Top 10 Sega Genesis Final Boss Themes
“Genesis does what Nintendon’t… except music.”
That is the exact tweet that I tweeted a few days ago. It’s not really my personal belief, but I wanted to gauge the reaction of my followers, and boy did you all let me have it. I received tweets about the audio specs of the Genesis, links to music, and even a few harshly worded responses. All the while I laughed on the inside, for I knew what I had planned for my next 1 More Countdown.
I love the Sega Genesis also known as the Mega Drive (however, I’ll be referring to it as the Genesis, because that’s what I knew it as). When I was growing up, I went straight from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Sega Genesis. I didn’t really follow or care about the advertisements or specs, I just got the Genesis as a birthday present, so that’s the console I played. While people swear by the SNES or Genesis, I see the value in both. Each was unique and presented a fun escape, isn’t that what it’s all about? Nevertheless, I had more time with my Sega Genesis, so it’s one of my favorite consoles.
Yes, it’s true the Sega Genesis usually had worse sound quality… but this wasn’t always the case. Game developers for the Genesis knew about the audio limitations, and they knew how to work with it. This is especially true for exclusives. Therefore, I decided to write a list about Genesis music. After careful consideration I narrowed it down to the Top 10 Sega Genesis Final Boss Themes. To all you Super Nintendo fans don’t worry, your list will be here soon, but probably not for another 2 or 3 fortnights.
- One song per franchise.
- All songs are from games I have played.
- While all games on this list are not exclusive to the Sega Genesis, none of them are available on the Super Nintendo.
- While I will describe the boss fight itself, the songs are ordered based on JUST the song and not the fight.
- Descriptions will be shorter than usual because music is such a subjective topic, sometimes you just have to let the music speak for itself.
- Most songs on this list are used only for the final boss battle.
- Please keep in mind this list was very tough to write. When I first started it I had 33 entries that I had to narrow down to 10.
- Feel free to comment below, I read all of them.
I’m a huge fan of Ristar, I enjoy it more than the Sonic the Hedgehog series. As a Genesis Kid, that’s really saying something. I even reviewed Ristar for Review a Great Game Day. In this game you play as a character named Ristar. Your quest is to stop the evil space-pirate/dictator Kaiser Greedy. This power-hungry villain used mind-control powers on planets’ leaders in a solar system and took control. Since this is Ristar’s quest, it’s obvious that Kaiser Greedy is the final boss for the game. As a final boss, Kaiser Greedy is tough. You defeat him the same way you defeat nearly all Ristar enemies. You grab Kaiser with your Stretch Armstrong arms and slam your body into him. However, Kaiser Greedy can spawn enemies, teleport, fly, shoot deadly lasers, and even create miniature black holes. The guy is tough.
My favorite thing about the music in Ristar is how appropriate it is. If you are in a forest level, the music matches. This is the case for all the themes in this game and especially the final boss theme. Kaiser Greedy’s lair is a technologically advanced space theme. It starts off with an ominous tone, then about a minute in the theme speeds up as Kaiser Greedy speeds up as well. His moves become quicker, the music becomes quicker, and so must your reaction time. As I said, it just fits the fight.
9.) Alisia Dragoon
Alisia Dragoon is a game you might have not heard of, but it’s a Sega Genesis cult classic. The game sold poorly in Japan, and wasn’t advertised much by Sega but it is by far one of the best on the Genesis. While there are differences between the Japanese and North American version of the game, the one I’m most familiar with is the North American version. You play as Alisia, who has the power to shoot lightning from her hand and is on a quest to destroy evil and the source of their production, a “silver star” that has crashed to Earth. Aiding you on your quest are four dragon/pet things. In this game there are two final bosses, and while both are good, I prefer the first boss theme.
For being a game about magic and dragons, the final boss theme fits perfectly. Famed video game musician brentalfloss once stated that there are three types of boss music for video games. There are themes that let you know how badass the final boss is, themes that are designed to get you pumped up, and themes you just want to dance to. This is a theme that is designed to get you pumped up. It starts off a brief introduction that sounds like something from a Dungeons and Dragons game, and then morphs into a beat to get your heart pumping and your fingers twitching. All the while, the music continues its medieval/magical tone.
