23 amazing game soundtracks you don't remember

Doom 64 (Nintendo 64)

Although not considered a canon entry, Midway's cranked up reworking of Doom is one of the best games to sport the title, not least because of its approach to sound. Dropping the musical approach and taking a line more similar to the ambient industrial of Trent Reznor's Quake score, the game has unearthly coldness which nearly broke the mind of one Radar editor when he first played it many years ago, alone and jetlagged after a transatlantic flight. Dave H still trembles at the word "Pinky" to this day.

Earthworm Jim (SNES/Mega Drive/Mega-CD/PC)

Everyone loves Earthworm Jim for its slick platforming and Python-esque lunacy, but Tommy Tallarico's confidently eclectic set of music is just as important an element of the game's greatness. Whether upbeat, atmospheric, mellow or just plain stupid, there's a slick and original depth that made EWJ sound unlike any other platformer from the 16-bit era. The music was reworked in higher fidelity for the Mega-CD version, but we can't help preferring the original arrangements overall.

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Dreamcast/PS2)

Tim Follin is a legend of games music. For two decades, pretty much everything he touched turned to sonic gold, and there are few finer examples of his talent than his ambient score to last generation's Ecco game. Words are pointless in summing it up. It's just sublime. Listen to it. Now.

F-Zero GX (Gamecube)

We've been over this before, but we'll say it again. Nintendo and Sega's co-produced Wipeout beater has a staggering soundtrack. Gamey without being cheesey and downright listenable in its own right, it's an essential playlist from an under-rated game on an under-rated machine.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)

Noob-friendly black sheep of the FF family Mystic Quest might be almost universally derided by hardcore fans, but one thing it does have going for it is its music. Composed by Ryuji Sasai and Yasuhiro Kawakami rather than series regular Nobuo Uematsu, it's a noticeably more bright and brash affair, and the strident, balls-out rock of the battle themes is frankly just badass.

Freedom Fighters (PS2/Gamecube/Xbox)

Jesper Kyd’s ‘Battle for Freedom’ piece is the perfect accompaniment to all the Ruskie face shooting in IO’s excellent squad shoot ‘em up. Mixing powerful electronic beats with a soothing but bass-filled choir, it blends industrial and natural tones to brilliant effect. Stirring and evocative, it shows Kyd can score more than Hitman’s slaphead-sponsored cheese-wirings.


  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 92 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000