Valak Mountain (Xenoblade Chronicles) - Gonçalo Lopes, Reviewer

Music and I always had an intimate relationship. From an early age I discovered I could replay any melody I hear on my electric keyboard, driving my parents mad with repeated loops of Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis futuristic tracks. It only got worse from there when video games came into play with several Commodore Amiga line-out to tape deck bootlegs rips blasting in my Walkman. Soon after of course, came Nintendo…

It is quite hard to pick a single track from this many hardware generations but I often feel great appreciation for minimalist and melodic tracks that usually go with depictions of snowy landscapes or frozen tundras. From many candidates including SNES Donkey Kong Country “Slipside Ride” and Metroid Prime’s “Phendrana Drifts”, I settle for Xenoblade Chronicles theme from Valak Mountains.

For those unaware, Xenoblade's journey takes the player across the entire body of two dormant titans. The snow-covered Valak Mountains are no less than Bionis' right arm and it is a long descent onto an even more perilous territory, Sword Valley. I shall now blatantly cheat in my entry by revealing there are two tracks here. The daytime theme picks up with some acoustic guitar plucks until settling into a wind section that perfectly captures the desolation of the place. But by night, Valak Mountains turn into a spectacle of light, with every crystal formation shooting beams of light into the infinite sky above. The soundtrack is now driven by a minimalist piano melody that somehow makes this place feel even more hostile to human life, but still with a sense of wonder the series is well known for.

I think I need to replay this game soon...

Gusty Garden Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy) - JimmyFleck

What's better, Good Egg Galaxy or Gusty Gardens Galaxy? Urgh, we don't know. This is a beautiful track though!

Jump Up, Superstar (Super Mario Odyssey) - raradford

Perhaps the only track here that actually has proper lyrics, this musical track really enCAPsulates how wonderfully celebratory Super Mario Odyssey was of Nintendo's most famous franchise. Stunning!

Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime) - Delwynden

One of the more abstract tunes of this list. When you walk into Phendrana Drifts with this accompanying tune playing, it makes for perhaps the most memorable moment during Metroid Prime, it's that gorgeous.

Stickerbrush Symphony (Donkey Kong Country 2) - Severian

This one is very "'90s", isn't it? It's a great little piece that builds as it goes along; we love it!

7pm (Animal Crossing: New Leaf) - JingleFruit

Another track from Animal Crossing, but this 7pm piece from New Leaf is perhaps one of the most relaxing of the bunch. It's a great one to wind down with toward the end of the day!

Mor Ardain: Roaming The Wastes, Day (Xenoblade Chronicles 2) - Munchlax

This one is simply epic from start to finish. It's a track that could only belong to the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise, and we love its sweeping nature.

Upper Brinstar (Super Metroid) - SonOfDracula

Another ambient track similar to Phendrana Drifts, this one has a slightly more sinister vibe to it, but it's also filled with mystery and intrigue.

Port Town (F-Zero) - Dualmask

Port Town is a racing score, through and through. Its fast tempo is perfectly suited to F-Zero!

Corneria (Star Fox) - Oscar

This track from Star Fox sounds almost like something you'd hear in a Contra game; it's just got that '90s action-game vibe, right?

The Fab Fairies Dance (Miitopia) - Anti-Matter

This is bit of a bonkers track, but we love its upbeat nature; it's enough to get our heads bopping along!

Kraid's Lair (Metroid) - BFahey3

Oooh, this one's a bit sinister, isn't it? One of the more iconic tracks from the Metroid franchise, Kraid's Lair has been reused many times for good reason!

Tough Guy Alert! (Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story) - N00BiSH

This is the kind of upbeat, jolly track that could only feature in a Mario & Luigi game. It changes in pace and tempo throughout, making it a great listen from start to finish!

Buoy Base (Super Mario Galaxy) - crosslice

Just when we thought we'd covered the hottest tracks from Mario Galaxy, along comes Buoy Base to prove that, actually, this one might be best, after all..?

Forest Temple (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) - Gavin Lane, Editor

I’ve highlighted this one before, and while I could have gone with any number of tracks from Ocarina of Time, it’s this one that transports me back to the very first time I played it like no other piece of music from the game — perhaps from any game.

It’s a rattling, ambient piece and lacks a catchy melody to whistle. In fact, ask someone to reproduce it and they’ll probably focus on the alternating two-note ‘hop’ that fades in and out throughout, and which, in isolation, sounds a bit pants utterly unremarkable.

However, with all the elements assembled it becomes a haunting kaleidoscope, an aural indication that those three 'dungeons' you conquered as a kid were child’s play; real horrors await you now, with every blessed wonder you encounter having an opposing darkness to match. The Forest Temple sets up the rest of your adventure in thrilling – and haunting – fashion.

What is the 'best' piece of music in a Nintendo game?

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