Musical Magic: 13 Games, One Final Fantasy

With Final Fantasy XIII out now in stores, RPG fans are getting another taste of Square-Enix’s excellent franchise. There are many reason to love what Final Fantasy brings to the table: beautiful graphics, engaging story, and relatable characters. There’s one thing, though, that has stuck out to many a gamer since the first game: the music.

Each Final Fantasy game is a musical masterpiece, from the original NES chiptunes to the full orchestras of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Of course, we can’t mention Final Fantasy music without mentioning the man (mostly) responsible: Nobuo Uematsu. Most of what you hear here will be his incredible work. There are tunes that everyone has heard, some of which are as familiar as the Super Mario Bros theme song. Come with me now as we take a journey through time and sound and relive the musical magic of Final Fantasy.




These are the tunes everyone knows, the ones that no Final Fantasy games has been without. There are variations (my favorites of which will be played here), but everyone knows what franchise is home to these melodies.

The Chocobo Theme

Hey! Chocobo! Everyone knows that giant Big Bird wannabe, and the theme is one of the most recognizable in gaming. It’s amazing how many different uses those birds have found, from steed to racehorse to even a summon. The theme itself is just as versatile, having been morphed into mambo, techno, and island rhythms throughout the years. Some of the other great versions are "Mods de Chocobo" from VIII, "Ukele de Chocobo" from IX, and "Boko’s Theme" from V.

The Battle Victory Theme

The first fanfare of this will send shivers up your spine after completing a long, ardruous boss battle. That fanfare has been a Final Fantasy staple since I, and even though after the fanfare has changed over the years, the joy felt from hearing this music will never change. Other versions to seek out are VI, IX, and the original of course. 

Prelude/The Theme of the Crystal

One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created. A calm, soothing melody played at the "The End" screen of most of the games, "Prelude" was your reward after a long, tiring battle: a place to sit, relax, and reflect. I know after beating IX i sat on this screen for a good 15 minutes, just listening to the song and replaying the game in my mind. Easily my favorite of the regular songs. Check out VIII and X‘s version of the piece as well.




The following are highlights of the music featured in Final Fantasy I-VI.

Final Fantasy I – Main Theme

The main theme of the patriarch of the franchise. A rousing song perfect for saving the world. This is the song that started the franchise off, and it’s certainly a good one.

Final Fantasy II – Pandemonium

The castle of Hell itself, Pandemonium appears after the dead Emperor of Palamecia returns from the dead as a demon, and raises the castle from the ground. The song plays as the heroes fight through the castle in order to seal the Emperor away. This is one of the best "last level" songs in gaming, and another brilliant example of how Final Fantasy’s music has been incredible from the beginning.

Final Fantasy III – My Home Town

Another staple of any FF music collection: the theme of the home town. RPGs have been using this tool for years, from Pallet Town in Pokemon to the Millennial Fair in another Square-Enix classic Chrono Trigger, all major role-playing games have had quiet, soothing melodies to signal when you’re home. Final Fantasy III is home to one of the best, and with the old NES-style chiptune sound of this version, I not only feel at home, but I feel young again. Aaahhh….

Final Fantasy IV – Golbez, Clad in the Dark

A villain needs a theme that will strike fear into the player. The villian needs to be able to intimidate not only the characters in the game, but the one controlling them as well. Golbez’s theme from Final Fantasy IV does just that, as the organ and synth creates a foreboding theme that will chill to the bone. A villain thrives on a theme that scares, and Golbez certainly gets one here.

Final Fantasy V – Clash on the Big Bridge

Final Fantasy V has players running a gauntlet of battles while crossing a bridge, including a boss battle at the end. An epic battle such as this needs an equally epic theme, right? Well, "Clash on the Big Bridge" is just that. I remember wanting to do the battle over again because I liked the song so much, but decided against it when Gilgamesh nearly ended my life. A great moment in a great game, with an equally great song backing it up.

Final Fantasy VI – Terra

Considered by some to be the best of all the Final Fantasy songs, Nobuo Uematsu struck gold when he composed the theme of Terra, the main character of the game. It is the song of a hero, one that embodies the fire that burns within Terra as she fights to save the world from Kefka. I know I was ready to go when I heard this song, and there are many others out there who will agree.





