Released in 1987, Final Fantasy set the bar for what an RPG could be. Final Fantasy became a success by combining the elements of Japanese and western RPGs, using battle animations that matched the weapons and magic the player characters were using, and by having a great story that would set the tone for future games. With all of the amazing elements of the game, it's easy to miss some of the better things the game does. One of the great things that is impossible to miss with Final Fantasy is its soundtrack.
Final Fantasy is filled with music that perfectly matches its vast world and all of the tracks encapsulate the feelings the heroes are feeling on their adventure to save the world. Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the Final Fantasy soundtrack had so many iconic tracks, many of which would go on to become staples in the series. With a series known for its great music, it is only right that we dedicate an entire article to the game that started it all. Today we are going to be looking at the top 10 musical themes from Final Fantasy the first game.
10. Floating Castle
Named after the location where it plays, Floating Castle is a dark and eerie theme that sets up the players journey to battle against the last of the Four Fiends, Tiamat. Floating Castle deviates from the fast-paced music seen in many of the games other tracks instead it is slower paced and the notes last longer, creating its dark and eerie style. The Floating Castle is the perfect place to incorporate the song like this, with the black tile set in the dungeon and winding paths leading up to Tiamat. With the journey the player goes on being focused on defeating the Four Fiends, Floating Castle gives off the impression that it will be the last stop on the player's journey and the theme is one of the major factors in creating this feeling.
Although the Final Fantasy soundtrack has plenty of great tracks, many of them use the same style and don't try anything different. Floating Castle is one of the tracks that really stands out when compared to the rest of the soundtrack. Even though Floating Castle does stand out, there are still many great songs that fit the game and the series a little bit better. 10th may seem low for a song that adds diversity to the game's soundtrack, the dark and eerie nature of the song hinders the enjoyability of listening to the song, even though it fits its dungeon so well.
9. Gurgu Volcano
Another theme from one of the dungeons that houses a member of the Four Fiends, Gulug Volcano plays in a location that is known as both Gulug Volcano and Mount Gulug. The track is upbeat but still maintains the seriousness of exploring a dungeon filled with monsters. The fast-paced and upbeat theme matches the fiery area perfectly by aiding in providing the player with a slightly stressful atmosphere in Gulug Volcano and making them want to move quickly through the area. The trek to reach Marilith wouldn't be nearly as memorable without this amazing track playing in the background.
Gulug Volcano has everything you could want out of a dungeon theme. By finding a nice balance between being a catchy upbeat tune and being a dreary dungeon theme, Gulug Volcano easily earns amongst the best music in the game. This dungeon theme sticks closer to the style seen throughout the soundtrack than Floating Castle did. Although it stays with the faster and upbeat style found in most of the soundtrack, Gulug Volcano is able to be unique by making it feel much more serious than the other tracks. The Gulug Volcano theme was also good enough for it to be remixed and return in Final Fantasy IX as a theme for its own version of Mount Gulug.
8. Matoya’s Cave
The main place you will find this song in the game is a minor location in Final Fantasy, the cave with the eponymous theme, Matoya's Cave. The player visits Matoya's Cave shortly after defeating Astos and obtaining Matoya's crystal eye. Despite the location being relatively small and being an obscure location visited early in the game, it is memorable based solely on the amazing track that plays when the player visits the cave. The catchy theme gives off a mysterious upbeat vibe befitting of a cave belonging to a witch.
The one thing keeping this track from being higher on the list is despite being named Matoya's Cave, the track is used in multiple locations throughout the game including the Dwarf Cave and the Cardia Islands. The overuse of the track takes away what should be a special theme and makes it so the track ends up getting overused. Although the track is used many times, it is still one of the best songs in the entire game giving the player a sense of wonderment. Out of all of the music featured in Final Fantasy, Matoya's Cave is one of the best at making the player feel like they are in a fantasy world filled with all sorts of monsters and magic.
7. Menu Theme
The first theme on the list not from an area in the game, the Menu Theme plays whenever the player enters into the menu. The Menu Theme is a calm and slow song that almost sounds like a lullaby. The calmness works perfectly for a song that works as a sort of palate cleanser for the ears. With the potential to be played anywhere in the game, the menu theme had to be able to balance out the more extreme songs seen throughout the game. The calmness of the song achieves this by bringing down the stressfulness of the dungeons, while also being able to keep up with the sense of mystery and adventure seen when visiting towns and walking around the world map.
The Menu Theme earns its place on the list by not only being a fantastic song, but also by what it means to the game overall. The Menu Theme is a song that will be played more than almost any other song during the player's journey. To be able to be heard over and over again and for the song to not feel out of place or that the song is getting repetitive speaks to how great the song is. Being a song most people would take for granted, when you think about everything the Menu Theme does for the game, it's easy to see why it should be on this list.
6. Battle Theme
The Battle Theme in Final Fantasy is used a lot more than battle themes in later titles. While some later games have multiple normal battle theme and a special theme for the bosses, Final Fantasy uses its battle theme for every battle in the game. Due to it being the only theme heard in battle throughout the game, the song needed to be great and Nobuo Uematsu delivered. The beginning of the song starts off fairly lighthearted, but as the song progresses the suspense builds up. The theme has a fast-paced and serious style that makes it fit perfectly into the regular battles and boss battles.
