Best video-game songs of all time

Over the years, there have been many amazing tracks written for video games, whether it be a catchy 8-bit loop or a soaring operatic tear-jerker. We've compiled a list of some of the most interesting and striking video-game tracks we've ever heard.


Michelle Starr

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1 of 25 Alexey Pajitnov

Tetris: Original Theme

Over the years, there have been many amazing tracks written for video games, whether it be a catchy 8-bit loop or a soaring operatic tear-jerker. We've compiled a list of some of the most interesting and striking video-game tracks we've ever heard.

What's your favourite? Or have we missed a true classic? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Please note our list is in no particular order of awesomeness.

Arrangement of Russian folk tune "Korobeiniki"

There's something about this tune that conjures Cossack dancers, matryoshka dolls, vodka, bears, the turrets of St Basil's and an endless rain of small, oddly shaped blocks that need to fit together.

2 of 25 Nintendo

Super Mario Bros: Original Theme

Composed by Yukio Kaneoka

Mario is among the most well-known and favourite games of all time — the song has entered the western zeitgeist as one which has driven a generation of parents mad.

As a bonus, here's the awesome Jimmy singing it a capella. Oh yeah.

3 of 25 Namco

Pac-Man: Intermissions

Composed by Toshio Kai

Mario probably hasn't annoyed as many parents as Pac-Man, though.

And here's a remix by Aphex Twin performing as Power-Pill.

4 of 25 Taito

Bubble Bobble

Composed by Tadashi Kimijima and Zuntata

And Pac-Man hasn't annoyed nearly as many as Bubble Bobble.

5 of 25 Taito

Double Dragon: Theme

Composed by Kazunaka Yamane

And now for a brief silence while we bow our heads in a respectful Moment of Manliness. Tears may be shed, but they must be Manly Tears.

6 of 25 Konami

Silent Hill 3: You're Not Here

Composed by Akira Yamaoka and performed by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

Composer Akira Yamaoka has a bunch of Silent Hill credits under his belt, and he's a master at creating just the right atmosphere for any given character. You're Not Here, the opening track of Silent Hill 3, is a beautiful mood descriptor for main character Heather Mason: vulnerable, bereft, lonely and aching with loss. Some argue that the song is about Heather's feelings for her dad, which may be true, feeling-wise, but lyrics-wise, it gets a little creepy.

Blue sky to forever
The green grass blows in the wind, dancing
It would be a much better sight with you with me

If you hadn't met me
I'd be fine on my own, baby
I never felt so lonely then you came along

So now what should I do?
I'm strung out, addicted to you
My body aches, now that you're gone
My supply fell through

You gladly gave me everything you had and more
You craved my happiness
When you made me feel joy it made you smile
But now I feel your stress

Love was never meant to be such a crazy affair, no
And who has time for tears?
I never thought I'd sit around and cry for your love
'til now...

7 of 25 Konami

Silent Hill 2: Theme of Laura

Composed by Akira Yamaoka

Silent Hill 2 is, arguably, the best Silent Hill game to date. It takes you on a mind-bending journey that you will remember and puzzle over for years, with subsequent replays only compounding the food for thought. Laura is an eight-year-old girl found by main character James Sunderland, running around the fatally dangerous streets of Silent Hill — possibly the only real person there, possibly another iteration of Mary, James' dead wife.

Theme of Laura (also by Yamaoka, composed in just three days) is a melancholic guitar ballad; more than just the character's theme, though, the track is the game's main theme, and incorporates the original Silent Hill theme at about two and a half minutes in.

8 of 25 Square

Final Fantasy VII: One-Winged Angel

Composed by Nobuo Uematsu

How do you pick just one or two tracks from a game franchise that has such a well-known and -beloved musical oeuvre as Final Fantasy? With great difficulty, that's how.

