Tuesday, June 28, 2016
The Top Seventeen Final Boss Themes in Gaming
Today I'm listing what I consider to be the seventeen best final boss themes of all time. There are many final boss themes that I've never heard, so your mileage may vary. Honorable mention goes to the final boss theme of Yoshi's Island for the SNES.
17. Seiken Densetsu 3: Various Final Bosses - This section of the final battle theme is a remix of the Dark Lich fight from Secret of Mana, and it is a chilling piece of music. At once it calls forth imagery of the occult, an unavoidable battle, and absorbing darkness. Not too bad.
16. Earthbound: Heavily Armed Pokey - It starts out with a very NES-like riff, which is only fitting for this tradition-minded game. After that it kicks into rad-to-the-max rocking out. There is technically another final battle theme after this one, but as part of the final battle this counts for the sake of the list.
15. Secret of Evermore: Omnitopia's Control Room - This battle theme is driving and powerful. Much like the rest of the music in this game, it combines a sense of antiquity with a darker onset of technology. At this point in the game, technology is winning out. A great battle theme to top off a procession of great battle themes in this game.
14. Legend of Mana: The Mana Goddess - Mana games universally have great music. Silence of Time is a dark, eerie theme that fits the scene of the finale perfectly. Now, I'm no fan of this game and found it to be a complete chore to get through (and this was in 2000 when I could play and enjoy just about anything Squaresoft did). However, the music is damn good, and this theme brings things to a close in a good way.
13. Metroid Prime: ...Metroid Prime - The final fight with Metroid Prime is intense and action-packed, and the theme that accompanies it could not be any more perfect. It exudes alien menace.
12. Shadow Hearts Covenant: Susano-O - Not the first time Yasunori Mitsuda will appear on this list. It is my firm belief that Mitsuda is the greatest game music composer of all time. This is one of the darker games that he has composed, which definitely reflects in the final battle music.
11. Chrono Cross: Time Devourer - The sequel to Chrono Trigger leaves a lot to be desired on most levels, but one place where it completely succeeds is the music. This game has an incredible soundtrack, debatably the greatest game soundtrack I've ever heard. Yasunori Mitsuda did this one too. If Chrono Cross' gameplay and story were as good as the soundtrack, it would be surrounded by a halo of light.
10. Secret of Mana: Mana Beast - This game has some great tunes, which is a big part of why it has a mythical stature among gaming veterans of the 90's. The final battle theme is triumphant, a great accompaniment as you battle a dragon atop a flying fortress to decide the fate of the planet. It's hurt a bit by the 16-bit instrumentation, and I'd love to play a disc-based version of this game with updated music. For the time, though, this tune was amazing.
9. Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Various Final Bosses - The final battle theme of Muramasa: The Demon Blade is intense and conveys a struggle that one may or may not emerge from. Standing as a piece of music on its own, it doesn't amount to much; however, place it in the chaos of the final battle in this game and it becomes quite fitting and memorable.
8. Chrono Trigger: Lavos - This is a classic in every sense. I could do without the alien screaming, which is why this isn't higher on the list. The actual theme is rife with majestic awe, though. Chrono Trigger is said by many to be the greatest game of all time, and one major reason behind that is the Yasunori Mitsuda soundtrack. I also really enjoy the way the music moves back and forth between your left and right speakers, especially at the beginning of the song.
7. Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past: Ganon - Of the many fights with Ganon throughout the Zelda series, this one might be the most iconic. The theme for the fight is one of near-desperation as Ganon teleports about the room and taunts Link. This game set the standard for everything that came after, and I don't think any other game in the series managed to top this final battle theme.
6. Donkey Kong Country Returns: Whatever The Hell That Final Boss Was Supposed To Be - Donkey Kong Country Returns may well have the best soundtrack you'll find anywhere on the Wii. Retro Studios, the people responsible for Metroid Prime, were also behind this game... and it's obvious. This final battle theme is the most Metroid-like tune you'll find outside of a Metroid game.
5. Persona 4: Izanami - Persona 4 is one of the great RPGs of the PS2 era, and the final battle theme is one of prowling menace. It ranks so high on this list because of the way it evolves as time goes on. Much the way the battle itself evolves as the final boss begins to pull out all the stops, this theme transforms along with it.
4. Final Fantasy VI: Kefka - There are plenty of people who would say this belongs in the #1 spot. It is undoubtedly the greatest final battle theme of the main Final Fantasy series. Kefka is a terrifying villain, and in the final fight he takes on truly demonic proportions. This... is battle music at its finest.
3. Saga Frontier: Diva - This relatively obscure game was sub-par but had incredible music - especially the battle themes. This final battle theme is the best of the lot. It's too bad that it wasn't in a better game, attached to a more meaningful final battle.
2. Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core: The Shinra Army - Crisis Core isn't the best game in the world. It's decent, if somewhat mediocre. But that final fight... wow. This game has, hands-down, one of the greatest final battles I've ever played. It is FULL of meaning and poignancy, and the music - while not your average final battle fare - fits it perfectly. It reminds me of Alice in Chains' "The Rooster", which is fitting considering what happens in the game. If one were to judge this game on the last half hour alone, it would be up there with its pedigree - the lofty FFVII.
1. Xenogears: Uroboros - Another Yasunori Mitsuda soundtrack, Xenogears has incredible music. As a whole, I would say the soundtrack isn't as good as that of Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, or Shadow Hearts: Covenant. But the final battle theme? It blows them all away. I don't even need to go into why; just listen for yourself. This is game music at a level of emotion that many game soundtracks don't even aspire to, let alone reach.