The 20 Most Recognizable Video Game Tunes

The 20 Most Recognizable Video Game Tunes

Video games are no doubt a visual medium, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of sound and music when it comes to the medium’s lasting appeal and influence. Video game music has evolved tremendously over the years to include full-blown orchestral scores, but that hasn't taken away from gaming's most archaic 8-bit tunes, which still resonate with gamers to this day. Here’s a list of the 20 most recognizable video game tunes ever. 

1. Mortal Kombat - Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat Theme)

With a name like “Techno Syndrome,” one could only hope this track delivers the goods. Luckily, Mortal Kombat’s distinctively 90’s electronic banger is the perfect way to set the tone for the game's high-energy blood-drenched brawls while also serving as its signature tune for years to come. 

MortalAltan Dilan on Wikimedia Commons

2. The Legend of Zelda Overworld Theme

The Legend of Zelda is undoubtedly one of the most epic adventure games out there. Koji Kondo knew that his composition had to match the tone and energy of such a quest and he delivered in spades. Zelda’s Overworld theme remains a trademark of the game series decades later, with new iterations of the same familiar melody constantly accompanying Link’s iconic journeys through Hyrule. 

Ryan-Quintal-S7Phrjujnea-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Quintal

3. Tetris Theme Song

Almost as addictive to listen to as the game is to play, the Tetris theme song is no doubt one of the most infectious tunes on this list. Basing its earworm melody on the Russian folk song “Korobeiniki”, the Tetris theme is true to the game's roots and has remained an inseparable facet of its enduring relevance since it was first introduced in the late 80s. 

1024Px-Game Boy And TetrisSammlung der Medien und Wissenschaft on Wikimedia Commons

4. Pokémon Red & Blue - Main Theme

Anyone who has ever fancied themselves a true Pokémon master is intimately familiar with this classic video game tune. An iconic song for an iconic game, the Pokemon theme masterfully conveys the upbeat and curious nature of the world and adventure players are about to embark on, making it the perfect intro song. 

Michael-Rivera-Dypo Xgae4Y-UnsplashPhoto by Michael Rivera


5. Halo - Theme Song

A tune perfectly fit for a sci-fi epic, Halo’s iconic theme song is as recognizable as any sci-fi film score out there. The mystic and epic nature of the game is perfectly encapsulated in the score’s breathtaking choral Gregorian chants, easily making Martin O’Donnell’s score one of the most recognizable video game songs of the 21st century. 

1024Px-Halo Anniversary La Game Launch - Spartan And Master Chief (6381866931)pop culture geek on Wikimedia Commons

6. Street Fighter II - Guile’s Theme

What better way to face off with the world's deadliest fighters? Fit for a tale of street-brawling martial artists, Street Fighter II’s “Guile’s Theme” perfectly conveys the requisite motivation and energy needed for such a massive undertaking, leaving players inspired and ready to take on anyone who dares oppose them. 

Rafael-Hoyos-Weht-Dsqhgaaguyy-UnsplashPhoto by Rafael Hoyos Weht 

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

Powerful and bold, Skyrim’s triumphant “Dragonborn” flawlessly encapsulates the epic and sprawling world that surrounds the player. The song’s iconic chants instantly conjure up a sense of fearlessness and wonderment as players first embark on the game’s expansive adventure.

1024Px-Female Warrior Cosplay (Okimg 3031)taymtaym on Wikimedia Commons

8. Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone

It’s hard to make a song that accurately reflects the fast and frenetic nature of its speedy protagonist; but, miraculously, “Green Hill Zone” does just that! The fast-paced, bubbly tune perfectly encapsulates the fun and excitement of traversing levels as the game’s energetic hedgehog. 

1024Px-View Of A Large Inflatable Sonic The Hedgehog In The Hamley's Toy Parade - - 5199998Robert Lamb on Wikimedia Commons

9. Pac-Man - Opening Theme

One of the most iconic game openings of all time, the Pac-Man theme has served as the catchy and upbeat intro to one of gaming’s most beloved and enduring franchises. Pac-Man’s endless hunger just wouldn’t be the same without this quick and quirky 8-bit staple. 

Sei-Bs46Iaxwao4-UnsplashPhoto by Sei

10. Metal Gear Solid - Main Theme

Equal parts tense and awe-inspiring, Metal Gear Solid's brooding theme perfectly encapsulates the heady and consequential nature of the game’s brilliant plotlines. Hideo Kojima set out to make a cinematic masterpiece and luckily the game’s impeccable score only serves to further highlight this point and make his dream a reality. 