One-Winged Angel is the track from the final boss battle in Final Fantasy VII, the last stage of the Sephiroth battle, Safer Sephiroth, the seven-winged angel. Its heavy percussion, strident brass and urgent chorals make it a tense and insistent accompaniment to the most difficult battle of the game, as well as an emotionally charged final confrontation with what has come to be acknowledged as one of the most important and iconic video-game villains ever written.

Visit here for the version performed by Uematsu's rock band, Tha Black Mages.

9 of 25 Capcom

Super Street Fighter II: Ryu Stage

Composed by Isao Abe and Syun Nishigaki

Street Fighter's karate master Ryu, with his SHORYUKEN! And HADOUKEN!, is one of Capcom's most recognisable and popular characters (Cammy's bum doesn't count). Many childhood hours were spent trying to master the Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and the theme music for Ryu's temple stage is a fast-tempo trip down memory lane.

10 of 25 Capcom

Street Fighter IV: Volcanic Rim

Composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa

We just want you to click play on the video below, then gaze on the above image. Can you feel the heat?

11 of 25 Konami

Metal Gear Solid: The Best is Yet to Come

Composed by Rika Muranaka, performed by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh

Solid Snake has been betrayed by everyone, has had to fight with and then watch his twin brother die, and is infected with a deadly virus that could kill him at any time. Then Aoife's unbelievably poignant vocals lift in the opening strains of The Best is Yet to Come.

Of course, the game franchise then went on to produce a kajillion titles, but shhhh.

12 of 25 Konami

Metal Gear Solid 2: Main Theme

Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams

Three years later, Metal Gear Solid 2 opened with this, and if it doesn't stoke the cockles of your gaming heart, then lad(ie)s, we don't know what to do with you.

13 of 25 Konami

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Composed by Norihiko Hibino, performed by Cynthia Harrell

This song is just damned cheeky. It's going along and you're all, yeah, all right, a pretty song. But then the brass starts in a distinctive Bond parody and then there are strings and backup vocals and it gets all big, and all you can think is, "Well played, composer Norihiko Hibino. Well played."

What a thrill...
With darkness and silence through the night
What a thrill...
I'm searching and I'll melt into you
What a fear in my heart

But you're so supreme!
I'd give my life
Not for honour, but for you!
In my time there'll be no one else
Crime, it's the way I fly to you!
I'm still in a dream,
Snake Eater!

Someday you go through the rain
And someday, you feed on a tree frog
This ordeal, the trial to survive
For the day we see new light!

I'd give my life
Not for honour, but for you!
In my time there'll be no one else
Crime, it's the way I fly to you!
I'm still in a dream,
Snake Eater!

I am still in a dream,
Snake Eater!

14 of 25 Majesco

Advent Rising: Muse

Composed by Tommy Tallarico

As far as actual games go, 2005's Advent Rising was a mediocre third-person shooter — but it had a gorgeous soundtrack. While you listen to the opening track, Muse, imagine that humanity is all but wiped out — and the lives of the rest depend on one soldier in the vastness of space.

15 of 25 Namco

Katamari Damacy: Katamari Nah-Nah

Composed by Yu Miyake and performed by Yuusama

If a soundtrack is really great, it perfectly represents and accentuates the game's overall tone. Such is the case with Katamari Damacy, a game that is strange, fun, brightly coloured and brimming with eccentricity ... and that's before we even get to the unique gameplay, which sees you rolling a sticky bumpy shape around in the hopes of collecting everything in the world. Now listen to this boppy, oozing-with-quirk sort-of a capella theme song and tell us that it's nothing at all how the game should sound, we dare you.

16 of 25 Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Original Theme

Composed by Koji Kondo

While there are those who don't like the Legend of Zelda games, it is a universally acknowledged truth that the franchise has changed the shape of gaming in many ways. Be that as it may, this is a tune that will bring us back to the wonder of first discovery every time we hear it.

