Throughout video game history there's no shortage of amazing video game scores and themes. However, there are theme songs that are so iconic that transcend gaming culture and can be easily recognized even by those who never played the games before.

With this article my purpose isn't to present the best theme songs or the best video game soundtracks but to highlight the theme songs that can be considered the most iconic. That is, the ones that gamers and non-gamers alike can most easily recognize.

The choices presented can nonetheless be subjective. Different regions of the world and individuals may have varying opinions on which themes are effectively the most popular. The list below is based on people's opinions throughout the internet and also my own as a long-time gamer.

Now, without further ado, I present the 11 most iconic theme songs of all time:

11) Street Fighter II: The World Warrior - Theme of Guile

Street Fighter II is a 2D fighting arcade game released in 1991 and is regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time. This second installment in the Street Fighter series introduced the character Guile, a former United States special forces operative.

Guile's theme is widely regarded as the most iconic song of the game. Composed by Yoko Shimomura this track became known for its energetic rhythm, punchy bass line and catchy guitar like melody lines.

The theme is so catchy and versatile that it sparked a series of funny videos with the name Guile's Theme Goes with Everything. The concept was to see how well the theme could fit with any video, regardless of the context.

10) Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty - Main Theme

Metal Gear Solid is an action-adventure stealth video game released for the Sony Playstation in 1998. The second entry in the series features a re-arranged and re-orchestrated version of the original main theme by composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

The updated version used in the opening title sequence remains one of the most iconic songs among the franchise's music and continues to be featured in subsequent titles. With its blend of orchestral and electronic music the composition is fast-paced, filled with sudden twists and turns.

The energetic and thrilling sections of the song perfectly capture the high-stakes action, espionage, and suspense that define the game while the slow and triumphant section towards the end conveys a sense of accomplishment signaling a turning point in the story.

9) Final Fantasy - Main Theme

Final Fantasy is a fantasy RPG originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987. It is the first release in the Final Fantasy series. The title's main theme is now considered to be the main theme of the series due to its re-occurrence throughout the majority of the main Final Fantasy games.

Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, it is instantly recognizable and represents the essence of Final Fantasy's grand and imaginative worlds. The song gradually evolved throughout releases from a more electronic chiptune sound (as hardware limitations at the time wouldn't allow for a different result) to a refined orchestral score.

This comes to show how good the original composition really was. The theme has a sense of majesty and adventure, transporting players to epic realms filled with magic, heroes, and quests.

8) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

Skyrim is a fantasy action RPG released worldwide in 2011. It is the fifth main installment in the Elder Scrolls series. Skyrim received critical acclaim and is considered to be one of the greatest video games ever made. By June 2013 it sold 20 million copies. Due to this, it has one of the most heard video game soundtracks.

Dragonborn, being the main menu theme song become synonymous with the game and is instantly recognizable to fans. The song was composed by Jeremy Soule and was recorded with a choir of over 30 people singing in the game's fictional dragon language.

The Dragonborn theme is an epic composition that evokes a sense of heroism, destiny and immortality. The use of a choir and orchestra adds to its grandeur. The triumphant melody and powerful orchestration make it a truly iconic piece and a fan-favorite among players.

7) Halo: Combat Evolved - Opening Suite

Halo: Combat Evolved is a futuristic first-person shooter (FPS) released as a launch title for Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles in 2001. Its release marked the beginning of an entire series of games set in the Halo universe.

While the Halo series features plenty of great and iconic music tracks including the Halo Theme (Mjolnir Mix), it is the Opening Suite that is regarded as the most iconic Halo song in the series.

The Opening Suite first appeared in Combat Evolved and it has been remade and reimagined in subsequent titles. This includes the Zeta Halo Theme from Halo Infinite. The Opening Suite was composed by Martin O'Donnell

During development O'Donnell was told that the music should convey a feeling of ancient mystery. He decided Gregorian chants would be appropriate and performed the vocals alongside his composing partner Michael Salvatori. Additional singers did contribute as well.

With the Opening Suite O'Donnell delivered on what he had been tasked with: A composition featuring ethereal choral chants and sweeping strings that perfectly create the intended sense of mystery and wonder.

6) Pac-Man - Pac-Man Theme

Pac-Man is so popular worldwide that it doesn't even need an introduction. Everyone has certainly come across the dot eating circular yellow character throughout their lives. To this day Pac-Man remains an iconic character that represents video games as a whole.

