DOOM" Series (1993-), and more! Which video game theme do you think is the most iconic? Is there something you wish we had included? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Nerevar Rising”

“The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” (2002)

“The Elder Scrolls” is a groundbreaking fantasy series with “Morrowind” being one of its most influential entries. One of the elements that makes it so phenomenal is its score from composer Jeremy Soule. Bethesda needed a score that would capture the scale and sense of wonder it wanted “Morrowind” to offer. Nowhere is that more flawlessly showcased than its main theme, “Nerevar Rising.” Thet track encompasses the light-hearted nature of discovering a magical new world as well as imposing danger lying in wait. It is, for lack of a better word, epic. Soule would return to score later entries, incorporating elements of “Nerevar Rising” in other themes, such as “Skyrim’s” “Dragonborn”

#9: “Nate’s Theme”

“Uncharted” Series (2007-17)

Few game franchises embody the adventure genre as well as “Uncharted” does. Every entry whisks players off to an exotic locale with dangerous foes in search of an alluring fortune. Greg Edmonson, composer on the first three games, absolutely nailed the theme for its confident, devil-may-care hero. Everything from the quick, percussive intro to the blasting horns makes us want to set out on a journey of glory and never look back. We also love Henry Jackman’s haunting, string rendition of it in “Uncharted 4” which heightens the danger of Nate’s lifestyle. Additionally, we were absolutely giddy to hear it crop up in the 2022 film adaptation.

#8: Title Theme

“Pokémon” Series (1998-)

Like many Nintendo IPs, “Pokémon” has several stellar pieces of music that have appeared throughout the series. We’re always happy to hear the “Title Theme” greet us, even after all these years. The nifty march tempo combined with the excellent chip music always gets our toes tapping as we hum along. And it’s been a joy hearing it evolve over the years. Composer Junichi Masuda couldn’t have known how influential and widely used this theme would go on to be. But just like all the best themes, it encapsulates elements from its respective game. When players hear this, it’s impossible not to imagine setting out on their own quest to be the very best.

#7: “Final Fantasy VII” Main Theme

“Final Fantasy VII” (1997)

Music is a crucial piece of “Final Fantasy;” long-lasting tracks like “Prelude” or the franchise’s main theme could easily fit here. However, we’re going with the theme of what is arguably the most influential entry in the series. The franchise’s longtime composer Nobuo Uematsu delivered this frankly jaw-dropping song at the onset of 3D gaming, offering a wonderful example of how the medium was growing. At times hopeful, at others forlorn, it accompanies the struggles of the game’s heroes as they attempt to save their planet from environmental destruction. One of the most delightful aspects of the 2020 remake was hearing this reworked with an entire orchestra, undoubtedly bringing a tear to the eyes of many fans.

#6: “The Last of Us” Theme

“The Last of Us” (2013)

For Naughty Dog’s most cinematic game at the time, the studio hired two time Oscar-winner Gustavo Santaolalla. And the man did not disappoint. He showed an ability to capture the dread, sorrow, and despair so prevalent in its narrative. Nowhere is that more true than its central theme, which can be heard over the opening credits as news reports tell us the collapse of the world. The main notes, plucked carefully and delicately on a string instrument, impress the theme of loss so frequently seen in the game. And the percussion adds an intensity to it, reflecting the peril that players will soon experience. Santaolalla’s banjo-centric version for the sequel is just as beautifully moving while emphasizing how much darker things were about to become.

#5: “At Doom’s Gate”

“DOOM” Series (1993-)

While many game themes fit lovingly with their narratives, “At Doom’s Gate” makes us want to do one thing and one thing only: slay. Which makes it a perfect summation of how kickass this blood-soaked series is. Originally composed by Robert Prince for the 1993 original, “At Doom’s Gate” simulates heavy metal music as you run around blasting through demons. While it was originally just the theme of the first game’s opening level, it has evolved to become synonymous with the franchise. We loved hearing it go full-blown metal in “Doom 3.” Though we have to give major props to the 2016 revival’s composer Mick Gordon, who transformed it into the head-banging, distortion-heavy anthem that makes us want to punch a hole through the sun.

#4: “Halo” Theme

“Halo” Series (2001-)

“Halo” made an incredible first impression when it launched on the original Xbox in 2001, and we’re not even referring to how fun it is to play. Composers Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori began their opening theme with slow chanting, fitting with the emptiness and unknown quality of space. However, when the percussion kicks in and the strings deliver the theme’s signature notes, it’s all we can do to stop ourselves from pumping our fists. Every time we hear it in a sequel, it takes us back to that very first time and sends shivers down our spines. It’s honestly remarkable to think that something like this came from a game more than two decades old.

#3: “Type A”

“Tetris” Series (1988-2020)

What started as a Russian folk song named “Korobeiniki” has evolved to become one of the most recognizable video game themes of all time. First arranged by Hirokazu Tanaka for the seminal Game Boy release in 1989, “Type A” is forever linked to the puzzle game and its numerous iterations. “Tetris” could ask for no better theme. It’s playfully jaunty and catchy to the point of getting stuck in players’ heads whenever they hear it. But you won’t catch us complaining. “Tetris” has been enjoyed by untold numbers of people across the globe and it helped catapult the Game Boy to superstardom. It’s a good thing players didn’t mind listening to this short but infectious tune.

#2: “The Legend of Zelda” Theme

“The Legend of Zelda” Series (1987-)

Famously composed by Koji Kondo in just one day, the theme for Nintendo’s cherished fantasy series is more enduring than most. We’re forever grateful that Kondo couldn’t use a rearranged version of Maurice Ravel’s “Boléro” the way he intended to. “The Legend of Zelda” theme is just as catchy as many others from the NES era with the added bonus of encapsulating feelings of adventure and heroism. At first used for the overworlds in several games, elements of it have appeared in many key moments throughout the franchise. No matter how many times it’s reworked and repurposed though, it will always bring nostalgic memories flooding to the forefront.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Main Theme”

“L.A. Noire” (2011)

“Title Theme”

“Mega Man 2” (1989)

“Donkey Kong Theme”

“Donkey Kong” Series (1981-2014)

#1: “Super Mario Bros.” Theme

“Super Mario” Series (1985-)

Simply put, there’s nothing that can match the longevity and iconicity of the “Super Mario Bros. Theme.” Before “Zelda,” Koji Kondo gifted the world this monumental tune. What began as a snappy track used for the above-ground levels in “Super Mario Bros.” is now the most identifiable piece of video game music in existence. It was one of, if not the first instances of video game music truly having an impact on the player. Since its creation, it has been used in a plethora of Nintendo releases, let alone those just in Mario’s series. Every time Nintendo uses it, it reminds us how far video games have come while simultaneously causing a big, bright smile to spread across our faces.
Comments