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Best Western Video Game Music of All Time - 2011

by Kurt Kalata, 12/23/11


Monty on the Run



In September of 2011, we at Hardcore Gaming 101 ran a massive reader-voted poll to determine the best video game music of all time. The result was over 1000 excellent songs, but had one curious deficiency - roughly 90% of the entire list consisted of music composed for Japanese video games. This is not a result of Western music being inherently inferior, but rather, I think, that not enough of the readership (myself included) has really been exposed some of the better songs. So, my goal was to run another poll, this time focusing entirely on Western music, and put to rest the stereotype that all music that comes out of the United States and Europe are all wannabe Hollywood-style orchestral blockbusters.

The rules were similar to the last poll, although the number of votes was cut in half to 50 songs due to the smaller pool to choose from, and the point structure was reworked so "Top 5" choices were given two points instead of three. Using the same cutoff of three points, the result was slightly under 200 songs, which seemed a little bit paltry. It also seemed to be missing some of the more well known or well regraded Commodore or Amiga soundtracks, which I was trying to promote. In order to fill in the gaps a bit, I chose an additional 50 songs myself to round the whole list out to 250. It's hardly the most democratic method of doing things (though all songs did get some levels of votes) but makes for a slightly more comprehensive playlist. So think of the first 200 as the actual poll, and the remaining 50 as sort of an "editor's choice" bit. There's probably still quite a few gaps as far as establishing a canon of awesome Western composed music, but this site is all about education and exploring outside of our comfort zones a bit, so hopefully everyone will at least find some great new songs to stick on their playlist. If nothing else, hopefully it will help you become familiar with works from European legends like Chris Huelsbeck, Rub Hubbard, Ben Danglish, Jeroen Tel, Matt Gray, Matt Furniss, Tim & Geoff Follin and Stephane Picq, Sega mainstays like Spencer Nilsen, Howard Drossin and Richard Jacques, other talented American folks like Tommy Tallarico, Alexander Brandon and Frank Klepacki, and all the way up to recent musicsmiths like Jake Kaufman, Danny Baranowsky, Souleye (Magnus Pålsson), and Module (Jeremiah Ross).


Naturally, many of the songs from the top 1000 list made recurring appearances, including Baba Yetu from Civilization IV and the theme from Monty on the Run, although the Diablo town theme overtook Stickerbush Symphony from Donkey Kong Country 2 as the top role. Some other decent songs that previously inhabited the dregs of the list placed much higher, like New Junk City from Earthworm Jim and the theme from The Last Ninja. Many tracks from Chris Huelsbeck's legendary Turrican scores placed, although the single most voted on game is the 2010 indie title VVVVVV, with nearly the entire soundtrack placing somewhere on the list. This, combined with the popularity of Amanaguchi's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's score, shows a huge interest in retro-style music.

At any rate, please enjoy the music, and we hope you'll vote in our next poll!

