Video games today consist of high definition graphics, movie-like cinematic cut scenes, and fully orchestrated music. When video games were first introduced they were nothing more than a few pixels, simple-but-inventive stories, and some repetitive theme music that no matter what you did you couldn’t get out of your head. Those simple 8-bit tracks are the most amazing and nostalgic part of video games.
I go back to my great and powerful Nintendo Entertainment System often, spending hours at a time fighting Ganon or Dr. Wily, enjoying the music of so many games.
These are my top 10.
10. Contra – “Jungle Theme”
If you want a great action game go play this, it is to this day my favorite Konami game with some of the coolest tracks in it, but Jungle Theme is the one that stands out to me. There’s just so much going on in one perfect adventure theme.
9. Zelda 2 – “Palace Theme”
I know Zelda 2 is the worst zelda game ever made–even Miyamoto thinks so–but the moment you walk into a palace for the first time, you’ll feel that sense of creepiness that can’t be matched by any other 8-bit theme. There are so many zelda tracks, but this is definitely one of my favorites.
8. Megaman 3 – “Ending Theme”
This is probably my favorite ending theme in any game. After beating Megaman 3, I got this feeling of complete satisfaction not because I beat the game, but because of this song. This says “Hey it’s over, but your next adventure is around the corner” and I don’t think I could ever forget it.
7. Kirby’s Adventure – “Butter Building”
One of the catchiest and underrated videogame songs to exist in the 8-bit days. I would just sit on a level to listen to this song over and over again, it’s just that good. The Kirby franchise in general makes amazing theme songs, which is a huge reason why it’s my favorite video game series.
6. Castlevania – “Main Theme”
I don’t really know what else to say besides the fact that this game is perfection. Honestly it has some of the best gameplay styles and story ever made, and it’s music was phenomenal. I know I said Contra was my favorite Konami game, but this is such a close second–how I wish they’d make better Castlevania games today.
5. Legend of Zelda – “Overworld”
Legend of Zelda is one of the most known franchises in the world, right behind Mario. It brings the most innovatively fun experiences that only a Zelda game can give. In the original, you were dropped into a huge world with no map, no help–you had nothing until you talked to that old man who gives you a wooden sword and tells you you’re on your own. This theme may well be the only theme song from this era to be as relevant as it is today, everyone knows it, and it’s probably stuck in your head just by reading the heading.
4. Super Mario 2 – “Overworld”
You knew it was coming: a Mario game on the best 8-bit music list. Well, here it is. Mario 2 changed gaming in a lot of ways, just like its predecessor, and the music doesn’t disappoint. I could go on and on about how great the first 3 Super Mario games and themes are, but there’s no point, everyone knows the glory of Mario and the music that come with.
3. Metroid – “Kraid”
Metroid was a groundbreaking achievement for Nintendo. Metroid is an intense and complex game with proper music to go with, even though Kraid’s lair theme was just video game music, it felt like it wasn’t. To me the game came alive for the first time I became Samus…and then I found out Samus was actually a girl.
2. DuckTales – “Moon”
Ducktales is a game that defines 8-bit glory. Scrooge McDuck a former adventurist goes off on one last adventure after being robbed from his own bank. The game makes nostalgia feel nostalgic, and it brings the best collection of 8-bit music I know–the Moon theme being the most notable. If you haven’t played DuckTales before, you’re in luck, they completely remastered the game recently making it an even more amazing.
1. Megaman 2 – “Dr. Wily”
If you think there’s a theme song from the NES days that’s better than this one, I really want to hear it. Megaman is so legendary, it amazes me Capcom doesn’t make another one. This whole stage is intense as can be, but at least the theme music gives you just enough strength to get through. You don’t know how excited I was to hear Megaman is in the next Smash Bros. game.