8.) Dynamite Headdy
Dynamite Headdy is another fantastic video game that needs more recognition. Once again I’d have to say this game is one of my favorites. In the world of North Town, which is inhabited by puppets everything is fine. This is until the evil puppet King Dark Demon takes the town over. Once King Dark Demon takes over he picks selects puppets to be a part of his evil army, while others get rejected. Headdy, our protagonist, gets rejected and thus vows to destroy King Dark Demon and free the puppet people.
Alright, it’s true there is a secret boss to this game, by since King Dark Demon is the main antagonist, I’m considering this to be the final fight. The theme for this final battle is deceptive. It starts off very slow and dark to get the player intimidated, but then quickly speeds up. This is deceptive because this is a battle that requires patience. If you rush, you will die. However, this song makes you want to rush. The song doesn’t fit the battle like the final boss theme from Ristar, instead it’s another obstacle you must overcome.
7.) The Revenge of Shinobi
The Revenge of Shinobi is the first Shinobi game developed for the Sega Genesis. The criminal organization Zeed is back as Neo Zeed and they are pissed at Joe Musashi. Joe Musashi was the one who disbanded and destroyed the original Zeed 3 years ago. Therefore, Neo Zeed kills Joe’s master and kidnaps his girlfriend. The course of the game is to once again defeat Neo Zeed, rescue your girlfriend, and defeat the Boss, also known as The Ninja Master.
This is a final boss theme unlike any other on this list. When I think of this theme, I compare it to the Jaws theme. This is because both are deceptively simple. There are a few notes but there are a lot of quiet moments in this theme. It’s a theme meant to scare the player but it’s also a theme that in any other situation wouldn’t make you fearful. By that I mean this theme fits the ninja/Japanese tone of the game. It only adds fear because this is the final battle against a head honcho with immense skill.
6.) Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage 2 is perfect. It refined the already fantastic original, but didn’t get too over the top like the third game in a franchise. I mean a boxing kangaroo named Roo… Seriously? Actually, the plot of Streets of Rage 2 is very similar to The Revenge of Shinobi. Mr. X and his criminal organization was taken down in Streets of Rage 1, but now they are back with a vengeance. They begin to commit crimes all over the city, and kidnap Adam Hunter from the first game. So once again, take down Mr. X and his crime syndicate.
If we return to brentalfloss’ theory of final boss themes Streets of Rage 2 this theme would fall into the category of themes you just want to dance to. This final boss theme sounds like it could be played in a club, and wouldn’t be out of place. This is because the musician who work on Streets of Rage 2, Yuzo Koshiro (who composed for more video games than I can count, including the last theme) based the entire soundtrack on electronic dance music such as house and techno. It shows, because while the theme for level 1 is my favorite in the game, the final boss theme will make you tap your toes and start boogieing down.
5.) Tiny Toons Adventures – Buster’s Hidden Treasure
Montana Max has kidnapped Babs Bunny and has also hidden a bunch of Buster Bunny’s treasure. It seems like a lot of these games have to deal with kidnapping. Aiding Montana Max is another villain by the name of Gene Splicer who has been using mind-control helmets on some of Buster’s closest friends. There seems to be an awful lot of mind-control in these games as well. Now Montana Max (a child version of Yosemite Sam) isn’t that threatening of a final villain, but he has a giant mech suit, which I believe is called “Montana Max’s Deadly Duck in Mega-Armor” but don’t quote me on that.
After I started writing this list I noticed Konami had some excellent music on the Sega Genesis. They really knew how to utilize the system. The final boss theme from Buster’s Hidden Treasure is no exception. What I enjoy the most about this song is its dual nature. The song makes this extremely easy boss fight sound tough and threatening, however it still has an upbeat almost zany undertone that is synonymous with the Tiny Toons name.
