Trying out something a bit different with this list, which is one big video that includes all of the picks! I had to dust off my Windows Movie Maker skills for this one. It may be evident that, despite some input from the rest of the Mahou Tofu crew, my RPG horizons are fairly shallow (which I know is something I say all the time).
Regardless, I hope you all enjoy this list and tell me if you disagree with my choices. After all, it’s no fun if everyone makes the same list, right?
#30 “Kraken of the Sea” (EarthBound), Composed by Hirokazu Tanaka
EarthBound is known for its quirky music, and this boss theme is no exception. This track, first played when Ness and crew encounter the vicious Kraken outside of Summers, is strange almost to the point of being uncomfortably so. That’s the kind of tension you need when fighting a massive sea serpent, though.
#29 “Boss Theme” (Golden Sun: Dark Dawn), Composed by Motoi Sakuraba
Oh, Motoi Sakuraba. You make fantastic music, but I swear it all ends up sounding the same. Still, the great energy and driving synthesizers that his music is known for is all there in this, the third Golden Sun.
#28 “Deadline” (Revelations: Persona), Composed by Shouji Meguro
So I’ve never played this game before, but its modern setting definitely has a distinct influence its music. The boss theme, in particular, starts off with an oddly ambient prelude before diving into a face-melting rock out.
#27 “Battle (VS Gym Leader)” (Pokemon Red/Blue), Composed by Junichi Masuda
I believe this theme needs no introduction. All of the Pokemon Gym leader themes are pretty good, but this one’s the most memorable (for obvious reasons). It’s a melody returns over and over throughout the series, and there aren’t any more melodies that are more associated with the image of victory than this one.
#26 “Danger ~ Boss Battle Theme” (Secret of Mana), Composed by Hiroki Kikuta
Definitely the most violent sounding boss theme on this list. It opens with a literal, rhythmic machine gun before transitioning into a more comfortable and heroic groove. That’s kind of how I imagine a “real” boss battle would feel like. Tense at first, then awesome when you start kicking their ass.
#25 “Prisoners of Fate” (Chrono Cross), Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda
Here we have what is probably the most unique boss theme on the entire list. It plays during an incredibly important battle around the middle of the game, which is when there are plot twists being thrown around everywhere. Most boss battles can be painful, but this one is painful for an entirely different reason.
#24 “Boss Battle” (Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals), Composed by Yasunori Shiono
The SNES days are known as the Golden Era of JRPGs. They were pumped out with frequency and quality, adopting similar conventions. As a sort of consequence, their music adopted familiar patterns as well. Not entirely a bad thing, but it’s the reason why I feel like I can’t put some of these higher. Don’t get me wrong, Lufia II’s boss theme is still as strong as they come.
#23 “Freeze!” (Paper Mario), Composed by Yuka Tsujiyoko
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this theme were some sort of interlude for a disco party. The Crystal King, being the last of the seven main bosses of the game, puts up a tough fight, and his awesome theme backs him up quite well. The mainstays of disco, from the four-on-the-floor beat to the fat strings, are there. I think the Crystal King just secretly wants to get down on the dance floor with Mario.
#22 “Boss Battle” (Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest), Composed by Ryuji Sasai
Like I said with Lufia II, SNES era battle music tends to sound samey after a while. What I love about them though is how the synthesizers actually add to the energy and tension of the music. The sounds are less round and have a sort of edge to them. Tracks like this theme from Mystic Quest showcase this aspect with a complex melody that jumps around without any care.
#21 “Family Matters, 2nd Movement” (Mother 3), Composed by Shogo Sakai
When fighting the eccentric Beethoven wannabe Lord Passion, we need a appropriate mood music. Mother 3 provides with a great medley of Classical tunes. There’s actually another track that plays in a different fight with the same boss, but I prefer this mix, just for how clean it sounds. Who can say no to a boss theme that opens with Beethoven’s 5th?