23 amazing game soundtracks you don't remember

We're pretty damn passionate about our game music here at Radar, so we find it frustrating that some of our favourite sounds often fall by the wayside when it comes to widespread recognition. Certain games and composers are (deservedly) lauded on a consistent basis, but other, equally good, music never seems to be mentioned. Sometimes the game was too obscure, sometimes the music was too leftfield, and sometimes the tunes were just overshadowed by rival works, or even better-celebrated elements of their very own games.

So we decided to put that right. Over the next few pages you'll find 23 of our favourite overlooked soundtracks, with the reasons they deserve your attention and the reasons they perhaps haven't grabbed it yet. So take some time out, sit back, open your ears up and enjoy.

Atelier Iris (PS2)

Where many JRPG scores grab the attention with a sweeping, brooding, overblown sound, Gust's 2004 role-player has a fresh-faced gem of a soundtrack. Light, airy, and more than a bit folky, there's a sparkly cleanness to its compositions, proving that you don't have to be heavy to be atmospheric.

Bionic Commando Rearmed (XBLA/PSN/PC)

The original NES soundtrack is unremittingly badass, but the tunes that come with the HD remake are some of the best you will ever hear in any game anywhere. Aside from being club-worthy in their composition and modernity, they're the perfect aural accompaniment to the game's ecstatic celebration of 8-bit gaming. Go get it at iTunes and improve your quality of life by 78%.

Bioshock (360/PC/PS3)

There's so much to love in Bioshock that the soundtrack is often overlooked in discussions of the game. And that's just a crime, because 2K Boston's masterpiece has one of the most unique, striking and affecting scores of the last couple of console generations. Mournful, terrifying, exhilarating and occasionally close to heart-breaking, it makes one of the most complete game/music packages we can think of. And that's before you even get to the classic '30's, '40s and '50s licensed tunes, which are an absolute gift.

Blast Corps (Nintendo 64)

The soundstrack to Blast Corps is classic Graeme Norgate. While not as recognised as widely as the great man's work on Timesplitters or Goldeneye, it's got everything that makes his scores great. He squeezes in bouncily energetic club tracks, silly countrified banjo tunes and as many cheeky goth/industrial tinges as he can plausibly get, making this one of the most fun and jubilant soundtracks on the N64. The level replay tune is below, but we'd also recommend Tempest City and Sleek Streets if you want something (a lot) heavier.

Call of Duty (PC/Mac)

COD’s soundtrack is solid and well written throughout. But it not’s until you reach the Russian campaign that the score truly resonates. Charged with a seemingly suicidal mission – to charge German artillery entrenched in Red Square with just an ammo clip – the music reaches a swelling crescendo.

Powerful, uplifting and disquieting, it perfectly sums up the futility of war and the power of patriotism. Granted, Infinity Ward might have nicked the melody from James Lowell’s 'Once to Every Man and Nation'. But a bit of creative pilfering is a small price to pay for such a memorable eardrum massage.

Die Hard Trilogy (PS1/Saturn/PC)

This is nothing like what people expected from the music to a Die Hard game. Ignoring cinematic bombast in favour of soaring synths and moody electronic work, DHT's soundtrack is an utterly unique stand-out selection. Check it all out through the links at the end of the video, particularly the cybergoth-tastic Tunnel and Construction themes.


  • Theonik - March 19, 2009 6:20 p.m.

    Plus awesome article i can't believe some of these songs are overlooked. Oh and i guess second and third.
  • peaceful765 - March 19, 2009 6:25 p.m.

    I agree with Skidd777. Although some of these tunes bring back memories, Bioshock and JGR are tracks I would listen to outside of a game.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - March 19, 2009 6:34 p.m.

    Skidd and Peaceful: I'm totally with you on those two. The best soundtracks are the ones that work out of context. JGR is brilliant sunny day music and Bioshock is seriously relaxing, despite being massively dark in places. Bobby Darrin FTW! (Not a phrase I ever expected to use on Radar)
  • Russianred90 - March 19, 2009 7 p.m.

    my favorite game soundtrack is banjo kazooie just such a friggen awesome xylophone usage FTW
  • GR_DavidHoughton - March 19, 2009 7:01 p.m.

