Funky Music From Video Games – Jams To Boogie On Down To

As part of our celebratory video game music season that we inventively call Nintendo Life VGM Fest, we’re creating a few ~ moods ~ lists, because that’s pretty much how we organize our playlists. Spotify these days.

Everyone knows that video game soundtracks are full of epic orchestrations, relaxing melodies, and terrifying boss fight tunes, but every once in a while video games also come up with a track that’s right. so awesome that we can’t help but come down.

The songs we have chosen from this list come from a wide range of games and genres. It’s not just literal funk that’s funky, despite everything funkologists might say – this list represents surf rock, jazz, dubstep, and everything Splatoon is. Electronics?

Dolphin Shoals (Mario Kart 8, 2014)

Composer (s): Atsuko Asahi

It’s a shame that you spend most of Dolphin Shoals underwater, because the music is one of the best things about this track (and Mario Kart 8 in general). Anyone who thought the best instrument for an anti-gravity coral reef was a saxophone must be crazy – and we’re so happy they did it anyway. KG

Listen to it in: Mario Kart 8, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Pigstep (Minecraft Nether Update, 2020)

Composer (s): Lena Raine

“Dubstep in Hell” is quite the pitch, but it works perfectly in Pigstep, one of Minecraft’s most coveted records. That’s quite the contrast to C418’s scintillating lo-fi piano, but again, the Nether is also quite the contrast to the Overworld. Honestly, if hell is that great, sign us up. KG

Listen to it in: Minecraft

Gerudo Valley (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, 1998)

Composer (s): Koji Kondo

Spanish guitar. Latin trumpets. Flamenco beats. Castanets, maybe. How is it just that Ocarina of Time’s funkiest jam is in one of the trickier sections of the game? Maybe it’s time to quit our jobs and become thieves because they clearly have the best bits. KG

Listen to it in: Ocarina of time, Ocarina of time 3D

Steam Gardens (Super Mario Odyssey, 2017)

Composer (s): Koji Kondo

I wouldn’t have predicted that Super Mario Odyssey would contain a garden full of robotic watering cans, a secret T-Rex, and such a funkalicious surf rock track that I could play it to my parents and they would never guess it was d ‘a video game. Koji Kondo, you are a genius. KG

Listen to it in: Super Mario Odyssey

A-Mazing Post Pounding (Yoshi’s Woolly World, 2015)

Composer (s): Tomoya tomita

Dude, maybe I need to play Yoshi’s Woolly World. This track sounds like it’s from a TV show about a hardened criminal detective who is two hours away from retirement, not a game about a knitted dinosaur. Then again, he’s got eggs … and eggs can be hard-boiled … so maybe it isn’t that different after all. KG

Hear it in: Yoshi’s Woolly World

Spicy Squid Inkantation (Splatoon 2, 2017)

Composer (s): Shiho Fujii

Splatoon games have the most amazing soundtracks, combining a wide variety of genres like reggae, electronics, and even ska. I personally like a lot Ika Jamaica from the first game, but it’s less “tunes to dance to” and more “tunes to squirm very slowly”. For the purposes of this list, Fujii’s Spicy Calamari Inkantation is the funkiest bop squid in games. KG

Listen to it in: Splatoon 2

KK Groove (Animal Crossing: New Leaf / New Horizons, 2012/20)

Composer (s): Manaka Kataoka / Atsuko Asahi / Kazumi Totaka

The K. Funk might have been the more obvious choice, but when it comes time to go down Saturday night (and Olivier Cheatham is not available for some reason), you can’t go wrong settling into a Groove KK, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, you do. GL

Listen to it in: Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Funky Staff Credits (Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, 2018)

Composer (s): David sage

I’ll admit something that maybe I shouldn’t, dear reader, I’m not the biggest fan of the DKC series. HOWEVER, if there is one area in which the series consistently and unmistakably excels … well, most other video games are soundtracks; this is not surprising since Maestro David Wise was at the helm for most of them.

This particular funky (sorry, funky) closer to Tropical Freeze’s 2018 Switch port makes me want to re-evaluate every game I’ve played on Wii U every time I hear it. In fact, I might well buy the Switch version based on this one track. Only. LISTEN. TO. THIS! It’s way too funky here. GL

Listen to it in: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Theme 7 (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 GBA, 2001)

Composer (s): Manfred linzer

This portable version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was remarkable in several ways, and while the GBA obviously failed to credibly recreate the licensed tracks that have made home console games so distinctive, this little cart contained an incredible soundtrack of its own. – it’s a particularly awesome example that has stuck in my mind over the years. GL

Listen to it in: Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 2

Toxic Caves (Sonic Spinball, 1993)

Composer (s): Howard Drossin / Brian Coburn / Barry Blum

The game itself is an ambitious overtake that would have benefited from more oven time (and using the same engine as the platform games themselves). Music, on the other hand? The music is up there with some of the best tunes from the entire series, which says a lot when you look at the plethora of 16-bit classics the Hedgehog has to its name. I could have chosen plenty of them, but I love the dirty side of Toxic Caves. GL

Listen to it in: Sonic Spinball, Sega Mega Drive Classics

Go Straight (Streets of Rage II, 1992)

Composer (s): Yuzo Koshiro

Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima’s soundtrack for this game sends many players into fits of ecstasy and hyperbole, this writer included, but that’s because it’s really, really, really Well. It sets you on fire beautifully to dance the streets (with rage) beating seven thug bells, all in time to the beat of the killer. I chose Go Straight because it’s the Round 1 track, but everyone is a winner in this game. Timeless stuff. GL

Listen to it in: Streets of Rage II, Sega Mega Drive Classics

These are just a few of our personal favorites, but what about yours? Let us know your favorite funky video game tracks in the comments below, and if your choices vibrate with us, you might see them migrate north from the comments at some point.

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