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The Top 10 Runner-Ups of the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, Part II!

After an entire week’s worth of posts, today we’ve finally reached the conclusive, ultimate and last post in the Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks event!

Today we’ll be unveiling the Top 5 of the Top 10 Runner-Ups, so get ready kids, ’cause we’re:

*Ahem!* Pardon me, I found myself suddenly overcome by meatheaded-ness…

Anyway, let’s get down to the Top 5 Runner-Ups!:

#5. Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

“Theme of The Double Dragons”


As mentioned in the Top 25 NES Tracks list, as well as numerous other articles posted on this blog, Double Dragon is THE SHIT.

Pictured: Watered-Down Shit...

I’ve loved Double Dragon series ever since I first played the second one with my brother in my early childhood, and it’s a game series that I continue to treasure to this day.

Chief among my reasons for loving the Double Dragon series, is of course the fact that it possessed one of the most memorable and enduring theme musics in gaming history.

It’s a tune that’s been used in nearly every game in the series, with each iteration making slight changes to the table.

 

*Sigh* And then there's Double Dragon V...

While Double Dragon 2 is definitely my favorite game in the series, I feel I should go on record and say that my selection of it’s version of theme for this list added no bias to my decision.

Believe me when I say this, I went out of my way to listen to all of the NES versions of the Double Dragon Theme back to back just to come to this conclusion.

The original version was too uppity for my tastes, feeling more appropriate as the background music for the 2 player game mode than a theme music for a pair of characters.

The version used in Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones was extremely well-composed, with the most intricate instrumentation of the 3 NES versions of the theme, but honestly I felt that this resulted in it having a somewhat cluttered and “loud” sound to it that was a little bit too overbearing.

Unlike the game, which as you can see, was kind of bare...

The version featured in Double Dragon 2: The Revenge, the slowest and most laid back version of the Double Dragon Theme on the NES, and yet it feels most right.

Unlike the original version that feels too fast, the Double Dragon 2 version of the theme has a more subtle instrumentation to it, but as a result it sounds the most like a theme music for Billy and Jimmy Lee as opposed to a single scene in the game.

 

Congratulations Billy and Jimmy Lee, you have awesome theme music!

Anyway, those are my thoughts, hopefully they make sense…

#4. Journey To Silius

“Stage 1”


Journey To Silius is yet another Sunsoft game.

More specifically, it’s a Sunsoft game I’ve never played.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of Journey To Silius was less than a year ago, when I stumbled across a video about produced by LordkaT for his Until We Win series.

Pictured: LordkaT, in all his glory!

Speaking exclusively from what I saw in that video, I thought the game looked pretty fun.

The jumping mechanic, as described by Lordkat, sounded somewhat Castlevania-ish to me though, so chances are I’d probably hate it if I played it…

Anyway, while watching that video of the game, I happened to notice some of the background music playing over Lordkat’s narration.

While he is known to sometimes use music tracks from other games in his videos, I obviously didn’t recognize the music, resulting in me Youtube-ing the Journey To Silius soundtrack to find out what it was.

Sure enough, it was the “Stage 1” theme.

While this is indeed an amazing piece of NES music, I felt it inappropriate to list among the Top 25 due to my lack of history with the game.

Even so, making the Top 5 of the Runner-Ups despite me never having played the game is still quite an accomplishment.

#3. Mega Man 2

“Dr. Wily’s Castle 1”


Among Mega Man music, this one is my #2.

#1 was my pick for the Best NES Track EVER, as well as part of one of my favorite game series ever, so I feel it goes without saying that being my #2 of the Mega Man series is not far from being #2 in all of 8-bit music.

 

Lookit 'im... Bein' all smug n'shit...

This track was, in many ways, the reason why I instigated the “1 track per franchise” for this list.

Even so, though I like both tracks just about equally; deep down I knew which is one was better, and therefore most appropriate to represent Mega Man on the Top 25.

That being said, “Dr. Wily’s Castle” is an exhilarating piece of game music that was incredibly complex it’s time, and still holds up to this day as one of the better gaming compositions throughout history.

#2. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest

“Bloody Tears”


Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, like Journey To Silius, is another game on this list that I have never played.

That’s actually kind of interesting to note, as back in the day Simon’s Quest was regarded as one of the finest games on the NES.

I can still recall my one issue of Nintendo Power and how it sang the praises of Castlevania 2, even going so far as it award it the “Nester” award for Best Graphics and Sound of 1988.

 

Pictured: Nester. Damn I feel old for knowing this shit...

