Shadow’s Six – Video Game Character Themes

Shadow’s Six will be a regular running top six list showcasing my picks on any subject I can come up with. Today’s going to be character themes. Whether it be the melancholy sounds of a tragic hero, the melodious and deep song for a noble warrior, or the foreboding and mysterious theme of a powerful villain… these themes can often define the experiences in games and alter how we remember a character. Composers go to huge lengths to make sure that the music matches the character, and I wanted to showcase some of the most successful, memorable, and entertaining character themes out there. I could, and probably will at some point, make an entire top 6 list just out of many of these series… so I’m going to try to limit it to one theme per series.

6) Link’s Theme (The Legend of Zelda)

As long as Link has been saving Zelda, he’s been adventuring to this theme. Variations on this theme have been pretty minimal over the many many years that Link’s been doing his thing. The theme contains a constant tone of hope and a high pacing that fits with Link’s perceived attitude. Of course this theme deserves a mention on here as it has helped to make Link one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved video game icons. This theme can be found on the soundtracks for nearly every game.

5) Dracula’s Castle: Alucard (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)

While Alucard doesn’t technically have a theme to himself, the track of ‘Dracula’s Castle’ from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has been nearly unanimously decided to be his theme. This incredibly iconic, high paced, and intense theme is so memorable that you cannot hear it without being instantly transported to that glorious moment when you were introduced(or reintroduced depending on your history) to Dracula’s son all those many years ago. Castlevania:SotN’s soundtrack is widely renowned, and this track goes a long way to showcase why.

4) Megaman (Megaman 3)

This little guy has had a variety of themes over the years, one for each one of his games really… and you can’t go wrong with any of them. But if I had to choose just one, it’d be the incredible and legendary theme to Megaman 3. The tune is probably one of the most catchy I’ve ever heard, in fact just hearing it gets me whistling along to the tune – you can ask my wife, it annoys her to no end. I just can’t help it!
Megaman is one of the world’s most iconic characters of all time, and it’s only fitting he get a prominent spot on this list.

3) Bowser’s Theme (Mario 64)

You can’t have a list of anything relating to games without including Mario in there somewhere… but while Mario’s theme itself is kind of ambiguous, Mario 64 had a theme that revealed depths of Bowser’s character that they seem desperate to hide nowadays. Bowser was not just a dimwitted kidnapper, he meant business. And his theme reeked of character. That’s the kind of villain you wanna take down, the almost forgettable Bowsers they’ve had since then don’t hold a candle on him. And because this theme managed to turn a mere villain into a character worth paying attention to, it gets the #3 spot on my list.

2) Aya Brea (The 3rd Birthday)

Say what you will about The 3rd Birthday as a game, but it had a killer soundtrack(yes I just said, or rather typed, killer). And this modernized throwback to the sounds of the absolutely classic Parasite Eve theme for Aya is the perfect mix of the old and new. This theme not only is utterly fantastic to listen to, but it also does a great job of not only capturing the mysterious feel of the game, but the uniqueness of Aya’s character. Because of the way it so perfectly embodies both the game and the character… this track earns my #2 spot.

1) Celes (Final Fantasy 6)

And now our winner… Final Fantasy has always been well known for its music, and nowhere does it shine through more than in the character themes. I mean, who doesn’t remember the iconic themes used for Sephiroth, Rydia, Laguna, or Dagger. Square has always been among the best in the business at creating iconic character themes, but one theme stands above the rest as, in my opinion, the greatest character theme ever made. Celes’ theme has that honour.

Just listening to it you can picture exactly what sort of character you’re dealing with… the tragic undercurrent, the faint touch of hope, the elegant melodies… this theme does Celes justice in a way that few themes have ever managed. But the part that makes it so special is that not only does it manage to do all of that, but it also bears notes of what is probably the most memorable moment in Final Fantasy 6(or at least definitely in the top 5) – the Opera. And, to make it even more memorable as a theme… this is the track that plays during another of the most incredible scenes in the game – when Celes tries to commit suicide. Celes’ theme has a fond place in my heart, on my playlist, and will always remind me not only of Celes herself, but of the many times I’ve played through this game; and because it does all of this so well it earns the top spot on this list.

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