Sunday, November 4, 2012

Top Ten Top Tens: Video Game Music

Hey y'all.  I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the top ten creepiest characters in people's opinions.  So, I'd like to try it again, but this time with video game music!  I love VGM, especially back in the old days when they didn't put rock music in, but had MIDI sounding bleeps and bloops.  My favorite genre of VGM is Mega Man, as you may have already guessed, and I'll probably do a Mega Man Top Ten in the future.

Now, a few ground rules.  Note that my source for this list is Youtube, and every song that gets a mention in a top ten video gets one point.  It doesn't matter how high or low that song is on the list.  If someone's song list is more than ten videos, then only the top ten will count in my survey.  I'm not going to videos that refer to a specific game; no "top ten Mega Man" or "top ten DBZ" for me.  Also, there's no "top ten creepiest" or "top ten most sad".  I will only be counting, "my top ten favorite", "top ten best", "top ten most epic" or similar titles with open reach and the potential to count all types of songs and games.  While I may do the "top ten best soundtracks" later, that's too big for the scope of this list.

So let's get to it!  How does one define best?  Is it the song that takes the most effort?  The one that entertains the most, or is the most iconic?  How about the one that gets stuck in your head the most?  The ones you'll want to listen to when you're not playing a game?  It's really hard to tell.  But, whatever your definition of best, this is what ranks on youtube.

Let's start this up.  For a while I was worried, because people were just mentioning various games, and I was having a heck of a time just getting two votes for the same song.  However, over time patterns began to form, and finally I have a top ten.

Also, for your listening convenience, I have made a youtube playlist so that you can hear all of these songs as you're reading the blog.  If you'd prefer to just listen to whatever song gets you curious, then you can click the link next to each entry.

For the playlist:

So what's number ten?  Oh crap....

---- #10 Duke Nukem 3D Theme (

....That's...nice.  A theme of a misogynistic mofo gets on the list.  Guh.  Honestly, I never played this game series, only a similar one called Wolfenstein 3D which was a game about fighting Nazis.  However, a lot of people really do like Duke Nukem 3D, so I have to be honest about votes.

Hm.  Maybe I'm just biased because I watched Clementj642's review of the latest Duke Nukem game, and he painted a pretty disgusting picture.  Maybe the older game is better than I think it is.  Whatever.  At least the song isn't bad.

---- #9 Gerudo Valley, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (

It took me a while to get this song, but the more I listen, the more I like it.  What good adventure fun.  This is pretty perfect for a video game, because it's not too intrusive when you're trying to play, but you remember it later.  Whoever composed it did a good job.  Not much to say about it.  Just click the link, already.

---- #8 Gangplank Galleon, Donkey Kong Country (

Donkey Kong Country is full of a bunch of wonderfully fun songs, so it's not surprising one made this list.  To me, this isn't one of the best songs of the franchise, but it's what youtube picked.  It's fun, adventurous, and full of goofy fun.  I like how it's epic, but not entirely serious at the same time.  Listen and enjoy!

---- #7 Still Alive, Portal 2 (

This is one of the reasons why I love doing this lists.  Discovering new songs is great, and this song just makes me smile on the inside.  While it was kind of annoying separating this from a Mirror's Edge song with the same name, it's so worth listening to.  It's a song about a little computer being doing scientific experiments on a person, and the lyrics are hilarious.  The end credits of this song are so creative.  It really does earn its spot.  That's something considering all of the classic music it has to compete with.

---- #6 Metal Gear Solid 2 Theme (

This one surprised me.  I didn't expect it would rank so high.  Again, it has a lot of classic music to compete with.  However, now that I'm listening to it, it does sound like fun.  It's very multi-faceted, going up and down in an epic tune.  It's well worth listening to.  Not my cup of tea, but good stuff.  Y'know what?  Just let me quote the youtube comment here:

"I play this tune in my head whenever I'm too lazy to accomplish something in life.  After I play it, I usually get up and do it." -- Redrambo3

---- #5 The Tetris theme, Korobeiniki (

This is where the list gets a little more typical.  But after all, doesn't everyone love this song?  It's just such good, dizzying fun.  It's not really even video game music to me -- it transcends the game it comes from.  That and it was originally a traditional Russian song.  I never liked Tetris the game that much, despite the fact that one youtube user insists that women like it.  Nah.  Too boring.  However, the song isn't, and that's why it's number five.

---- #4 The Moon Level, Duck Tales (

Back when I was a kid, I think that I was stuck on this song just as much as everyone else seems to be now.  Eh, I outgrew it, though.  Shame, really.  It's a fun song.  Just too darn squeaky for me.  Oh well.  I'm proud of it for doing so well, while in the back of my head it felt like it was a fairly obscure game.  Who knows about Ducktales?  It's not like the cartoon is on anymore.  But it needs to be.  Where oh where have the cheesy nineties gone.  You poor kids with your Yugi-oh and your Teen Titans....psssht.

