The Top Ten Video Game Soundtracks (According to K-Murdock)

The ascent of video game music in the past decade has been gamers’ ultimate wet dream. From YouTube’s six trillion versions of the Super Mario Bros theme song, to the entire Nerdcore movement, to Video Games Live, which sells out stadiums playing orchestral gamer themes – game soundtracks have become more popular, important and appreciated than movie soundtracks these days. About time.

This being such an important list for a geektastic blog like ours, we were honored to get hip hop producer (and half of face-melting hip hop duo Panacea) K-Murdock to give us the run down. His recent album with Popten-favorite Random, Forever Famicom, has been tearing up the internets with its 8bit beats and 1o-ton rhymes.

Forever Famicom is one of 2010’s killer albums – a masterful mix of nostalgic beats and powerful verses. Half of the time I was nodding my head, the other half I was set adrift on 8bit memory bliss, or else mining my brain to figure out what game soundtracks K-Murdock was sampling. Despite my habit of going through fifteen albums a week, Forever Famicom hasn’t left my iPod/stereo/8track player this month. Check it out here.

So I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to talk to K-Murdock about his all-time favorite video game soundtracks. And without further adieu, here they are, with commentary by K himself:

10. The Legend of Zelda

If I had to pick one and only one 8-bit game to have on my list, it would have to be Zelda. We all know the memorable theme BUT it was the distinct music you heard when battling a boss, entering a dungeon or finding those caves to buy items… it really laid the foundation for RPGs (especially) as far as having a real score.

9. Super Metroid

I just remember how ambient and eerie the tracks were, which fit spot on while youu combed through the planet. I could hum each theme with each change/progression from countless hours searching for those friggin’ power bombs! Plus who can forget the little fanfare you hear whenever Samus finds a power-up? Classic.

8. Shadow of the Colossus

Beautiful, simply beautiful… everything about this game. Its crazy cuz the music only kicks in when you approach the colossi, but when it does it epically captures the prodigious task you have when trying to slay each beast… and the opening and closing theme almost had me misty eyed!

7. Nights

Sega nailed it with this game, so much so that I had to import the soundtrack just to have those tunes. From the character selection screen to the build up you get when the boss enters… perfect! The game had such a crazy nostalgic vibe and the music captured it with the ambient voices and effects mixed in!

6. Sonic CD

Sonic games have always had some cool tracks, but playing through the game with CD quality music really made it dope for me. From the animated intro which was so j-pop and corny but catchy, to each stage having a very cool and unique rock kinda edge, it fit – even if those aren’t my fave genres. Of all the Sonic iterations, this game has my fave music of them all.

5. Chrono Trigger

I had to pick this not only because I sampled it for the Forever Famicom project, but because I can still vividly hear certain tracks till this day… like the morning Chrono wakes up as the game begins or when you reach Zeal or Robo’s theme… the whole soundtrack was stellar and really helped solidify this as one of top 3 RPGS EVER!

4. Fallout 3

I know this is a weird pick since it wasn’t too original and mostly old American classics BUT I loved it and thought the drastic disparity between the frolicky, light-hearted nature of the music with what was happening in the capital wasteland was genius on Bethesda’s part! I found myself singing all the songs verbatim by the end, plus it eased the tension especially when exploring the dark vaults!

3. Panzer Dragoon

One of the first Sega Saturn games I played and the opening level music alone is so epic, its complete chaos on screen and the music is just as crazy yet gorgeous with the tympani drum hits and woodwind instruments building. And then when the boss came it was even more crazy… not all the music was my style but it fit and that’s what counts.

2. Super Adventure Island

Yuzo Koshiro killed it – there are hip-hop beats on here better than stuff on the radio… and I can honestly say I can’t think of a better game where the music carried the game since the play mechanics and premise of SAI was so monotonous… this game is classic just for the soundtrack!

1. Final Fantasy 7

I coulda picked from a few but maybe it was the fact i could hear Uematsu’s arrangements so beautifully in clear stereo with no 16-bit sounds and real orchestration. the most memorable tracks were Aerith’s theme and of course Sephiroth’s complete with the choral voices chanting “SEPHIROTH”… epic. The town’s music was so perfect too from Midgar to Costa de Sol.

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16 Responses

  1. Gjones says:

    Some good choices, however I still feel Shenmue has the greatest soundtrack of all time

  2. Stardan says:

    this list is pretty dead on, except you left out the greatest game soundtrack of all time!

    MEGA MAN 2 YO!

    the basis for mega ran!

  3. Fithdidawg says:

    great list but i would of had to include okami, jet set radio and killer7

  4. Kyle Murdock says:

    That was definitely one i should of listed! I still find myself trying to sample the hell out of it 10 years later! that game and music was ahead of its time!

  5. Matt says:

    Final Fantasy 2 and 3 (or 4 and 6, in Japan) represent, for me, the epitome of JRPG musical virtuosity. I can still replay them in my head verbatim almost 20 years later.

  6. BobLucas says:

    Maniac Mansion (NES) and Earthbound (SNES) also have great soundtracks.

  7. Anonymous says:

    No Legend of Mana? Why don’t ppl like it? There were so many tracks in there that I thought were epic (Opening Theme, “Spirit’s Song”, “Moonlit City Roa”, “Pains the Universe”, “Places of Soul”, “Fiery Castle”, “Earth Painting”, “Those Who Are Shining”, and the list just keeps going).

  8. cg34 says:

    I knew a final fantasy game would be first for some reason. Awesome games. I also thought that Final Fantasy X had a VERY good soundtrack, especially the song “To Zanarkand”

  9. Eagger says:

    Donkey Kong Country, anyone? 😛

  10. chris says:

    NO METAL GEAR SOLID !!!!!!!!!!??????

  11. plywerd says:

    I dunno. I never heard any of these but i was hoping the halo score would be up there. The ba ba ba bum ba ba ba bum really makes the game feel awesome. That and the choir works wonders!

  12. krentz says:

    Final Fantasies IV-X?
    Vagrant Story?
    Valkyrie Profile?
    Star Ocean 2?
    Sonic 1, 2, 3, &K, Adventure?
    Fire Emblems 7, 9, 10?
    Super Mario World?
    Donkey Kong Country?
    Max Payne?
    Suikoden V?
    …Touhou series?

    And they’re just games I’ve played. There’s too much good music out there.

  13. Medic says:

    Great choices. I’m about to do a list exactly like this for a mag. It’s my first assignment! At least 4 of the same titles will be on my list.

  14. Salvatore says:

    r u kidding the Brothers in Arms series has the best soundtrack of all time. Have any of you ever heard its music its beyond beautiful.

  15. Cameron Evans says:

    Not hatin’, but of all the Sonic games you could’ve chosen, Sonic CD. Really fam? What about Sonic Forces, or Sonic Adventure 2, or even Sonic ’06. (No I’m not kidding when i said sonic 06) Apart from that, great list!

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