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Top 10 NES Soundtracks





I've been playing the NES since 1990 or so, and have played hundreds of games for it. As a result, I've heard a lot of good (and some bad) NES soundtracks that I still remember and think about often. I've listened to not only the original versions of these soundtracks, but also remixes and fan-made MIDI's (dating back to the early 2000's). The soundtracks are that good. 

My Favorite NES Soundtracks



Battletoads isn't just known for its difficulty. It also has a memorable soundtrack, composed by Rare's David Wise (who also composed many other soundtracks, such as Donkey Kong Country). 


There's the catchy title/intro music, which is so good it was also used in two of the Battletoads games for Game Boy.

The music in the first level ("Ragnarok's Canyon") is well-known for the fact that it's the music for the first level in the game, and therefore everyone who's played the game has heard it.

And, of course, there are the two music tracks that play in the Turbo Tunnel level. The first music track in the Turbo Tunnel, playing at the beginning while you're battling some rat enemies, is short. It makes you wonder...is there something else coming up? Oh yeah, who could forget the speed bikes. The real challenge in the Turbo Tunnel that many couldn't beat when playing the game in the '90s. Of course times have changed, and I and many others have beaten the Turbo Tunnel many times before. The music that plays here is fast and intense, and gets even faster in the final section of the level. 

There's an unused music track in the game that was apparently intended for the game's ninth level, which plays the same music as level 5. I recorded it (video above) from a real, unmodified NES. The music that plays during cutscene's/intermissions is also longer than what is normally heard. 



Much like the game itself, StarTropic's soundtrack is a little underrated. I beat the game last year and had a lot of fun playing it. But not only is the game itself good, the music is also pretty good and memorable.

My favorite music tracks in the game would have to be the C-Island overworld music, and the music that plays when you're exploring caves/the main action areas of the game. The latter also have secret sections/rooms with potions that restore your energy. These rooms have their own music, which is nice and relaxing. 

8.Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game


Based on the original Ninja Turtles Arcade game, the music in Ninja Turtles II on NES has mostly NES-style versions of the Arcade game's soundtrack.

Pretty much all of the music in the game is great. The game is notable for including two levels not in the Arcade version (like the snow level), which have their own original music tracks. The music that plays in the snow level is one of my favorites. Some of my other favorite music tracks in the game include the music from the first level, and the music that plays in the Technodrome (final level). Even the music on the Turtle select screen is great. In the past, I've left the game on this screen just to listen the music.


Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, yes I have the Pizza Hut coupon that originally came with the game. It's still attached to the manual.


The music that plays in the Moon level is memorable and iconic, but it isn't the only good music in the game. Some of my other favorite music tracks in DuckTales include the music that plays in the Amazon level, Transylvania, and the boss music.

Multiple prototypes of the first DuckTales on NES have been found. One was found in the early 2000's, and another was found in 2021. Both have music tracks that went unused in the released version. The prototype found in 2021, which is actually an earlier prototype, has completely different and longer music on the level/land select screen. Both prototypes also contain different music in the Transylvania level (known as "Ghost House" in the prototypes) than what is used in the released version of the game.


DuckTales got a remake years ago called DuckTales Remastered, which I downloaded on Steam last year. It includes both the original NES version of the soundtrack, as well as an updated version.



Pretty much every music track in this game is great and fits not only the levels, but also cutscenes and boss battles.

My favorite music tracks are the cutscene music, the game over music, level 1 music ("Streets of Desolation"), level 3 music ("Underground Conduit"), and level 4 music ("Laboratory Ruins").

Years ago, a prototype of Batman with different cutscenes than the released version was found. Screenshots from this prototype were shown in a preview of the game in issue 8 of Nintendo Power. While the music in this prototype is largely the same, there are two music tracks that play during the ending that went unused in the released version (which has one longer and completely different ending music track).

5.Kirby's Adventure


Easily one of my favorite Kirby games, along with Kirby's Dream Land 2. The soundtrack is also one of my favorites.

The music in this game ranges from fun to intense to somewhat sad. There are seven areas in the game, each with their own level select screens (which have their own music).