17 of 25 Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Gerudo Valley

Composed by Koji Kondo

Ocarina of Time was a real *cough* game-changer; one of the things it did marvellously was its soundtrack, with music playing a central role in actual gameplay. While the songs played on the ocarina have become iconic in their own right, the soundtrack itself was likewise spectacular. This track is the theme for the homeland of the desert people, a fierce tribe of warrior women and the birthplace of uber-villain extraordinaire, Ganondorf, and it's as staccato and fiery as the people it represents.

Special bonus: Gerudo Valley on marimbaphone for three players.

18 of 25 Interplay Entertainment

Planescape: Torment: Credits

Composed by Mark Morgan

Planescape: Torment, which slipped into the world largely unnoticed, took RPG and video-game conventions and flipped them. Our protagonist enters the world with amnesia; but, instead of merely serving as a vehicle for learning the game's mechanics, this became the central plot as the Nameless One seeks to uncover his past. Instead of saving the world, his raison d'être is to end his own life. He's not necessarily the "good" guy. And, in between heart-wrenching plot twists and revelations, you'll find wryly self-aware snippets of humour. (Seriously, if you haven't played it, you need to go get on that right now. It still holds up. We'll wait.)

Then there's the soundtrack by Mark Morgan, a sad, feyly beautiful score with violins, screeching guitars, panpipes, horns, drums and pentatonic Arabian influences. This is the last track the game will play you as the credits roll, the perfect coda to an amazing game.

19 of 25 Bioware

Mass Effect: Vigil

Composed by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, Richard Jacques and David Kates

Vigil is a computer AI left behind by an extinct alien race 50,000 years ago. Having had to watch and assist in the ultimate destruction of his parent race, he is now desperate to help the humans not make the same mistakes. His poignant theme track speaks of long years waiting in the pensive quiet.

20 of 25 Microsoft

Halo 2: Main Theme

Composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori

Just listen to those axes grind. Chuck in some Celtic fiddling and you have one rabble-rousing backdrop for epic space wars.

And, just for you extra-special Halo fans out there, we've thrown in a special offer: swoon-crooner Master Chief singing some of his top hits.

21 of 25 2K Games

Bioshock: Welcome to the Rapture

Composed by Garry Schyman

As you descend for the first time into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, as Andrew Ryan's aggrandising introduction to his vision insists on how his idea is brilliant, as you gaze for the first time at the abandoned art deco buildings through the green haze of the sea, a rapid, desperate violin glissandos in the background, impossible to ignore: the first true hint that there is something deeply wrong with this aquatic utopia.

22 of 25 Blizzard

Diablo: Tristram Village

Composed by Matt Uelmen

Long, low minor-key bowed strings beneath classical guitar arpeggios fill the music of Diablo's Tristram Village with heavy foreboding.

23 of 25 Sony Computer Entertainment

Shadow of the Colossus: Demise of the Ritual

Composed by Kow Otani

By the final boss battle of Shadow of the Colossus, you — and protagonist Wander — know that there's more to killing the magnificent beasts that wander the land than simply ridding the world of giants. Although it must be done, there's a sadness to the slaying, and Demise of the Ritual brings it to the fore.

24 of 25 Electronic Arts

Portal: Still Alive

Composed by Jonathan Coulton and peformed by Ellen McLain

There is nothing not to love about this song. It has a sweet little catchy tune performed excellently by opera singer and GLaDOS voice actor Ellen McLain, funny game in-jokes and GLaDOS being exhilarantly passive-aggressive and it's super-fun to sing along to. If it's not in your "cheer up happy happy" playlist, you should go put it in.

25 of 25 Sega

Ultraverse Prime: Theme

Composer unknown

Remember Malibu Comics' Ultraverse imprint? More specifically, its flagship character Prime, who can excrete an organic liquid that creates a bulging superhero body around his own actual body? More specifically, the very short-lived video game for Sega CD? No? Well, boy howdy, are you missing out. Not any more, though. Here, in all its glory, is the entire seven-minute-and-12-second power ballad about how Prime is "gunna get himself some justice". He's "PRIME FOR ACTION" and "waiting for you-oo-ouu".

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