NES Game Music Poll Results

Well, the votes are in, the numbers tallied, and now the moment you've all been waiting for: the results of the NES Game Music Poll that I conducted last Sunday. Well, prepare not to be surprised. Some games I'm sure we all expected to be at the top of the heap, no matter what. I thought that Castlevania II would win hands down, based on the number of times that it appeared in the top position of votes. But, instead the clear winner was another perennial favourite of ours.

What I did was send out an e-mail on Sunday the 4th of February, asking everyone to send e-mails to me voting for their favourite NES/Famicom game music. Voting was to be done in two categories: 1) Best Game Score Overall, and 2) Best Single Song. Click on the preceding links to jump directly to the results in each category.

I received 300 votes from 55 different people, accepting only their top 5 votes in each category. I also added in my own top 5 list in each category. It was difficult for all of us, I'm sure, to narrow down the list of such great NES music to just 5 games and 5 songs. Click HERE to see my top choices for each category, and an explanation of my choices of what made it and what didn't.

In the listings that are to follow, I've listed the number of votes each game received on the left-hand side. Games that receive the same number of votes are sorted alphabetically. In the case of a well-known game with both NES and Famicom variants, I've listed the English/American name. For lesser-known games, I've given both the English and Japanese names.

Finally, I've compiled all the e-mails that I received for the poll into one big zipped text file HERE, because many people commented about all their choices, and some people wanted to know what others had said. Please don't use this message listing for malicious or commercial purposes.

And now, the results...

#1: Best Game Score Overall

No. of
Game Title Company
17 Megaman 2 Capcom
9 Castlevania II Konami
8 Megaman 3 Capcom
8 Zelda I Nintendo
7 Castlevania III Konami
7 Metroid Nintendo
7 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo
6 Contra Konami
5 Batman Sunsoft
5 Bionic Commando Capcom
5 Kirby's Adventure HAL/Nintendo
5 Megaman Capcom
5 Ninja Gaiden Tecmo
5 Ninja Gaiden II Tecmo
4 Blaster Master Sunsoft
4 Crystalis SNK
4 Dragon Warrior 4 Enix
4 Guardian Legend Brøderbund
4 Journey to Silius Sunsoft
4 Legacy of the Wizard Brøderbund
4 Zelda II Nintendo
3 Castlevania Konami
3 Final Fantasy III Square
3 Maniac Mansion Jaleco
3 Mother/Earthbound Zero Nintendo
3 Super Mario Bros. 2 Nintendo
2 Destiny of an Emperor Capcom
2 Double Dragon Tradewest
2 Dragon Spirit Namco
2 Faxanadu Hudson
2 Kid Icarus Nintendo
2 Megaman 4 Capcom
2 Mike Tyson's Punchout! Nintendo
2 River City Ransom Technos
2 Solstice CSG Imagesoft
2 Startropics Nintendo
2 Super C Konami
2 TMNT 2: The Arcade Game Konami
1 Bubble Bobble Taito
1 Captain Tsubasa 2 Tecmo
1 Clash at Demonhead Vic Tokai
1 Dragon Ball Z 2 Bandai
1 Dragon Warrior 3 Enix
1 Gauntlet Tengen
1 Golgo 13 Vic Tokai
1 Gyromite Nintendo
1 Jurassic Park Ocean
1 Life Force Konami
1 Megaman 5 Capcom
1 Metal Max Data East
1 Silver Surfer Arcadia
1 Snake Rattle 'N Roll Rare
1 Snake's Revenge Konami
1 Startropics II Nintendo
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo
1 Super Spy Hunter Sunsoft
1 TMNT 3 Konami
1 Ufouria/Hebereke Sunsoft
1 Ultima: Exodus FCI

Well, no real surprises here. My favourite NES game, Mega Man 2, seems to be a favourite for music lovers as well. So, most of the top positions go once again to the big three: Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami. Remember when they were the most adored of all game companies? It's good to see Journey to Silius somewhere up there, as that game has some fantastic and classic Sunsoft music. Too bad few of the European greats such as Tim Follin (Solstice, Silver Surfer, Kiwi Kraze), Jeroen Tel (Overlord, Alien³, Dracula), or John Dunn (Jurassic Park, Platoon) placed in the standings. Oh, well, the NES was always Japanese dominated anyway. You should really check out the different style of the European musicians that I mentioned, especially Tim Follin and his brother Geoff. They're fantastic!!