Released in 1980 for the arcades it featured a theme song composed by Toshio Kai that was about 4 seconds long. This was due to the hardware limitations for music at the time. Nonetheless, due to how popular this title was, it was just long enough to become ingrained in the minds of players.

Also helping the theme's popularity was the hit song Pac-Man Fever that peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. This single by Buckner & Garcia featured the short Pac-Man theme song along with sound effects from the game.

5) Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone

Sonic the Hedgehog is a scrolling platform game published by Sega in 1991. This title was responsible for the birth of one of the most popular and loved video game franshises of all time featuring a fast blue hedgehog. Green Hill Zone is Sonic the Hedgehog's first level and its theme song was composed by Masato Nakamura.

The Green Hill Zone theme is an instantly recognizable tune with a catchy and energetic nature that has become a staple of the Sonic franchise. With its upbeat melody and arpeggiated bass rhythm, the theme perfectly matches the fast-paced gameplay and Sonic's adventurous spirit.

This classic video game song has resonated with fans for decades and remains a beloved and iconic piece of video game music.

4) Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow - Battle Theme

The Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow versions were the first installments of the Pokemon video game series released in the late 90's for the Nintendo Game Boy. They are considered to be among the greatest games ever made, and their releases marked the beginning of what would become a multibillion-dollar franchise.

Although there are other theme songs from the original soundtrack that can be considered iconic such as the Lavender Town Theme, it's the Battle Theme that stands out as the most iconic. It is one of the most frequently heard and distinct pieces of music in these games.

Battles are a central aspect of the gameplay and the song plays during battles against Pokemon found in the wild. Composed by Junichi Masuda the song does an excellent job by evoking a great sense of danger and trill with each and every encounter.

With its fast pace, tense melody and chromatic arpeggios swinging up and down, this theme has been responsible for keeping players engaged and at the edge of their seats countless times in hopes of achieving one more victory.

3) Tetris - Korobeiniki/Type A

Tetris is another cult classic that everyone has at least heard of. It is a puzzle video game where you clear lines by moving differently shaped pieces. Tetris was born in 1985 and was published in multiple platforms.

Although the earliest versions of Tetris had no music, Korobeiniki was introduced just a few years later along with other tunes. Korobeiniki is a 1860s Russian folk song that ended up being used in most versions of the game and it's the song that became synonimous with the title.

This short two section theme is truly infectious and remains on player's heads long after turning off the game. Due to its simplicity and catchy nature, it is easily recallable even after years of hearing it. This makes the Tetris theme easily one of the most iconic peaces of video game music of all time.

2) The Legend of Zelda - Overworld Theme

The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure game released in the late 80's that sparked one of the most well-know and loved video game franchises. Just like other entries in this list, this title is often featured in lists of the greatest video games of all time.

Composed by Koji Kondo the Overworld theme doesn't fail to evoke feelings of nostalgia, reviving childhood memories of being immersed in a magical journey as a young boy named Link. The theme features a catchy and triumphant melody that perfectly captures the sense of adventure and unwavering courage of the hero.

The Overworld Theme was introduced with the first title and became the one representing the franchise. It is often referred to as the main theme of the Legend of Zelda games. The song has been rearranged and reinterpreted in various subsequent Zelda titles which further solidified its status as one of the most iconic themes.

1) Super Mario Bros. - Main Theme

No iconic video game music list would be complete without the Super Mario Bros. theme. This is probably the single most iconic video game music composition ever.

Introduced in the original game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985, it has become not only the defining theme for the franchise but also a theme song that represents video games as a whole, becoming ingrained in popular culture.

Composed by Koji Kondo this memorable, upbeat and energetic composition perfectly highlights the spirit of the fun filled Mario's adventures.

Over the years, the main theme has been rearranged and reimagined in numerous Super Mario games. Besides, it is one of the favorite video game themes to be played at events, concerts, and celebrations related to Super Mario or video game music.

Jack Type
Blips founder, video game music composer & technical sound designer

As a child I never missed an opportunity to tear a toy with some electronics apart and use the parts to create something new. I ended up taking an electronics/programming course in my teens while also developing a deep passion for music. Owing much of this passion to a family owned night club and venturing briefly as a DJ, I embarked on a music production journey, and being an avid gamer triggered the desire to be involved in the creation of a game's music and sound. While continuing to grow both my technical and creative skillsets, I found that video game development fits me like a glove. It allows me to fully apply those skills for an endless number of possibilities.

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