Despite actually wanting to play Castlevania 2 in my youth, like many great games back in the day; I ended up passing it over in favor of repeatedly renting Snow Bros. every weekend…

Regardless, sometime in high school I took the time to check out the soundtrack of Simon’s Quest, and lo and behold, there was gold in them there hills!

While the game might have a bit too much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound to it, (understandable, seeing as Konami was cranking out those games like crazy back in the day) like any Castlevania, it truly has an awesome soundtrack.

“Bloody Tears” was my favorite track I ran across in the soundtrack for Castlevania 2.

I have no idea what point of the game it’s used for, but it’s a simultaneously energetic and haunting tune that was this close to usurping the original “Vampire Killer’s” position on the Top 25.

 

Thank you hipster doofus, for providing us with a visual indication of exactly how close "this close" means. Douchebag...

Like Journey To Silius though, I simply couldn’t justify placing it on the list without ever having actually experienced the track in-game.

#1. Ninja Gaiden

“Ending Theme”


Is it just me or do the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES all have fuckin’ brilliant ending themes?

Ninja Gaiden 3 had a pretty decent ending theme, which was appropriate given that it was a “pretty decent” game.

Beautiful? Yes. Fun? Yes. Half as good as what came before it? Not a chance.

Ninja Gaiden 2’s ending has the distinction of holding the #2 spot on my Top 25 NES Tracks list.

And the original Ninja Gaiden’s “Ending Theme” gets the #1 spot among the Top 10 Runner-Ups!

The composers over at Tecmo deserve a pat on the back, ’cause damn they did a great job.

The “Ending Theme” of the original Ninja Gaiden was a fantastic piece of music that I only recently rediscovered.

I heard it when I was very young, and I remember liking it, but for whatever reason I simply didn’t remember it.

Boy am I glad I did, ’cause it is one hell of a roller coaster ride of 8-bit goodness.

As much an action piece as it is an ending track, the “The Ending Theme” of Ninja Gaiden is a terrific composition that really gets your blood pumping.

 

Uh.... Ryu Hayabusa everyone!

Honestly, if not for Ninja Gaiden 2 having a slightly better ending track, this tune would’ve made the Top 25 in a heartbeat.

Damn sequels… Bein’ all better n’shit…

Well folks, thus concludes the Azn Badger’s list(s) of the Best NES Tracks!

Tune in tomorrow for… Something other than NES music!

Seriously man, I’m done with Nintendo music for awhile

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Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #5-1

It’s been a helluva’ a wait, but we’ve finally reached the Top 5 of the Best NES Tracks!

Despite the awesomeness of all that has come before, you may as well consider the past 20 entries on this list a prelude to the sheer epic-ness of the music about to grace your ears.

Seriously man, every track from this point on is guaranteed, 100% 8-bit gold.

So, without further ado, I present to you the cream of the crop, the pimpest of the pimp, the God-tier of the Top 25 NES Tracks:

#5. Double Dragon 2: The Revenge

“Roar of the Double Dragons”


That’s right kids, no the “Double Dragon Theme” didn’t make the list.

The truth is, while the Double Dragon Theme music is downright amazing, (in all of it’s iterations) in my opinion the Double Dragon 2 version of “Roar of the Double Dragons” trumps it by inches.

Remember that fatty ass post I made about how I used to play Double Dragon 2 with my brother all the time?

Well, that post, and all of the nostalgic goodness found within it pretty much sum up both why a Double Dragon game is ranked so high on this list, as well as why “Roar of the Double Dragons” in particular is my favorite track from the franchise.

I shit you not, watching my brother start to get the upper hand on the final boss of the game, only to have this adrenaline pumping theme of awesomeness suddenly pop up and put a big fat crescendo on the drama of the situation, was a gaming memory I will treasure forever.

 

 

It was pretty much the gaming equivalent to this.

 

In my opinion, “Roar of the Double Dragons” is easily one the best boss tracks ever.

Not only that, it’s just about the perfect final boss theme for a Double Dragon game, so much so that one could consider it a sort of sub-theme music of the series.

Whether the Double Dragons are fighting Machine Gun Willie, the Shadow Master, or even the fuckin’ Dark Queen alongside the Battletoads; the music I will always hear playing in my head is “Roar of the Double Dragons.”

Wow, I just realized Technos has a lot of games on this list…

#4. Ducktales

“The Moon”


For veterans of gaming music, this one was a no-brainer.

Seriously man, look up any compilation of the “best NES music,” and you’re bound to find “The Moon” from Capcom’s Ducktales game among the top of the list.

Well, call me conformist if you will, but godddamnit; “The Moon” really is that fucking good.

 

We're talkin' Moon Pie good!

 

I love the pace of it, how it starts from a slow build, and then explodes into a beautifully electric and catchy tune that never lets up.