One game that caught me by surprise is Maniac Mansion, whose music I never really noticed, but some of you seem to love it. Some notable games missing from this list are Shadowgate and Gyruss, which I hear discussed sometimes. It was nice to see Dragon Spirit on the list somewhere too, as that has some great Namco music. Well, onwards to the individual songs...

#2: Best Single Song

No. of
Game Title Song Company
5 Castlevania II Forest Theme ('Bloody Tears') Konami
5 Megaman 3 Title Capcom
4 Zelda I Title Nintendo
3 Castlevania II Daylight Town music Konami
3 Megaman 2 Bubbleman Capcom
3 Megaman 2 Wily Stage 1 Capcom
3 Solstice Title CSG Imagesoft
3 Zelda I Overworld Nintendo
2 Batman Level 1 Sunsoft
2 Castlevania Track 4 Konami
2 Crystalis Overworld SNK
2 Journey to Silius Level 1 Sunsoft
2 Megaman 2 Ending & Credits Capcom
2 Megaman 2 Flash Man Capcom
2 Megaman 3 Ending Capcom
2 Metroid Hideout 1 Nintendo
2 Ninja Gaiden Track 9 Tecmo
2 Ninja Gaiden II Intro Tecmo
2 Super Mario Bros. Main Theme Nintendo
2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Credits Nintendo
1 Batman Level 4 Sunsoft
1 Batman: ROTJ Last Stage Sunsoft
1 Bionic Commando Final Stage Capcom
1 Bionic Commando Sewers Capcom
1 Castlevania II Night Theme Konami
1 Castlevania III Level 1 Konami
1 Clash at Demonhead First Stage Vic Tokai
1 Contra Stage 2 Konami
1 Double Dragon Title Tradewest
1 Double Dragon II Final Battle 2 Technos
1 Double Dragon II Stage 2 Technos
1 Dragon Warrior 3 Credits Enix
1 Dragon Warrior 3 Track 17 Enix
1 Dragon Warrior 4 Mara & Nara Battle Song Enix
1 Dragon Warrior 4 Ragnar Enix
1 Dragon Warrior 4 Taloon's Theme Enix
1 Ducktales Moon Theme Capcom
1 Faxanadu Password Music Hudson
1 Final Fantasy Battle Square
1 Final Fantasy Matouya's Cave Square
1 Final Fantasy III 2nd World Square
1 Final Fantasy III Overworld Square
1 Final Fantasy III Prologue Square
1 Gargoyle's Quest 2 Track 12 Capcom
1 Gauntlet Title Tengen
1 Golgo 13 Title Vic Tokai
1 Gradius II Ending Konami
1 Gyromite Theme Nintendo
1 Journey to Silius Level 2 Sunsoft
1 Journey to Silius Level 3 Sunsoft
1 Journey to Silius Title Sunsoft
1 Kid Icarus Level 1 Nintendo
1 Kirby's Adventure Grape Garden HAL/Nintendo
1 Kirby's Adventure Track 1 HAL/Nintendo
1 Legacy of the Wizard Mom's Theme Brøderbund
1 Legacy of the Wizard Title Brøderbund
1 Lifeforce Level 1 Konami
1 Maniac Mansion Dave's Tune Jaleco
1 Maniac Mansion Razor's CD Music Jaleco
1 Maniac Mansion Song 1 ?? Jaleco
1 Megaman Cutman Capcom
1 Megaman Iceman Capcom
1 Megaman Wily Stage 1 Capcom
1 Megaman 2 Crash Man Capcom
1 Megaman 2 Mecha Dragon Boss Capcom
1 Megaman 2 Metalman Capcom
1 Megaman 2 Quickman Capcom
1 Megaman 2 Wily Stage 2 Capcom
1 Megaman 3 Gemini Man Capcom
1 Megaman 3 Needleman Capcom
1 Megaman 3 Protoman Theme Capcom
1 Megaman 3 Spark Man Capcom
1 Metal Max Track 1 Data East
1 Metroid Tourian Theme Nintendo
1 Mother/Earthbound Zero Snowman Nintendo
1 Ninja Gaiden Ending Tecmo
1 Paperboy Level 1 ???
1 Power Blade II Track 4 Taito
1 Rambo Overworld Acclaim
1 Shadowgate Lighting Rod Kemco-Seika
1 Shatterhand/Solbrain Track 4 Natsume/Jaleco
1 Solstice Main Theme CSG Imagesoft
1 Startropics Ending Nintendo
1 Super Mario Bros. 2 Overworld Nintendo
1 Super Mario Bros. 3 Bowser's Theme Nintendo
1 Super Mario Bros. 3 Overworld 2 Nintendo
1 Super Mario Bros. 3 Underground 'Rap' Nintendo
1 Tetris Music 3 Nintendo
1 Tiny Toon Adventures Track 7 Konami
1 Wizards & Warriors Title Acclaim