---- #3 Legend of Zelda theme  (

Technically speaking, this song has the advantage because it has so many different versions to refer to.  However, almost never did anyone specify a specific version of this song, so they probably just mean the classic tune in general, no matter how it was mixed.  In any case, it's pretty cool that Zelda actually has two entries on this list.  No other gaming series managed that.  I'm kinda sad now...I've never played any Zelda games.  They sound like fun.

Oooh, I like this song.  When you listen to the thing full out, it's a lot more dramatic than just hearing a clip on a top ten list.

---- #2 Super Mario Bros. Level 1 (

You have no idea how much I didn't want this to win.  It's just so...typical!  But, I had to count up the points properly and without bias, so it did earn its place.  It's only one point behind the number one song.

Can I be frank, here?  Does this song really deserve all the acclaim it gets?  Is it really as epic as the Zelda theme, or as fun as Still Alive?  I mean, people voted for it over and over again, so that must mean something.  It's just that, for a video game song to be good in my opinion, it has to make me want to hear it when I'm not playing the video game.  As cool and iconic as this song is, do you think it's the skill of the song or the nostalgia factor that really gets it up this high?  I played this game as a kid too, but it just doesn't affect me the same way.

Bah, whatever.  We must make our offering to the hero of video game music.  Even if it's overrated, it's still a great song.  My favorite version is the one that plays at the very tail end of the Super Mario RPG credits.  It's so cute and sweet.

But before we get to number one, I'd like to throw a special shout out to the songs that just barely didn't make it on the list.  What have we got?

Just Barely Didn'ts:
- Green Hill Zone from Sonic
- Morrowwind from Elder Scrolls
- The Punch Out Theme
- The Crash Bandicoot theme

And now for a few surprises, meaning games or songs that I never expected to see or like.  Notedly, I'm not putting these songs on my youtube playlist.  Just to make my list a little simpler on youtube.

-Neep Ninny Bod from Age of Empires (
What a great title.  I like that this got a vote, because my dad used to drive me nuts playing this game, and I'd have to hear this music over and over again.  The idea that someone likes this song makes me laugh.  No, it's not a bad song, it just has a lot of memories attached.  I do like it.  Really, nobody sounds like Age of Empires.  I've never even heard a game series that came close.

- Katamari Damacy theme ( )
Why is this a surprise?  I'm surprised it didn't get more votes.  This song is happy fun sunshine, and overall I'm disappointed there weren't more KD votes.  You'd think that Lonely Rolling Star would at least get one. Whatever.  There's the link, now listen to the song!

- Zelda's lullaby (
I know, I know, you already know about Zelda.  Well, I didn't.  I never played this games as a kid, other than a brief session of watching my brother play the first.  And when I heard this song, it nearly made me cry.  Good stuff.  Come on, it's good stuff, isn't it?

Arc Rose Honorable Mention, Song: Theme of Laura from Silent Hill 2 (
- Now this took everyone by surprise.  A Silent Hill song that's good and not trying to scare you to death?  Wow, now that's something.  It's really quite lovely, and pretty perfect after dealing with the nasty sounds and sights that any Silent Hill game is sure to entail.

Arc Rose Honorable Mention, Youtube User: Hybrid Rain.  (
- I wasn't going to have this submission, but then I came across Hybrid Rain's top ten plus 2 catchiest video game song list.  With his accent and all the interesting things he had to say, I had to watch the whole thing all the way through.  He's just too darn entertaining.  You've really got to see his stuff.  Even if you don't click a single link on this thread, you should click this one.

Alright, it's time for our number one entry.  And that song is....

---- #1 Wily Level 1, Mega Man 2  (    Crazy Japanese Version --

This is the kind of song that really grabs you in the soul and doesn't let go.  Just like the Mario song, it's really typical to vote for it, and yet, it's well earned.  A song can't get overplayed unless people want to play it a lot.  Add in the crazy Japanese lyrics, and you've got the perfect mix of a nostalgic song.  It will get you in your sleep.  As a kid, I never really listened to this song (I'd have to make it to the Wily levels to hear it), but as an adult I really appreciate it.

Alright y'all, I hope you enjoyed all the work I put in!  Seriously, this takes a lot of effort, and was much harder than expected. So you can leave a comment, if you like.  Were you surprised by any of the results? Disappointed?  Let me know about it.

But wait, there's more!  It was a little strange putting together this list, as there were several game series who had a ton of songs nominated, but none of them got high enough to reach the list.  So I'm having a second top ten list, of how many songs from each series got mentioned.  It's only fair.