Much like the previous song on the list, the Battle Theme is one of the songs that the player will hear the most during the game. The song is one of the catchiest songs in the game. The Battle Theme stands out by combining aspects seen in other tracks in the game and finding a nice balance between the fast-paced style of the music and the seriousness of being a battle theme. The Battle Theme also holds an important place in the history of Final Fantasy with the theme being used over the next five games in the series with each subsequent release updating and reworking the song while still keeping the parts that make it great.
5. Victory Fanfare
Fittingly coming right after the Battle Theme, the Victory Fanfare is the song that plays after finishing a battle. The Victory Fanfare is one of the most iconic songs in both the game and the series as a whole. The song balances out with the Battle Theme serving as an upbeat relaxing end to the game's serious battles. The simplicity of the Victory Fanfare is one of its biggest strengths, not trying too hard or making it over the top, the song perfectly fulfills its role as an end of battle theme that gives the player time to readjust.
The Victory Fanfare is one of the shortest songs in the game and the shortest on the list coming in at just under 40 seconds. What the song lacks in length, it makes up for in quality. The song is able to get create a sense of accomplishment and relax the player in a matter of seconds. The Victory Fanfare is another song that has had an impact on the Final Fantasy series, with each game up to Final Fantasy XII featuring its own version of the song.
4. The Prelude
The Prelude plays during the start of up Final Fantasy and on its title screen. Being the first song heard in the game, The Prelude needed to set the tone for the fantasy adventure the player was about to embark on. The Prelude accomplishes this by incorporating a mysterious vibe into the song that gives off the feelings of a wayward adventurer arriving in a new location for the first time. This allows the song to perfectly transition into the player's first steps into the field of Cornelia on their journey to restore light to the crystals.
Due to it only being played when starting up the game, it may be unfair to place it higher than tracks that appear in some of the games major area. Despite the lack of screen time for the song in the game, The Prelude more than deserves its spot as one of the best songs in the game. As the first song in the game, it starts out by moving away from many of the upbeat tracks in the game going for a more serene and emotionally driven piece. The Prelude is one of the best songs in the game in terms of getting its feelings across. The song creates an immersive atmosphere making the player really feel like they are entering a mysterious new world.
3. Overworld Theme
The Overworld Theme is an upbeat fantasy style theme that sounds perfect for going on an adventure. As the player crosses the expansive world seen in Final Fantasy, the Overworld Theme plays everywhere the player goes on their journey. With it being played all over the world and all throughout the game, the Overworld Theme kept itself fresh with its lighthearted sounds that make you want to go on an adventure. The easygoing nature of the song and the upbeat style it has makes it one of the most enjoyable songs to listen to.
Another song that is heard a lot while playing Final Fantasy, the Overworld Theme was able to set the tone for the world and the adventure the player goes on, without the song ever feeling repetitive. The Overworld Theme stands out for the way it incorporates the upbeat and fast-paced styles seen in the other songs in the game. The other thing that the Overworld Theme does is balance out with the more serious dungeon themes and more laid back town themes. Serving as a sort of middle ground for the themes in the game, the Overworld Theme allows the player to catch their breath while they continue on to the next major spot in their adventure.
Serving as both the first and last dungeon of the game, the Chaos Shrine has the best musical theme found in any dungeon of the game. The player visits the Chaos Shrine at the beginning of the game to save Princess Sarah and again at the end of the game after they have defeated the four fiends. The Chaos Shrine theme features a fast-paced theme that also gives off the eerie vibe found in some of the other dungeon themes. Featuring a combination of many of the other dungeon themes in the game, the song works perfectly for a dungeon that serves as the bookends of the player's adventure. Being the first and last dungeon, the Chaos Shrine needed a song that could simultaneously provide the player with their first taste of a dungeon theme and provide them with an intensity befitting of a trek to the final boss.
The Chaos Shrine has everything you could want out of a dungeon theme. It combines the feelings of adventure with a sense of danger and wraps it all together in a minute long song that is by far the most enjoyable song to listen to in the entire game. The song stands above the other songs in the game with it being a versatile song in terms of the emotions it produces and the fact that it is such a great song that gets stuck in your head. The Chaos Shrine theme has also returned in games such as Dissidia where it has been used as a battle theme.
1. Opening Theme
The Opening Theme, also known as Final Fantasy and prologue, plays after the players cross the bridge that was restored after the heroes rescue Princess Sarah. The bridge serves as an end to the opening act of the game and lets the player begin to explore the rest of the world. The song also serves as the ending theme once the player defeats Chaos and beats the game. The song is great and gives the player a sense of an accomplishment whenever they hear it with the song’s combination of softness and strength.
If based solely on how enjoyable the track is, the Opening Theme would be just below Chaos Shrine, but there are a couple of aspects that boost the Opening Theme into the number one spot. The Opening Theme is an amazing track that has a lot of meaning in the game with the song only playing when the player has reached a huger milestone. The track also has a huge impact on the Final Fantasy series as a whole. The Opening Theme has been featured in all but three of the mainline Final Fantasy games and unlike the other tracks that have been brought back in subsequent games, the Opening Theme remains largely unchanged. Although other games have added their own flair to the theme, the Opening Theme has carried on its emotions through the history of Final Fantasy.
It's hard to go wrong when talking about a game that has become a cultural phenomenon. No matter what game in the series or what aspect of the games you want to talk about, there is never a shortage of things to mention about its greatness. The music of Final Fantasy is no different. With so many great tracks that fit the game so well, it's hard to pick which one should be on top. Which musical theme from Final Fantasy is your favorite? Are there any songs you think should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below.