Let it be known, this is one piece of music that actually benefits from the tinniness and technical limitations of 8-bit sound quality, as it lends the track a sort of retro space age-y charm.

 

 

Pictured: Retro Space Age-y Charm.

 

A huge success of “The Moon,” and indeed most Capcom games of the time, (Ducktales included) was how well the music went with the setting of the stage.

Sure the mine stage had suitably subterranean sounding music, sure the jungle level’s background music was, uh, “jungle-y,” but “The Moon” really fucking sounded like what the 5 year old me thought music on the Moon would sound like.

Yes, I am aware that sound waves don’t propogate in a vacuum.

Fuck you, I WAS 5.

#3. Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu

“Title Theme”


Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m cheating a little with this one.

Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu, (Hot-Blooded Fighting Legend) while technically an 8-bit game compatible with NES hardware, is actually a Japanese exclusive Famicom game.

Personally, I consider them basically the same system, but I see how this one could piss some people off, especially since it’s so high on the list.

Either way, it’s my list, so:

*Ahem!* Kakutou Densetsu is yet another Technos game that stars the companies flagship character, Kunio-kun.

 

 

Yes, he will in fact straight up wreck your shit.

 

For those that are unaware, Kunio is a high school tough guy that starred in many of Technos’ games, among which were a few entries on this list, namely the Japanese versions of River City Ransom and Super Dodge Ball.

Anyway, Kakutou Densetsu was a game I stumbled across through “untraditional means” sometime in high school.

As soon as the “Title Theme” hit my ears, I was In Like mother-fuckin’ Flint.

 

Yes, I heard the title theme and was suddenly turned into James Coburn and surrounded by beautiful women.

 

Being produced in 1992, fairly late in the NES’ lifespan, the fidelity of the music for Kakutou Densetsu was a step above what I was accustomed to hearing from the system.

In short, every piece of music in Kakutou Densetsu was amazingly good, with the “Title Theme” easily being the best of the bunch.

Not only that, the game itself was unbelievably complex, graphically impressive, and good fun all rolled into 1.

 

Let it be known, fan-translations are not always 100% accurate...

While many of my friends took to playing arcade games through “untraditional means” in their high school years, I just couldn’t get enough of Kakutou Densetsu.

I loved the birthday and blood-type based character creation.

I loved the complexity of the fighting system.

And I fuckin’ loved Toraji and Toraichi.

 

Pictured: The inspiration for Toraji and Toraichi.

 

If you haven’t played Kakutou Densetsu, I suggest you give it a try, if not for the amazing music, then for the kick-ass Technos style fighting action!

#2. Ninja Gaiden 2: The Dark Sword of Chaos

“A Long Way to Go”


Ah, Ninja Gaiden, yet another game series that shit on me in my youth.

It’s no mystery that Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden series is well known for it’s extreme difficulty level, and while Ninja Gaiden 2 on the NES is far from the toughest of the series, I’ll always be proud of myself for beating it back in the day.

Make no mistake, I lost many hours and days of my youth to Ninja Gaiden 2.

While living with the knowledge that I had beat the game was more than reward enough, imagine my surprise when “A Long Way to Go” hit my ears.

“A Long Way to Go” is, in my opinion; one of the finest ending themes for a game ever.

 

Unlike this pile of ass...

 

While it doesn’t go the RPG route and revisit all of the major musical motifs of the game over a span of, oh, 10-15 minutes; “A Long Way to Go” is an awe-inspiring piece of music with a title that perfectly captures the emotions it evokes.

Whenever I hear it, images come to mind of a battle worn hero reaching the end of an epic journey, only to set out on another immediately afterwards; the tiniest glimmer of giddy excitement and enthusiasm drawing across his face as he does.

Okay, maybe the real ending just consisted of a slide-show of sorts, but give me a break, I have a wild imagination…

“A Long Way to Go” was a satisfying reward for my time served with Ninja Gaiden 2, and I’ll always treasure it as one of my favorite pieces of music in gaming.

Now that we’ve got the first 24 down, it’s time to move onto the ‘ole numero uno…

The big kahuna…

The big cheese…

The dancing destroyer…

The Count of Monte Fisto…

The BEST Track in NES history…

#1. Mega Man 3

“Title Theme”


In the realm of 8-bit music, Mega Man is king.

 

 

KING.

 

Few could argue that the Mega Man series has yielded some of the finest and most memorable 8-bit tunes in history, if not in terms of sheer quality of product; then at least in terms of sheer volume.