1DiabloTristramMatt Uelmen19
2Monty on the RunMain ThemeRob Hubbard16
3SolsticeTitle ScreenTim Follin15
4DoomAt Doom's Gate (E1M1)Bobby Prince14
5Donkey Kong CountryAquatic AmbianceDavid Wise13
6Donkey Kong Country 2Stickerbush SymphonyDavid Wise13
7The Secret of Monkey IslandMain ThemeMichael Land13
8Civilization IVBaba YetuChristopher Tin12
9Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldAnother WinterAnamanaguchi12
10VVVVVVPotential for AnythingSouleye12
11Duke Nukem 3DGrabbagLee Jackson11
12The NeverhoodKlaymen's ThemeTerry Scott Taylor11
13PortalStill AliveJonathan Coulton11
14Beyond Good & EvilHome Sweet HomeChristophe Heral10
15Deus ExThe Synapse (Hong Kong Streets)Alexander Brandon & Daniel Gardopee10
16HaloHaloMartin O'Donnell10
17Deus ExTitle ThemeAlexander Brandon9
18Donkey Kong CountryGang-Plank GalleonRobin Beanland9
19Earthworm JimNew Junk CityTommy Tallarico9
20The Last NinjaThe WastelandsBen Daglish and Anthony Lees9
21Silver SurferBGM ITim & Geoff Follin9
22Tomb RaiderMain ThemeNathan McCree & Martin Iveson9
23Barkley Shut Up And Jam Gaidenjonathan taylor thomasChef Boyardee8
24Earthworm Jim 2Anything but TangerinesTommy Tallarico8
25Super Meat BoyBetus BluesDanny Baranowsky8
26Tempest 2000Mind's EyeAlastair Lindsay and Kevin Saville8
27Turrican IITitle ScreenChris Huelsbeck8
28Turrican IIIFactory Action (Level 1-1)Chris Huelsbeck8
29VVVVVVPressure CookerSouleye8
30VVVVVVPositive ForceSouleye8
31Comic BakeryMain ThemeMartin Galway7
32Donkey Kong CountryDK Island SwingDavid Wise7
33One Must Fall 2097MenuKenny Chou7
34SanxionLoaderRob Hubbard7
35Shadow of the BeastWelcomeDavid Whittaker7
36Time Trax (Genesis)TitleTim Follin7
37Toejam & EarlToejam JamminJohn Baker & Mark Steven Miller7
38VVVVVVPassion for ExploringSouleye7
39BastionBuild That Wall (Zia's Theme)Darren Korb6
40Cheetahmen IICheetahmen ThemeVince Perri6
41Commando (C64)Main ThemeRob Hubbard6
42Deus ExUNATCOAlexander Brandon6
43The Last Ninja 2Central ParkMatt Gray6
44Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldRock ClubAnamanaguchi6
45Sonic SpinballToxic CavesHoward Drossin6
46Turrican IIDesert Rocks (Level 1-1)Chris Huelsbeck 6
47AgonyTitle ThemeTim Wright5
48Assassin's Creed IIEzio's FamilyJesper Kyd5
49BarbarianThemeRichard Joseph5
50Battlefield 1942Main ThemeJoel Eriksson5
51Bionic Commando RearmedMain ThemeSimon Viklund5
52Command & Conquer: Red AlertHell MarchFrank Klepacki5
53Contra 4Jungle 1Jake Kaufman5
54Full ThrottleLegacyThe Gone Jackals5
55Jet Set RadioEverybody Jump AroundRichard Jacques5
56Jets 'n' GunsShopMachinae Supremacy5
57Mirror's EdgeStill AliveSolar Fields / Lisa Miskovsky5
58Sam & Max Hit the RoadMain ThemeClint Bajakian5
59Shadowrun (SNES)Walking the ShadowsMarshall Parker 5
60SolsticeIn-Game BGMTim Follin 5
61Sonic CDSonic BoomSpencer Nilsen / Pastiche5
62TurricanIntroChris Huelsbeck 5
63Uncharted: Drake's FortuneNate's ThemeGreg Edmonson5
64VVVVVVPushing OnwardsSouleye5
65Adventures of Batman & RobinPsycho SectionJesper Kyd4
66AquariaUndiscovered Waters(Open Waters III)Alec Holowka & Ian Holowka4
67Bionic Commando RearmedHeat WaveSimon Viklund4
68Cannon FodderWar Has Never Been So Much FunRichard Joseph / Jon Hare4
69Command & ConquerAct On InstinctFrank Klepacki4
70Conker's Bad Fur DaySlopranoRobin Beanland4
71Cool SpotBonus ThemeTommy Tallarico4
72Crusader No RemorseDimension 2012Andrew Sega4
73Curse of Monkey IslandA Pirate I Was Meant to BeMichael Land4
74Cybernoid IITitleJeroen Tel4
75Donkey Kong CountryIce Cave ChantRobin Beanland4
76Donkey Kong CountryFear FactoryDavid Wise4
77Enemy ZeroLaura's ThemeMichael Nyman4
78Geometry Wars: Retro EvolvedThemeChris Chudley4
79Global GladiatorsMcRockTommy Tallarico4
80HybrisTitle ScreenPaul van der Valk4
81IK+ThemeDavid Lowe4
82Ilomilored green and blue doodlesDaniel Olsen4
83KGBBurokratStephane Picq4
84The Last Ninja 2The MansionMatt Gray4
85Lazy JonesThemeDavid Whittaker4
86Little Big AdventureThemePhilippe Vachey4
87Mass EffectM4 Part 2Faunts4
