In a time when my blog is inundated with seasonal First Impressions posts, I thought to myself, hey, why don’t I write up something to break up the monotony of these posts a little bit? While i’m crunched for time with the amount of shows I still need to watch and review, especially when i’m still trying to compile my Spring 2018 final watchlist, I decided I needed something relatively easy, yet interesting.
As I’ve been busying myself with getting back into the Pokemon franchise lately, I decided there’s no better time than the present to put together a top 10 list of one of my favorite parts of the franchise as a whole: the music. Pokemon has long been known for having some of the most memorable soundtracks in video games, with of course the most memorable tracks being the battle themes. So, without further ado, here’s a list of my Top 10 favorite battle themes from the Pokemon franchise.
#10: Johto Gym Leader Theme (Gold, Silver, Crystal)
Pokemon Crystal was the first Pokemon game I ever played. Growing up on the game, learning the mechanics, every city was a new challenge as my maturing brain attempted to create a solution to beating each new gym leader. I’d lose, lose again, and again, until I finally figured out how to play the game properly. You could say that the Johto gym leaders, above all else, are the ones who taught me how to be a strong trainer. Because of this, their battle theme has stuck with me all these years, and is taking the #10 spot on my list.
#9: Champion Lance & Red (HeartGold, SoulSilver)
Having grown up on the Pokemon franchise, the Kanto and Johto regions have a very deep and special meaning for me. When my childhood got a remake in the form of Heartgold and Soulsilver, I was absolutely overjoyed. As we all know, the climax of a Pokemon game is always the battle against the Champion. In the original games, Lance’s theme was good, but the jump from 8-bit to orchestral makes it that much more epic. The same theme applies to the battle against Red on top of Mt. Silver, as you literally take on your old self.
#8: The Lake Trio (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum)
The Lake Trio are among my favorite Legendary Pokemon. While many people don’t like them because of their sub-par stats and move pools, they are undeniably adorable. These cute Pokemon aren’t messing around, though, as they have one of the best legendary encounter themes in the franchise, a theme that’s seemingly way too epic for these tiny, adorable little Pokemon. No matter how you feel about Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie, you can’t deny that their theme is freaking epic.
#7: Champion Blue (Red, Blue, Yellow)
The original trio of Pokemon games were incredible. Featuring a gratingly obnoxious rival named Blue, among other things, the game pitted you against your nemesis time and time again, as you two competed to gather the badges and beat the elite 4 before each other. Imagine your surprise, then, when you finally make it through the Elite 4 and find none other than Blue waiting for you, with a well-balanced team of Pokemon trained to terrifying extremes. The theme says it all… this battle is going to be tough.
#6: Primal Dialga (Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky)
This is the only track on this list that doesn’t come from a main series game, but I felt it had to be included. As an explorer, you and your team make your way through many dark and dangerous dungeons, collecting treasure and growing stronger alongside each other. In the final chapter of the game, having fought your way through a long and arduous path, attempting to replace the temporal gears to keep the fabric of time from tearing itself to shreds. At the top of the tower, tired and battered, you encounter one final opponent… Primal Dialga. The uncontested toughest battle in any PMD game, this theme embodies equal parts hope and despair, as your quest is almost at an end, though a near-godlike being stands in your way.
#5: Champion Title Defense (Sun & Moon)
Sun and Moon was an interesting addition to the Pokemon franchise, bringing with it quite a few amazing tracks that I just can’t get enough of. The one that really stands out to me, though, is the champion theme. Alola, having never had a Champion before, finally gets one… it’s YOU! But before you can celebrate, you’re challenged to one final battle… Each champion theme in the past has shown off the character and skill of that respective champion. Here, however, the theme celebrates a single trainer… the player themself. The emotions contained within that, combined with the fact that it’s just an amazing song, gets it the #5 slot on this list.