While the debate will forever rage as to which game in the series is best, 2 or 3; (I think 2, but obviously 3 has an edge in terms of music…) for my money the “Title Theme” of Mega Man 3 is the best musical arrangement produced by any entry in the series.

Being as it is also #1 on this list, I suppose that also means I think it’s the best piece of music from any game on the NES.

The “Title Theme” of Mega Man 3 is a musical revelation.

Like Capcom’s own “The Moon” from Ducktales, it begins with a slow build.

I love how it starts out oh so mellow, stringing you along with it’s jazzy and borderline melancholy tune.

From there, the tune rapidly increases in pitch, reaches a crescendo and then…

And then you jizz in your pants because your ears just got raped by the golden cocks of pack of musical Japanese angels.

 

Like this, but with Japanese angel rape.

 

To attempt to illustrate the majesty of this track any further, is to struggle with the futility of the fact that there simply aren’t any words in the English language awesome enough to describe it.

The “Title Theme” and “Dr. Wily’s Castle #1” tracks from Mega Man 2, while definitely listed among the runner-ups of the top-tier, don’t come anywhere near the majesty of the Mega Man 3 “Title Theme” in my eyes.

I’ve said it before on this blog, but the careful arrangement of this list only serves to reiterate that the Mega Man 3 “Title Theme” is my favorite piece of NES music, and is therefore the Best NES Track of all time.

Tune in tomorrow, when we’ll peruse a handful of the runner-ups!

If you had a favorite that wasn’t on the Top 25, hopefully they’ll make an appearance tomorrow.

Please feel free to post your opinions!

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Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #10-6

Hold onto your butts folks, we’ve finally made it to the Top 10 of the Top 25 NES Tracks!

Rest assured, while many of the entries on this list have been somewhat obscure, expect the majority of the remainder to consist of old favorites and themes from game series that are still going strong to this day.

That being said, let’s get to the first half of the Top 10!:

#10. Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

“Golgo 13 Theme”


Remember when I said that you’d be familiar with all of the games in the Top 10?


Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode is a Vic Tokai espionage/action game based upon the massively epic manga series by Takao Saito, Golgo 13.

While I could bore you with a detailed description of the backstory of said manga, I find it’s easier to sum things up by saying this:

Golgo 13 is THE SHIT, and could give ROBERT FUCKING MULDOON a run for his money in terms of manliness and overall badassery.

Trust me, he’s seriously that fucking pimp…

 

 

THAT FUCKING PIMP.

 

Anyway, the NES version of Golgo 13, was neat game that I loved to play in my youth.

It was a serious game, with an involving and suitably “adult” storyline that really made you feel cool to be a part of, especially as a kid.

Basically, it felt good to play a game that had enough confidence in my intelligence to talk to me like a big kid and give me objectives that felt a little more mature than say, saving the goddamn princess.

 

*Sigh* Really?...

 

Half of the fun I had with Golgo 13, came in the form of the game’s theme music, which conveniently enough, could be brought up at any time simply by hitting the pause button!

Being as Golgo 13 is essentially the Japanese equivalent to James Bond, (only 10 times more badass an amoral) it’s only appropriate that his theme music in the game be a rousing and shlocky tune that would be right at home on a Ventures album.

Not only that, the Japanese version of the title screen has lyrics that flash on the screen in time to music, karaoke style!

I can read about 95% of it, maybe I should try and sing the fuckin’ song someday…

#9. Castlevania

“Vampire Killer”

I’ve never really been a Castlevania kid.

While I love Konami games, particularly of the 8 and 16-bit eras, Castlevania was perhaps the one flagship title in their library that I never really cared much for.

I never liked how the jumping system was heavily momentum based, so much so that mid-air adjustments were nigh impossible.

I hated the cheap, pitfall deaths that were just a constantly spawning flying medusa head away.

 

Oh you fuckin' bitch...

 

And I suppose it doesn’t help either that I don’t care much for Gothic art and design.

On the NES, the only Castlevania I ever played was the very first.

While I ended up walking away from the game feeling it was alright, but not great, the music was, and is, something that will always stick with me.

The Castlevania games are known throughout gaming circles for their incredible soundtracks, and rightfully so.

While many of the compositions of the early games have since gone on to be remixed, and usually improved, my favorite track from the original NES game was the first stage theme, “Vampire Killer.”

“Vampire Killer” survives to this day as the single most prominent theme in the series.

I love it’s light-hearted yet spooky feel, as right off the bat it cues you in on the fact that:

 

 

"This game is gonna' be all horror n'shit, but don't worry, it's still an action game!"

 

It’s a wonderful, timeless piece of gaming music history, and though I still don’t care much for Castlevania, any Castlevania; it still deserves it’s spot on this list.

