The very finest soundtracks for video games have the ability to shape the entire experience. Games simply would not be the same without the accompaniment of music. Video games have been responsible for the production of innovative tunes that defy categorization ever since their inception, from the rudimentary but expressive sound chips of ancient systems to the complete instrumentation available to musicians today.
Music is a fantastic medium for evoking a certain mood, communicating feelings, and relating a narrative to an audience. And, as you’ll be able to see from our list of top gaming soundtracks, there are times when you can’t help but tap your feet along to the beat. It is impossible for us to overstate the impact that music has on how we perceive and value the games that we like playing. Despite the fact that compiling this list was no easy task, we have included what we consider to be the top 15 video game soundtracks of all time in the following paragraphs.
1. Super Mario 64
You might not realize it, but the soundtrack for Super Mario 64 is one of the most popular video game soundtracks of all time. The game was released in 1996 on the Nintendo 64, and its music was composed by Koji Kondo. With a variety of songs that range from peaceful to exciting, this soundtrack has been a classic since its release over 20 years ago. In fact, many people would argue that it’s still one of their favorite video game soundtracks today!
This soundtrack has been used in many other video games including Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and even Animal Crossing: New Leaf!
2. Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn was released in 2000 and developed by BioWare. It was the second game in the Baldur’s Gate series, and it used an upgraded version of their Infinity Engine software called Infinity Engine 2.
For those unfamiliar with it, this engine allowed for a lot of novel things like 3D environments, character models, and animations that would later become staples in video games (including my personal favorite series). The game also pioneered other innovations such as having NPCs that could be killed or captured as opposed to just having them stand around while you slaughtered everything else on the screen.
The soundtrack for this game was composed by Inon Zur who has also made music for Fallout 4, Dragon Age Inquisition, and even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt among others! These two soundtracks were so good that they were both nominated for awards at The Game Awards last year!
3. Persona 5
“It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters.”
If there’s a motto to describe Persona 5, it would be this quote from Christopher McCandless. The game is about a group of teenagers who fight supernatural enemies and solve problems within society by changing themselves. In order to do so, they must accept themselves first before they can change others around them.
The music was composed by Shoji Meguro, who has been working on the series since its inception in 1996 with Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (known as Nocturne: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). The music style is jazz and funk because those genres reflect what is happening in the story. You see how your protagonist navigates through Tokyo completing tasks for his friends by day while facing his inner demons at night when he enters an alternate reality known as “Mementos.”
This soundtrack has been released twice since its initial release date: once on December 17th, 2016 (available now) and then again on October 19th, 2018 (still available).
4. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
The soundtrack to No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is credited to The Pillows, a Japanese punk rock band. This is one of those soundtracks that you can listen to anywhere and it’ll always be perfect for the mood. It’s a perfect blend of rock, pop, and electronic music that fits perfectly with both the tone and setting of the game. It’s also just a fun album in general—you’ll want to listen over and over again! The game itself may not be quite as popular among gamers as some others on this list (although it certainly deserves more attention than it gets), but if you love its soundtrack as I do then there’s no doubt that No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle will become one of your favorites too!
5. Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy VII soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and released as a two-disc set in 1997. The soundtrack is often considered one of the best video game soundtracks of all time, and it has been remixed by several artists.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is the sixth installment in the Legend of Zelda series. It was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64, and it was one of the first games to use a 3D game engine on that platform. The gameplay is similar to its predecessor, Ocarina of Time, but with some changes to make it more difficult as well as some added content related to masks and other items.
The story focuses on Link who travels through time after being transported there by Skull Kid while trying on his new mask at an event celebrating childhood friendships where he ends up meeting longtime friend Tael (later revealed to be Tael) who helps him escape from their friend who has turned evil due to wearing this special item called Majora’s Mask
7. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is an early NES game that went a little under the radar when it was released, but it’s amazing in ways you might not expect. The gameplay is solid, and the music is downright legendary. It’s no wonder that this soundtrack has been remade several times by different artists over the years!
As you play through each level, you’ll get sucked into the world of Dracula’s Curse and dread walking down those dark corridors again and again. But if anything can make your mind wander away from those harrowing situations, it’s listening to the music while playing this game!
8. Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX is a classic. Released in 2000, it was the first Final Fantasy game to feature fully 3D graphics, and one of the last to feature turn-based combat. But what makes this game truly stand out is its soundtrack. Composed by Nobuo Uematsu and performed by The Black Mages, a rock band version of the original score, Final Fantasy IX’s music is instantly recognizable as some of the best video game music ever music.
The theme song “Melodies of Life” has been covered by various artists since its release—from Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru to symphonic metal band Eluveitie—and remains popular today (an example can be found here).
