Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Top Ten JRPG Final Boss Themes (Spoilers)

There are sometimes top ten lists that write themselves. You can easily select ten items and bestow them with an order no sweat. This is one of those lists that was incredibly arduous to pick from the hundreds of JRPGs that had the most marvelous final boss themes to them. Still, we overcame the struggle of selecting ten themes from ten games and just ten, and we pretty much reached a compromise among staff. This list contains what we deem the best final boss battle themes in JRPG history. If you think we left out any good ones (which we most likely did with only ten picks out of hundreds of games), please let us know in the comments section below.

Also, it's important to note that we've tried to limit the amount of spoilers in this article, but you should still tread carefully. We mostly talk about older games, but there are a couple more recent titles that you may not have been able to play yet. In that case, we don't show the final boss's picture.

EDIT: This wasn't made clear, so let us do so. Each entry title is a YouTube link. Just click on the entry title, and you'll arrive to the YouTube video showcasing each song.

10) Final Battle VS. Rival - Pokemon Blue/Red/Yellow (GB)


This is it. You've come a long way as a Pokemon trainer. From your humble beginnings in Pallet Town, you've acquired the eight necessary badges from gym leaders around Kanto, and you've put the Elite Four in their place. However, there's but one last obstacle between you and the title of Pokemon master-- your rival, Blue! Although in retrospect it isn't as powerful as it once was, the theme heard while fighting Blue's six Pokemon was haunting, imposing, and let all trainers who dared face Blue know that this was not going to be an easy battle.

9) Last Battle (Opportunity) - Skies of Arcadia (DC, GCN)


This theme perfectly punctuates the tense feeling of facing the final boss of Skies of Arcadia. Even though the theme is pure synth, it still gives off an emotional impact all the same. At 1:53 the music changes direction into a hopeful song. This part plays as the final boss is on his last leg, so to speak. Victory is in your grasp, Vyse and crew, can you clench it?

8) Battle Vs. Lord Blazer - Wild ARMs 2 (PS1)


Using the main theme of the game as its focal point, Wild ARMs 2's Battle Vs. Lord Blazer hits all the right notes, not feeling foreboding like many of the themes on this list, but rather sounding heroic, as if this final boss is going to get his and Ashley and friends are without a doubt going to let nothing in the way as they save the day. Michiko Naruke's talents know no bounds, as the ending battle tour de force shows.

7) Dragon God - Chrono Cross (PS1)


Yasunori Mitsuda did some fantastic work on the Chrono Trigger soundtrack back on the Super Nintendo, but his compositions on Chrono Cross, in our humble, collective opinion, outshines them. Dragon God is a final boss theme that is one part chilling with its female vocalizations and one part pulse-pounding with its quick string riffs and motifs. Dragon God lets you know that you're in for one showdown against a boss that is anything but a pushover.

6) Awakening - Xenogears (PS1)


We change PlayStation One RPGs and move on from Chrono Cross to another Yasunori Mitsuda-composed soundtrack and game, Xenogears. Technically, Awakening plays during the penultimate boss encounter, but the boss that follows is a story-related boss that cannot be lost against, so we're going to say for the sake of things that Awakening plays during the true final boss of Xenogears. The tense and rapid pulse of the theme creates a sense of urgency, and the use of vocals accentuates the theme splendidly. Awakening is truly a theme that's like listening to a sweet dream.

5) Id ~ Purpose - Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)


Going from one Awakening to another, this time in the actual title's name, Fire Emblem: Awakening's final map theme for the final boss of the game is similar to Battle Vs. Lord Blazer, as it is more a theme of hope, heroism, and glory. Fire Emblem: Awakening already has our favorite soundtrack of the entire series, but this theme, Id ~ Purpose, is a cut above the majority of themes heard in any Fire Emblem game. The choir that chimes in to offer a deep and rich harmony that is hard for other songs to compete with.

4) The Strongest Foe - Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP, PC)


We love Ys: The Oath in Felghana's soundtrack to pieces, and one part of that is its rocking, head-banging final boss theme, The Strongest Foe. The action of battle is accentuated  by this uptempo track, delivering a theme that builds up the final boss as this sensational last challenge this Ys III remake has to offer. At 1:29, a heroic motif leaps into the picture, essentially telling players that there is hope to defeat this ultimate evil despite the odds being against them.

3) Serpent Eating the Ground - Bravely Default (3DS)


Whether it's called Serpent Eating the Ground or The Snake That Devours the Horizon is irrelevant when you finally get around to hearing this increasingly more epic final boss theme. The chanting going along with this orchestral blend of metal music makes this theme sound absolutely awesome. When this lengthy theme progresses, it eventually reaches a point where it plays the special move themes of each of the four characters. However, our favorite part of this theme is its epic finale at 5:20, which basically tells the boss that its butt is grass and your party is the lawnmower.

2) One-Winged Angel - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)


A theme that is so well-known that it needs no description, so we'll move onto number one on our list.

...

Just kidding. The final battle against an angelic Sephiroth has a theme that doesn't mess around. The introduction brings the tension, but the most popular part of One-Winged Angel is without question when the choir unleashes a flurry of Latin onto the player, ending with "Sephiroth" as the conclusion. One-Winged Angel perfectly takes Sephiroth's ordinary character theme and turns the knob past 11 to make a fully realized, kick-ass final boss theme.

1) Dancing Mad - Final Fantasy VI (SNES)


However, our favorite final boss theme from a JRPG comes from our favorite Final Fantasy with our favorite soundtrack. It's a final boss theme that was simply put ahead of its time. Starting off with a version of the theme Catastrophe, Dancing Mad plays its haunting opening moments. The song is split up between four movements. Each movement masterfully transitions to the next as soon as a piece of the Esper tower being fought is eliminated. Everything builds up to this final showdown with Kefka himself, where this part of the theme plays as Kefka's heavenly new form descends onto the battlefield. Soon, a rocking version of Kefka's character theme plays as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Whether you agree with Dancing Mad edging out One-Winged Angel or not, there's no questioning the genius that is Nobuo Uematsu. A genius so great that we had to limit the Final Fantasy franchise to two entries on this list!

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