Classic video game series like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda remain incredibly popular having developed the gameplay as well as the iconic music of earlier titles. The classic themes from these games remain some of the most recognizable pieces of music in gaming and are instantly nostalgic to a lot of players.

To determine which of these classic video game themes is the greatest, thousands of players on Ranker got together and voted on their favorites. These songs have earned their place in gaming history as the very best theme songs of their era.

10 Mega Man – Main Theme

The first title in the action platformer established many of the features that would go on to define the series including the iconic main theme. Released in 1987 for the NES, Mega Man won over a massive audience with its nonlinear style that allowed the player to choose how to progress through the game as well as its strong sense of personality.

Although it is no longer the best game in the Mega Man series, the main theme has stuck with players long after its initial release. The song is fast-paced and intense but also relatively upbeat, which makes it a great reflection of the game as a whole. Additionally, the influence of the song can be heard in later Mega Man themes.

9 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Theme

Though it was released in 2002, Morrowind holds a special place in gaming history that more than qualifies it to be considered among the classics. The third Elder Scrolls game proved a significant moment in the history of the game and the open-world fantasy genre as the game was hailed for its scale and its depth.

Morrowind‘s theme song is suitably dramatic then, taking the player on a journey on its own with a sweeping orchestral sound. With epic moments and quiet profound ones, Morrowind‘s theme encapsulates a sense of adventure in a way not many other pieces can even attempt to.

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8 Donkey Kong Country – Intro Theme

Released for the Super Nintendo in 1994, Donkey Kong Country stood out for a lot of reasons. Through unique techniques employed by Rare, the game looks drastically different from any other game of the time and it still stands out for its aesthetic quality even now. The theme music stands out as well, arriving with as much style and confidence as the game’s titular ape.

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Redefining Donkey Kong as a character from his origins as Mario’s enemy in the best classic Nintendo arcade game wasn’t an easy task, but in the space of a few bars of music, Rare managed to do just that. Funky and full of loud drums, the introductory theme to Donkey Kong Country remains one of the most fun tunes in video games.

7 Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow – Trainer Battle

It is impossible to overstate the impact of the first games that would go on to create a worldwide phenomenon in the form of the Pokémon franchise. Spawning endless games, spinoffs, TV series and films, a card game, and so much more, it is fair to say that Game Freak struck gold when they developed the Game Boy RPG in 1996.

In the process, they also created a piece of music that would get stuck in players’ heads even decades later in the form of the addictively intense battle music. The Trainer Battle theme could make even the most mundane battle in the game feel like an urgent fight for victory and it can still match the newer themes for sheer energy.

6 The Legend Of Zelda – Dungeon Theme

The early titles established a lot of aspects of the Legend of Zelda series that continue to influence it today. One of these aspects established early on in the series was the dungeon exploration first seen in The Legend of Zelda in 1986 on the NES. Like so many things, this dungeon gameplay was elevated by the game’s soundtrack.

The Legend of Zelda‘s Dungeon Theme is an eerie piece of music that contrasts the bright tone of the game’s overworld theme. The compression of the music for the 8-bit platform only adds to the sense of mystery and horror that the Dungeon theme conveys. Though it wasn’t the best music from the game, players on Ranker agreed that the Dungeon Theme is still one of the greatest.

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5 Super Mario Bros. 3 – World Map 1: Grass Land Theme

Though the first Super Mario Bros. takes the credit for establishing the iconic Mario theme, the music for the first world of Super Mario Bros. 3 is considered the best song from the NES Mario games. Released in 1988, Super Mario Bros. 3 was a vast improvement on the first game and its music was also amazing.

Koji Kondo’s composition for the first world still stands out as a tune that suits the Mario platformer style perfectly. Full of energy and whimsy, the song manages to never get old despite being a relatively short loop to deal with the limitations of the console. The game may have included some frustrating Super Mario clichés but the music has aged extremely well.

4 Sonic The Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone

An important piece of video game history, the theme for Green Hill Zone is incredibly catchy and is perhaps remembered even better than the game and level that originated it. As quintessentially Sonic as blue spikes and rings, the tune packs a ton of style and fun into a loop that feels a lot longer than it actually is.

The song remains popular even over 30 years after its 1991 release and continues to be reused and reimagined. Originally composed by Masato Nakamura, the song was finally given lyrics last year with his J-Pop band Dreams Come True, as reported by NME, and it remains a firm favorite among classic game fans.

3 Super Mario World – Overworld Theme

Still the best Mario game that everyone should play, Super Mario World developed on the flawed early Super Mario Bros. games to create a masterpiece of platforming that holds up incredibly well even today. Of course, the title had a lot to live up to when it came to music, but it more than delivered with a soundtrack that encapsulates the player’s sense of adventure.

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The overworld music does an amazing job of letting the player know what they’re in for with a chirpy melody that is almost reminiscent of children’s cartoons in its sense of fun. It is no surprise that Super Mario World‘s overworld theme is considered to be the best classic Mario song by players on Ranker.

2 Tetris – “Type A” Theme

Not many classic video game songs can trace their origins back to the mid-19th century, but the Tetris “Type A” theme has a unique history. Based on a Russian folk song called Korobeiniki, the song was remade for the Nintendo Game Boy version of Tetris, a quirky block-stacking game that had been created several years earlier. 

It’s easy to see why the song has remained so clearly in the memory of Tetris fans. Though the tune is catchy and lighthearted, it has a sense of urgency about it that players certainly started to feel when the difficulty of the game ramped up. The “Type A” theme is now inexorably linked with the game, appearing in various forms in titles like Tetris 99 for the Nintendo Switch.

1 The Legend Of Zelda – Intro

It is fitting that the greatest classic video game song comes from the acclaimed Nintendo franchise and, considering the impact the song has had on the series, it undoubtedly deserves the title. Beating out even the overworld and dungeon themes from the same series, the introductory music to The Legend of Zelda encapsulates a game that is all about exploration and adventure.

Beginning with a slow buildup, the piece quickly becomes a triumphant Hyrulian fanfare befitting the hero that Link is destined to become. Not only is the song iconic in its own right, but its influence can also be clearly heard in subsequent Zelda games and it remains an amazing composition by Koji Kondo.

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