Anyone who’s played video games has had one of the tune’s stuck in their head on a repeated loop at some point. For us old timers it was probably the original Super Mario Bros. theme, or maybe the Overworld theme in The Legend of Zelda. Despite simple technology, the composers on some of those games did amazing work to create catchy tracks that gamers couldn’t help but hum along with. Today we are going to pay tribute to some of the most memorable game music by recognizing 5 awesome game tracks!
We jump right into this feature with an amazing theme from Super Castlevania IV titled “Bloody Tears”. This track was played later in the game and the fantastic part about it is that it was actually a remastered version of a song from Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest for the NES. I’ve always loved it when video games pay homage to earlier entries in the series, and this was an early example with an SNES game harkening back to an NES title. It doesn’t hurt that this is also just a really cool track.
When I was a kid I was enamored with the Super Mario Bros. series. Great gameplay, interesting characters, challenging level design, and catchy tunes were all staples of the series. The Overworld theme for Super Mario Bros. 2 specifically used to be stuck in constant replay mode in my head when I was in grade school. We had assigned seating on the school bus and I was stuck sitting with two step sisters. I used to drive them crazy humming this song to myself every day. Eventually we reached a compromise. Our class had a coloring contest where the top entries would receive a prize I had absolutely no interest in: a New Kids on the Block poster. Despite not caring about the poster I couldn’t bring myself to intentionally tank an assignment; an early example of an ethical dilemma. I did my best in the contest and won one of the posters. Since I had no desire to hang that abomination in my room, I traded it to the girls in exchange for the freedom to hum as much as I wanted on the rides to and from school.
I didn’t get a Game Boy until 1998 when I picked up the Game Boy pocket, so I don’t have nearly the childhood memories of the console that other people my age do. That said it was a good time to get a Game Boy. Most people I knew had owned their consoles for several years and were moving on to other things so I was able to pick up several games for free or for a couple of bucks. I guess I was retro gaming long before it was “cool” to buy old games. The late 90’s was when I first experienced Super Mario Land and although I was no longer a child I still have over 15 years of memories with this title. The music played during the end credits stood out to me as a good theme even back then and it’s continued to be recognized today as one of the better Game Boy compositions.
Konami (and their subsidiary Ultra Games) always had good music in their releases. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, even the abysmal first game I reviewed were always packed with memorable themes. In my opinion Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game was the zenith of NES Turtle games in all aspects including music. One of my favorite pieces from the game played during the Uptown New York level. It was always fun beating up foot soldiers on a jet powered skate board while listening to this up beat tune.
I grew up playing hockey and the early 90’s was a golden age for NHL video games. Back in those days I had a SEGA Genesis, and although I prefer the Super Nintendo in retrospect, the sports games for the Genesis were generally superior to the SNES versions. Therefore, it was probably a good thing that I opted to go with the Genesis back in the day. I used to play the NHL games for hours on end, and when you’re setting up game modes, creating players, making trades, and adjusting rosters the background themes get embedded into your neural fibers. In particular I always enjoyed the menu theme for NHL ’95 which was the last NHL game I would own for the console. The following year the 16 bit era was clearly coming to an end and I made the leap to the Sony PlayStation.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this list and these tunes have brought back some great game memories or introduced you to something you hadn’t known before.