9. Shadow of the Colossus
The music in Shadow of the Colossus is a major part of the game’s atmosphere. The soundtrack consists entirely of one instrument, played repeatedly over the course of nearly two dozen hours. It’s a fitting choice for this minimalist, emotionally powerful journey through a desolate land. The music was composed by Kow Otani and takes inspiration from minimalist composers like Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass as well as traditional Japanese music.
In fact, if you listen to it on its own without being able to see what’s happening in-game (which is highly recommended), it could be mistaken for an actual human voice rather than an instrument at all—but don’t let that distract you from how moving it is!
Journey is a game that is best experienced with no knowledge of the story. If you’ve played Journey and didn’t find yourself moved by its narrative, there’s something wrong with you. For those who haven’t, allow me to say that Journey’s soundtrack was composed by Austin Wintory and it is one of the most beautiful things in gaming history. It perfectly matches the tone of Journey while providing an emotional backbone for your journey through this vast desert world. The soundtrack alone almost makes me want to play through again right now!
11. Yakuza 3
Yakuza 3 is the best game in the Yakuza series. It’s a Japanese action-adventure game with an incredible soundtrack that makes it worth playing.
Yakuza 3’s story is about Kazuma Kiryu, who returns to his home of Kamurocho after being imprisoned for ten years for killing another yakuza boss. He meets up with Goro Majima, a former friend and rival from their days as children growing up in the same orphanage; they’ve both been trying to make new lives for themselves since their last meeting, but as we all know, you can’t escape your past! The two team up again after meeting each other by chance on the streets of Kamurocho.
The game tells this tale through cutscenes and segments where you control either Kazuma or Goro as they go about their daily lives (which mostly consists of kicking ass). You’ll solve problems for people around town and try not to get arrested by police officers who are always interested in what these guys are doing-especially if they’re fighting each other!
12. Persona 4 Golden
This game features a soundtrack that is unique in that it uses multiple genres and mixes them together. For example, you’ll hear rock songs playing while you’re exploring the world at night, but when you’re in school or in dungeons, it’s all jazz and hip-hop. The music changes depending on what time of day it is, which makes for some interesting transitions from one track to another.
It’s also worth noting that Persona 4 Golden is one of the few video games out there with an English version (aside from those made by Capcom). This may not seem like a big deal at first glance—after all, games with Japanese voice acting don’t necessarily have English subtitles—but it does make for some great moments where characters break out into song during cutscenes.
13. Bioshock Infinite
The music in Bioshock Infinite is one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. The music is used to convey the emotions of the characters, set the mood, and convey both the story and infinite.
The soundtrack for Bioshock Infinite was composed by Garry Schyman who has also worked on other well-known video game series such as Onimusha and God of War (which has its own spot on this list).
14. The Legend of Dragoon (PS1)
The Legend of Dragoon is a Japanese role-playing game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game was released in 2000 for the PlayStation and is considered one of the best examples of RPGs on the console.
The soundtrack to this game was composed by Yoko Shimomura and it’s largely considered her best work, even though she has made many great soundtracks since then.
15. Earthbound (SNES)
Earthbound (SNES) was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, who also created forays into the video game soundtrack with his remixes of classic Nintendo games. The music in Earthbound reflects this inspiration from the 1960s: it’s quirky, it’s fun, and it’s got a little bit of everything. It’s an infectious soundtrack that will make you want to dance while you fight off aliens at the same time!
The game was originally released in Japan in 1995 and has since found its way onto many “best video game soundtracks ever” lists thanks to its charming melodies that mix jazz influences with rock and pop beats. The soundtrack was first released on CD in 2003 but has since been reissued on vinyl multiple times.
Final Wrap Up
Songs from video games can have a powerful impact on players.
Music is an important part of the gaming experience. The music of a game can help set the mood and tone of a game, convey the story of a game, and make you feel more immersed in it.
16 Best Dancing Movies to Watch on Netflix
Netflix is a treasure trove of movies, and with so many genres to choose from, sometimes it’s hard to decide...
Virgin River (TV Series) Cast and Their Roles
The Virgin River novels written by Robyn Carr served as inspiration for an American romantic drama streaming television series called...
The 7 Best Gaming Keyboards in 2023
Best Gaming Keyboards Gaming keyboards don’t differ much from standard keyboards—they look similar and use the same layout. The main...
10 Best VR Games in 2023
What are VR Games? Virtual reality games, or VR games for short, are video games that can be played with...
10 Most Popular Esports Games (2023)
What are Esports Games? Esports games are competitive video games played by professional players for entertainment purposes. Esports is a...
18 Best Racing Movies to Watch on Netflix (2023)
While some people might think of Netflix as a way to get your fix on reality TV shows, there are...
The 16 Best Baseball Video Games You Should Play
Baseball is one of the oldest sports in America, and it’s been played for over 150 years. With so many...
11 Best Detective TV Series on Netflix (2023)
When you watch detective TV shows, you’re watching a story about the triumph of good over evil. The show’s characters...