Game Music 3: A Sound of Thunderdome

Welcome to the Game Music Thunderdome’s Third Iteration!

The first two Thunderdomes were organised with verve and precision by @Thraeg, but now @geggis and @krayzkrok have possibly foolishly taken on the responsibility for the third one. What could go wrong?

What is the Game Music Thunderdome? The gist is that everyone nominates their favorite game music tracks, and they’re pitted against one another in bloody single combat (i.e. we all vote on which one should be eliminated each day). It’s fun, and a good way to get exposed to some new music. Go on, check out Enter the Game Music Thunderdome and Game Music 2: Beyond Thunderdome.

The rules and tournament structure here are based on Thraeg’s modified and polished version from GM2. Unless there are any objections from the gallery, we shall proceed.

Nomination Process

  • Nominations are open from now until Saturday 20th March. Voting will start the following Monday, 22nd March.

  • You may nominate up to 4 tracks of your choice.

  • All tracks must be original to a video game (no licensed tracks or remixes).

  • Do not re-nominate tracks from previous Thunderdomes! We’ve listened to them enough, they had their shot, it’s time to put them to pasture, it’s time to hear something new etc etc. You can find a list of all previously nominated tracks here: Qt3 Game Music Thunderdome Master List - Google Sheets (if this goes well, we’ll do a remix / covers Thunderdome as a sequel)

  • To nominate your tracks, enter them into this sheet: Qt3 Game Music 3: A Sound of Thunderdome - Google Sheets. Feel free to post or discuss your nominations in this thread as well, but the sheet is the source of truth for compiling the bracket.

  • When adding nominations, please CTRL-F and make sure nobody else has already entered them.

  • Nominated tracks must be in a format that can be embedded in this thread. This can be a YouTube link, the original artist’s Bandcamp page, or their Soundcloud. People need a super simple way to listen to each nominated track.

  • If you want to nominate a track that is not currently available to embed, you can upload it yourself to YouTube. A painless way to do this if you have an mp3 is to use

  • If you want to nominate a single track that is part of a longer video on Youtube, the best solution is to re-upload it yourself a la carte. If you aren’t able to, you can specify the start and end timestamps in the link itself. For example, ‘&start=1m20s&end=3m05s’ placed at the end of a Youtube link will run from the 1 minute, 20 second mark to the 3 minute, 5 second mark.

  • The signup sheet has an opening for a link to an image of boxart or title screen. This is optional, but is convenient for anyone who wants to compile a visual bracket.

Tournament Structure

  • The tournament will have a group stage, followed by a single-elimination bracket.

  • All voting rounds will be posted on weekdays and open for a minimum of 24 hours.

  • In the case of ties, they will extend for an additional 24 hours in sudden death; if nobody breaks the tie we’ll flip a coin.

  • All entries are randomly sorted into groups of 4. In the group stage, we will post one group at a time. Give each track a fair listen, then rate it from 1-5 in the poll.

  • As a guide, 1 = make it stop!, 2 = general feeling of dislike, 3 = well it’s OK I guess, 4 = this is good, 5 = hot damn I love it!

  • Voting is public, and light banter and trash talk is encouraged. However, if anyone is uncomfortable with this, you may PM either @geggis or @krayzkrok your votes and we’ll incorporate them manually.

  • Please rate honestly, use the whole scale, and do not game the system by artificially downvoting other tracks to boost your own nominee’s chances. It’s totally fine and expected to give your own nominee a 5 though, as it’s assumed that you nominated it because you love it.

  • At the end of the group stage, the track with the most votes in each group will advance to the single elimination bracket.

  • There will be additional wild-card slots to get us up to 32 entries in the bracket; they will go to the top-rated tracks that didn’t win their groups.

Good luck, and have fun!

Yay! Thanks for taking this on.

Aw yeah!

So as I’ve been thinking about what to nominate, I realised that at least one game I was considering didn’t have any of its soundtrack on YouTube. Now I could upload it myself because I bought it on Bandcamp last year, but then I remembered Bandcamp has its own embed player. This has a few benefits:

  • The link/track is official so is unlikely to die, as so many unofficial YouTube links eventually do.
  • The sound quality is high.
  • It links to the artist’s store page where you can listen to more of their work and, hopefully, buy some. Bandcamp Fridays have been fantastic over the last year, waiving Bandcamp’s revenue share and ultimately handing over a good 93% of the paid amount directly to the artist. I love that. Any other day it’s 82%, which is still great.
  • The player is smaller, tidier and there’s no video involved.

A lot of the music nominated here will no doubt only be available on YouTube, but I hope more folk consider linking to the artist’s store page and supporting their work if they can.

