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!

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  • GamesRadarBrettElston - August 12, 2009 7:20 p.m.

    I am the first to care.
  • KillDrone - August 12, 2009 7:29 p.m.

    Lies! Damn Lies! The article.... is ok. While I don't put all my videogame music on shuffle while I'm moving furniture around my house. I also don't care about videogame music at all.
  • sixboxes - August 12, 2009 7:37 p.m.

    This doesn't surprise me. Especially in the 8-bit era, it seemed like everything was developed be the same 5 or 10 people. You could tell a sprite or a MIDI from Konami/Ultra, Capcom, Nintendo, or Sunsoft without even having to know the game. And "Vampire Killer" is the most epic 8-bit track ever - every game should have it as an easter egg. I had it as my ringtone, dammit!
  • Hurricrane - August 12, 2009 7:40 p.m.

    how the hell would someone just happen find that egg in Halo?
  • Samael - August 12, 2009 7:59 p.m.

    Wow the Halo/Myth one was surprising. I honestly thought I had found all the easter eggs in those games.
  • CaptainHead - August 12, 2009 8:03 p.m.

    I really liked that, is that song from FF4 still in the DS remake?
  • SmashTVAnt - August 12, 2009 8:09 p.m.

    Pretty good article man. I am liking Week of Geek so far.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - August 12, 2009 9:04 p.m.

    @Schnipke That opening tune is the general Final Fantasy theme, present in just about every FF game. I do love it so, and both FFIV DS and FFXII have great renditions.
  • mirthor - August 12, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    thats aahsome.. i am really shocked that i never noticed any of these except the ff and mario rpg.... seriously
  • MechGyver - August 12, 2009 10:29 p.m.

    01000110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 This message is for you...
  • TanK001 - August 12, 2009 10:32 p.m.

    Has anyone else noticed that the Ghost 'n' Goblins tune also sounds like the tune in the final fight between you and Gary in Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow?
  • Robusken - August 12, 2009 10:44 p.m.

    Wow I was suprised with that whole totakas song.
  • RushofBlood17 - August 12, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    I have definitely heard Luigi hum Totaka's song in Luigi's Mansion! But it's been so long I can't remember how it happens.
  • somthing42 - August 12, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    the last comparison reminds me of where in world 3 of SMB3, the music sounds like from zelda. I can't remember specifically because it's been a long time. recapcha: president olcott
  • lucashintz - August 13, 2009 12:11 a.m.

    @MechGyver: Well that's not nice at all...I enjoyed the article.
  • Ensoul - August 13, 2009 2:32 a.m.

    Totaka’s Song stuff; unbelievable.
  • AnonymouZ - August 13, 2009 6:03 a.m.

    @Mechgyver Such a potty mouth... also... dayum, that guy who has his tune hidden on a shitload of games? hahahah he PWNS. EVERYBODY. i mean, how many did know about this? and how many have found ALL? This guy played us all ... and played us good.
  • Spybreak8 - August 13, 2009 7:50 a.m.

    I love VGM, thanks for the Crysis soundtrack btw, and am often creating sounds that are probably inspired from the games I play or have played. Just wanted to let people know that if you head over to and go to the free stuff they have the music available for download.
  • Csheroe - August 13, 2009 1:38 p.m.

    Hmm, Mega Man... Cool article.
  • Felixthecat - August 13, 2009 1:41 p.m.

    Obviously the best place to find most of the ones from Kazumi Totaka is SSBB.

Showing 1-20 of 59 comments

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