25 YEARS OF FANTASTIC MUSIC
It’s been just over 25 years since the PlayStation first launched in Japan and in that time there have been many iconic games to grace the platform. For 2020, we wanted to look back at the quintessential soundtracks which Sony’s console family has blessed us with and rank our personal top 50 (limited to 2 tracks per game).
So we did.
A journey through time!
Each track we selected had to be an exclusive Playstation release initially. The most obscure inclusion due to this rule is Monster Hunter: World, which received a lot of PS-exclusive content and even saw it’s first demo release exclusively on PS4 for PS+ subscribers.
Below is an animated playlist of our top picks – in date order – which TheDblTap spent days working hard to get right. We hope you enjoy the journey through time which we curated as much as we enjoyed compiling it. Once you’re done, you can scroll down and check out our top 50 rankings, see if you don’t agree!
Our Top 50 ranked
#50 Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – A Familiar Foe
Nobody likes to be last but the position has to be filled and this track is from what we agree is the weakest of the Uncharted soundtracks.
#49 Resident Evil – Save Room
Carefully tiptoeing around the halls of Spencer Mansion can be stressful at the best of times not to mention fighting the living dead in such cramped corridors. Thankfully, we have the safety of the save room and it’s sweet, yet still kind of creepy, soundtrack.
#48 Detroit: Become Human – Kara’s Theme
For many, Quantic Dream’s games are hit or miss. Sometimes they’re good, oftentimes they’re too awkward and goofy to be enjoyed but Detroit: Become Human is probably the most palatable game in their library and it has a very nice soundtrack to accompany it.
#47 Detroit: Become Human – Connor’s Theme
Connor is probably our favourite protagonist from Detroit: Become Human and although Kara’s Theme is just as good as Connor’s, I’d have to give him the edge as the aggressive stabbing of the baseline perfectly mirrors his internal struggle with morality.
#46 Marvel’s Spider-Man – Shocking Turn of Events
This tense track feels like it’s straight from the silver screen. It sets a subtle, quiet atmosphere and occasionally stabs at it with tension which builds over time truly fitting for a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man.
#45 Haunting Ground – Last Debilitas
Haunting Ground is one of those games that not many people know about. Those who do, however, regard it as one of the best survival horror games available on PS2. The soundtrack probably isn’t the best offering but it fits perfectly into the game’s atmosphere to elevate the entire experience.
#44 Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Dominion of the Dark Djinn
If Studio Ghibli made a video game, Ni no Kuni would be it. Adventure explodes out of the screen every second you play it and the soundtrack won’t let you forget that.
#43 Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – End of the Line
This soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the penultimate moments of the game, where our characters emerge changed and set out in an effort to do something selfless and very, very dangerous.
#42 Yakuza 3 – More Huge
If you’ve ever played a Yakuza game then you’ll know the intense pleasure you get from drop-kicking enemies in the face to all-out crazy soundtracks. More Huge is our favourite soundtrack to beat thugs up to.
#41 GTA: San Andreas – Main Theme
When not trying to catch the train, CJ is usually running and gunning his way through a miniature fictionalised version of LA, however, before all that delightful chaos unfolds we are treated to a nice hip-hop-inspired main theme as the game loads.
#40 Death Stranding – Mules
It’s all too easy to accidentally wander into a MULE perimeter in the post-apocalyptic wasteland presented in Death Stranding but you’ll quickly be awakened to the fact as the stabbing synths bleed into the background.
#39 Crash Team Racing – Menu Theme
Rivalled only by Monopoly, Crash Team Racing is responsible for making and breaking many young friendships as you and your friends all crammed onto a couch in front of the TV to find out who is the slickest racer of all. At least the menu music is nice.
#38 Katamari Damacy – Katamari on the Rocks
Fitting for a game about rolling things up to make bigger and bigger balls only so you can catch even bigger objects in your orb of destruction, Katamari on the Rocks is quirky and catchy in all the right places.
#37 Bloodborne – Laurence, the First Vicar
Just like the game, this track is tense and chaotic for the most part but eventually the clouds part and we’re treated to something truly beautiful and worth the blood, sweat and tears we put into Bloodborne.
#36 God of War – Valkyries
Who knew that Kratos would eventually make his way to Midgard and trade in his Blades of Chaos for an, admittedly beautiful, axe? Well, thank Odin he did, because it gave us some hauntingly beautiful soundtracks.
#35 Rule of Rose – Bullying
Rule of Rose is a fantastic survival horror that pushed the PS2 to its limits but, unfortunately, the news media didn’t take too kindly to its depiction of kids and bullying and, as a result, never gained much traction. It truly is a shame because the story is fantastic and the soundtrack is emotional, haunting and tense.
