Back at it again with the awesome music covers! Here are some the best YouTube covers of Retro Video Game music. Keep in mind that by no means is this list definitive and yes, we will most likely make more lists since there are scores (badum-tss) of talented musicians out there! Honestly, it was quite tough picking not just the musicians but also the themes of the games. As much as I love Final Fantasy VII and Legend of Zelda (and trust me I love me some Zelda music) I’m sorry to say you won’t find it here on today’s list. Yes, they both have absolutly amazing music and have inspired a whole generation of musicians but how many times have you clicked on an “Top X VGM” article and read the name of the same games and the same themes? Instead I went on a simple criteria for picking these YouTubers and Themes.
Must be a content creator that focuses on making high quality music
Meaning that I couldn’t pick the video of the coolest vertical street performance video of the Gerudo Valley theme or that sweet solo recorded on a webcam.
Must be original in either arrangement or presentation
I know, I know. How in the hell can I ask for originality from a cover? Well the same way The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy manages to stay fresh for over the last 30+ years. One manages to tell essentially the same story over and over again but gives you a fresh presentation and tweaks to the gameplay while the other sends you on another save the world quest with pretty much the same job classes but tells you the story in a brand new way each time.
Now without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order, some of the best YouTube Covers of Retro Game music.
Final Fantasy VI - Kefka’s Theme - BlackearacheXD
Final Fantasy VI is also another game that had the unfortunate luck of being released near the end of the SNES cycle. This meant that not many people had the chance of playing the game but those who have swear by it. Musically, FFVI is considered to contain Nobuo Uematsu’s best work. Blackearache here shows us why Kefka is the best series villain. He’s the only one who’s succeeded in destroying the world, unless you count Bahamut from FFXIV.
Golden Sun - Fusion Dragon - Dr. Pez - VGM
Here we have ourselves a collab between Dr Pez (guitar), Ashikodrums (drums), HatTrax (Bass) and Marcpapeghin (brass) performing the incredibly badass Fusion Dragon battle theme. I gotta tell you, when I clicked on that link I was not expecting to see a French Horn in the same video with “progressive Metal” in the title. Easily one of the most underrated games of the GBA era of handhelds as it was released near the end of that system's life cycle. In spite of that, Golden Sun became to be known as a cult classic gem of the golden age of JRPGs.
Super Mario World 3 - Medley - moonbowmusicmovie
We all knew we’d find ourselves at some point on the page of a Japanese YouTube musician and what better one than that of the Moonbow Music Movie group. This group of talented musicians (which include about five other members) masterfully recreated the swing rag, jazzy feel of the original game as well as turning out a sweet ass solo for the medley. It was also hard not to be taken in by the charm these guys have as you see them clearly just playing music for fun.
Banjo Kazooie - Gruntilda’s Lair - 130Grit Sound Studio
If it’s one thing I love more than orchestral music, it’s video game music. But there’s one thing I love more than both: genre mash-ups. Who can argue against it when it’s nostalgia and whatever refined taste you currently have mixed into one?
Doom - E1M1 At Doom’s Gate - With Ether
Simon Leong and Al Poon are a couple of dueling guitarist that teach in Thailand and UK, respectively. How they manage time to sync up time to practice with each other is not only incredible but also some serious dedication to the craft. Both of them pay an awesome tribute to the game that spawned the term First Person Shooter. As always, by working an original arrangement to a classic theme to pleasantly throw you off from immediately recognizing the themes.
Tetris - Korobeiniki - PlayerPiano
Oh you already knew that this one was going to be on this list. I mean who doesn’t place this song in their top retro game themes. Sonya Belousova, the talented Russian pianist and Director Tom Grey had a custom pinball piano commissioned just for this video which they gave away to a lucky patreon. It seems like they always have some sort of give away going on as I’ve seen them put at least 3 pianos up for raffle including a Dr. Who Piano. This version of the frantic handheld game that captivated a nation in the early 90’s is by the best I’ve heard to date.
Chrono Trigger - Guardia Millennial Fair - PPF
Holding one of the oldest active accounts on YouTube since 2007 (the website has only been around since 2005) PPF has always been consistent in the quality of his videos. Starting off with just his guitar and simple video editing skills he now holds a large collection of toy and real instruments that he implements to recreate these classic themes bringing retro in HD.
F- Zero - Mute City - insaneintherainmusic
Passing over you on your right is insaneintherain with his collection of Jazz variations of game covers. The sax man is smoother than melted butter on ice placed atop of wax paper. Jazz may not be everybody’s cup of tea but if you love VGM then my only question to you is: jasmine, mint, or chamomile?
Megaman X - Armored Armadillo Theme - Tsuko G.
The Megaman series was always known for it’s bitchin’ tracks and level design. You can literally pick a random track from a random game and you’ll still be grooving to the sweet sound of a charging mega buster alongside a memorable track. Evoking the same feeling as the acapella maestro SmoothMcGroove, Tsuko G. simply does it with kicking beatboxing skills and a kazoo.
Donkey Kong Country 2 - Forest Interlude - michelleheafy
For as much love as this game series still gets I’m amazed, nay, appalled that the only two themes anyone can remember from this series are either Stickerbrush Symphony or Aquatic Ambience. David Wise composer of the first two games masterfully tracked both games to perfection. Nothing says that better than Forest Interlude (aside from Bayou Boogie) The best part of these themes are that instead of going with the same “frantic level design equals frantic music” trope that many other games at that time were going with, the contrasting calm and ambient music masked how fiendishly difficult these early games really were. The talented Michelle Heafy perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of the Forest Interlude with her vocals, and piano work. Her talent doesn’t just stop there, she’s also a percussionist and guitarist (and a total babe).
Have any favorite YouTubers that we didn’t mention and would like to share their talent? Let Nerdbot know and you might just end up seeing them here!