#4: Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre (Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire)
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remade one of my favorite gens of the Pokemon games, adding in Mega Evolution, beautiful graphics, and above all else, a revamp of the soundtrack. One track that really stood out to me, though, was the theme for the Weather trio. Featuring kickbacks in the music that fade in and out the original theme from the Gen 3 games, it’s a remix of the original that absolutely drips with love and pride. Plus, it’s just an awesome sequence altogether.
#3: Champion Cynthia (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum)
The Pokemon League Champion is widely known as the strongest trainer in each region. While each of them has their own strengths, none embodies this pinnacle of power quite like the champion of the Sinnoh league, Cynthia. Regarded by many as the strongest trainer in the Pokemon universe, Cynthia has caused many a player to break down and weep. The sweeping choruses of her theme promise a battle of epic proportions… and BOY, does she deliver.
#2: Champion Iris (Black 2 and White 2)
This pick is a bit of an odd one. I’ve seen this theme get a lot of flak over the years for being too “girly” or “glitzy” for a champion theme, but I disagree. Iris is young. Possibly even younger than the player, Yet, she’s managed to climb the ladder and stand at the pinnacle of the Unova league as the champion. Her theme embodies energy, excitement, and above all else… FUN. Whenever I face down against Iris, this theme puts a big, dumb grin on my face. Don’t get me wrong, her team is tough, but this theme is just so dang much FUN!!!!!
Before I reveal my number 1 pick, i’d like to get a few honorable mentions out of the way. Songs that I absolutely adore, but didn’t quite make the cut for the list. They’re all amazing songs in their own right, but in the end, got shaved from the list. Nevertheless, here they are:
- Lorekeeper Zinnia’s theme from OR/AS, for being totally fantastic and part of one of the best sequences in all of Pokemon
- Archie and Maxie’s themes from OR/AS, for the brilliant use of trumpets and guitar, and just being generally epic in like every way
- Cyrus’ theme from D/P for being exactly what a villain’s theme should be: Diabolical and absolutely epic
- Cheren and Bianca’s theme from B/W for being super bouncy and fun, and because they both made such fantastic rivals.
- Ho-oh’s theme from HG/SS for the amazing use of so many instruments, and for sounding truly legendary.
And now, without any further ado, it’s time for the #1 pick! My choice for the best battle theme from all of Pokemon is:
#1: Dialga and Palkia’s Theme (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum)
This theme is… well, there’s no other word for it. LEGENDARY. Sinnoh has long been known as the land of the pianos, and they put those pianos to good use during this song. Junichi Masuda, director and composer for the Pokemon franchise, has stated that this song was one of the most difficult he’s ever had to compose. With the insane changes to timings, from epic crescendos to deep, brooding melodies, fluctuating in and out, this theme is an absolute musical masterpiece. Sit down, close your eyes, and listen to it, the intertwining tracks, bits and pieces of music strung and woven together into a beautiful, epic tapestry.
While many games have good songs now and then, it’s extremely rare that a game has a track so interesting, so immensely beautiful, that I forget i’m playing a game at all, sitting there with a console in my hands, just drinking in the beautiful music. This is one of those songs, and one of the best examples of it you’ll ever find. The song is so evocative, so charged with intensity, that at times I feel the hair standing up on my neck, and at times even tears welling to the surface. That’s why this is my all time favorite track from the Pokemon franchise.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post. it’s something a bit different from what I usually put out, but it was so fun to go back and listen to so many amazing songs. For reference, yes, I did go back and listen to over 150 battle themes from the Pokemon franchise, from Gen 1 through Gen 7 (and all the sidestory games i’ve played, too), just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I hope you guys aren’t too overwhelmed with the amount of Pokemon content that’s been on my blog lately, it’ll be a few more weeks until i’m finished reviewing each game from Gen 1 to Gen 7, but then i’ll be moving on to a different game franchise.
Anyways, thank you guys so much for reading! I hope you got some enjoyment out of this post, and I especially hope you enjoyed listening to some of these amazing tracks. I really mean it when I say that Pokemon has some of the best music of any video game franchise, and I hope my picks helped back up my claim a bit. Let me know what you guys think of my list, and what some of your favorite battle tracks from the Pokemon series are!