#34 Horizon: Zero Dawn – Main Theme
One thing to admire about video gaming is the huge, growing, repertoire of strong female characters. Newer to the scene is Aloy and her unique robot-osaur hunting prowess and, like all amazing protagonists, her theme song is instantly iconic and recognisable.
#33 Monster Hunter: World – Title Theme
Loading up Monster Hunter: World for the first time, you will be forgiven if you let the title theme music lull you into a false sense of security. Be warned, there’s plenty of monsters just waiting to tear a chunk out of you.
#32 Okami – Rising Sun
Okami is a game filled with chaos and demons, but it also has a light side. Fun characters, lovable interactions and memorably wholesome moments, all of which are brought to mind when we listen to this triumphantly jovial soundtrack.
#31 Gravity Rush – Old Town
Gravity Rush’s soundtrack has an undeniably unique sound, only ever tickled at its edges by other Japanese titles. This track will probably be the one you hear most as you spend time floating around the game’s gloomy, yet somehow uplifting, main area. It oozes personality and perfectly sets the feel and tone of the game’s bizarre adventure.
#30 The Last Guardian – Falling Bridge
The Last Guardian has a great soundtrack which is excellent at setting the melancholic and slow journey you take in order to better understand the beast at your side. This track is one of the few to step out of that melancholic comfort zone and pump up the veins a little.
#29 Uncharted 4 – For Better or Worse
It seems like with every Uncharted game that was released, Nathan Drake got just that little bit more mature and in Uncharted 4 we see him at the height of his maturity. This growth is reflected in the soundtrack with plenty of sombre moments and emotional piano pieces.
#28 Okami – Battle of Spider Queen
This intense track from Okami is the perfect antithesis of the earlier mentioned “Rising Sun” track and sums up the chaos of the game’s dark side extremely well.
#27 Gravity Rush 2 – Main Theme
This track is the first thing to greet you when you boot up Gravity Rush 2, and it does many things greatly but most of all it simply screams “Gravity Rush”. It’s a compact earful of everything there is to love and experience about the series and is immediately recognisable.
#26 Crash Bandicoot Warped – Egyptian theme
Crash Bandicoot was probably the most accessible gateway into video gaming back in the mid-90s. Today though, it’s more commonly looked at as a rose-coloured icon of our youth and, at least for us, no other soundtrack is worthy of representing that era of our lives, this track just so happens to be particularly good at getting stuck in your head!
#25 The Last Guardian – Condor Clash
Perhaps one of the most up-tempo tracks in the game, this orchestral epic cuts right to the feel-bone and brings tensions up high.
#24 Monster Hunter: World – Rotten Vale Battle Music
As vicious as the Odogaron itself, this track is unrelenting in its flurry of notes and orchestral stabs. A fitting symphony of epic to slay the edgy and dark monsters residing in the Rotten Vale.
#23 Rule of Rose – The Attic
Another track from the tragically overlooked Rule of Rose, this track is somewhat of a sleeper hit. Initially, it’s easy to overlook but once you’ve played the game you come to understand its true emotional nature.
#22 Resident Evil 2 – Save Room
Resident Evil can expertly craft the perfect atmosphere to creep out players but also simultaneously make them feel like everything might be okay. The save room music from Resident Evil 2 is different from the first one but almost totally identical.
#21 God of War – The Vengeful Spartan
This track was likely THE soundtrack of the PS2 era for many players and for good reason. It’s edgy, instantly iconic and, upon booting up the game, you know you’re in for a high-energy and action-packed adventure.
#20 Marvel’s Spider-Man – Main Theme
Every great superhero needs an equally great theme song and Spider-Man’s is as amazing as he is himself. You’ll likely hear this or small sections of it as you swing around New York.
#19 Bloodborne – Cleric Beast
Another track from Bloodborne. This one is as terrifying as the monster it was composed for. The Cleric Beast can be encountered early on and it’s difficulty sets the tone for the rest of the game.
#18 Haunting Ground – Endless Demento
Endless Demento is a really creepy track, even if you forget about waking up naked, with nothing but a white table cloth(?) to cover yourself with locked inside a cage in a giant, creepy castle.
#17 Gravity Rush – Pleasure Quarter
This track made it quite a bit further up the list than the other 2 Gravity Rush titles, and for good reason! The swinging beat and uplifting melodies here bring the colourful Pleajeune district to mind right away. On a side-note, why was the school in that district?
