While many people assumed the Tokyo Olympics 2021 opening ceremony would feature video games in some way, few suspected that the whole event would be scored by some truly incredible video game music.
Sure, it would have been easy to throw a couple of legendary video game songs into the ceremony’s soundtrack and call it a day, but the event’s organizers went one step further and found some surprising deep-dive tracks from the history of video game music. They’re all great tunes, but what’s more impressive are the ways that they so perfectly fit the energy and spirit of the Olympics.
Here’s a look (and a listen) at every video game song that was featured during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony:
Ace Combat – “First Flight”
The Ace Combat soundtracks are filled with gems, but this sweeping song from Ace Combat 5 may just be one of the most epic in the history of this underrated franchise.
Chrono Trigger – “Frog’s Theme”
This song from legendary composer Yasunori Mitsuda may not jump to your mind when you think of Chrono Trigger, but its beautiful (if slow) start quickly escalates into a sweeping battle epic. It’s more than worthy of the character it’s named after.
Chrono Trigger – “Robo’s Theme”
This brilliant song is both a loving throwback to the chiptune era as well as a fitting theme for the eternally likable Robo.
Dragon Quest – “Introduction: Lotto Theme” (Dragon Quest Overture)
It doesn’t get much better than this timeless and truly impressive composition that somehow instantly reminds you of every JRPG you’ve ever loved the moment that you hear it.
Final Fantasy – “Main Theme”
Some call this the RPG national anthem, which is honestly hard to argue against from both a historical and quality standpoint. It’s certainly a classic in every sense of the word.
Final Fantasy – “Victory Fanfare”
This is one of those video game songs you might not know by name but almost certainly recognize the moment that it starts playing. It’s one of the most iconic and memorable tunes ever composed for a video game.
Gradius (Nemesis) – “01 ACT 1-1”
This is a truly beautiful tune that really isn’t celebrated enough, likely due to the fact that the Gradius series hasn’t exactly been prominently utilized in recent years. It’s a true epic, though.
Kingdom Hearts – “Hero’s Fanfare”
Kingdom Hearts got a lot of love during the opening ceremony, and tracks like this make it pretty clear why. Kingdom Hearts‘ soundtrack combines the best of JRPG compositions with the best of Disney soundtracks.
Kingdom Hearts – “Olympus Coliseum”
Honestly, this could probably be the theme song for every Olympic Games event moving forward, and we doubt anyone would find a reason to complain.
Monster Hunter – “Proof of Hero”
This wonderfully diverse track really highlights so many of the different kinds of songs you’ll find in the Monster Hunter series and how they combine to form something beautiful and cohesive.
Monster Hunter – “Wind of Departure”
This is absolutely one of Monster Hunter‘s best battle themes as well as a nice little throwback to a different era of JRPG combat tunes.
NieR – “Initiator” (Song of the Ancients)
If you’re a video game music fan who has never taken the time to listen to the NieR soundtracks…well, start with this one and just go from there if you want to experience some of the best music in all of gaming.
Phantasy Star Universe – “Guardians”
It’s always great when Phantasy Star gets a little love, especially when we get an excuse to celebrate a song as good as this one.
Saga Series – “Makai Ginyu Poetry-Saga Series Medley 2016”
This particular song doesn’t appear to have been uploaded online in any decent quality, but do yourself a favor and listen to some of the music from the Saga series, starting with the Saga Frontier soundtrack.
Sonic the Hedgehog – “Star Light Zone”
It’s a little strange that this was the Sonic song chosen to represent the franchise at the Olympics, but it’s undeniably a great video game song that ranks comfortably among the franchise’s best.
Soul Caliber – “The Brave New Stage of History”
This is another one of those series that doesn’t always get a lot of love for its soundtracks, but as you can tell, songs like this make a compelling argument that the franchise deserves more attention.
Tales of Series – “Royal Capital-Dignified”
“Royal” is certainly the word to use here, as this song sounds like it could play in any capital city ever lovingly crafted to be the centerpiece of an RPG world.
Tales of Series – “Sley’s Theme – Guru”
This is another one of those songs that appear to have not been properly uploaded to any service I could find, so just sit back and enjoy the incredible Tales of Symphonia soundtrack when you get a chance.
Winning Eleven (Pro Evolution Soccer) – “eFootball walk-on theme”
This particular song also seems to have escaped the internet (so far as I can tell), but this is another series that has some surprisingly memorable music worth listening to.