Video game music is a topic we’re passionate about here at Nintendo Life, and we’re certainly not alone. We ran an entire season of interviews and features on the topic last year, and it’s one of the subjects always sure to fire up enthusiasm at the office.
It’s not surprising really. Great music wherever you find it has a way of transporting you and firing up long-dormant memories. And with many video games you spend many hours absorbing the audio — no wonder the best melodies get lodged in the mind!
The Nintendo Switch has a wide and varied catalogue of games with an equally expansive selection of great music. In this feature — and the lovely Felix’s accompanying video above — we’ve selected just 10 Switch games that we think have particularly spectacular soundtracks. That’s 10 of the best, not the 10 best soundtracks on Switch!
Obviously, with so much aural love on this hybrid console, we could have gone on forever. If you enjoy this list and Felix’s video, be sure to let us know — we’d love nothing more than to turn this into ‘Part 1’ of an ongoing series!
So, come with us now as we get lost in music, caught in a trap, no turning back, etc. Sit back and enjoy — in no particular order — some absolute bangers…
Publisher: StudioMDHR / Developer: StudioMDHR
Cuphead is a game where the aesthetic truly shines, with its take on classic cartoons transitioning beautifully to the visuals and the gameplay. The soundtrack is a huge part of the experience as well, with live performances and jazzy beats beautifully capturing the action. The compositions have an authentic feel and some of the tracks may loop around in your head long after you’ve taken down this game’s varied foes.
In terms of Indie games that have truly impacted and shaped the gaming scene, Undertale is right up there. It’s visually intriguing, and its approach to the RPG genre and storytelling has captured many imaginations. Like much of the game the soundtrack was created by Toby Fox, and has become so beloved and respected that they’ve since produced work for mainline Pokémon titles, for example.
If you haven’t played Undertale, we’d bet money you’ve nevertheless heard its music anyway.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo SPD
The inclusion of the soundtrack from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would have perhaps seemed unlikely when the game launched. For all of the acclaim directed at the game, not all appreciated the understated piano-led music and environmental composition. As a series renowned for iconic melodies and high intensity arrangements, the approach here was entirely different.
As the years have passed, though, appreciation has grown for the technical approach to the music in the game, and its beauty. If you want to hear a soundtrack that perfectly fits a game, this is a good place to start.
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Publisher: CD Projekt Red / Developer: CD Projekt Red
The trilogy of Witcher games is an incredible achievement, but for many the big focus and source of inspiration is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. An enormous RPG with a sense of scale that seems downright crazy to play on a little Switch, it’s a big-budget effort that delivers on a true ‘triple-A’ scope.
The soundtrack also benefited from the attention to detail and focus on performance. It features terrific compositions performed by a live orchestra, and it’s a vital part of the adventure.
Publisher: Team Cherry / Developer: Team Cherry
Hollow Knight is one of the most iconic Indie games of the last five years, a carefully crafted Metroidvania with a memorable aesthetic and world design. Many have fallen in love with the various areas of the world, while strong enemy design is also key to its immersive nature.
The music is also a standout, with the quality exceptionally high not just in term of the melodies but also the production. Incredible considering the Indie status of the game, it’s a beautiful soundtrack that isn’t easily forgotten.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Splatoon is not just one of Nintendo’s biggest successes as a new IP in the last decade, but is also entirely distinctive in the industry. A shooter where there’s greater reward for controlling territory than splatting foes, its sequel Splatoon 2 continued the legacy on Switch with a fun campaign and excellent online play.
One of Nintendo’s biggest triumphs with the series, though, is the music. A quirky sound fully aligned with the games’ lore, it’s hugely popular – especially in Japan. Live concerts and album pressings are common for this series.
Publisher: Whippoorwill / Developer: Adam Robinson-Yu
A Short Hike is more than just a pretty experience, it’s the sort of game that sticks long in the memory. Though theoretically short in length, it’s a title full of diversions and opportunities to explore, with writing and world-building that’ll encourage you to swoop through the whole world.
Its dream-like visuals are accompanied brilliantly by its soundtrack, which is full of pleasing and Summery tones. A lovely main theme has plenty of variations, while guitar and piano-led tunes perfectly setup key aspects of gameplay.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons became the game of 2020, capturing the zeitgeist in a year of unique challenges. Its blend of island life, socialising and undeniable charm won over millions of Switch owners, and plenty of us are still playing to this day.
Its music continues to delight, too. From the main themes, through to seasonal occasions and a full suite of unique tracks from K.K. Slider, it’s absolutely packed with wonderful tracks.
Publisher: Matt Makes Games / Developer: Matt Makes Games
Celeste has been one of the most influential Indie games of recent years. Its visuals are immediately arresting, while it offers a fiendish level of challenge for those seeking the credits and also all those extras. It’s also earned many fans for its earnest and emotive storytelling, with plenty of depth to the tale as you seek the top of the mountain.
Lena Raine’s soundtrack is key to the story beats, of course, with its tones perfectly matching the setting and visuals. This is a game truly best enjoyed with a pair of headphones.
Sadly no longer on the market, this collection brings together three fantastic games — Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. All offer very different takes on the classic 3D Mario formula, with soundtracks that also act as reflections of their respective eras.
Super Mario 64 has plenty of tracks that may have similar vibes to the 2D platformers that came before, but with a new sense of depth to the sound courtesy of the Nintendo 64’s capabilities. Super Mario Sunshine went all in with its tropical island setting, while also upping the stakes for boss encounters. Super Mario Galaxy, memorably, saw Nintendo take the step into fully orchestrated music, with the production and compositions setting a new standard.
So there you are! Let us know below which of these game soundtracks you enjoy the most and which games you’d like to see featured in a potential ‘Part Deux’…