Gaming's most incestuous soundtracks

From its inception, the idea behind Week of Geek has been “as niche as possible.” To some, an article about videogame music is obscure enough, but as an ardent fan of all things VGM, I wanted to truly geek out and talk about game music that references other game music.

Above: A lifetime of very important game-music research 

By this I don’t mean soundtracks like Super Smash Bros Brawl, which features dozens of tracks taken from different games. I’m talking about games that, for whatever reason, give an audible shout-out to another, usually one from the same publisher or developer. Still not getting it? Let’s begin.

Final Fantasy IV -> Super Mario RPG

Most of us will recognize both games. They’re originally from the SNES days (1991 and 1996, respectively), developed by Square and two of the most popular RPGs the system ever saw. But I’m willing to bet a big ol’ pile of valuable substances that few noticed Mario RPG’s usage of FFIV’s boss music.

Above: The original FFIV boss battle music

Above: Mario RPG’s cover, used in the fight against Culex

Fun soundtrack fact: Mario RPG composer Yoko Shimomura has graced us with beautiful music for many, many years, namely in Kingdom Hearts, Street Fighter II and the brand-new Bowser’s Inside Story.

Castlevania -> Contra Hard Corps

Konami is best known for its franchises, particularly DDR, Metal Gear and Silent Hill. But, 15 years ago or so, the biggest names it swung around were Castlevania and Contra. These two series couldn’t be conceptually further from each other (gothic vampire hunt vs brawny bullet men), but once upon a time they did share this classic theme:

Above: Castlevania's famous “Vampire Killer” from the NES version

Above: Contra Hard Corps’s gabber-rave re-imagining

Fun soundtrack fact: Hard Corps hides this tune in a secret arena level that pits you against a whip-cracking robot (a jab at Castlevania for sure), a floaty ball enemy and uh, this thing:

Which looks like a monster pushing a shopping cart. If we ever do a list of “craziest bosses” or something (and at some point we probably will), expect this abomination to make the cut.

Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins -> Mega Man 7

Mega Man has prospered for two decades, while the ruthlessly difficult Goblin series has had to continuously fight for its place in the world. Maximo (PS2) and Ultimate Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins (PSP) tried to reignite the passion, but nothing stuck with gamers like the arcade (and NES) original. Mega Man 7 paid a sneaky tribute to its struggling brother with its own rendition of a classic tune.

Above: The first level of Ghosts 'n' Goblins, probably the furthest most of us got

Above: The same tune as heard in Mega Man 7, accessed via code

Fun soundtrack fact: Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins may not mean much to today’s audiences, but the memories burn brightly enough to inspire game band The Minibosses to cover the above theme with electric guitar gusto. Check ‘em out here.

Wolfenstein 3D -> Doom 2: Hell on Earth

Doom’s impact on the FPS genre cannot be understated. It ushered in the era of online multiplayer, made “deathmatch” a casual term and jumpstarted the modding scene all in the span of two games. However, its successes come on the heels of its predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D. Id, the developer of both games, re-used some classic Wolf tunes in two secret Doom 2 levels.

Above: Music to kill mecha-Hitler by, as heard in Wolfenstein 3D

Above: The same song as heard in level 32 of Doom 2

Fun soundtrack fact: Doom is very, very ‘90s. So is Alice in Chains. It appears the former sampled the latter in a most unofficial way. Check out the details in our Soundtracks you didn’t know were stolen article.

Next page: Mario, Zelda, Halo and more!


  • Hellwilder - April 9, 2011 6:48 p.m.

    Culex's theme from Mario RPG also appears in the Haunted Mansion boss fight (Big Boo) in Mario Pinball
  • RushofBlood17 - October 15, 2010 4:11 a.m.

    I swear I have heard Luigi whistle Totaka's song in Luigi's Mansion. Like if you walk around doing nothing for too long or something like that.
  • PivotPlurals1 - September 27, 2009 5:41 p.m.

    In Link's Awakening DX U.S. Version, if you name yourself ZELDA in all Caps, you get some alternate music which i don't know what it is
  • AntistaFartedOnMyMom - August 17, 2009 1:55 p.m.

    Loved this article. FFIV fan and Mario RPG are my number 2 and 3 rpgs, and loved that song. Just wondering though where the fuck do you find your soundtracks? That stack is crazy.
  • Nintendroid426 - August 17, 2009 2:07 a.m.

    totaka's song seems really interesting topic for wii/DS owners.
  • ieatchocolate - August 16, 2009 6:06 p.m.

    Phoenix Wright... come on!
  • revenge - August 14, 2009 11:18 p.m.

    i could have sworn to have heard totaka's song in luigi's mansion, i wish i rembered where
  • kingWIIthe3d - August 14, 2009 9:31 a.m.

    the race/challenge music from mario 64/ocarina of time/ majora's mask is the same. the penguin race(mario galaxy, the mountaain with the penguins and the house), the races on epona(both majora's and ocarina's) are the same. it's just fan service probably
  • TedDidlio - August 14, 2009 7:50 a.m.

    Fantastic Article Beebop. The Halo thing seems a little more like an easter egg than ripping itself off, but that could be just me.
  • FinalGamer - August 14, 2009 1:16 a.m.

    Quite a few surprised me, but I know an odd leap of music. The Caves theme in Pokemon Snap is a remix of The Goddess Appears, the fairy's theme from Zelda: Link to the Past.
  • IIIIIACEIIIII - August 13, 2009 11:52 p.m.

    You forgot one, the Great Fairy music in LoZ and the map music for world 3 in SMB 3.
  • MechGyver - August 13, 2009 10 p.m.

    @hazent I own your sweet ass.
  • Fizzmonkey - August 13, 2009 6:52 p.m.

    me and my friend were messing around and found the easter egg on halo(too bad we weren't the first)
  • TheNinja - August 13, 2009 4:04 p.m.

    i am 37th to care
  • waynski1457 - August 13, 2009 6:13 a.m.

    Learn something new every day. I didn't know about the Myth egg in Halo 3 (the same egg is in Halo 1 though). Awesome article.
  • Queepo50001 - August 13, 2009 5:19 a.m.

    FF does have a few recurring themes (Battle of the Big Bridge). DQ normally has amazing but anemic soundtracks that are padded down by songs from earlier games. One thing that's cool is that the orchestra versions of the FF music has some micro-shoutouts to DQ's. For instance, the main theme of Final Fantasy actually has the (daaa) da-da-da-da da daaa from the Dragon Quest theme in the backgrround, and FF4's Theme of Love, in the 20020220 recording at least (I don't know about the others) actually has the opening notes of DQ5's theme of love in the background at about 3:45. And DQ4's soundtrack, though amazing, rips off two well known Christmas jingles in its town and Balloon themes. WTF?
  • Hobojedi - August 13, 2009 2:16 a.m.

    The pic for Doom 2 isn't from Doom 2, it's from the Ultimate Doom (ie Doom 1).. not to be picky or anything, just pointing that out. :}
  • somthing42 - August 13, 2009 2:02 a.m.

    ooooooohhhhh someone beat me to it.
  • lovinmyps3 - August 12, 2009 11:38 p.m.

    Nice article Brett! I enjoy VGM and this article brought back some memories.
  • Defguru7777 - August 12, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    Cool article. I love game music, but I don't own much of it (Halo, Gears of War, Castle Crashers). I knew about the Halo/Myth one, but I frequent Halo sites a lot.

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