Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Top 11 Opening Menu Themes

Time for a very unorthodox list. These are what I consider the best opening menu themes in games - not necessarily title screen music, but some of these also play on the title screens of their respective games. Fighting game character selects don't count, nor do Mega Man type stage selects. All that counts are opening menu themes, and there are a surprising amount of good ones out there (mostly in RPGs). These are my 11 personal favorite menu themes, and your mileage may vary. Let's have at it.

11. Earthbound - This one is weird and trippy, like a lot of things about the game. It has a definite rhythm to it, though, and is instantly recognizable even years later. Right up there with the funkiest of funky music.

10. Super Mario 64 - This one gets a boost due to having such a magical memory attached to it. Who can forget firing up Super Mario 64 for the first time and being greeted by this tune?

9. Final Fantasy X - Another tune that captures the mood of the game pretty well. This theme has an "aquatic" vibe to it and meanders between foreboding and mystical.

8. Secret of Evermore - Slightly limited by the hardware, but still emotive. This tune sounds like falling rain and adventure.

7. Tekken 5 - The first main menu theme in any Tekken game, and I have a feeling that it might have been intended for an earlier installment. For a game that came out in November 2004, this has a distinct 2000-2001 Playstation 2 sound to it.

6. Metal Gear Solid 2 - And speaking of turn of the century sound, the opening menu theme from Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of the creepiest tunes in that series. It sounds like it's straight out of Perfect Dark, and really sets the tone for another spy thriller in a menacing, dark future.

5. Elemental Gearbolt - One of the most peaceful tracks on this list, from an underrated PS1 game that I could never get very far in. This reminds me a lot of the Secret of Evermore track above, only with 32-bit CD instrumentation.

4. Armored Core - From here onward, any of the top four tracks could easily be #1 on this list. It's nearly a four-way tie for the top spot, but I managed to just barely rank them in a discernable order. The Raven's Nest menu theme from Armored Core is another amazing PS1 track that manages to psych me up no matter what year I listen to it. The only thing putting it at the bottom of the final four is the slightly repetitive nature of it. It gets remixed in each new game in the series, and I really hope that the upcoming Core revival also brings back this theme.

3. Dark Souls - From one From Software game to another. This tune is amazing to listen after a session of Dark Souls as you close the game out. Swinging between melancholy and hopeful, it's an outstanding track for reflection.

2. Xenoblade Chronicles X - I wish I had more to say about this one, but I haven't played much of the game yet. Suffice to say that the opening menu theme completely rocks, and it plays during the entirety of character creation. It has a lot in common with the Armored Core theme above.

1. Metroid Prime - When it came down to it, there was no other choice for the #1 spot. This tune sets the mood for Metroid Prime right out of the gate. The best part is that it keeps changing in subtle ways as it goes along, getting better and better until it hits a crescendo at the 2:30 mark. It's so powerful that it nearly redefines the Metroid series by itself before you even start playing the game that redefined the Metroid series. Conveying danger and menace while also psyching you up for the battles to come, this opening menu theme does everything right. Unfortunately, Metroid Prime Trilogy removed this theme entirely for some reason. Let's hope that if the trilogy ever gets a modern HD remaster, they put this glaring omission back in.

1 comment:

  1. ...Metroid Prime Trilogy removed the menu music? That's almost worse than removing the original control scheme!