My favorite music tracks in the game are the music that plays in the first forest level (which also plays in some other levels), the music that plays in the Butter Building levels, the music that plays in the Rainbow Resort levels, and the final battle music.

There's a level near the end of the game that is (mostly) in black and white, and is based on Kirby's Dream Land for Game Boy. The music that plays in this level is a remix of the Green Greens (first level) music from Kirby's Dream Land. Now maybe it's just me, but I always thought Kirby's Adventure's version of this music sounded kind of sad. Almost like the game is telling you "you're near the end of the game." The Game Boy Advance remake of Kirby's Adventure (Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land) makes this music sound happier, and more like the original version in Kirby's Dream Land.

Kirby's Adventure has an unused music track, which is a slightly altered version of the title screen music from Kirby's Dream Land on Game Boy. This music track can be heard the game's sound test (unlocked after beating the game).



Kirby's Adventure's soundtrack has been remixed in several other Kirby games. A remix of the music from the Butter Building levels is included in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Kirby Air Ride has remixes of the forest level music and the music from the Rainbow Resort levels.

4.Ninja Gaiden


Ninja Guy-den's soundtrack is one of the more iconic soundtracks on the console. Each level has its own theme, and the further you get into the game the more intense the soundtrack gets. Which is fitting, because the game is one of the most difficult games on the NES. The game is also known for its cinematic cutscenes, which also have their own music.

My favorite music tracks in the game are the one that plays in level 2-2 ("Rugged Terrain") and the music that plays in level 5-1 ("Depth of Wickedness").

3.Super Mario Bros.

Of course, I had to mention this game's soundtrack. I don't like it quite as much as Super Mario Bros. 3's soundtrack, but it's still worth a mention. I don't have much to say about it. Who hasn't heard the Super Mario Bros. theme before? That and other music tracks have been remixed in numerous other games in the series.

Besides the Super Mario Bros. theme, my other favorite music tracks in this game are the underground music and water level music.

2.Mega Man 3


A lot of people say Mega Man 2 is not only the best game in the series, but that it also has the best soundtrack. I have to disagree, even though Mega Man 2's soundtrack is undeniably great. I've enjoyed Mega Man 3 more, both the game and its soundtrack.

The title screen music just might be my favorite music in the entire franchise. This is another game I've left on in the past, just to listen to this music. For stage music, the music in Shadow Man's stage is my favorite. I also really like the music tracks in Gemini Man's, Snake Man's, and Magnet Man's stages.

The music tracks in the Dr. Wily stages are worth a mention, because the mood changes the farther you get. The music track in the first and second Dr. Wily stages is catchy and memorable, as if the game's saying "You've made it to Dr. Wily's fortress! Good job!". In the third and fourth Wily stages, the music sounds less happy and a little more serious ("You're deeper into Wily's fortress! Watch your step!"). In the fifth and sixth Dr. Wily stages, the music sounds darker and somewhat nerve-wracking ("Dr. Wily is ahead! Get ready!").

The ending music tracks are great, too. During the ending, you hear Protoman's theme. Unfortunately, in the original version of the game, you only hear about half of it. But if you hold up and A on Controller 2 while Dr. Light is talking to Mega Man, Mega Man freezes while you're holding the buttons down allowing you to hear Protoman's entire theme. The Mega Man 3 Improvement hack (above) plays the entire theme normally. The credits music is also really catchy, and really makes you feel like you've accomplished something. It's another music track that I can listen to for a while.

1.Super Mario Bros. 3


My favorite NES and Mario game (and possibly my favorite game of all-time) has my favorite soundtrack on the NES.

Where do I begin? The game's main theme, which plays in level 1 as well as many other levels, is one of the most memorable music tracks in video game history. 

The map screens for each world have their own music. World 1's map music is fun and happy, worlds 2, 3, and 4 have catchy map music, world 5 has two map screens both of which have different music, world 6's map music is fitting for a frozen world, world 7's map music is kind of relaxing, and world 8's map music is kind of creepy (and it's a music track I've listened to in the dark before many times in the past). 



