Don’t worry, we’re not going to list the Mario Bros and Tetris. We wouldn’t do you like that, but here are some other tracks from classic games that’ll transport you to a simpler time, before you had to worry about DLC, DRM, or micro-transactions.
8. Final Fantasy – The Prelude – NES (1987)
Composer: Nubuo Uematsu
Every Final Fantasy lover (and their mother, because you brats never stopped humming this theme) knows of this song. It’s been copied a million times and that’s not because it’s “just” an arpeggio. It’s THE arpeggio that made a huge impact in video game and music culture. This song also influenced a lot of people to want to make music for games, like “Hey, that doesn’t sound too hard, I bet I could do that.”
I’ll never forget whooping Garland’s ass, crossing the bridge to the mainland, and having this song start playing as you realize he wasn’t the main boss or even a boss… he was a sissy compared to the normal encounters you’d be running into. Wait till you fight a Behemoth…
7. The Legend of Zelda – Overworld Theme – NES (1986)
Composer: Koji Kondo
Speaking of mothers, my mom was actually obsessed with this game. We’d come home from school and catch her playing it on our NES. 20 years later I gave her a USB stick with an emulator and the game to play on her laptop.
Nothing got us more hyped to conquer Hyrule, and save Zelda’s sexy behind, and never find all of the hidden cave entrances you had to use your limited bombs for, than this song.
6. Donkey Kong Country – Theme – SNES (1994)
Composer: David Wise
This game followed the trend of Super Mario Bros. 3 and others, introducing a map of stages you move through as you beat the game. Nothing stands out more to me than starting the first stage and running BACKWARDS to find the first hidden treasure. What it do.
Every platformer and flash game on the internet jocks the hell out elements this game helped popularize.
5. Super Mario Kart – Theme Song – SNES (1992)
Composer: Soyo Oka
I swear, this game was created just for the shortcuts on the time trials in order to generate Nintendo sales on new controllers. The inventor of the red shell homing missile is a sinister genius. Yeah, it was nice in single-player mode and all… Not so nice when you’re playing with your sibling and you’re both prone to temper tantrums.
4. ToeJam & Earl – Main Theme – Sega Genesis (1991)
Composer: John Baker
By far the funkiest song on here; you’ll probably get Seinfeld flashbacks too. Donkey Kong Country had some cool secrets but nobody tops this game. Who’d have thought riding the jetpack as far south-east as you could would land you on a tiny island full of bonuses? Who would even try when the stakes were so high? (Me, that’s who.)
The composer wanted to emulate the sound of Herbie Hancock.
3. Zombies Ate My Neighbors – Evening of the Undead – SNES (1993)
Composer: Joe McDermott
This isn’t even the main theme of the game, that’s how awesome this soundtrack was. This is the song you heard in the suburbs and hedge-mazes though, before you hit the shopping malls and castles.
This game desperately needed save points at the start of each level. I don’t know anyone who actually beat it before the days of ROMs and freeze states.
2. Dr. Mario – Fever Theme – Gameboy (1990)
Composer: Hirokazu Tanaka
This game… It’s like a mix of match three and Tetris, but with little monster viruses mocking you the whole time. Looking back, I don’t even know why we had so much fun with these games and now the mobile market is remaking them under new (rip-off) titles. And you still can’t beat’em! You just go as far as you can in hopes of hitting some high score, like doctors and their incomes.
1. DuckTales – Title Screen – SNES (1989)
Composer: Hiroshige Tonomura
This counts. Yeah, everyone likes The Moon theme but this is the one we heard the most. And then on the cartoon. And then on the movies as our kids watched them. This song is your entire life wrapped up into some 16-bit magic.