23 amazing game soundtracks you don't remember

Ghouls ' n' Ghosts (Amiga)

The traditional console versions of Ghouls 'n' Ghosts has one of the most iconic and fun soundtracks of the era (anyone not merrily humming the opening graveyard tune right now, take a long hard look at yourself), but the music written for the Amiga port is on a whole other level. Composed by Tim Follin (there's that man again), it's a vastly more experimental and complex work that makes use of dark atmospherics, traditional folky sounds and all-out noise to create something far more interesting and totally unexpected. Check it all out here.

Gremlins 2 (NES)

There was just something about the synth sound and echo effect that came from the NES sound chip that meant that it did fun and creepy music fantastically well. Few licenses inspired fun and creepy like Gremlins, and so the resulting game sounded brilliant.

Jet Grind Radio/Jet Grind Radio Future (Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox)

Yeah, we know that the JGR games and their soundtracks are cultishly revered by all who've played them, but that's the problem. They're cultishly revered, rather than universally lauded, as any titles which produced original game music at least as good as their licensed 'proper' tunes should be. Here's the dangerously fun "Everybody Jump Around", by industry supremo Richard Jaques.

Plok (SNES)

Follin time again, folks. This time it's a co-production from Tim and his brother Geoff. Software Creations' Plok was one of the finest western-developed platformers on the SNES. It was brilliantly fun, quirky blue-sky gaming of the highest order, and its soundtrack is a perfect fit.

Secret of Mana (SNES)

Okay, Mana's music is rightfully exhalted by those in the know as some of the best ever written for a console. And as a result it comprises some of the most remixed pieces produced by the online game music community. But the fact is that when most people think of Square Enix music, they think of Nobuo Uematsu and Final Fantasy, not Hiroki Kikuta and Secret of Mana. So it deserves its place on this list as well as any. Simply stunning stuff.


  • 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