There are so many aspects of video games I wish got more love. The medium is filled to bursting with tons of complex narratives, nuanced characters, and unique ideas. That said if there's one aspect I really wish got more love, it's the incredibly hype soundtracks that some games have that caress your auditory senses with a cacophony of hype. Let's take a listen to some tracks that always hype me up as I think this list is the closest I'll ever want to get to becoming a DJ, so I'm going to enjoy it. All of these will include a link to the Spotify page for that track. If the official track is not on Spotify, I will link a cover that I think captures the feel of the original track well.
There is something to be mindful of when reading this. I am no expert on music so if my explanations sound stupid, that's because I am. Alright, let's get hyped!
Vector to the Heavens - Kingdom Hearts 3 Re: MIND
Kingdom Hearts, and the incredible composer Yoko Shimomura, get a lot of praise for its more emotional and sentimental tracks. Everyone in the gaming world knows all about tunes engineered to make you weep like a bitch such as Dearly Beloved, The Other Promise, and Vector to the Heavens. Lo and behold, once KH3 dropped the Re: MIND DLC on us in 2020 with a ton of controller smashingly tough fights, we got hype as fuck remixes of many classic tunes. This includes the once incredibly somber Vector to the Heavens. Now instead of weeping because a sweet girl is literally being erased from existence, you'll weep as this incredibly sweet girl erases you and any amount of hope you have left (it would take so damn long to explain that character, so don't ask). This is one of the tracks I have to put a cover in as the official is not on Spotify (Square please fix that) but I believe it captures the intense emotion and heightened dramaticism of the original version.
Opening - The Bombing Mission - Final Fantasy 7
I know not why Nobuo Uematsu and the team at Square felt it necessary to make ecoterrorism fun, but here we are. Final Fantasy 7 has one of the most memorable intro sequences in the medium, and a major part of that is the heart-pounding music that accompanies your intro mission to bomb a Mako reactor in the city of Midgar. After a stunning establishment shot set to mystical and imaginative music, the camera pans in as you take control of the beloved merc, Cloud Strife. The track instantly becomes far more intense and dramatic. The drumline flares up as if to mimic each step you take as you quickly march your way through the reactor, and as the remaining instruments join the party, the mood is set and you know you're in for an unbelievable adventure. Whether you listen to the intense and aged version from the original game, or the jaw-dropping masterpiece we were blessed with in the recent remake (Well, part 1 of it), you will instantly fall in love and feel more than hyped to go bomb a mega corporation's factory that is destroying the planet for the sake of increased profits. Oh yeah, this game is somehow even more relevant than it was 20 years ago...
Wicked Child - Castlevania
I had to get one classic tune from the '80's on the list, so I figured there was no better choice than my favourite track from the Castlevania series, wicked child. Probably the most simple track on this list (likely because it was composed for the NES's sound chip), but that by no means makes it less awesome to me. A very simple idea that is repeated multiple times in varying ways and a rapid tempo give this track a sense a drive and purpose as if it is saying "You're making good progress on this grind, keep going," and it certainly motivates me to keep on going as a slog my way through the rather difficult Castlevania. I will always be down to suffer through the first Castlevania because I know Stage 3 will delight my eardrums every time I hear it, and I'll hear it a lot because I die a lot . . . Jesus this game is tough. Unfortunately, because Konami is a garbage company who doesn't care about their games anymore, they have not put the first Castlevania OST on Spotify. Thankfully GaMetal is here to deliver an amazing cover of the tune, that even includes a little allusion to another hype Castlevania track.
Halo - Halo
Admittedly, I don't really like first-person shooters, or really any game in a first-person perspective. However, if there's one great exception to that remark, it is the phenomenal Halo games from the 2000's, and a huge part of that is this one theme. I know very few of the tracks from the Halo series enough to instantly recognize them by simply hearing them, but this theme is one that will forever be stuck in my head. After the opening choir creates a somber feeling that tells you this is going to be a dramatic story, you are quickly and smoothly thrust into a track with insane energy and a high tempo as if to echo being thrust into the midst of an interstellar war. The strings are so orgasmic I can't help but do whatever the equivalent of air guitar is for all the instruments at once (yes I look like a damn nutcase but who cares I always look like that, I wear shorts in the winter for shit's sake). If this track and it's god-tier strings can't excite you, I doubt there's little that can.
World Revolution - Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is the greatest video game ever made, full stop. Someday I'll go into why that is but for now, I'll focus on the time Yasunori Mitsuda decided to flex on us all real hard with this incredible OST. World Revolution is as close to a perfect final boss theme as can be, as far as I am concerned. It has such a sense of spectacle to it you help but feel hyped to save the world. As it reaches the chorus you hear these high-pitched notes that feel as though they are the collective screams from every person you met on your journey, calling out to exclaim that they believe in you and you can take on any giant space demon bug and survive. Whether you go into this fight with the edgelord, the princess, the robot, the hot cavewoman, the scaley, or best girl Lucca, you will find your feet tapping and your head bobbing as you destroy Lavos and save the day.