    That was the brilliant thing about when most games came on CD. You got a game and an album at the same time. :D So much easier than the old days when I had to rig my SNES up to my stereo and use the cassette recorder to make my own. Yes, I really have always been that nerdy about games music. :) Keep the recommendations flowing guys.
  • Theonik - March 19, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    Also the metal slug series had a good soundtrack although usually overlooked ReCAPTCHA: September $100,000
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - March 19, 2009 7:50 p.m.

    Shadow of the Beast is so effing good. I listened to it every day even before I'd ever played the game or a Turbo CD at all. Just got the music from a friend and wore a tape out rewinding over and over. Plus yeah, BCR is one of the best ever.
  • averagejoe - March 19, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    You know, I think my favorite soundtrack of all time (second maybe to JGR/JSRF) is actually the soundtrack to Sonic Advance on the GBA. The track for 2-1 is just fantastic for a handheld, and the piano solo in stage 1 of the casino world was one of the first solos I ever transcribed. I've always had a soft spot for the music of sonic games; even the overly synthy, cheesy stuff they put in the 3-d sonics. I did a tribute to Sonic Team's ridiculously synth-heavy music here, by the way: Apart from that, I liked GX's soundtrack a lot, as well as (of course) the mega man II soundtrack. I'll occasionally put on the soundtrack to Bust-a-groove II if I think nobody's around to hear it-- couldn't help but like Kelly's and Bi-O's tunes, weird as they are. Also, the soundtrack for Donkey Kong Country 2 was waaaay better than the (admittedly pretty good) stuff in DKC. Bramble forest? Classic.
  • dynomit272 - March 19, 2009 9:24 p.m.

    got to have the Zebrahead only version of His World from Sonic the Hedgehog (next gen.) Amazing song but this is an amazing list
  • Zaphers - March 19, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    Die Hard Trilogy was great. The song strangely reminds me of what is love now.
  • dibber - March 19, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    Great article. Made me want to rush over to OCRemix and grab some remixes from these games. Reading about the FZero GX music made me remember how much I really liked the original F-Zero's "Red Canyon" stage soundtrack. I confess to putting a cassette recorder up next to my stereo speaker to dub that to tape.
  • garnsr - March 19, 2009 9:47 p.m.

    God, I hated Shadow of the Beast.
  • jhr_151 - March 19, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    I remember playing Festor's Quest on the original Nintendo more times than the game deserved just because I loved the soundtrack. Wish that had made this list. Check it out
  • ELpork - March 19, 2009 10:03 p.m.

    WTF!!! No mass Effect. Best underrated album ever!!!
  • Wordup95 - March 20, 2009 midnight

    God, I loves the Jet Set Radio franchise. They better make a sequel or I'll have a hard time resisting to send Sega a package with a disease in it. :P
  • hun23 - March 20, 2009 1:39 a.m.

    @Hobojedi: Yes, its a shame that none of the Hell March's were on this list. If you listen to that, you are almost guaranteed to get chills. And yes, people who used this song in Killzone 2 "Music" videos. Even though Red Alert was about the Soviets. Recatpa: 1980's armor
  • RedBandit - March 20, 2009 1:47 a.m.

    i think pretty much all games have a great soundtrack, if you take the time and actually listen to the music, and not just the screams of decapitated zombies...
  • RedOutlive10 - March 20, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    There was a tune from Banjo-Tooie that I couldn't get out of my head when I first played it, the tune from the water/pirate world, in the starting area. Jolly Roger's Lagoon is the world's name.
  • Red - March 20, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    I STILL listen to the music from Jet Grind Radio and Jet Set Radio Future on a dailey basis.
  • diddly - March 20, 2009 3:15 a.m.

    First off, this is a great feature, but i was just wondering why the medal of honor frontline soundtrack was left out? it was a true pioneer of video game music, and i personally always think of it when thinking of great pump up moments. Once again great stuff here otherwise. thanks.

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