A few weeks ago, Firestream shared five of his personal favorite boss battle themes. Today, I’m laying out a few of my favorite STANDARD battle themes. They are in no particular order and are not necessarily my absolute favorite ones. This was actually a difficult list to compile, seeing as there are so many amazing tracks to choose from.
To cut down on my choices, I’ve made it a point to avoid more common and mainstream titles as to potentially make this more interesting (and not so predictable). But please feel free to share your own favorites and thoughts below!
“Feldschlact III” – SaGa Frontier II
The original Saga Frontier was my jam in 6th/7th grade. I remember bringing the official strategy guide to school and writing down combos on the back sleeve (I was a loser, I know). While I have much more playtime with the first game, the soundtrack in the second left a more lasting impression on me.
I really don’t remember much about the game itself (maybe a good reason to jump back into it at some point), but this battle theme has stuck with me for years. Take a gander and you might see why I hold it in high regards.
This is an incredibly obscure one, as it has only been used in very small indie games, with most of them gaining little to no exposure. I also used this in a small commercial project myself. It was composed by Aaron Walz, who made a name for himself in the late 90s / early 2000s as a talented composer. While this particular track was made back in his MIDI days, the quality is certainly there. He went on to compose for many projects from there, including commercial games and other media platforms.
I’ve always been drawn to this theme by its mysteriousness and sense of conflict. A perfect example of a battle theme done right. This particular cut isn’t of the highest quality (it isn’t available anywhere on the Internet outside of the original MIDI format), but you should get a good idea of what the track is going for regardless.
“Battle Theme #3” – Final Fantasy XI
While this particular game is a numbered Final Fantasy, I don’t consider it one of the mainstream titles due to it being a MMO. While it certainly had its share of success worldwide, it never got the kind of traction in the States that Final Fantasy XIV did (which I would argue IS a mainstream FF title for that reason).
Regardless, the soundtrack within Final Fantasy XI is stellar. Naoshi Mizuta is largely responsible for the work in it, but is not the only credited composer (Nobuo Uematsu, and others helped as well). All of the battle themes are great, but this one is my favorite. I heard it after traveling to the mysterious village of Kazham, and stepping into the jungle of unknown beyond that for the first time. I can still hear the cries of death from people getting killed by goblins there to this day. Ah, nostalgia.
“Arise Within You” – Parasite Eve
This game took me completely by surprise when it was released back on the PS1. A very unique setting for an RPG, as it has you playing as a NYPD rookie as some horrific events transpire.
The soundtrack does a wonderful job of portraying the more modern setting while revealing the unsettling undertones and sense of urgency in the protagonist’s quest. This is definitely not my favorite track of the entire OST, but it is a good battle theme nonetheless.
“Battle Theme 2” – Shining Force
Shining Force is one of many good RPGs from the Sega Genesis era. Overall, the game has an excellent soundtrack, but this specific theme always made me envision the combative task at hand even more. Honestly, it is probably one of my favorite Genesis tracks of all time.
Those are a few of my favorites! There are so many good tracks to choose from out there, so please let me know your thoughts (and additions or subtractions) below.