#16 Nier: Automata – Amusement Park
Nier: Automata is a really beautiful game with no shortage of memorable moments for fans to latch onto and repeatedly recount to anyone willing to listen. One such moment is upon first visiting the amusement park and seeing all the oddly friendly robots parading around as creepy, carnival-inspired music swells in the background.
#15 Persona 5 – Beneath the Mask
Probably the coolest looking game on PS4 (and 3), Persona 5 has some of the catchiest and smoothest tracks in a video game that we’ve ever heard. You’ll hear this one a lot as you blow off steam around places like Shibuya and Akihabara after you finish your day at school.
#14 ICO – You Were There
Fumito Ueda proved to the world that less is more with his design by subtraction approach to developing ICO and, one can only assume, its soundtrack as well. You Were There is as simplistic as it is emotionally engaging.
#13 Persona 5 – Life Will Change
While the other Persona 5 entry was on the relaxing side, this one is straight-up high-energy thrills from the very first guitar intro. You’ll hear this track a lot as you heist your way through the game’s dungeons and enemy encounters.
#12 Nier: Automata – Weight of the World
The songs that play during a game’s end credits can oftentimes perfectly tie up the whole experience or it can leave it hanging with nowhere to go. After finishing Nier: Automata and going through almost every emotion on the spectrum, this song feels like a relaxing soak in a hot bubble bath for your bruised emotions.
#11 Shadow of the Colossus – Prologue
Just as important as end credits songs, the opening can impact your experience in a game. Luckily, Fumito Ueda managed to recapture the same lightning in a bottle that he had when developing ICO.
#10 Crash Bandicoot Warped – Warp Room Music
If you listen carefully, you can literally hear the sound of childhoods being made. Spending a lot of time inside the warp room can be boring if you’re listening to the wrong music. Thankfully this track is all sorts of right.
#9 Metal Gear Solid – Battle Theme
Like all healthy childhoods, ours was filled with sneaking around as a weird bandana-sporting man named Snake and, obviously, getting spotted because our tiny brains and/or thumbs weren’t up to the task. That battle music sure is cool though.
#8 Resident Evil 2 – The Front Hall [RPD]
Listen, we love the 2019 remake and its all-new soundtrack, but as soon as we realised there was an option in the settings to replace the new soundtrack with the old original one… well, we, of course, leapt on the opportunity to relive our nightmare laden childhoods.
#7 Final Fantasy VII – Battle Theme
In the early days of PS1, not many teams were capable of putting out such amazingly crafted games as Square Enix. FFVII remains to this day one of the best games anyone can play and has, quite rightly, amassed a huge community of fans.
#6 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – A Thief’s End
Expertly named, this track is the final farewell to Nathan Drake and his adventures. There are multiple occasions throughout the game that this track will play and every single time it’s a welcome experience.
#5 God of War – Main Theme
Almost opposite to the Valkyries soundtrack, this one feels primal as if to match Kratos’ too-angry-to-die archetype. God of War’s main theme perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the experience and is an absolute delight to listen to.
#4 The Last of Us – The Path
As if to illustrate our earlier point about end credit songs tying things up, The Path plays right at the end of the emotional minefield that is the story of The Last of Us and it plays out the game perfectly.
#3 Death Stranding – BB’s Theme
This track is hinted at throughout the entire game, with some characters whistling or humming it, before finally in the last and most emotional moments of the game’s story we get to hear it in full as it gut-punches the tears from our eyes. It’s truly incredible.
#2 Uncharted Drake’s Fortune – Nate’s Theme
Here it is. The video game that made us buy a PS3 in the first place. Nathan Drake is like a modern-day Han Solo (if you don’t count the recent Star Wars revival… Which we don’t). Nathan Drake and his theme are as iconic to the PS3 as Crash Bandicoot was to the PS1.
#1 Shadow of The Colossus – The Opened Way
Shadow of the Colossus is a game so beautiful, thought-provoking and fun, that it may very well be the best game on the PS2. Maybe even the best game from that decade. Now that it’s been remade from the ground up, many new players can be enlightened to the reason so many people fell in love with it in the first place. This track, in particular, is one of the most memorable things about the game and we swear you’ll be humming it to yourself just a few hours in.
And that about wraps it up!
We hope you agree with our selection but we can almost guarantee you won’t. Isn’t that just the joy of PlayStation, though? There are so many fantastic exclusives with iconic and soul-wrenching soundtracks that it is truly impossible to pick favourites… But we sure as heckers gave it a shot!
If you didn’t check out the video, do it!
We’d really appreciate it, TheDblTap excruciatingly pored over the minuscule details, trying to emulate different TVs and doing things like specifically exporting the PSone section in 480p with a 4:3 aspect ratio and then upscaling it to 1080p for a more authentic feel!