Best Opening Songs in Video Games

This is a really great post. Last post I told you I didn’t want to just troll Youtube for you, and now I’m going to do just that again. Then there’s the title of today’s post. Very boastful, huh? Well the title “A bunch of opening songs that I think are worth listening to” didn’t ring as well in my ears, plus Cracked gets away with title conventions like this all the time, so I can too. If you haven’t noticed, today’s post is a lot less formal than usual, possibly because of the extremely dour nature of Saturday’s 200th post.

Anyway, enough of the great self promotion, let’s get into the post. Video game intros used to be used to tell you pretty much the entire story of the game before sitting you down for pure gameplay. They have evolved far past the standard pre-press start screen or minor cutscene after clicking new game. They have become much more complex in character. When I refer to opening songs, I mean just that. I’m not talking about great music, instead I’m talking about music with actual lyrics and performers. For example, Final Fantasy IX has great opening music, but it’s not a song. On the other hand Final Fantasy X-2 opens with the song Real Emotion. Because of technical limitations, opening songs are actually a rather new phenomenon, really only getting picked up last generation. Even though I said “best” songs, there is no particular order to this list.

Spoilers for later.

6. Danger – Digital Devil Saga

As I’ve mentioned before, Digital Devil Saga is something of a black sheep in the Shin Megami Tensei metaseries. It is certainly of high quality, but it is extremely finite in scope, unlike the rest of the evolving series. The song Danger from Etro Anime is truly worth its weight in gold. It sets up the general feeling and themes of the game perfectly. It fits very well in this strange little mini-series.

5. Pilgrimage – Atelier Totori

Danger is a cool, modern theme. Pilgrimage from Atelier Totori is not in any sense of the word “cool”. It is a fairly standard moe-infused anime song, but its harmonized vocals work extremely well. This song also works thematically. The dark subdued Danger works so well because the game it’s in is so dark and subdued. Atelier Totori is a bright, cute adventure, and this theme fits it perfectly.

4. Short Change Hero – Borderlands 2

While all of the music I’m putting up here are of very different genres, they all have one thing in common that I’m going to keep repeating: they are all tailored very specifically to the game they are featured in. This isn’t like Leona Lewis’ “My Hands” which was horrifyingly shoehorned in at the end of Final Fantasy XIII. The Heavy is contrasted from the original Borderlands’ theme “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” in the same way the games are contrasted. Borderlands 1 was very frivolous, and while Borderlands 2 has tons of silly moments, it is a much more sober game in its main storyline. As such, Short Change Hero manages to show both the fun and serious side of the game.

3. If You Still Believe – Legend of Dragoon

By far the oldest game on this list, Legend of Dragoon was an amazingly ambitious game. As part of that ambition, Legend of Dragoon has an intro song in a generation where that was very strange. The intro song itself is amazingly melodic even if it drags a little too long. One might say it’s very Drag on Dragoon (… Look it up, I’m hilarious)

2. Morning Sky – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was supposed to be Square’s triumphant return to Nintendo. Instead, it is a thoroughly bad game with some inconceivably poor design choices. There is only a single good thing that came from this game and it’s its intro music, which is of the utmost calibre.

1. Simple and Clean (Hikaru for the Japanese version) – Kingdom Hearts

I know I said this list was in no particular order, but this one is number 1 for a reason. Simple and Clean is the granddaddy of all opening songs. I will note that it is actually the shortened version which is the intro song, but since I’m such a great person I’ll include both the long and short songs.

So there are my picks. There are plenty of other great songs out there and I’m sure I’m forgetting some truly amazing ones, but what can I do? I know! I’ll leave you with the worst intro theme ever made.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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