The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES

Despite the anemic abilites of the NES’ audio processor, many of the most memorable and revered video game tunes in history were first rendered on the venerable console’s Ricoh RP2A03 (NTSC models)/RP2A07 (PAL models) CPUs’ on-die APU. Everybody remembers the music from level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., much like they do the selectable Tetris tunes, The Legend of Zelda‘s overworld theme, Cut Man’s stage theme from Mega Man, or the ominously understated ambiance of Metroid‘s atmospheric aural stylings

2a03 red The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES NES Nintendo Review Screenshot

These games’ tunes undoubtedly influenced how high gamers and critics alike set their expectations for quality in video game music synthesis; however, countless titles obscured from public view for a multitude of reasons (including low production runs, poor consumer and/or critical reception, etc) had music that easily stood toe-to-toe with the system’s heaviest hitting titles.

nesters The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotThis listing is NintendoComplete‘s effort in rectifying the neglect suffered by those games with notable soundtracks that have languished in the shadows cast by their bigger budget, universally recognized and acclaimed compatriots. Please note that the following list does not showcase any NES game not officially released in the US NTSC territory, and as such contains no selections making use of Japanese-only enhancement chips (the most famous being Konami‘s VRC6, used in the far superior Japanese version of Castlevania III: Dracula’s CurseAkumajou Densetsu.

Please further note that the following tracks are not individually ordered, but rather arranged in four tiers as demarcated by the video links.

The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES #40-31

Title Publisher Theme Time
Thunder & Lightning Romstar Main Stage Theme 0:04-0:59
Rygar Tecmo Gran Mountain Theme 0:59-2:10
Bad Dudes Data East Second Stage Theme 2:10-3:20
T&C Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage LJN Main Stage Theme 3:20-4:20
Abadox – The Deadly Inner War Milton Bradley Stage 5 Theme 4:20-5:00
Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble in Wackyland Konami Hampton’s Train Ride Stage Theme 5:00-5:57
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Bandai Daylight Stage Theme 5:57-6:45
Shadow of the Ninja Natsume Stage 5 Theme 6:45-7:35
Bomberman II Hudson Battle Stage Theme 7:35-8:39
The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy Taito Stage 1 Theme 8:39-9:58


The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES #30-21

Title Publisher Theme Time
Werewolf: The Last Warrior Data East Werewolf Theme 0:04-0:56
Tecmo Cup Soccer Game Tecmo Versus Team Seals Theme 0:56-1:49
Might & Magic: Secret of the
Inner Sanctum
American Sammy Battle Theme 1:49-2:49
Adventures in the Magic Kingdom Capcom Pirates of the Carribbean 2:49-3:52
Bo Jackson Baseball Data East Title Theme 3:52-4:38
Kid Icarus Nintendo Stage 3 Theme 4:38-5:33
Kiwi Kraze Taito Main Stage Theme 5:33-6:32
Disney’s Ducktales 2 Capcom Niagara Theme 6:32-7:43
The Immortal Electronic Arts Battle Theme 7:43-8:49
Sesame Street ABC Hi-Tech Expressions Win Fanfare 8:49-9:23


The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES #20-11

Title Publisher Theme Time
Rambo Acclaim Title Theme 0:04-0:56
American Gladiators GameTek Intro & Title Themes 0:56-2:00
Captain Skyhawk Milton Bradley Title Theme 2:00-2:24
Crash ‘n the Boys
Street Challenge
Technos Intro & Title Themes 2:24-3:49
Gun Nac Nexoft Intro / Title Theme 3:49-5:31
The Lone Ranger Konami Intro Themes 5:31-6:51
The Magic of Scheherazade Culture Brain Title Theme 6:51-8:19
Maniac Mansion Jaleco Title Theme 8:19-9:32
Mission: Impossible Ultra Title Theme 9:32-10:16
Wall Street Kid Sofel Title Theme 10:16-11:28


The 40 Best Underrated Music Tracks of the NES #10-1

Title Publisher Theme Time
The Adventures of
Rad Gravity
Activision Main Stage Theme 0:04-1:21
Heavy Barrel Data East Main Stage 2 Theme 1:21-3:26
Jackie Chan’s Action
Kung Fu
Hudson Stage 1 Theme 3:26-4:22
Jurassic Park Ocean Stage 1 Theme 4:22-6:26
Shatterhand Jaleco Area E & F Theme 6:26-8:05
Silver Surfer Arcadia Main Stage 2 Theme 8:05-9:59
Tom & Jerry Hi-Tech Expressions Main Stage 2 Theme 10:43-12:21
Top Gun: The Second Mission Konami Mission 2 Theme 12:21-13:41
Yo! Noid Capcom Stage 13 & 14 Theme 13:41-14:44

Leave a comment or drop me a line with your thoughts; I’d love to hear what everyone thinks about the selections on display!