88Max PayneMain ThemeKärtsy Hatakka4
89Medal of Honor: European AssaultDogs of WarChristopher Lennertz4
90One Man and His DroidMain ThemeRob Hubbard4
91Sam & Max Season OneJust You & Me (And Ted E. Bear)Jared Emerson-Johnson4
92Shadow of the BeastMain ThemeDavid Whittaker4
93ShatterKinetic HarvestModule4
94ShatterArgon RefineryModule4
95Silver SurferBGM IITim Follin4
96Skate or Die 2 (NES)Title ThemeRob Hubbard4
97StarcraftTerran 3Derek Duke/Glenn Stafford/Tracy W. Bush/Jason Hayes4
98StarcraftTerran 1Derek Duke4
99System ShockIntroGreg LoPiccolo4
100TyrianReturn Me to SavaraAlexander Brandon4
101Unreal TournamentGo DownAlexander Brandon4
102Wizball (C64)TitleMartin Galway4
103Adventures of Batman & RobinSpace BossJesper Kyd3
104ApidyaWar At Meadow's Edge 1Chris Huelsbeck 3
105Baldur's Gate II: Throne of BhaalMain ThemeInon Zur3
106Beyond Good & EvilSpanish BarChristophe Heral3
107Beyond Good & EvilHyllian SuiteChristophe Heral3
108BioshockCohen's MasterpieceGary Schyman3
109Castle CrashersForest EntranceCycerin3
110Castle CrashersWinterblissCycerin3
111Chuck RockTitle ThemeMatt Furniss3
112Comix ZonePage 1-1Howard Drossin3
113Deus Ex Human RevolutionIcarus Main ThemeMichael McCann3
114Donkey Kong Country 2Hot Head BopDavid Wise3
115DreamwebLike Killing HitlerMatt Seldon3
116Earthworm JimFor Pete's SakeMark Miller3
117Earthworm Jim 2TitleTommy Tallarico3
118EquinoxBoss BattleTim & Geoff Follin3
119Frozen SynapseFocusnervous_testpilot3
120Gabriel KnightMain ThemeRobert Holmes3
121Gabriel KnightWolfgang's ThemeRobert Holmes3
122Gabriel Knight 3Title ThemeRobert Holmes3
123Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (Amiga)Title ScreenTim Follin 3
124Goldeneye 007Byelomorye DamGraeme Norgate & Grant Kirkhope3
125Great Giana SistersMenu ThemeChris Huelsbeck3
126HeadhunterJack's ThemeRichard Jacques3
127IjiSeven FourChris Geehan/Dan Byrne-McCullough3
128International KarateThemeRob Hubbard3
129James Pond II: Codename RobocodIntroRichard Joseph3
130Jets 'n' GunsDeath from AboveMachinae Supremacy3
131Jim Power in Mutant PlanetMutant's Forest (Stage 3)Chris Huelsbeck3
132Killer InstinctK.I. FeelingRobin Beanland & Graeme Norgate3
133Killer InstinctTitle ThemeRobin Beanland & Graeme Norgate3
134L.E.D. StormTitle ThemeFollin Brothers3
135Little Big Adventure 2The EmpirePhilippe Vachey3
136Lord of the Rings (SNES)Shire ThemeCharles Deenen3
137MachinariumThe Black Cap Brotherhood ThemeTomáš Dvorák3
138MachinariumMr. HandagoteTomáš Dvorák3
139Maniac MansionDave's ThemeDavid Warhol3
140Mass EffectUncharted WorldsJack Wall3
141Mass Effect 2Suicide MissionJack Wall3
142Mighty Milky WayTitleJake Kaufman3
143Mirror's EdgeThe Shard (Puzzle)Magnus Birgersson3
144OutlawsSanctuaryClint Bajakian3
145Pinball FantasiesIntroOlof Gustafsson3
146Planescape: TormentDeionarra ThemeMark Morgan3
147Portal 2Want You GoneJonathan Coulton3
148QuakeMain ThemeTrent Reznor3
149Quake IIQuad MachineSonic Mayhem3
150Quest For Glory I: So You Want To Be a HeroErana's PeaceMark Seibert3
151Realms of Arkania: Star TrailKvirasimGuido Henkel3
152Red ZoneThe HabamJesper Kyd3
153Rise of the TriadGoing Down the Fast WayBobby Prince & Lee Jackson3
154Road RashSierra Nevada ThemeRob Hubbard and Mike Bartlow3
155Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldLeave the Past BehindAnamanaguchi3
156Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldJust Like in the MoviesAnamanaguchi3
157Secret of EvermoreCollosia - Chamber 1Jeremy Soule3
158ShatterAmethyst CavernsModule3
159Sim City 2000Title Theme (Track 10001)Sue Kasper3
160SkullmonkeysLil Bonus RoomTerry Scott Taylor3
161Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn)Rusty Ruins Zone Act 1Richard Jacques3
162Sonic CDStardust Speedway (Bad Future)Spencer Nilsen3
163SpelunkyCaveGeorge Buzinkai, Jonathan Perry3
164Splinter Cell: Chaos TheoryKokubo Sosho StealthAmon Tobin3
165Splosion ManEverybody Loves DoughnutsMatt "Chainsaw" Chaney3
166Star Control 2HyperspaceRiku Nuottajärvi 3