Metal Gear Solid 4 TgsAntonio Fucito on Wikimedia Commons


11. Super Mario 64 - Dire, Dire Docks

A true masterclass in 64-bit orchestral composition, Super Mario 64’s “Dire, Dire, Docks” is a fantastic show of force in an already iconic and recognizable title. Perfectly capturing a tranquil and serene vibe, the song serves as a marvelous accompaniment to the game's unique underwater levels. 

1024Px-N64 Clear Blue With Super Mario 64 20100603Noa Kosanovic on Wikimedia Commons

12. Final Fantasy VII - Main Theme

A story is only as epic as its score. Thankfully, Nobuo Uematsu’s grand, sweeping theme song is the ultimate composition to fit Final Fantasy VII’s deep and complex narrative. Masterfully walking the line between haunting and beautiful, Final Fantasy VII's majestic theme will forever hold a special place in the hearts of millions of gamers who fell in love with the game.

1024Px-Cosplayer Of Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy Vii At Ch1 20160220othree on Wikimedia Commons

13. The Last of Us

Haunting and minimalist, Gustavo Santaolalla’s guitar-laden masterpiece is an undeniable modern-day classic. Beautifully encapsulating the game’s overwhelming sense of loneliness and despair, The Last of Us theme is an instantly recognizable favorite among fans of the game, as well as its critically acclaimed HBO series. 

1024Px-The Last Of Us Part Ii Marketing - TrainPete Ellis on Wikimedia Commons

14. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 

Perfectly encapsulating the West Coast 90’s setting of the game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ catchy G-funk-inspired intro has been a fan favourite since the game’s release back in 2004. Long-time GTA composer Michael Hunter lovingly brought to life the 90’s West Coast sound, further elevating the expert world-building that Rockstar Games is known for. 

1024Px-Abandoned Gas Station With GraffitiJim on Wikimedia Commons

15. Doom (1993) - E1M1 (At Doom's Gate)

Serving as the defining sound of the original Doom, this in-your-face heavy metal anthem is the perfect track to set the stage for the chaotic horror that awaits. “At Doom’s Gate” is an auditory microcosm of the game's fast-paced, frenetic gameplay and remains an iconic track to this day.

Doom1id Software; Bethesda Softworks, LLC on Wikimedia Commons

16. Minecraft - Sweden

Anyone who’s spent a modicum of time playing Minecraft will instantly recognize this standout track. Serving as a smooth and calm companion to the game's brilliantly tranquil gameplay, “Sweden” further highlights the serene and almost meditative quality of the smash hit sandbox game. 

Nina-Rivas-6El Lmjdwjm-UnsplashPhoto by Nina Rivas  


17. Portal - Still Alive

As the fittingly quirky and humorous end to an equally quirky and humorous game, Portal’s “Still Alive” is the most petty and passive-aggressive anthem in gaming history. Performed by GLaDOS (the game’s sinister AI villain), “Still Alive” manages to perfectly wrap up the game’s tongue-in-cheek plot in the most darkly hilarious way possible. 

Weighted Companion Cube (1996206525)skhakirov on Wikimedia Commons

18. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - Main Theme

On the list of songs that go way too hard for their own good, the main theme from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has to rank near the top. A powerful orchestral piece befitting an opera more than a game about lovable Nintendo characters going at it, the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate theme provides a sense of epic grandeur to the beloved all-star platform fighter. 

1024Px-Nintendo 64 (26017220053)Frédéric BISSON on Wikimedia Commons

19. Mii Channel Theme

The perfect compliment to a session of Mii creation and customization, this iconic background track is instantly recognizable for its fun and bouncy melody. The tune will forever be etched into the minds of Wii users worldwide as a beloved facet of the characteristically quirky and unique nature of the console. 

1024Px-Wii-ConsoleEvan-Amos on Wikimedia Commons

20. Super Mario Bros. Theme

No doubt the top contender for the most recognizable video game tune of all time, Koji Kondo’s iconic melody is synonymous with the beloved Mario series, serving as its signature tune from the beginning. This cheerful theme has served as the soundtrack for Mario’s iconic adventures throughout the Mushroom Kingdom and has invariably etched itself into the minds of millions of gamers worldwide.

Sahand-Babali-3Gbcpmyxvwq-UnsplashPhoto by Sahand Babali