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The Top Ten Final Boss Themes In Gaming
Welcome to Part Four of a five-part series of the wonderful world of gaming music.
Every day this week, I will list my personal Top 10 for a variety of different topics, though there is a definite theme in the topic selection. Here’s the rundown:
Tuesday: Top 10 Opening Themes
Yesterday: Top 10 Most Iconic Stage/Area Themes
TODAY: Top 10 Final Boss Themes
Friday: Top 10 Credits Themes
The final battle. The last obstacle between a player and ultimate victory. The final boss is meant to be the ultimate challenge, the final test of a player’s skills before the end. Battles such as these deserve excellent background music, and as these ten songs illustrate, the games have delivered. Welcome to the Top Ten Final Boss Themes In Gaming.
10. Donkey Kong Country – “Gangplank Galleon”
Half upbeat sea shanty, half tense battle music, all awesome. King K. Rool is one tough SOB, hopping around like a rabbit and throwing his crown around the arena. He even tries to catch players off guard by pulling the “fake credits” trick halfway through the fight. It took me more tries to beat ol’ K.Rool than any other boss back then, so I guess that’s why I have an affinity to this track, but it’s still a damn good track for a final boss battle.
9. Kirby’s Dream Land – “King Dedede’s Theme”
From the final boss that took me the most tries to the first final boss I’ve ever bested. King Dedede waits for Kirby at the end of Kirby’s first game, using jumps and a giant hammer to try and defeat his nemesis. This song hearkens back to a time when Dedede was a bad dude, not the bumbling dope he is now. Also, have we ever figured out if he’s a penguin or not?
8. Super Mario 64 – “Ultimate Bowser”
Nothing says “evil bad guy” like a pipe organ. The final fight with Bowser in Super Mario 64 is basically the same as the other two times you meet him, but I feel like this song sets the scene much better than the other song. It’s scary, it’s tense, and it lets the player know that there’s no turning back once you see Bowser’s ugly mug. What else need a final boss song do?
7. Pokemon Gold/Silver – “Vs. Champion”
Pokemon Gold and Silver are two of the few games that has two seperate final boss battles. There’s the champion of the Pokemon League, Lance, AND the ultimate final battle with Red, the Kanto champion and the hero of the first game. Both battles are marked with this tune, the best battle theme in all of Pokemon. The songs starts with one single tone, then immediately speeds up, ramping up the “HOLY CRAP IT’S ON” factor. Pokemon music doesn’t get much better than this.
6. Catherine – “Chopin – Revolutionary Etude”
A classical song remixed into final boss music. Never thought I’d be able to write that sentence in my life, but it’s the truth. Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude” (which you’ve all heard before this, by the way) has been masterfully remixed to suit Vincent’s final climb. Catherine was lauded for its originality, a trait that flows through every song in the excellent soundtrack, including the classical remixes like this one.
5. Final Fantasy X – “Other World”
Classical music remixed for a final boss fight is cool. An original heavy metal piece written for a final boss fight is even cooler. Final Fantasy X is full of excellent scenes, but seeing Braska’s Final Aeon appear in front of Tidus and company accompanied by those beginning guitar riffs was awe-inspiring. In fact, I lost the first time I fought this boss because I was so busy listening to the song, and having forgotten to save I had to re-play the entire last area of the game. Frustrating, but the song is worth it.
4. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – “Dark Lord Ganondorf”
There have been many final battles between Link and Ganon/Ganondorf, battles spanning over 25 years. As such, there were plenty of songs I could have chosen from. I was leaning toward Ocarina of Time’s song, but then I re-listened to “Dark Lord Ganondorf” here, and the choice was easy. Fighting Ganondorf in Hyrule Field sword to sword is one of my favorite boss battles of all time, and fittingly the music with it is one of the best Zelda boss songs ever written.
3. Street Fighter 2 -“M. Bison”
Bison, that stupid dictator bastard. The opening bell-like sound at the beginning of this song haunted my dreams for the better part of a month. As my skills in Street Fighter grew and I was able to progress further through the game, I slowly made my way to Thailand where Bison lay wait. We had many great battles, and besting him for the first time is one of my clearest gaming memories, but the tension this song and that bell created was immeasurable. I don’t get intimidated by video games anymore, but as a five-year-old Street Fighter II and M. Bison did just that.
2. Super Mario Galaxy – “Battle For The Grand Star”
The best final boss music in Mario history. Super Mario Galaxy is a masterpiece capped off with a tremendous battle with Bowser on a perfect spherical planet. The other Bowser fight music, “Nemesis King Koopa,” uses a mixture of orchestra and chorus as a backdrop, but for the final confrontation that approach is dropped for a symphony of excellence and hype. This song solidified the entire SMG soundtrack as one of the best in Nintendo history.
1. Final Fantasy VII – “One Winged Angel”
What other song is a better fit for number one? The original badass final battle music, “One Winged Angel” is synonymous with not only Final Fantasy, but the entire PlayStation 1 era as a whole. There’s not a whole lot more I can say about it, so just press play and listen to it.
Tomorrow we roll the credits on this musical week with the Top Ten Credits Themes In Gaming. I can see the finish line!