Wake up! Time to fight! Yes, there’s a big slobbering boss standing right in front of you waiting patiently for you to start kicking the snot out of it, so you’d better get started.
Oh, you need some musical inspiration to get your fight on? Well, all right then. Here’s five of the best non-final boss themes of all time, guaranteed to get the blood pumpin’ and that sword arm a-swingin’.
Revenge Twofold (Final Fantasy XIV)
While tempting to make this a list of nothing but Masayoshi Soken’s incredible work on Final Fantasy XIV, I’ll keep it to a single entry — in this case, my favourite boss theme in the whole game, which was introduced towards the end of Heavensward’s patch cycle.
Soken is a master of weaving memorable main themes through various different compositions, and this is a great example of this technique at its finest. Blending elements of some major musical motifs from both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, this track provides an epic conclusion to any dungeon run — it’s just a shame we only had a few dungeons to enjoy it in!
Encounter of Destiny (Megadimension Neptunia V-II)
The comedic nature of the Neptunia games means that they might not necessarily be the first place you’d think to look when you’re after an epic boss theme. But Megadimension Neptunia V-II delivers with a series of wonderful battle tracks, of which this is one of the strongest.
This piece is heard during major boss fights in Megadimension Neptunia V-II when you’re battling giant-size enemies. The rapid pace of the rhythmic backing accompanied by the dramatic choral lines gives a real sense of “do or die” to these encounters, making them a highlight of the game as a whole.
Scorpio (Atelier Shallie)
Likewise, the Atelier series’ distinctly “comfy” reputation might lead you to believe that its music is all happy accordions, penny whistles and other such rustic instruments. And while this is true to a certain extent — particularly in the Arland subseries — there are a number of installments that have included some absolutely face-melting bangers as boss themes.
This somewhat “Gothic rock” track from Atelier Shallie is the work of Hayato Asano, who also worked on the similarly excellent music for Nights of Azure and Blue Reflection. In some ways, it can be looked upon as an homage to the music of Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy, which had a distinctly rock-infused soundtrack throughout — but whether or not that was deliberate, the fact remains: this is an amazing boss theme.
Uncontrollable (Xenoblade Chronicles X)
Xenoblade Chronicles X had a rather peculiar soundtrack that some people adored, other people absolutely hated. And this track, more than any other on the OST, is the litmus test — if you think it’s awesome, you’ll have a lot of time for Xenoblade Chronicles X’s soundtrack as a whole; if you hate it… well… listen again and give it another chance.
The thing I particularly like about Xenoblade Chronicles X’s soundtrack as a whole — and particularly its battle tracks — is how it gives the distinct feeling that the game is actually a piece of musical theatre. The lyrics are often oddly poignant and tell their own story; when taken in context of other things that are going on in the game, they can be oddly emotional.
God, I want a Switch port of this game.
Redoubtable Enemy (Evenicle)
Oh no! An eroge! But it’s an amazing eroge, a great RPG and home to some absolute bangers on its soundtrack — so if you haven’t played Evenicle yet, sort yourself out (NSFW link!) and go score yourself a multitude of wives.
This track, heard during boss encounters in the middle of each of the game’s main “acts” is a wonderfully thrilling number with some distinct ’80s inspirations, in both the synth work and howling guitar lines. It’s a delight to hear any time it shows up — it’s almost a shame any time you beat an enemy before it gets to “the good bit”. You know the bit I’m talking about.
What are some of your favourite boss themes? Let us know in the comments, via the usual social channels — or write us a letter to The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page with the widget over on the right!
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