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The Top 10 Game Franchises With the Greatest Soundtracks: Part 2 (#s 5-1)

Updated on August 22, 2013

See part 1 here.

In the last post, I went up to the sixth game franchise with the greatest track record in music. Topping Zelda is a tough ordeal, but these game franchises know exactly what they're doing to surpass Nintendo's masterpieces. Including... Their game franchise that holds their other masterpieces.

5: The Mario RPGs

Whether it’s Paper Mario, Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, or the Mario & Luigi games, Mario RPGs have a high pedigree for its music. In a game franchise about a mustachioed Italian man in overalls fighting a dragon/turtle hybrid in a world populated by mushroom people, you would expect only the wackiest and most eclectic tunes resembling the likes of Super Mario World and New Super Mario Brothers. The Mario RPGs have that, with tracks for worlds such as Shy Guy’s Toybox and ToadTown, but they also commonly adapt a more serious tone, and vary wildly between the two.

The Mario RPGs have something of a sliding scale of traditional epic sweeps and lighthearted friendly melodies. On the lighthearted side, we have tracks such as Princess Peach’s Castle, while on the opposite end we have the theme to Bowser’s castle and final boss music.

In between, practically every level of the spectrum is covered with the entirety of the soundtracks. Remixes, hostility, steel drums, and hip finger-snapping are only a fraction of what they’ve got.

4: Final Fantasy

As much as you might call orchestral tracks to be “usual”, they’re used so commonly because they’re effective.

The long-running Final Fantasy franchise has music so perfect, they made a game based around it and have had several live performances, much like Zelda has. It will be the game franchise remembered in history for its music in addition to its devolution into padded stories in linear hallways.

Some are more about the melodies while others are more about the instruments themselves, but all of them are musical gold.

Of course, it doesn’t restrict itself to its orchestras. Final Fantasy does occasionally take more modern music methods into account, with tracks such as Underworld and Final Fantasy 13’s Defiers of Fate.

Nothing more needs to be written, really. I try not to be predictable, but denying Final Fantasy of musical recognition should be a capital offense.

As for what could top the mother of all game music, that would be my favorite game franchises of all time…

3: Viewtiful Joe

If you thought No More Heroes’ soundtrack was out of the ordinary, Viewtiful Joe will make your head explode.

Mixing fusion, techno synth, and guitar riffs, Viewtiful Joe is in a class all its own. Each and every melody throughout the extremely varied and unpredictable set pieces always work to whatever movie parody Joe finds himself in. From fighting a drill sergeant dinosaur to running through an underwater city to snooping through a worn-down school in a thunderstorm. Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble even takes a page from Resident Evil and uses the police station track from Resident Evil 2 in a replica of the first Resident Evil’s mansion.

Even Red Hot Rumble, considered the black sheep of the series, fits right in with the soundtrack of the other three games, and adding remixes of music from the Viewtiful Joe anime for good measure.

It may not have the long track record of Final Fantasy, but I’ll be damned if Viewtiful Joe doesn’t leave a deep, firm impression that can never be overlooked. It’s a soundtrack for a heroic action game, and it never tries to be anything different. By focusing on that one style, it perfects it, just like the combat.

2: The King of Fighters!

A franchise with music so good they released an anniversary collection from every game in the main series. Words are not needed. You need only listen.

King of Fighters 94: Jungle Bouncer

95: Arashi no saxophone

96: Esaka

97: Control Crisis

98: XXX

99: KD-0079

2000: KD-0084

2001: Ruler of the Dark

2002: Tacos Dance

2003: Revolutionary Etude

11: Joker

13: Esaka Continues, Wild Street, and KD-0063

Flawless victory! Perfect! これにはかてないよ。

And the game franchise with the best soundtrack, believe it or not, in my opinion, has got to be...

The game franchise with the greatest soundtracks of all time: Kingdom Hearts

The soundtrack of Kingdom Hearts is what you get when you blend a game franchise with one of the best soundtracks of all time (Final Fantasy) with a media company that has created some of the best musicals of all time (Disney). The result is nothing short of pure perfection.

Kingdom Hearts encompasses everything that makes Disney music great with everything that makes Final Fantasy music great. While it does occasionally pull music straight from Disney and Final Fantasy, the majority of Kingdom Heart’s soundtrack is a harmonious fusion of the two, with Disney’s catchy melodies combined with Final Fantasy’s instrumental splendor. The result is, like so many other soundtracks on this list, music that can be calm, upbeat, intense, ominous, and playful, and somehow making each and every one epic in its own way.

What I like most about the Kingdom Hearts games are their production values: its voice acting, graphics, music, and overall sense of grandeur combined with its complex and adventurous, but still serious (sometimes pretentiously so) plotlines. None of any of that would have impact were it not for the franchise’s soundtrack. Just like Final Fantasy and Disney movies, Kingdom Hearts has a special magic all its own that would be unachievable without the single greatest soundtrack in gaming.



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    • Santano McCalla profile image

      Santano McCalla 

      5 years ago

      I have to admit I never played the King of Fighters Series until recently either. Funnily, I told a friend just that while watching this year's EVO and his reaction was basically the same. Suffice it to say, that deficiency has been remedied. Great games indeed, though a little difficult to get into after months of playing MK9.

    • Bryan Mangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Bryan Mangan 

      5 years ago

      For shame....... For SHAME!

    • Tonyx35 profile image

      J Antonio Marcelino 

      5 years ago from Illinois, USA

      You're going to strike me down when I say this... I pretty much completely skipped the King of Fighters series. For me it was SF II, MK Samurai Showdown, Tekken with Soul Calibur somewhere in there. The closest thing would be Capcom vs SNK games which are really fun.

    • Bryan Mangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Bryan Mangan 

      5 years ago

      Are you saying there are people who don't put The King of Fighters on their lists? What kind of sick criminal would do such a thing?

    • Tonyx35 profile image

      J Antonio Marcelino 

      5 years ago from Illinois, USA

      Your top 3 choices were certainly something different than what I see on other lists. While I've played Viewtiful Joe, can't say that the musical score left an impression with me. Maybe I should go take another listen.


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