167StarcraftTerran 2Derek Duke/Glenn Stafford/Tracy W. Bush/Jason Hayes3
168Super Meat BoyBattle of Lil SluggerDanny Baranowsky3
169Super Stardust HDLave ThemeAri "Artz" Pulkkinen3
170System Shock 2The Coolant TubesEric Brosius 3
171Terminator (Sega CD)Taking it to the AirTommy Tallarico3
172The Legend of Kyrandia 3: Malcolm's RevengeNight ThemeFrank Klepacki3
173Toejam & EarlFunkotronic BeatJohn Baker3
174Toejam & EarlBig Earl BumpJohn Baker3
175ToeJam & Earl in Panic on FunkotronLewanda's LoveJohn Baker3
176Total DistortionYou Are DeadJoe Sparks 3
177Tower of HeavenIndignant DivinityFlashygoodness3
178Turrican IITraps (Level 2)Chris Huelsbeck3
179Turrican IIISecond Floor (Stage 1-3)Chris Huelsbeck3
180TyrianSpace Journey 2Alex Brandon3
181TyrianGyges Will You Please Help MeAlexander Brandon3
182VortexVortexJustin Scharvona3
183Warcraft II: Tides of DarknessHuman IGlenn Stafford 3
184WipeoutMessijCoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright)3
185Wiz 'n Liz (MD)Name EntryMatt Furniss3
186Acid TetrisTearing Up Spacetime3
187Thing on a SpringThemeRob Hubbard3
188Auf Wiedershen Monty!Main ThemeRob Hubbard3
189DuneChani's EyesStephane Picq3
190DuneSpice OperaStephane Picq3
191Grey MatterSafe in ArmsRobert Holmes / Scarlet Furies3
192NeotokyoAnnulEd Harrison3
193Ocean LoaderOcean Loader 2Martin Galway3
194Perfect DarkChicago - StealthGrant Kirkhope3
195RamboLoaderMartin Galway3
196Red Dead RedemptionFar AwayJose Gonzalez3
197System ShockMedicalGreg LoPiccolo3
198Turrican IIThe WallChris Huelsbeck3
199TyrianThe LevelAlexander Brandon3
200WaterworldDivingDean Evans3
201First SamuraiTitleMichael Davis
202Battle SquadronIngame MusicRon Klaren
203BIT.TRIP RunnerFortitudePetrified Productions
204BullyDefender of the CastleShawn Lee
205Crusader No RemorseThe TravelerAndrew Sega
206Deus ExVersaLife CombatAlexander Brandon
207Digital: A Love StoryPaper Dolls4mat
208Freedom FightersFight for FreedomJesper Kyd
209Frozen SynapseTriumphnervous_testpilot
210Hitman: Codename 47Main ThemeJesper Kyd
211Iridion 2Good to FeelManfred Linzner
212Legend of Kyrandia 2Zanthia's Funky SwampFrank Klepacki
213Legend of Kyrandia 3Chapter 1 - KyrandiaFrank Klepacki
214Lethal WeaponThemeBarry Leitch
215Lost VikingsThe Croutonian ShipCharles Deenen
216Lotus III: Ultimate ChallengeTrack 3Patrick Phelan
217Lotus Esprit Turbo ChallengeMain ThemeShaun Southern
218MegaRaceNewSanStephane Picq
219Xenon 2: MegablastThemeDavid Whittaker
220Warcraft II: Tides of DarknessOrc 2Glenn Stafford
221Myth (C64)TitleJeroen Tel
222R-Type (C64)TitleChris Huelsbeck
223Prince of Persia: Sands of TimeTime Only KnowsStuart Chatwood
224Plants vs. ZombiesUltimate BattleLaura Shigahara
225Super Meat BoyDr. Fetus' CastleDanny Baranowsky
226Star Control 2Earth CommanderRiku Nuottajärvi
227Command & Conquer: Red AlertCrushFrank Klepacki
228Command & Conquer RenegadeCommand & ConquerFrank Klepacki
229Command & Conquer Tiberium SunLone SoldierFrank Klepacki
230Last HopeStage 1Rafael Dyll
231Dune 2000Rise of HarkonnenFrank Klepacki
232Timesplitters 2SiberiaGraeme Norgate
233Timesplitters 2Neo Tokyo 2019Graeme Norgate
234Shantae Risky's RevengeBurning TownJake Kaufman
235Bloodrayne BetrayalDusk FallsJake Kaufman
236Project XMain ThemeAllister Brimble
237R-Type (Amiga)IntroChris Huelsbeck
238AwesomeFight (Main Theme)Tim Wright
239Lemmings Johann Pachelbel - Canon in D Major
240Unreal (Amiga)TitleReyn Ouwehand & Charles Deenen
241Utopia: The Creation of a Nation IntroBarry Leitch
242Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade's RevengeGambit's StageTim Follin
243Alien BreedTitleAllister Brimble
244Lotus Turbo Challenge 2Main ThemeBarry Leitch
245Ocean LoaderOcean Loader 3Peter Clarke
246Ocean LoaderOcean Loader 4Jonathan Dunn
247Ultima V: Warriors of DestinyUltima ThemeKenneth W. Arnold
248Bionic Commando (C64)Level 1Tim Follin
249Sleepwalker (CD32)ZooBarry Leitch
250DeltaThemeRob Hubbard

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