Embedding the player is really simple too:

Find the soundtrack on Bandcamp, click on the track you wish to nominate and copy/paste the URL here, so this:

Ends up looking like this:

Speaking of Richard Vreeland, this game music is beautiful. I often have to stop playing because the soundtrack keeps moving me too much.

Hyper Light Drifter - The Midnight Wood

Notice how the Drifter and the broken down, disused golem are sitting in the exact same posture. There are tons of wonderful details like this all over. There is an extensive map to pore over with arcane, decipherable runes that have real, salient import as to Why You Are Here.

A second track from the game receiving an honorable mention is Titan. It reminds me of my grandfather dying of Covid last November. Some mountains you climb, others you experience; the look on his face was one of labor. The music has profound chords, build, and a subtle, slow, resonating heartbeat percussion.

And now from Yasunori Mitsuna:

Chrono Trigger - Main Theme

I was living in Japan at the time this trailer was released, and remember encountering it in a Tokyo bookshop that also sold video games. I stood there and stared at this video clip on repeat that seemed to invite the viewer into an expansive story with detailed characters and lighting and backgrounds. Not as obvious yet subtly present was the fact there were no battle transitions; characters would just whip out their swords on set in an apparent cut scene, but no: that’s how the game plays.

I learned the word leitmotif because of this track.

Massive Chalice - The People’s View

The time frame is 300 years, and your mortal heroes will not survive. But… maybe you can cultivate positive traits passed down through generations that will help you win the war. Heritability is a central gameplay mechanic in this unique gem. I like the violins on this track, and it’s a good melody.

The Void (Tension) - Sister’s Greenhouse

This is the game I 100% would have wanted to design. It’s about bodies, relationships, alchemy, and gardening in the afterlife. What you are after is color, which is simultaneously your currency, hit points, mana, and attribute modifiers. All of those things, together at the same time. The goal is to be reborn.

I like how the track starts slow with the sound of vinyl fuzz, with mallets or an out of tune piano and some strings playing somewhat randomly, then the chord suddenly shifts. Later, things become rhythmic with an increased tempo, and mechanized.

I was listening to that exact track just now while dinking around on Disasterpeace’s Bandcamp. Such an incredible soundtrack. I’ve been tempted to nominate some of it in previous thunderdomes but the tricky bit is always narrowing down your selection!

Yeah! Let’s do this!

Alrighty, here are my entries:

Hades - Good Riddance (possible Hades spoilers?)

I’m almost loathe to post this because the discovery of songs like this in Supergiant’s games is so wonderful, but this is seriously a beautiful piece of music. Damn.

Steamworld Dig 2 - El Machino

This track by El Huervo (also known from Hotline Miami) plays in the main town area of the game, so you hear it often. Or if you’re like me, you stand in town for several minutes at a time just so you can listen to it.

Paradise Killer - GO! GO! STYLE

This game makes no sense to me, but goddamn listen to this track! Listen to that saxophone!

And because I can’t let a Thunderdome go by without adding a JRPG…

Chrono Cross - Dreams of the Shore Near Another World

Another overworld theme, notable because it’s your first indication that something is wrong with the world. What happened to the overworld music I was just listening to? Why is it this new, mournful song? One of the things I love about Chrono Cross is how it uses different themes to communicate the differences between the worlds.

I thought I had done this one previously, but if I hadn’t it was absolutely on my list for this time. Nobuo Uematsu is absolutely a master of game music.

Ok, I’ll bring the retro as usual.

  1. The Faery Tale Adventure - Main (Daytime) Theme (David Joiner)
  1. The Faery Tale Adventure - Nighttime Theme (David Joiner)
  1. Times of Lore - Title Music (From 0:00 to 7:42) (Martin Galway)
  1. Fairlight (Mike Alsop)
  1. Outer Wilds - End Times (Andrew Prahlow)
  1. TBD

  2. TBD

  3. TBD

(Will fill in the rest, but I didn’t want someone else to snag my #1!)

I was going off the Google Sheets, but if I missed it, I’ll grab another. There’s no shortage!

No, if you looked I trust you! I just know it was on my short list, along with Bastion, Zelda and Metroid. It’s been a while, it is entirely probable I forgot what I even put up.

One of my favourite soundtracks. No idea what I’d nominate though… the title screen? Timber Hearth? The Sun Station? The main theme ensemble? The credits? The Ancient Glade? End Times? All sooo good!

@SadleyBradley yeah Craig’s right, Terra’s theme was in Game Music 2, nominated by Craig! :-) It’s a great piece of music.

I may possibly add a column in the master list at some point showing how far each tune got.

