Top 10 Character Themes,
As anyone who reads the majority of my writings can attest, I have a strong love for the music in video games. In fact about half of the songs I listen to when I just decide to play music are video game tunes I like. Among these songs, one type that I’ve always been fond of is the well-done character theme. Character themes have the added difficulty of fitting the character they were written for in addition to just being a good song in their own right. So when I find a good one, the effort needed to make it work makes me appreciate the song that much more. In that spirit, I’m listing my favorite character themes from gaming here. The only condition is one theme per series, so let’s get started.
10.) Whistle Concert (Megaman 3)
When you think about classic 8-bit music, one of the first things to come to mind would most likely be something from the Megaman series. One such great song is Whistle Concert, Protoman’s theme from Megaman 3. The game really doesn’t have much in the way of characterization, so this theme has to stand up on just its quality alone and does so well. The theme starts out with a series of high-pitched whistles that quickly speeds up and gains a backbeat in order to lead up to the main part. Said main section has lower-pitched whistles to make for a rather soothing melody with four “blips” (for lack of a better term) repeating to form the backbone of the song. These two counter-melodies work well together and give the song a very peaceful yet sad feel. It’s hard to explain why I like this particular theme so much, but its quality is hard to deny.
9.) Team Chaotix (Sonic Heroes)
As my last Music Mondays evidenced, there is a lot of great music to be found in the Sonic series. Despite the large amount to sift through, this new piece has always been one of my favorites. This song is the theme for Team Chaotix, akin to the themes that fit each of the teams featured in Heroes. However, the energy and composition of this particular song really won me over. It’s a solid rock song with a bit of camp to it that I can’t help but love. I think my favorite part is probably the pure camp itself when a chorus shouts “Team Chaotix!” in the background. The song also describes Team Chaotix well through the lyrics and the silliness that these characters exhibit is also felt in the song. I don’t really have an opinion on the characters of Team Chaotix as I haven’t personally played the game in question, but the fact that the song fits so well and has a good sound cements its position on my list.
8.) Gumshoe’s Theme (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth)
The Ace Attorney series has some of the best soundtracks I’ve heard overall, which is surprising when you consider that the games are about lawyers, but I digress. The Ace Attorney series has a lot of great character themes, but my personal favorite is the newest spin on one of the oldest and most recognizable themes in the series. From its original incarnation, Gumshoe’s theme changed to fit the overall musical style of Ace Attorney Investigations. This means that the theme was done over with a piano as the main focus of the song, with a more upbeat tempo and more instruments to accentuate the main part of the theme. I had always liked Gumshoe’s Theme, and the additions to this remake only made me like it more. The song also fits Gumshoe well, but it’s extremely difficult to explain why. It simply sounds just right for him and I’m sure anyone else who has played the game will agree that seeing the lovable lug just wouldn’t be the same without this great song to accompany him.
7.) Guntz’s Theme (Namco x Capcom)
Namco x Capcom was another one of those games that wasn’t seen outside of Japan, at least not officially. That fact is a real shame, as the game was an enjoyable RPG with many interesting characters from both Namco and Capcom thrown into the mix. One such character was Guntz from the Klonoa series. I’d always been a fan of the series, but I hadn’t had much experience with Guntz as he’s in all of one game released in America. However, one thing I loved about him here, if nothing else, was his great theme. This is a remake of his original theme from Klonoa Heroes, another game only released in Japan, and it is wonderfully done. This theme sounds exactly how I would imagine an Old West showdown to sound, with a very strong backbeat and whistles making up the main part of the song. The song also fits Guntz very well as he is a bit of a gunslinger himself with a punkish attitude while fighting to avenge his father, who was killed at the claws of one of the bad guys. His whole story sounds similar to an Old West story in and of itself. In the end, it comes together to make a really memorable and fitting track that more than deserves a spot on this list.
6.) Simon’s Theme (Super Castlevania IV)
Super Castlevania IV is a classic game with a classic soundtrack and this song is my favorite from the game, no questions asked. The song has a slow start up that changes into a slightly faster series of notes, all performed on the organ to better fit with the gothic tone of the series. This beginning also implicitly shows the danger that Simon will go through and leads up to the rest of the song well. From that methodical start, the song shifts to its main theme with a series of strong notes that perfectly conveys the sense of strength Simon will need in order to get through Dracula’s Castle. I really like this theme’s overall sound and, in place of little characterization for Simon himself due to the nature of the game, it very well characterizes Simon’s entire situation and necessary attitude to complete his mission. That subtle characterization coupled with the more-than-appropriate instrumentation presents a great overall theme for such a great game, let alone an awesome character piece for Simon.