It is my humble opinion that of all the different types of games out there, that role-playing games are the greatest. Now that’s not to say that other genres aren’t great in their own right, they are still plenty enjoyable. It’s just that the memories I have from playing RPGs stand out far above the rest. Who doesn’t have fond memories of Grandia II, Final Fantasy VI, Skies of Arcadia, or any of the thousands of amazing RPGs out there? The characters become important to us, as do the worlds they inhabit. There are many aspects that come together to make these experiences as good as they are. Gameplay, art direction, and writing are all very important, but what we are discussing today is music.
We will specifically be looking at the music that accompanies battle. Every RPG I have ever played has had special pieces of music that play during the game’s fights. Due to the nature of video games you hear these tracks much more often than most of the other music in a game’s soundtrack. Because of this, the composers have to make sure that the music isn’t something that you will become tired of hearing too quickly. This has the effect of making the battle music in RPGs some of the most addictive and memorable tracks you will hear.
So today we will be listing our favorite 10 RPG battle music tracks. I am suspending the normal one entry per franchise rule, the longevity of RPG franchises led to this decision. We are exuding music that plays only during boss battles, as that will eventually have its own list. Other than that this will follow the same standard layout we normally use for Nerd Tunes. So sit back, put your headphones on, and enjoy these amazing tracks.
Skies of Arcadia – Battle (Ship Deck)
Composer: Tatsuyuki Maeda
One of my favorite games of all time, and I am not exaggerating. Despite my constant begging Sega has yet to give us a modern HD port of this classic Dreamcast RPG. Pirates, airships, and flying whales are just some of the things that make this game amazing. The soundtrack is very solid, including the various battle themes. It was tough deciding which of the tracks was our favorite, but after consideration we went with the one that plays during battles on the deck of your airship. It’s orchestral sound is awesome, and it really captures the feeling of battle foes high in the air with the winds all around you.
The Legend of Dragoon – Battle 1
Composers: Dennis Martin and Takeo Miratsu
Everyone has heard by now about how this game is an underrated gem. It has a very dedicated fan base, and I include myself in their number. I don’t know for sure if the game is every bit as good as it’s contemporaries, but I do know it has a stellar soundtrack. As far as sound quality this game has some of the best of the era of the first PlayStation console. There are three battle themes in this game, and they are all great. We ultimately decided on the first of them for this list, though, and I think you can agree it is awesome.
Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow – Trainer Battle
Composer: Junichi Masuda
Many gamers have had to listen to this track for thousands of hours. “I made eye contact with you, and for no other apparent reason I am going to attack you now.” that is pretty much how I feel about random trainer battles in these games at this point. These battles get extremely tiresome after awhile, and the music does little to help. Although at this point it is so burned into my brain that I have no choice, but to include it in this list. The more recent games might have superior sound quality, but it’s hard to beat the original.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Blood and Steel
Composer: Jeremy Soule
One of the most played RPGs of all time, Skyrim is in a league of its own. Although this is not my personal favorite in The Elder Scrolls series, it is the most popular. Jeremy Soule’s soundtracks have always been a pleasure to hear, and Skyrim is some of his best work. This track should be very familiar to anyone who has played the game. Not only does it serve as the background music for battles, it is also somewhat of a warning to let players know an enemy is after them.
Final Fantasy VIII – The Man with the Machine Gun
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
You were probably wondering when a Final Fantasy game was going to make the list. Even though the popular choice would be something from the seventh game in the series, we went with something different. In my opinion Final Fantasy VIII has some of the strongest music is the franchise. Nobuo Uematsu really outdid himself with this one. The main battle music is pretty great, but this track that plays during battles where you control Laguna is just plain awesome.
Final Fantasy X – Battle Theme
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Here we have another game in the Final Fantasy series. The tenth entry in the beloved franchise was truly amazing. It blew me away with it’s at the time next generation graphics and expansive world. The soundtrack was exceptional and helped bring the game to life. The battle music was fresh and exciting and made you feel like this was something really new. I actually didn’t care for the remastered soundtrack featured in the PS3/PS4 port of the game, no I prefer the original.
Persona 4 – Reach Out To The Truth
Composer: Shoji Meguro
If you haven’t played a Persona game I suggest you stop reading this and correct that. If you have played them then you know they have unique and catchy soundtracks. This one really stands out next to the others on this list, due to its vocal elements and upbeat sound. It’s a perfect fit for the game, though, with it’s unusual setting and characters. Despite putting countless hours into this game on two different platforms I never once grew tired of hearing this tune.
Final Fantasy Tactics – Random Waltz
Composer: Hitoshi Sakimoto
Another Final Fantasy game? Yep, another one. Although this one was not composed by series regular Nobuo Uematsu, and that’s just fine. The soundtrack for this game is superb, and some of the best in the series. The orchestral tune, which plays during random battles, is somehow fun and calming. It is a nice change from the otherwise serious tone of the music. Hearing it so often as I was grinding my way through the game endured it to my heart.
Valkyrie Profile – Unfinished Battle With God’ Syndrome
Composer: Motoi Sakuraba
Valkyrie Profile remains a truly great and often unappreciated game. Maybe at some point we will receive a true sequel to the series that gives us the closure we deserve. Either way we can always listen to the game’s absolutely great soundtrack. Motoi Sakuraba is one of the greatest in the industry, and this track should show you exactly why. There are a few other battle themes in the game, but this one ended up beating out the others to make the list.
Tales of Symphonia – Full Force
Composer: Motoi Sakuraba
So we close out our list with another one from Motoi Sakuraba. Nothing too crazy about this track, it is just really solid. Tales of Symphonia is a great game and the rest of the soundtrack is amazing as well. As with some of the other games on this list, there is more than one battle theme in this game. The choice here was actually pretty difficult, but eventually we decided that this one was the best of the bunch.
Well, that was a lot of fun. It was pretty nostalgic going through all the different soundtracks to decide on these. There were a few others we felt should have probably made the list, but sadly there can only be so many. If you think we missed something or you just plain disagree with our choices please feel free to let us know. As always we encourage you to check out the rest of The Nerd Stash for other awesome articles, news, and many other cool and interesting things.
Brian Cowan loves playing video games, football, Magic, and pretty much anything else that he can use as an excuse to waste time. When he is not doing the above or working, he is usually writing or reading.