#1. Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone Theme
The game cartridge that came with the Sega Genesis I received for Christmas in 1994 came with a six games, but it may as well have only had one: Sonic the Hedgehog, the game that single-handedly made a gamer. I chose the Green Hill Zone theme primarily because it’s the first piece of video game music — other than the quick bit at the title screen — I ever heard, one I’d hear quite a lot over the coming years as, inevitably, I drowned one too many times and found myself back in the Zone once more.
#2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Casino Night Zone
I was discussing game music with a friend the other day, and we both decided that the Casino Night Zone theme was probably the most memorable Sonic tune ever (beyond, perhaps, the invincibility bit). Moreover, the Zone itself was rather a standout part of the game, complete with a slot machine minigame and a hint of the pinball mechanics that would eventually make up Sonic Spinball. I never actually owned Sonic 2, but it was one of the handful of games (including Spinball and a Bible Adventures game…forgive the cliché but I really did play a Bible video game) that my grandfather had at his house when I came to visit.
#3. Brave Fencer Musashi – Far Into the Sky
Brave Fencer Musashi may not be the first game I ever played for the Playstation, but it’s perhaps the one I remember best. Certainly it’s my favorite. A Squaresoft action RPG that was, play-wise, much closer to Kingdom Hearts than any Final Fantasy, Musashi was an epic adventure complete with mine carts, zombie vampires (vambies!), giant ants, explosive trees, and the ability to suck abilities out of enemies with one of your duel-wielded swords. Its visuals haven’t aged well, but the gameplay remains solid; and the music, well…listen for yourself.
#4. Spyro the Dragon – Main Theme
I didn’t own my own copy of Musashi until a few years ago. My initial playing came via my friend Rich, to whom I also owe gratitude for introducing me to Spyro the Dragon. I didn’t have my own copy of that either, but I borrowed it frequently, and it was that little purple dragon that kindled what would become a lifelong obsession with Insomniac. Spyro: Year of the Dragon would be the first game I ever bought with my own money at full retail price (and $40 was no small sacrifice for a kid), as well as the first game I ever aimed for (and attained) absolute completion in, but I don’t remember much about it beyond eggs and a cute, hooded antagonist. For me, Spyro will always be Spyro 1, headbutting sheep, snagging red and green gems, and freeing crystallized dragons. Every realm had its own mystifying music, but this, the meta-realm’s theme, is the one that stuck with me most.
#5. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped – Main Theme
Of course, where there’s Insomniac, there has always been Naughty Dog. I missed the first Crash Bandicoot game entirely and borrowed number two from Rich (noticing a trend here?), but by the time Warped came around I was obsessed with the silly marsupial. Crash 3 had motorcycles, bazookas, and polar bear riding. If it had had those things simultaneously, it would have been the greatest game ever made. Ah well.