Dammit, he’s right! And it wasn’t even, like, named weird or anything.

I’ll edit my post and the Google Doc accordingly.

Woohoo, Thunderdomeeeeeeeee!

@SadleyBradley beat me in the Hades nom race, and technically, mine kinda constitutes a spoiler, for which I apologize, but it’s so fucking good. Korb’s soundtrack for this game is unfathomably good, and all the duets with Barrett are just on another level. Such a cool, pulse-pounding, evocative track!

I don’t even know if “2AM” is my favorite Animal Crossing track (that might be “Go KK Rider!” or the little ditty that plays in the 5 minutes right before the general store closes), but the melancholy, wistful tone of this track, that begins playing at, well, 2AM every night, has been the sign to my partner and I that it’s probably time to stop decorating our beloved Arubelle and go to sleep for basically a full calendar year now, and I just adore it.

I feel like my nomination of the amazing “March” from the desperately under-appreciated Tales of Legendia was unfairly robbed, but the entire soundtrack is just so delightful, particularly Go Shiina’s work like this delightful track, “The Meeting Place is the Fountain Plaza.”

In a similar way, every single track on Jeremy Soule’s Total Annihilation rip-roaring orchestral soundtrack is solid fucking gold, and limiting myself to only one per Thunderdome is the clearest sign of my restraint’s continued existence you’ll ever find. “Brutal Battle” is epic and thrilling and awesome.

Damn shame I can’t just nominate every track in Project Wingman, which I would be sorely tempted to do. Time to limit myself to one and make some difficult choices.

Thanks for picking up the torch on this, @krayzkrok and @geggis! I’m glad that people enjoyed the Thunderdome enough to miss it.

As I recall, we had a couple of tied voting scores last time around. I might recommend a slight tweak to give a bit more granularity on the positive side, by using the Qt3 review scale. That would put 2.5 stars as completely neutral if it were an option, but forces you to commit to a mildly positive 3 stars or mildly negative 2 stars. The Thunderdome is no place for these guys:


a) From Divinity OS 2, among many standout songs, I prefer the subdued version of the main Rivellon theme.
Divinity Original Sin 2 - Rivellon

Not nominations, but DOS2 soundtrack had excellent music, and not all of it made it into the soundtrack unfortunately (probably since many of them were variations, like the ship theme). Still linking Land of Fairytales though.

b) From POE2 Deadfire, the main theme (and many other songs) set up the sailing and exploration setting brilliantly. Also manages to carries the weight of history across.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire - Deadfire

c) While I find many of the other climatic songs in FE overwrought, I find Funeral of Flowers from FE Three Houses works very well. The story’s over, climaxed the last map right? Nope get sad. Excellent use of leitmotifs from the rest of the game.
Fire Emblem Three Houses - Funeral of Flowers

Also inverts the map/battle variant split. Normally the battle theme variant is “louder” in orchestration. This time around the battle variant is subdued one of the pair.

d) And finishing up with some Dynasty Warriors rock. Thousand Suns is the theme of the winning side of the major climatic battle (Chibi/Red Cliffs) that essentially ensured the formation of the three kingdoms.
Dynasty Warriors 7 - Thousand Suns

And then the next game, in a hypothetical unlockable scenario (where now history is being reversed) it gets inverted and used as the theme song of the historical losers as a haha fuckers get fucking dunked on. Twas great.

I haven’t participated in these threads before, so I have a bunch of my old favorites that I still listen to regularly to nominate! Most of them are from older games (a couple very old), but I love the entire soundtracks of all of them. I’ve picked out my favorites from each.

First, from King’s Field IV - the Ancient City by FromSoftware. The King’s Field series was a precursor to the Souls series, with lots of direct references carried into the Souls games, and some subtle ones too. King’s Field IV was amazing and had amazing music.

Song: Mansion of the Howling Winds
By: Tsukasa Saito

Next up, from the original Divine Divinity soundtrack (and I still love that game, even with all its jankiness, and I love its music).

Song: Sighs of the Elvenkind
By: Kirill Pokrovsky

Here’s a game that I actually heard the soundtrack to long before I ever played the game, or even knew what kind of game it was. When I finally decided I loved the music enough to actually play the game, I was not expecting a Breakout clone. The game is good fun though, and the soundtrack amazing! The game is Shatter.

Song: Kinetic Harvest
By: Module

Finally, I love all the Amanita Design games, and some of the soundtracks are outstanding. My favorite soundtrack remains Machinarium.

Song: The Bottom
By: Tomas Dvorak

That soundtrack was very “mystical.” The Divinity series was very well served by Kirill.