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The Top Ten Credits Themes In Gaming
Welcome to the fifth and final part of Leviathyn’s 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
Wednesday: Top 10 Most Iconic Stage/Area Themes
Yesterday: Top 10 Final Boss Themes
TODAY: Top 10 Credits Themes
The game is over. The final enemy is defeated, the world/galaxy/kingdom saved from destruction. There’s nothing left to do but sit back, enjoy the ending, and take a look at the names of those responsible for putting the game you just finished in front of you. Of course, words on a screen is boring, so an appropriate song is needed to keep things interesting. I’ve gathered ten of the best songs to ever accompany the scrolling text at the end of the game. These are the Top Ten Best Credits Themes In Gaming.
10. Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds – “Ending Credits Theme”
Marvel vs Capcom 3 may be a fighting game, but it houses one of the best soundtracks the genre has ever heard. Each of the character’s themes is fantastic, the other music is awesome, and the credits theme heard here is simply remarkable. It’s two songs in one: the first being an upbeat, guitar-led toe-tapper, and the other is a fully orchestrated juggernaut. Two endings themes, one fantastic song, and it’s only number 10.
9. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – “Theme of San Andreas”
One thing I love about the “Theme of San Andreas” is how closely it mirrors the actual music of the era. You can hear the early 90s rap influences from beginning to end. I wonder what groups composer Michael Hunter listened to for inspiration during his composition. Hunter scored again with the theme to Grand Theft Auto IV, known as “Soviet Connection,” but I feel like this is his masterpiece. Maybe that’s because I like San Andreas more than GTA IV, who knows.
8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – “Icarus – Main Theme”
Deus Ex: Human Revolution caught me by surprise. Not familiar with the previous two games, I went into the new installment completely blind. Would I enjoy this game even though I wasn’t a Deus Ex savant? The answer was simple: hell yeah I liked it. Matter of fact, DX:HR was my personal Game of the Year for 2011. It had everything: gameplay, story, environment, and (most importantly for this article) soundtrack. The music is some of the best I’ve ever heard in a game, fitting its game like a glove. The credits theme here mixes haunting, chant-like vocals with a synth-drive, heart-pounding melody. This game made me want to play the rest of the series, just as a good prequel should.
7. Mass Effect – “M4 Part 1 (Faunts)”
Back when BioWare’s space epic didn’t have a maligned ending, people raved about everything the game had to offer. I still consider the music of Mass Effect 1 to be the best soundtrack of this console generation, let alone the series. My favorite tracks are part of the main game, but don’t let that take away from the excellent credits theme heard here. “M4 Part II (Faunts)” fits Mass Effect like a glove, creating the perfect aural experience for the staff credits. Mass Effect 3 also used Faunts for the credits theme, but I doubt many players heard it over the sound of their disgust.
6. Super Mario World – “Ending”
An absolute classic credits sequence, and for many the first credits they viewed on the Super NES, Super Mario World’s final staff roll is a timeless moment in gaming. Watching Mario lead Peach and the Yoshis back to safety is heartwarming, and the music that plays along with it is just as light and happy as it should be. It sounds like an old ragtime song being played for a cabaret of some kind, but it’s the last song in the best Mario game of all time, which makes it an instant classic.
5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “End Credits”
Perhaps the longest entry on this list, Ocarina of Time’s credits theme excels in bringing the entire game full circle. There are musical elements from every single area in the game that can be heard during the staff roll: Goron City, Malon’s singing, Saria’s Song, Lon Lon Ranch, and more. Not only is the song a perfect wrap-up to one of the all-time classics, it’s a perfect reminder of everything the player went through while venturing through the story. Not many credits themes will mash the entire game’s sounds together at the end, but Ocarina of Time does it with ease.
4. Final Fantasy VIII – “Final Fantasy”
This song isn’t only from Final Fantasy VIII; it can be heard in almost every Final Fantasy game ever made. However, I LOVE the version heard here more than any other. The full orchestra gives the song life like never before, and hearing it always makes me want to go back and relive the best Final Fantasy game ever made. (YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT, I SAID IT. EIGHT IS GREATER THAN ALL OTHERS.)
3. Red Dead Redemption – “Deadman’s Gun”
Oh man, Red Dead Redemption…oh MAN. The ending was emotional enough, then you had to throw THIS song at me. The story of John Marston is one filled with tragedy, suffering, and redemption. After it ends, this song is a perfect metaphor for the entire experience. After all, throughout the game your hands are upon a deadman’s gun, and you’re looking down the sights. You just don’t know it yet.
2. Portal – “Still Alive”
Nothing like a computer telling you about failing your mission through song, huh? GlaDOS quickly became one of the best characters in video games with her sharp wit and ruthless nature. Though Portal is mostly a comedic experience, GlaDOS itself is quite the jerk throughout the first game. After seemingly vanquishing it forever, it instead sings to you about how you didn’t destroy it, it’s still performing tests like the kind you just went through. Damn, time to try again.
1. Metal Gear Solid – “The Best Is Yet To Come”
I’m sure a lot of you wanted to see the previous song here at number one. It’s well deserving of the praise and the position, however I must confess that “The Best Is Yet To Come” is easily the best credits theme of all time. The entirety of Metal Gear Solid is spent in a high pressure situation of trying to stop a terrorist group from unleashing nuclear warheads. Snake fights a plethora of enemies, yet continues to survive and force his way to victory. After all of that fighting, that tension, that stress, what better way to settle down than with a gentle female voice singing in Gaelic? This is a beautiful song, one of the best in all of video games, and well deserving of the Best Credits Song in Gaming distinction.
This here article officially ends the week-long journey through gaming’s musical side. I hope everyone enjoyed the music, and as always I’d love to hear any suggestions you all may have.