The underground music is a remix of the one from the first Super Mario Bros., and sounds better in my opinion. Being one of the more iconic Mario themes, it has been remixed in numerous other Mario games too such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. The music that plays in the fortress levels is memorable too. It's kind of quiet and creepy, then when you reach the boss the game starts playing more intense music. 



The "athletic" theme (which first plays in the second level) reminds me of how frustrating some of the levels can be (especially auto-scrolling levels), but it is still one of the game's better and more memorable music tracks. Updated versions of this music track are included in Super Mario Galaxy for Wii and Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS...


...and it also plays during one scene in the new Super Mario Bros. movie.

The ending music also deserves praise. It starts out like a sad version of the ending music from the first Super Mario Bros., then becomes its own catchy music. Like Mega Man 3, whenever I beat Super Mario Bros. 3, I just leave the game on for a while longer and listen to the music. It's that good.

Honorable Mentions

The Legend of Zelda

I'm not leaving Zelda out. The overworld music, a.k.a. the Zelda theme, plays in my head fairly often.


I'm not leaving out Metroid either. The music that plays in Norfair is probably my favorite. The music that plays in Ridley's Lair is a little creepy (but still awesome), and it's another music track I've listened to in the dark before.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


The game itself may not be as good as other Ninja Turtles games, but it has a pretty good soundtrack. The music that plays during the game's opening, the music that plays while you're in the sewers in the first level, and the underground music in level 5 are my favorites in this game.

Battletoads Double Dragon


I don't like the music in this game as much as the first Battletoads, but it's still good. My favorites are the cutscene/intermission music that plays right before a level starts, the second boss music (plays on some levels, like the second and fourth level), and the music that plays in the third level. The game itself is more playable than the first Battletoads, and is a lot of fun with two players.

Shadowgate and Déjà Vu


I happen to like the soundtracks in these point and click games. 

In Shadowgate, my favorite music tracks are the game's main theme that plays in the castle halls, the music that plays in the courtyard, and the music that plays when your torch is almost out.



In Déjà Vu, my favorite music tracks are the main theme that plays in many areas of the game (such as Joe's Bar, called "Joe's Place" in the Game Boy Color version), the music that plays when you're in the sewer, the music that plays while you're walking through the streets, and the ending music. Déjà Vu II (part of the Déjà Vu I & II collection for Game Boy Color) also has some great music. 

I highly recommend these games if you like Detective movies/games, such as Dick Tracy.


Ufouria: The Saga 


Like Batman, this game is from Sunsoft and the soundtrack has "Sunsoft bass" (DPCM samples) like most of their other NES games. 

I recorded the soundtrack and uploaded it on YouTube in 2009, around when I got the game.

Mega Man Games



Let's face it: Mega Man 2's soundtrack, as memorable and iconic as it may be, is not the only Mega Man soundtrack worth talking about. My favorite music tracks in these games are Fireman's stage (Mega Man 1), Flashman's stage (Mega Man 2), Shadow Man's stage (Mega Man 3), Pharaoh Man's stage (Mega Man 4), Gravity Man's stage (Mega Man 5), and Yamato Man's stage (Mega Man 6).

The music tracks that play in the fortress levels in these games also deserve praise, like the music that plays in the third and fourth Dr. Wily stages in Mega Man 1, or the Dr. Wily stage's in Mega Man 6. The music that plays during the final battle with Dr. Wily in Mega Man 6 is also pretty epic. Of course I've already mentioned the epic Dr. Wily stage music tracks and ending music tracks in Mega Man 3 above.




The NES is my favorite game system and many of its games have some of the greatest soundtracks in gaming history. So, of course I had to make a blog about my favorite soundtracks on the system. There are a lot of other NES games and soundtracks I like too, like Tiny Toon Adventures 1 & 2, Rad Racer 1 & 2, R.C. Pro Am 1 & 2, Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom, Bucky O'Hare, Rockin' Kats, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, etc. But the NES soundtracks listed above are the ones I enjoy the most.



Edited by MegaMan52
Fixed typos and added pictures and videos

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