Monday, November 12, 2018

Top 15 RPG Overworld Themes of the 90's

Today I'm looking at some of the greatest overworld themes from 90's RPGs. That might seem like an oddly-specific kind of list; the fact is, some of the greatest video game music out there can be found on the world maps of 16- and 32-bit RPGs. Any music that plays on a world map or overworld qualifies. I'm limiting it to one entry per game, which makes for some tough decisions when it comes to the several games on the list with multiple great overworld tunes. I can't promise there won't be a ton of Final Fantasy featured here. It's a subjective list; your mileage may vary. If I left a particularly great overworld theme out, comment below and let me know.

#15 - Final Fantasy VII, Overworld 1 - Leading off with what is probably the most iconic tune on this list. This should probably be a lot higher just because of the overall importance of the track in the grand scheme of things. However, it impacts me the least of the overworld tunes here. Regardless, it's an epic track that sets the stage for the adventure to come really well. My only issue with it is that it, like several songs in Final Fantasy VII, gets TOO epic with the soaring volume. Around 3:48 is a drop-off that can only be described as ominous. Considering how ominous this entire game is, it fits.

#14 - Super Mario RPG, Overworld - There's definitely some nostalgia talking with this one. It's a fitting, light theme that gets you ready to explore the world of Super Mario RPG, though.

#13 - Breath of Fire, Overworld 1 - A truly badass overworld theme that draws you into this game right from the beginning. This one has a great beat that I'd love to hear get a remastering.

#12 - Suikoden 2, Overworld 1 - This tune bellows "adventure". It's a quintessential marching theme, and right from the get-go it hypes me up to walk around the world of Suikoden 2.

#11 - Final Fantasy IV, Underworld - Nostalgia strikes again, yet there's no denying how atmospheric this tune is. It was a tough call whether to include this or the standard overworld theme on the list, but I'll give this one the edge due to the particularly striking first few seconds.

#10 - Dragon Quest II (SFC Remake), Overworld - This is my personal favorite overworld theme in the Dragon Quest series, with a sort of "angelic march" vibe to it.

#9 - Parasite Eve, Overworld - A futuristic, energetic track, the aptly-named Urban Noise was perfect for this dark and moody game.

#8 - Wild Arms 2, Overworld 1 - One of the sadder-sounding entries on this list. Adds a lot to what is otherwise a fairly barren wasteland.

#7 - Chrono Cross, Overworld 1 - A fantastic, nostalgic callback to the main theme of the original Chrono Trigger, and one of many, many amazing songs in Chrono Cross. As a sequel it might be a letdown, but it sure does have a good soundtrack.

#6 - Final Fantasy VI, Overworld 1 - A mainstay at the top of "best overworld theme" lists for a long time, and every bit deserving of it. However, it isn't my favorite Final Fantasy overworld theme. That goes to...

#5 - Final Fantasy IX, Overworld - The perfect theme for walking through mist and rain, two things that make their presence known on Final Fantasy IX's overworld. The break-down later in the song is what puts this one over the top. Just tremendous.

#4 - Secret of Mana, Flight Theme 2 - Ominous and foreboding, this song truly conveys that the world is in crisis. It was difficult to decide between this and Flight Theme 3, to say the least.

#3 - Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, Overworld - This is a truly great overworld theme on all levels, limited only by the sound chip of the SNES.

#2 - Legend of Dragoon, Overworld 3 - Out of the FOUR insanely good overworld themes that this game has, I have to give the nod to this one. It's a serene, peaceful track. And while you're at it, check out the other three as well.

#1 - Xenogears, Overworld - The top nod goes to this fantastic, relaxing tune that instantly identifies itself with the world of Xenogears. This track has quite a bit in common with Final Fantasy IX's overworld, and while it doesn't have the tremendous drop-off, it's a brilliant track all-around.

1 comment:

  1. The FF7 overworld theme is certainly ambitious enough. In my opinion the most notable thing about it is how long the game is before you get to hear it.

    I've always been more partial to BoF's second overworld theme, but all three are great. It's certainly as you describe it, and it honestly wouldn't sound out of place in a Suikoden.

    I'm more partial to the first overworld theme in FF4, but they're both incredible.

    Oh man, great choice with the DQ2 pick. DQ4's solo Hero overworld music is in the same vein as this.

    You know it's been a long time since I've played Parasite Eve when I don't remember it having an overworld. This is excellent though, it has clearly been too long since I've heard this.

    FF6 and FF9 are both super-worthy inclusions on this list.

    I suppose in a way the only true overworld in Secret of Mana is while you're flying. ...or cannon traveling.


    Love the Xenogears inclusion too. Great list!