It is time to mention another roundup of quality RPG tracks, this time on the original Gameboy! If you missed the first article in the series, which involved NES games, you can find that here.
Both the Gameboy and NES shared a very similar sound design, but differed in some ways that I, as an audio enthusiast but not an audio engineer, will not divulge in here. The only important takeaway from this is that both platforms were home to incredible musical compositions despite their hardware limitations.
While normally I would spread the love by not clogging up an entire list with a single franchise, I’m afraid I may have to break that self-induced rule just a bit here. If you’d rather skip over my commentary, you can find a complete, pre-compiled playlist at the very bottom of this article. The pickings of actual RPGs I’ve played on the Gameboy are slim, so hopefully you can enlighten me on a few that I may have missed down below.
Final Fantasy Adventure / Seiken Densetsu – In Search of the Sacred Sword
Final Fantasy Adventure is the first game in the Mana series. It very much plays like a Zelda game with a progression system in the vein of a traditional RPG (stats, level ups, equipment, etc). Although it can be a little difficult to go back to now, it still holds up surprisingly well enough considering it is almost a 30 year old game.
The entire track is gold, so it was a bit difficult narrowing it down to a single tune. The track chosen is likely my favorite across the board, however, as that sense of adventure we all love seeps out with every note.
Final Fantasy Legend II / SaGa II – Struggle to the Death
I feel like I’ve mentioned Saga II about a million times at this point, but that’s no basis to steal merit when its obviously due. It has a fantastic soundtrack all around, but this piece is one of the most impressive boss tunes ever composed, especially given the hardware AND the fact that its not even the final boss score. Give it a listen and you’ll know why I keep bringing this game up.
Final Fantasy Legend III / SaGa III – The Talon / Dion’s Theme
While not quite as memorable as the second installment, SaGa III is still a noteworthy game in its own right. This game is probably the most approachable of the Gameboy Saga titles these days. Level ups are handled in a more traditional way rather than the occasional stat boosts after battle that is a staple feature in most Saga games. This particular track is first played when you’re introduced to the Talon, a ship that is eventually capable of multi-dimensional travel. If this doesn’t get you amped up to unleash your inner Han Solo, I don’t know what will.
Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow – Route 11
This was another difficult pick, as the entire soundtrack is superb. But this track specifically has a way of taking me back to playing Pokemon Blue during school summer breaks as a kid. This soundtrack is evidence that composers by this time in the Gameboy’s lifespan were more than comfortable and capable of producing some exceptional scores.
Playlist – Great RPG Music On: Gameboy
What are your thoughts on this list? Can you think of anything that I missed?