Now, some may argue with me over what exactly is the Golden Age of Final Fantasy, but as far as amount of people playing and popularity go, the true Golden Age of Final Fantasy started with…

Final Fantasy VII – Main Theme/World Map 1

Who can argue that Final Fantasy VII is the benchmark game of the franchise? It catapulted not only FF, but Square, into total spotlight. After FFVII released, people hinged on Square’s every word for what was next. FFVII had it all: a story that was thought to be impossible for games, graphics that at the time blew away everything else, and a score that can only be described as masterful. The main theme alone is enough to give a major fan shivers. Uematsu went above and beyond for a game that did exactly the same thing. Funny, though, that it is not home to my favorite overall FF soundtrack. That honor belongs to…

Final Fantasy VIII – Roses and Wine

Final Fantasy VIII is a benchmark in my personal gaming career. I did not have a PSone in time for FFVII, so I wasn’t part of the first crowd to play it. By then, my gaming had consisted of Tekken 2, Street Fighter Alpha, and the occasional NCAA Gamebreaker. My love affair with gaming was waning, giving way to other things. Final Fantasy VIII changed all of that. It proved that movie-quality story and movie-quality music could be possible for games as well. I spent months playing this, hell, I’m currently on Disc 2 on my PSP. Aside from everything else, this soundtrack is simply my favorite. Every song is perfect, but it is this song, "Roses and Wine," that stick with me. I can remember hearing this song for the first time, as Laguna and Julia met in her hotel room, and he was nervous as all hell. I remember relating to him, knowing how nerve-wracking it was to talk to a girl. This game saved my love for the entire medium, thanks in no small part to the amazing score.

Final Fantasy IX – Vamo’alla Flamenco

FFIX  was the perfect mix of the old and the new. On one hand, the series returned to the four party member system that fans loved so much; on the other hand, it contained the most varied soundtrack of all in a style sense. From marches to jazz to the Latin beat above, FFIX was amazingly well-versed in different musical stylings. "Vamo’alla Flamenco" is one of the best examples, as its Latin flair adds a bit of spice to an already hot soundtrack.

Final Fantasy X – The Hymn of the Fayth

The series’s first venture on the PS2 allowed for many new things, the inclusion of actual voices being one of them. Luckily, this addition was not limited to speech. "The Hymn of the Fayth" is an excellent example of how music can set almost any mood: the voices at work here create the aura of mystique and reverence surrounding the temples of the Aeons. Any other song choice would have taken away from it, without question.

Final Fantasy XI – Opening Theme

Now, I am not an MMO person by any means. I’ve tried a bunch, only to forget about them later on. Leave it to Final Fantasy to create the MMO experience I would remember the most. The opening scene is amazing, from the cinematics to the song playing. A full orchestra and choir combination lead you into Vana’diel in a way that only Square could accomplish. This is a truly wonderful piece of music from a Final Fantasy that truly is unique (well, until XIV at least).

Final Fantasy XII – Esper Battle

You can throw any battle music you want at me, no matter what game it’s from, and I’ll tell you that "Esper Battle" here beats it. Without a doubt the most riveting battle music I’ve ever experienced, the battle is MADE by the fact that you have the drums driving you on and the chorus chanting to your victory. As much as FFXII differed from other games in the series (with mixed criticism), the music was just as good as the previous iterations.

Final Fantasy XIII – Snow’s Theme

If there’s one thing that Final Fantasy’s music is good at, it is making each character’s theme song embody that character as best it can. Take Snow’s Theme here: a tough, rough-and-tumble guy who isn’t afraid to step up and be the hero. Isn’t this the type of song you’d envision for him? Guitars over a slow, driving beat, with a lead guitar solo creating the heroic feel: what else could you ask for? Even now, in 2010, Final Fantasy delivers with great music for a great game.





There is a ton of great music to choose from here, but unfortunately, I can’t choose them all. Let’s get cracking with my Top 10 Final Fantasy Songs, shall we?

NOTE: These are all in-game versions, no remixes or anything (as awesome as OCRemix and the Black Mages are).

10. Final Fantasy VIII – The Spy


9. Final Fantasy VII – Those Chosen By The Planet


8. Final Fantasy  IX – Sleepless City Treno


7. Final Fantasy VIII – Fisherman’s Horizon


6. Final Fantasy IX – Crossing Those Hills


5. Final Fantasy X – Otherworld


4. Final Fantasy VII – One Winged Angel


3. Final Fantasy IX – You’re Not Alone!


2. Final Fantasy VIII – Julia


1. Final Fantasy X – Zanarkand

I would explain all of those picks, but the soundtracks are so robust and unique that no explanation I could give would matter. Everyone can pick their own top 10, but here is mine. Feel free to listen!

I hope you enjoyed your journey through an entire franchise worth of musical magic. Here’s to 13 more great games with great soundtracks.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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