I knew that this list would be a long one, with all the various and idiosyncratic choices that you music lovers are known to make. Some games in which we see a lot of differences of opinion over the best individual song are in the Mega Man and Mario series. And then the RPG-lovers step in to give a flood of differing votes for the Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy series. Castlevania II is the #1 choice here, and that's no surprise. The song 'Bloody Tears' is great, but it's at its greatest in Castlevania IV for the SNES. You should definitely check that out. Konami's Castlevania series really is one of the greatest; maybe that's why I have their soundtracks on CD... :-)

Anyways, thanks to you all for voting. Here's the list of games that I voted for.

Best overall

1 Journey to Silius
2 Megaman 2
3 Bionic Commando
4 Batman
5 Megaman/Solstice/Silver Surfer

Best single song

1 Journey to Silius Level 2
2 Megaman 2 Ending
3 Megaman 2 Quickman
4 Megaman Wily Level 1
5 Ducktales Moon

Journey to Silius Ending
Megaman Cutman
Strider Title
Strider Ending
Batman Level 1
Batman Level 4
Solstice Title
Silver Surfer Title
Silver Surfer Level 1
Little Nemo Nightmare Land
Little Nemo Boss
Little Nemo Final Boss
Castlevania Track 4

I had a really hard time narrowing down the list of best songs, as you can see. I'll explain my choices. Just to be fair, I tried to base my vote on a game's musical quality, not on some form of nostalgia. That's why you'll see no Metroid or Zelda tracks here. Journey to Silius is #1 simply because it absolutely amazed me when I first heard it. Sunsoft had seemingly created sounds that the NES has never produced before, with such a jammin' bassline and tremulous lead instruments. The melodies are also superb. Mega Man 2 simply has some great, upbeat and downbeat melodies. It is a classic. Bionic Commando sounded like a futuristic war march, in the same vein as Contra, but not so combative. Batman is another Sunsoft great. I chose it not only because of the great and driving melodies, but also because it really conveys accurately the mood of the movie with every song. (Good thing there are no Prince covers!)

My #5 choice really is Megaman 1, because it has some great songs. But I felt I had to include Tim Follin's work somewhere, because it is far more amazing than MM1's music. As for my individual song choices, well, I recommend that you check out the game and play it to listen to the music from the stages/endings that I mentioned. Then, you'll get a good idea of what I meant. Basically what I did was search through my memory for the songs that were the most memorable, the ones that I listened to the most often, either on cassette tape, in an NSF, or just by playing the game on my NES. I have lots of great memories of taping 15 minutes worth of just one song, or just turning on my NES to a certain song, and letting that blare through my room while I do other things. None of my family members ever understood...

You can probably guess that I'm a Capcom fan. Well, that's true because Capcom games are my favourites. But I still think that as a company, Sunsoft had the best game soundtracks, always putting through their distinctive jammin' style. But the purpose of this entire poll is not to narrow down your musical repertoire, but rather to expand it. Print this entire page out, and take the time to listen to some of the less-celebrated game soundtracks. I'm sure you'll find a true gem!

Thanks for taking the time to read these poll results, and thanks to those of you who participated by voting. You can send me feedback about anything that comes to your mind by e-mailing me at Happy gaming!