Pulseman is another game you might have missed. It was released on cartridge only in Japan, in North America it was only released via the Sega Channel. However, it’s currently on the Wii’s Virtual Console and I cannot recommend it enough. Okay, the plot of this game is a bit odd so bear with me. Doc Yoshiyama created an advanced artificial Intelligence named C-Life. The doctor fell in love with C-Life and digitized himself. The two had a child named Pulseman who was half AI and half human. A doctor had sex with an AI… only in video games. Well living in the computer, Doc Yoshiyama became corrupted and began calling himself Doc Waruyama. The doctor created a cyber-terrorism crime organization, and now it’s up to Pulseman to stop his father.
The theme for the final battle in Pulseman isn’t that unique or complex. In fact it’s fairly repetitive, but it gets the job done. It’s one of the greatest themes to get a player pumped up for the final fight because it starts off fast then gets faster and faster as it goes on. It has the electronic bleeps and bloops you’d expect to hear in a game primarily about computers, electricity, and AI.
3.) Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Who doesn’t know Sonic the Hedgehog? No one! Even my parents know about Sonic the Hedgehog, and the last game they ever played was Space Invaders. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 takes place right after the previous game. Doctor Robotnik crash lands on Angel Island after being defeated by Sonic. While on the island, Robotnik learned about the Master Emerald (an emerald of immense power) and he also meets the Master Emerald’s guardian, Knuckles the Echidna (which is a spiny anteater, and one of the only mammals to lay eggs. The more you know.) Robotnik tricks Knuckles into thinking Sonic is after the emerald, when in reality Robotnik plans on using the emerald to power his ship. Robotnik is the main villain in a Sonic the Hedgehog game? What a surprise!
Since The Sonic Team is so damn good at making music for the Sega Genesis, I’m sure you expected an entry from the Sonic the Hedgehog. The fight against Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 has my favorite final boss music. It’s a double threat of musical genius. The beginning of the song makes this version of Robotnik seem really threatening, then it evolves into a song you just want to dance to. I don’t know if Michael Jackson had any input in this song, but it doesn’t really matter. The upbeat second part of this song is in such contrast with the beginning it’s almost saying “I know things look bleak, but if you defeat him it can get better.”
DecapAttack is a westernized version of of the Japanese game Magical Hat no Buttobi Tabo! Daibōken. It’s similar to the whole Super Mario Bros 2, Doki Doki Panic debacle. You play as Chuck D. Head who is a mummy created by Dr. Frank N. Stein. If you think those puns are bad, then you’re going to be shaking your head throughout the rest of the game. Chuck D. Head will be turned into a real man if he defeats Max D. Cap who raised an undead army from the Underworld.
One thing about me is that I’m a huge fan of horror films, especially classic horror films. This is probably why I enjoy Decap Attack and this theme so much. It’s upbeat and fast however the high-pitched tones in this song reminds me of a classic but somewhat cheesy horror movie. That’s exactly what it sounds like, and that’s what Decap Attack is, it’s a cheesy game with horror elements. There’s not much more I can say, just listen to it.
1.) Contra: Hard Corps
Well here it is, and I cannot think of a game or a final boss theme more worthy than Contra – Hard Corps. This Contra game is a Genesis exclusive and is one of the toughest games I have ever played. In this game an elite team of commandos called the “Unified Military Special Mobile Task Force K-X”, also known as the “Contra Hard Corps” fight crime in the streets that erupted after the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars. In this game, hackers have reprogrammed robots to run rampant and an evil Colonel wants to overthrow the government and take over the world with the use of advanced alien technology.
Contra: Hard Corps has four final bosses and each are just as ugly. They are disturbing to look at, however I’d look at them all day just to hear this theme. It’s a trifecta of epic final boss theme goodness. Those aren’t even words but I don’t care. The final boss theme for Contra: Hard Corps makes the boss seem intimidating, it gets the player pumped up, and I bob my head and dance to this theme like no one is watching. As I said before, Contra: Hard Corps is a tough game, it’s bloody, and it is just dark but this is the perfect theme to compliment all of that. It seems to be a 16-bit heavy metal theme that says you are an anthropomorphic wolf with a chain-gun for a hand shooting down a bloody alien face.
I hope you enjoyed the list of my top 10 Sega Genesis final boss themes. Even if you don’t agree with my choices, I hope you give them a listen and maybe add them to your playlist. A Super Nintendo list will be out soon, but not next time. I think in a fortnight, my list will be a bit more regal.