When we last left off, I had finished listing out my twenty favorite video game tracks. To be honest, that was a misnomer. While the twenty I selected are indeed favorites, I couldn’t do a perfect list since so many of my favorites also happened to be battle themes. Therefore, to make a proper list of favorite game tracks, I’d also have to make a proper list of favorite battle themes. So here they are, My Top Ten Favorite Battle Themes. And don’t forget: my list, my rules, and most importantly, my favorites, not yours. This isn’t your list! Go get your own list! You can, of course, read my list if you want some ideas. Please continue.
10. Battle Against a Machine (Earthbound)
There’s no denying that Earthbound is a strange game, particularly the music. While I’ve heard there are tracks based on Beatles songs, I can’t place them. I can, however, place music I like, and of the many battle themes to choose from, my favorite turned out to be Battle Against a Machine, just beating out Kraken of the Sea and Pokey Means Business. All good, but Battle Against a Machine pushed me just a little further in terms of what I wanted from a battle theme. Thumping beat? Check. Proper tone for the battle? Check. Works well on a loop? Check and mate. If you haven’t played Earthbound, what are you waiting for? It’s a great game, as I’ve said before, so don’t delay any longer.
9. Evil Messenger (Final Fantasy IX)
When people mention boss themes, you’ll usually hear One-Winged Angel come out on top. While I agree it is good, I can tell you right now that it didn’t make my list (don’t worry, something else from FFVII did, so calm down). What did make my list, as you can clearly see, is the boss battle theme from Final Fantasy IX in which you fight what appears to be a fused Super Saiyan 4. You still get your organ music here coupled with a strong underlying percussion force, but the Latin chanting is gone away. Come on though, we don’t need Latin chanting in EVERY boss fight, do we? I sure hope not. One-Winged Angel is good, but I prefer Evil Messenger a bit more at this stage of my life. Ask me five years ago and the answer would have been entirely different.
8. The Nightmare (Kirby’s Adventure)
Somehow, despite being a pink ball of puff located in a place called Dreamland, the Kirby games manage to score not just stupidly epic boss fights but equally epic boss music. The entire final sequence against The Nightmare stands out as a wonderful moment from my childhood, a moment where I proudly beat a video game all by myself. Fighting the orb is one thing, but when the Nightmare’s final form appears, things get real. The music stays fast-paced and constantly running, pacing the fight perfectly. Plus, it has one of those great lead-ins that make things even better. Also, Kirby games have cool flute-like pieces, I’m just saying.
7. Still More Fighting (Final Fantasy VII)
See? No worries, Final Fantasy VII showed up on the list safe and sound. How could I leave out one of the absolute best boss battle tracks? Well, I’ll tell you why I almost did: because the Advent Children remix of this track is infinitely better. In fact, hold on a second:
7. Still More Fighting (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children)
There, all better. Listen to those guitar solos. No wait, listen to those drum parts instead! Hell, listen to the whole track again and again because it’s just that good. I really wish this version were the original, but massive kudos to Nobuo Uematsu for being the godly composer that he is. This one can’t be beat! Okay, that’s a lie, because if it could be beat it wouldn’t be number 7 on the list. Oh well, still amazing.
6. Samus vs Essence of Metroid Prime (Metroid Prime)
Tagging along to one of the best final boss sequences in a video game, the battle music when fighting the Essence of Metroid Prime is sheer win. It starts off by reprising Metroid Prime’s title theme, then breaks down into the weird sciencey style of music that defines the Metroid Prime series from other series. Also, the fight itself is pretty dang intense. As annoying as it can be to constantly have to shift between the various visors just to see the stupid boss, it dioes add an element of panic and immediacy. You can’t just dodge and be fine; you have to adapt to the situation, at least on the most basic level. You go Metroid Prime! Keep up the good work!