#8. Super Mario Bros.

“World 1-1”


What’s this?

The Mario theme, placed at #8 on a Top 25 list!?

BLASPHEMY.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m surprised it’s ranked as low as it is too.

Truth of the matter is, I knew it had to go somewhere on here, but I ended up arbitrarily placing it “somewhere” in the Top 10 to satisfy my conscience, while at once ensuring that my true favorites got the justice they deserved.

The Super Mario Bros. Theme is game music.

Plain and simple.

It’s one of the most memorable and enduring arrangements in all of gaming history, and no force on Earth, no matter how hipster or counter-culture, could keep it from receiving a spot on any gaming music Top 10 list.

 

"Yeah, I don't care much for Mario, too mainstream. I only play obscure bullshit like Faria and Faxanadu... On my original NES... On a TV from 1982... While wearing a shirt from 1986..."

 

Mario games are something that I’d like to think can appeal to anyone.

They’re fun, straightforward, and typically blessed with a difficulty level that is appropriately challenging, but never punishingly so.

While I’ve always liked Mario games, in truth I never really played them that much.

My brother stomped the shit out of pretty much all of them up to Super Mario 64, but despite living in a household that owned most of said games, I spent most of my time playing other stuff.

 

 

Pictured: Other stuff.

 

I suppose I was too into beat ’em ups in my youth to take the time to sit down and work my way through the platforming goodness of Mario.

Anyway, there’s nothing I can say about “World 1-1” that hasn’t been said, so I won’t try.

I can’t say I fully agree with my placement of this particular track, but I’m happy with my Top 5, so I figure it all balances out.

#7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game

“Technodrome Stage Theme”


Okay, so we’re all in agreement that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the shit back in the early 90’s, right?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, was the NES version of the Konami Ninja Turtles arcade game found in virtually every arcade/pizza joint in America.

 

 

If I were very rich, and very stupid, I would own one of these...

 

While it lacked the graphical polish of the arcade version, much like in the case of Turtles in Time; I’ve always maintained that the console version was superior.

Aside from including 2 extra stages and unique boss characters, the console version also had better controls and a more manageable and less “quarter-munching” difficulty level.

Ninja Turtles 2 was easily one of the most played games in me and my brother’s NES library.

It was fun, it was a Ninja Turtles product, it had “two player simultaneous gameplay,” and did I mention it was the NINJA FUCKING TURTLES!!?

I remember bringing Ninja Turtles 2 over to my friend’s houses, playing it all fuckin’ day, and then sitting down and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze over and over again until my mom picked me up.

 

 

Y'know, back in the 5 minutes or so we all thought this guy was the coolest thing EVER.

 

THAT, my friends, is what childhood was all about.

The Technodrome Stage Theme” is not only an incredible, and undeniably “Konami” piece of music, it was also something that was quite elusive to me in my youth.

Possessed of a rockin’ and moody quality that really jumps out to you as “last level” music, the “Technodrome Stage Theme” was a track that I didn’t get to hear that often because, well, Ninja Turtles 2 was actually kind of a hard game.

In many ways, me having only had a few opportunities to hear this track in my youth played a huge role in elevating this track to such a high spot on the list.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that it’s a fucking awesome piece of pulse-pounding, pizza-munching, teenage-mutant-ninja action music!

Turtle Power FOREVER.

#6. Blaster Master

“Stage 1 Theme”


After 3 of the bottom 5 of the tracks on this list came from Sunsoft products, did you really think there wouldn’t be at least one more game from them on here?

It’s true, I dig Sunsoft music, and when it comes to Sunsoft’s music library, I can think of no other game to better represent them than Blaster Master.

 

 

*Ahem!* That would be, "Master Blaster."

 

Blaster Master was a game I used to play at my barber’s house.

No, not the one that gave me a Nintendo Power, a different one.

Like most of the games on this list, I never really got anywhere in Blaster Master, but fuck man, I really wish I had…

I enjoyed every minute I played of the tank-hopping, grenade tossing action of the first stage in Blaster Master, and as always; a lot of my enjoyment came from the background music.

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is a terrific piece of music that really succeeds in capturing the colorful and adventurous spirit of the game and it’s setting.

It really feels like music you’d hear in a weird sci-fi world while patrolling the forests in a giant tank in search of your pet frog.

 

 

Hah! Thought I was kidding about the plot, didn't you?

 

That last sentence didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, so let me rephrase:

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is awesome, and it makes me smile, so therefore it is #6.

Well, folks, that does it for the first half of the Top 10!

Tomorrow we’ll finally be wrapping things up with the remaining Top 5, as well as the announcement of the #1 NES Track!

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