Pledge of Demon - Yakuza 0
Ah Daisaku Kuze, the character who perfectly embodies the classic "How many times do we have to teach you this lesson, old man!?" meme has an unnecessary hype fight theme to accompany his many, many, many fights with protagonist Kiryu. Whether you're raiding his yakuza family's building, or he is chasing down through the sewers on motorcycle wielding pipe (have I mentioned this series is insane?), Kuze will attempt to assault our boy with this track flaring up in the background. As soon as this track opens it hits you fast, and it hits you many times, much like how often Kiryu's fists will reach this stupid boomer's skull. It then backs off into a track that is equal parts dramatic and excited. This track can accompany anything you do in your life and make it many times more intense. From exercising, to punching someone's grandpa, to taking a massive poop, this track will heighten the emotion behind what you do and excite you the whole way through. I hereby proclaim it as "The Boomer Beatdown Bop!"
Your Contract Has Expired - A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time is one of the most tonally varied works to ever grace any artistic medium. One minute you're having a good time bobbing your way around a mafia time to happy music, the next you're battling a demon ghost that literally stole your soul. To accompany this battle is the absolute banger known as Your Contract Has Expired, and what a track it is. It begins as though it is interrupting your broadcast to take you a fight already in progress, and good god is it a worthwhile interruption. I have little I can offer to this track beyond just saying that it slaps and much like Pledge of Demon, accompanies beating the everliving shit out of someone incredibly well. It starts out fierce and never loses that for even a second. The tempo never drops, it is just "go go go" all the way through, making it a perfect track to accompany a fight. This track is easily the fan favourite of this game, and it has earned that title for good reason. Don't be a FOOOOOOOOOL and give this track a listen, also play the game so you understand that reference.
Battle Against a True Hero - Undertale
Undertale fans would probably expect a different track, but I love this bop too much to not put it on here. Another high intensity and high tempo track that is perfect for the intense as fuck fight with the aggressive fish lady Undyne that it accompanies. This track encapsulates Undyne perfectly. She wants you dead, and this track lets you know. It starts out mellow but dramatic, as she approaches and debates how she's going to end your pathetic existence (assuming you're me in this scenario). She winds up and inhales, then strikes, and the track instantly accelerates and allows you to feel motivated for this heart-pounding slugfest you're about to endure. This track is one that is so good it has become more memorable to me than the fight from which it hails. This OST has so many memorable and exhilarating tunes so it was tough to choose one. Battle Against a True Hero, while not my personal favourite, is definitely the single track from Undertale that gets me the most excited every time I hear it.
Rivers in the Desert - Persona 5
Let's end off this stupid list I have no qualifications to make with the two big boys. Choosing a Persona track was tough, there are SO MANY tracks that slap. But, when I listen to my barely kept together heart, one track always stands out, Rivers in the goddamn Desert. It instantly hooks you with insanely powerful notes that feel more intense than anything the boss (who is basically just Donald Trump but Japanese and in great shape) could deliver unto poor Joker and his team of thieves, and the song only gets heightened when the incredibly talented vocalist comes out and belts out the masterful lyrics. I could talk further but literally nothing else I can add will do this song justice. Now depressingly, Atlus and Sega absolutely refuse to put the official OST on Spotify. Luckily, YouTuber Sapphire added her cover and it is just as good as the OG. This track is the perfect accompaniment to high schoolers summoning Satan to overthrow the corrupt government, and it fucking knows it!
You Will Know Our Names - Xenoblade Chronicles
Let me tell you a little story. You spent a couple of hours exploring a cave and finally reached a gloriously open field and begin exploring. You find some monsters and start taking them out and then you get the biggest shock of your life as a 10-tonne gorilla with a fancy name appears from nowhere and an electric guitar plays a single soul shattering note before you're brutally murdered (but you'll be back and ready for him in the future). His name is Territorial Rotbart. The track is You Will Know Our Names, and it is THE battle theme. You finally get powerful enough many hours later, and you meet him once again. This time, however, You Will Know Our Names almost has a different ring to it. As soon as it begins it screeches loudly, as it sounds the hype alarms. The rest of the ensemble joins and gets you excited for a bit. Then, it happens. A few loud as hell notes, a moment of silence like you're at the apex of a roller coaster, and that damn guitar just starts fucking shredding. When you reach this part you fucking know you're taking out this primitive primate. There is little more I can add to this track beyond begging that if you listen to only one tune from this list, you make it this one. Much like Rivers in the Desert, this track is not officially on Spotify, but FamilyJules has us covered with a nice, ahem, cover that more than does this track justice. Xenoblade Chronicles is my favourite video game of all time, so of course, I would put on a track from its OST on this list (though it isn't my personal favourite), but there is simply no video game track that gets me as hyped as often as You Will Know Our Names.