On with it!  So, which series got the most individual mentions?

11. Pokemon: 5 Nominees

Um, I don't suppose I need to have an 11th place, but since most votes were scattered over forty bajillion different games, it's actually quite significant that Pokemon got as many different nominees as it did.  So it can hang out up here.  I personally am not very impressed with Pokemon music, and apparently not too many people were either.  5 songs were nominated, but none of them got very many votes.  In fact, the Kanto Gym Battle song is the only one that got more than one vote.

10. Tie: F-Zero and Donkey Kong: 6 Nominees

Now this surprises me.  You'd figure that the powerhouse that is the Donkey Kong Country series would inspire more nominees than F-Zero.  After all, in my opinion a person could basically pick any song from DKC2 and it would belong on a top ten list.

However, F-Zero really proved itself.  There are several cool songs that got nominated, like Big Blue and Silence.  None of these got many votes, but what makes me happy is that I discovered an F-Zero remix of Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road.  I counted this toward the F-Zero series because it appeared on an F-Zero game, and it is just wonderful.  I'm so glad I know it exists now.

As for Donkey Kong, I did expect a lot more.  My favorite, Stickerbrush Symphony, got some votes, but was of course unable to beat Gangplank Galleon.  I still don't know why that particular one is so popular, but what are you going to do?

8. Metal Gear: 8 Nominees

It's mostly the theme songs that really gave this one its rank.  People seem to love them far more than the music in the middle of the game.  Metal Gear Solid isn't my thing, but eh, people seem to like it. That's cool.  I do like the idea of the Metal Gear villain Psycho Mantis.

7. Sonic: 9 Nominees

At first I was pretty worried for Sonic.  I went through several different lists before getting more than an occasional Green Hill Zone vote.  However, he climbed up the ranks quickly.  I'm glad.  I never played Sonic as a kid, but I did play a sample of Sonic and Knuckles at my work, and the music was really good.  No wonder Clementj642 goes nuts over it.

6. Tie -- Castlevania and Chrono Series: 10 Nominees

Neither of these have I played, but when I was searching through the sample, Castlevania's soundtrack sounded really good.  I like Simon's theme in particular.  However, none of Castlevania's songs got more than 2 votes.  Kind of a shame, really.  I thought Castlevania was more popular than that.  I guess the fanbase is pretty divided.

As for Chrono Cross/Trigger, I need to listen to them some more.  Especially Frog's theme, which is Chrono's highest song at 3 votes.  Again, the fanbase is scattered on these, but at least the series itself did well.

4. Tie -- Zelda and Mega Man Series: 16 Nominees

There's too many dang ties on this list.  Oh well, that's just how it is.  In any case, people love Zelda.  They love his main theme.  They love Gerudo Valley.  I'm not impressed by Gerudo Valley, but it's cool.  At least I now know about the Song of Storms.  I need to get that on iTunes or something.  Sounds great.

Yeah, you guys should know how I feel about Mega Man.  To me, Mega Man could have won the entire song contest and I'd be perfectly happy with that.  As it is, there were a lot of nominees, but surprisingly few robot masters.  It's mostly main themes and Wily levels that got all the votes.  Mega Man X1's theme got a couple of votes too.

Special honorable mentions go to Top Man, Galaxy Man, Snake Man, Spark Mandrill, Boomer Kuwanger, and Storm Eagle for being the only robot masters to get a nomination.  I'll remember that when I do my robot master top ten.

2. Final Fantasy: 23 Nominees

Talk about a scattered fanbase.  None of the 23 songs got more than 3 votes, and the ones that scored highest were To Zanarkand, the Final Fantasy 3 theme, and Aria di Mezzo Carattere.  I like that last one, but other than that, Final Fantasy music is just too dull for me.  I hate to be like that, because this series is so beloved, but it's just how I feel.  FF fans shouldn't feel bad, though.  Look how many their songs got.

1. Mario: 27 Nominees

This one shouldn't surprise me as much as it does.  To me, it's rare that a Mario song is cool enough to listen to when you're not playing the game itself.  I have a couple on my personal list, and I guess that's how the Mario series got so many different nominees -- everybody else has a couple that they like to listen to when not playing the game. All of these are scattered around various games, including the Galaxy games and even a couple of Dr. Mario ones.

What really surprised me was that seven of the themes were all Bowser themes.  People just really like Bowser.  Bowser's Road from Mario 64 was the second most popular Mario song, under the original Mario theme of course.

Alright, that's it for my Top Ten Top Tens: VGM list.  Enjoy it, fellow gamer nerds.  And also enjoy this cute fan art that I did not draw.  Cute stuff, eh?

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