Game Music Tributes – Top Ten!

A strange thing happened to me in 2003. A mate at university had an Xbox with Project Gotham Racing whereby you can play your own music to the game. Great! Or so I initially thought… The longer I played the game, the more I realised that whenever a track came on that I liked, it didn’t seem to improve the game any. We tinkered with a few things, dabbled with a bit of Metallica, a smidgeon of Prodigy – nothing worked.

So I headed home that summer and dug out the Mega Drive (previously 5 years dormant, curses you Sony!) and loaded up Streets of Rage 2 and it hit me. SOR2 is undoubtedly a great game but it’s also a great experience (albeit pretty short) with I think the best gaming soundtrack ever.

Games these days certainly have epic scores (I’m thinking the Halo series) and some rely on chart music (any EA sports sim) but how many of these will you remember in ten years’ time? Let alone twenty? It’s no coincidence that a host of the best 16-bit games in the early nineties had amazing soundtracks. SOR2, Street Fighter 2, and Killer Instinct to name but three. Rage, who developed Killer Instinct, even released the game with a CD of tracks based on the game’s music! It’s also no coincidence that more than twenty years’ later, fans of the games are doing some remarkable things with your favourite stage themes. Here’s my top ten.


10. Gauntlet theme tune – Jonas Lefvert

A change down of gear to start proceedings. Lovely acoustic version of the arcade/NES/MD game that works extremely well. I can feel myself being transported to medieval times right now, rush me my mead, squire.


9. Friends theme tune in 8-bit – 8 Bit Universe

Okay, so not inspired by any particular game soundtrack but the actual genre itself. 8 bit Universe have done a few things but this stands out to me as something that could have actually worked. Loading up my NES, strolling down to Central Perk…


8. Streets of Rage – Stage 2 – HappyFunTimeGameBand

Now this was a hard one to include because initially it just sounds like an exact cover of the game music. But the guitar solo that leads the tune out for the last 30 seconds or so is phenom. Talented guys!


7. Streets of Rage 2 – Dreamer (Stage 3) – VankiP

Coming in at number 7 of my top ten game music tributes – one of my favourite bits in SOR2 recreated expertly in “band” style. He’s done some others but this is definitely the pick (see what I did there?)


6. Street Fighter 2 – Balrog (or M.Bison for Japan) stage – PianoDesetsu

Man, this guy can play piano! The second entry from SF2 in my gaming music tribute top ten, he’s somehow turned the Las Vegas stage into lounge music that quickens into a heartfelt, powerful homage. A must listen.


5. Tetris theme tune – Scott Bradlee

Speaking of Tetris, I found this little beauty. He’s mashed up the Tetris theme and an Avicii song to devastating effect (I haven’t said that in a while). It’s so good I’m annoyed at my colleague for phoning me in the middle of listening to it.


4. Metal 38 Game Medley – FamilyJules7X

There are quite a lot of metal versions of game themes on the Internet but this one deserves a special mention due to the mega amount of games, the technique and also the video that puts together game clips.  Although we could do with less of the massive titles and more bloody Tetris!  I didn’t get much of it after around 6 minutes but still hella impressive.


3. Street Fighter 2 – Ken Stage – Rock version

The origins of this are unclear. Whether it was a tune commissioned for the many SF2 cartoon or film spin-offs or just whether some (clearly very talented) musicians just wanted to pay homage, I don’t know! If you know please don’t keep this blogger in the dark…


2. Nintendo Game Medley – On Mario Paint – Adolfo Baez

Flippin wow! Reading the description it looks like this took about 50 hours to put together and is definitely worth a listen. How he made this on Mario Paint Composer (have you tried? Go on, I dare you…) and apparently completely from ear, is phenomenal. Take a wondrous journey through NES and SNES classics in only 9 minutes.


1. Sonic 2 – Chemical Plant Zone – Smooth McGroove

And at number one in my game music tribute top ten, the very talented Smooth McGroove! On what appears to be 8-tracks, his tunes are composed completely by his vocal chords. This is impressive because of: a) the synchronicity and rhythm required for it to work and b) because it sounds almost bloomin’ like the real thing!

Happy listening and I’ll see you next time!



Scroll to Top