5. Technodrome ~ The Final Shell Shock (TMNT IV SNES)
Last time, I made the judgment call of choosing a track from the Turtles in Time arcade game over the SNES version. Today, I’m doing the opposite for its final boss fight against Super Shredder. Here’s another great example of a stellar lead-in to the actual track, setting up the otherworldly powers that shredder now has, then busts out the franticly-paced rhythm to tie together with Shredder’s ridiculously fast and nearly unpredictable movements. But damn does it feel good when you catch him after a shift when his barrier is down, popping off a few hits before he teleports again. Take that Shred Head!
4. The Oracle (Secret of Mana)
The fight against the Dark Lich in Secret of Mana is, in the simplest terms, hellishly terrifying. None of the previous boss fights broke away and sent you to a nightmare-like void with the music from Satan’s darkest night terrors playing in the background. Just, okay, just try to sleep while listening to The Oracle. Go ahead, try. It’s like trying to sleep with Silent Hill music playing all night. You just can’t do it. Part of that may be due to the high tempo the song plays at, or the puzzling notes that it plays against itself. It’s a freaky song, and it deserves to be here! Gah! Terrifying!
3. The Great Gonzales vs Macho Grubba (Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door)
Alright, less terrifying but still equally awesome (plus one since it’s #3) is the battle music when fighting Macho Grubba from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I was sort of sad that this was only the third boss fight of the game since it was my definite favorite due to the music. It’s a track that sounds very different from anything you’d expect to hear from a Mario game, but it still manages to kick up the adrenaline from the sweet drums, almost as if its trying to stimulate a crowd of spectators watching and stomping along. That’s what I think of when I hear it anyway. Whatever, it’s my list, and Macho Grubba easily makes it to the number three spot. Plus, Mario is called The Great Gonzales here. What’s not to like about that? Pure win.
2. Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI)
Can I just make one thing clear? Sephiroth ain’t got nothing on Kefka. Sephiroth destroyed an entire town in a confused fury, murdered a beloved party member because she could potentially stop his mother from returning, and tried to bring a meteor down to earth in the biggest temper tantrum ever thrown. Kefka, however, committed genocide by knowingly poisoning the water supply of Doma (which also killed a bunch of his own men), hurled his emperor off of a floating continent, and changed the face of the earth just because he felt like it. Sephiroth had deep emotional issues. Kefka was just one evil son of a gun. He’s like the Joker if you gave him limitless power to dance madly with. Oh yeah, and look at that, the final boss fight against Kefka is called Dancing Mad, a fight where Kefka has changed into a nearly naked angelic figure of doom. Also, be aware that One-Winged Angel is roughly 4-minutes-long. Dancing Mad is 17 and a half. It’s like the finale of an opera complete with sweeping climaxes and an overall epic (word used correctly here) tone. Man, forget Sephiroth. You’re dead to me. More love to Kefka.
1. Miracle Matter (Kirby 64)
Remember me mentioning the Kirby games a little while back? Yeah, I wasn’t done talking about those. Miracle Matter is the song that plays when you’re fighting Dark Matter, a boss fight that takes some practice before perfecting. The fight itself is fairly simple once you get the hang of it, but the music kicks things up a notch. This is a seriously hard techno track, and as we’ve established previously, I love techno music done right. This is certainly techno music done right. You get the full package with a sick lead-in, nice layering of tracks building upon each other, and great breakdowns every so often. I’m sort of wondering why I’ve only been able to find one really good remix of this track anywhere, and more so, why more people don’t instinctively know Miracle Matter to the level that they know One-Winged Angel? ARG! OKAY! One-Winged Angel is awesome! Are you happy now?!
Uh, sorry, got carried away for a second there. But now my list of favorite battle themes is over and Miracle Matter has taken the top spot without any clear contenders. So what’s left to do? Top Ten Favorite Soundtracks of course. That’s next time. For now, what are your favorite battle themes? Do you like some of the tracks I mentioned here? Or do you think your list is better, even though both lists would be based on opinions? Leave a comment and let your voice, er, song be heard!
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