Shadow of the Beast (Amiga and PC Engine)
If ever there was a game for beardy prog-rockers, it was Psygnosis' Shadow of the Beast. If being draped in surreal mystical imagery and featuring box art by the guy who did Yes' album covers wasn't enough, the densely atmospheric new-age score by David Whittaker sealed the deal. The original Amiga version is a powerfully evocative and often bleak classic of game music, but in some ways the PC Engine rework is even better. Try both out and see what you think.
Just another thing to love about Yu Suzuki’s epic series of obsession and revenge, Shenmue’s score is an orchestral powerhouse. It should be, mind, as Sega almost crippled its wallet making the game. Those Yen were well spent though, and they lured esteemed composer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi – of Virtua Fighter and Sega Rally fame – to write a score on a par with anything Hollywood could produce.
Silver Surfer (NES)
The last Tim Follin entry, we promise. But seriously, just listen to this one and think about it. It's a throwaway comic book licence on the NES. It's not the sort of game that anyone involved would give two sh*ts about today. In fact today it would be Iron Man. Yet it sounds like this. That's how good this guy was.
Sonic Xtreme (Saturn, cancelled)
If you want the full story on why we mourn Sonic Xtreme's still-birth to this day, click here. But aside from how different the game could have made the future of the franchise, one of the things we're most sad about is the fact that we never got to hear more of its soundtrack. Chris Senn's work is a radical departure from traditional Sonic tunes, actually being quite reminiscent of the more mellow parts of Die Hard Trilogy, but it had a lush sound, a thick atmosphere, and would have made SX even more of a joy to play through than it already looked to be.
Wizards and Warriors III (NES)
How a soundtrack as varied as David Wise's for Rare's Wizards and Warriors III holds together, we don't know. But it does. Brilliantly. Taking in medieval sounds, classical conventions, thumping techno and things we can't even define, it's historical but modern; atmospheric but resolutely upbeat and fresh. It's one of the most fun soundtracks on the NES, and if you need any further proof of that after watching the video below, check out the joyously bonkers Gold Knights' Guild theme too. Consider it a little bonus because we really like you.
The worst videogame music you've ever heard
Meet the musicians using old-school gaming kit to make very cool new sounds
Cinematic, atmospheric, or completely subversive. These tracks will make your games new again