Another classic series known widely for its awesome music, Castlevania has gone through a lot of permutations over the years – and so have its victory themes, which in the early days ranged from this hasty little number in Castlevania 1…
… to this slightly more ornamented piece in Castlevania 3…
… before culminating in the awesome pipe-organ riff that accompanied every cleared stage in Super Castlevania IV.
The ones in Castlevania: Dracula X, meanwhile, had a fiercer, more battle-weary quality to them. But that game was just an inferior port of a much better game that only recently became available outside Japan, so nobody even cared.
Above: That it was pretty good on its own doesn’t matter. Ugh, why are we even bringing it up?
Whatever, here’s a series that (with a couple of ignoble exceptions) never saw fit to change its iconic victory jingle. The instruments and tempo may differ from game to game, but the melody’s always the same, whether we’re talking about the 1988 original…
… or the victory theme from 2009’s Contra ReBirth:
Another 16-bit side-scroller notable mainly for its oh-so-swank musical score, the action/god-game hybrid ActRaiser featured the best, most bombastic success theme ever to be featured in a SNES launch game that didn’t have the word “Mario” in its title.
It also had a remarkable level-up jingle, which was strangely evocative of the Zelda series:
The SNES didn’t have an absolute stranglehold on memorable soundtracks, though, and the Arcade/Genesis-only Strider had a victory theme that – like the rest of its music – left an indelible impression on everyone who played the shit out of it.
Then again, the SNES did have Final Fight, which featured a victory jingle that, while cheerful and rewarding, was strangely inappropriate to the business of punching street thugs to death:
Streets of Rage
Not to be outdone by those upstarts at Capcom, Sega countered Final Fight with its own brawler, Streets of Rage, with a musical score by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro (also known for his work on ActRaiser). And while there’s still debate about which game was the better brawler, Rage’s victory theme unequivocally kicked Final Fight’s ass.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Meanwhile, this year’s best download-only comic/movie adaptation draws inspiration from both Final Fight and Streets of Rage, but has a victory jingle that’s automatically a hundred times better because it’s performed by Anamanaguchi:
Street Fighter II
Really, this one’s kind of subjective – it was only a “victory” theme if you actually won, and you’d hear it regardless. It never felt too good when you were on the wrong end of this particular theme, but when it was your opponent? It was the most badass moment of triumph a pasty mid-‘90s gamer could possibly hope for.
Capcom would later discard the instantly recognizable jingle for the brighter, more hopeful-sounding one used in Street Fighter Alpha – which, while still a great victory theme, was a horn-laced dark portent of where the series’ soundtrack would go by the time Marvel vs Capcom 2 rolled around.
Another “victory” sound that was either elating or terrible depending on which side of it you were on, the three Fatality tones quickly became one of the most forebodingly iconic sounds in the fighting genre. And for Mortal Kombat fans, they’re still among the most sought after, given how tough pulling off a successful Fatality can be.
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