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Leitmotif game music soundtracks


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I'm curious as to how many game soundtracks employ this technique in most or all of the tracks. You guys can mention your favorite "examples" that don't necessarily cover all of the game's music.

So, here are the games I know of that fully use motifs in most if not all of its music:

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Yoshi's Island DS

I love what all these games did with the music. Even though it's just one or two recurrent themes, the variety is just incredible. I think Crisis Core is my absolute favorite out of them 'cause it implements a lot of live instruments like violins and guitars.

As for some small examples that don't cover the whole game, Diddy Kong Racing DS comes to mind. The "Race Results" track sounds different depending on the level's theme. Motoi Sakuraba also uses a lot of motifs in his tracks regardless of the game. A couple of stuff in Eternal Sonata, for example, really remind me of his work with Baten Kaitos.

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I absolutely love when games do this, I didn't know it had a real name besides 'reoccurring theme'. Even though Smash Brothers Brawl went a bit overboard with it, it was still pretty neat to hear the same song in so many styles

I don't know if it counts, but I liked how the music at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts (Destati?) was pretty much like the 'End of the World' themes, connecting the beginning and end like that it's pretty nice.

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I love leitmotifs but I can't think of any solid example of a videogame that VERY effectively used them. Apart from maybe as Moseph said Super Mario World and a bunch of other mario games.

Could one consider the "dynamic music" in Banjo-Kazooie as this?

BK was the first game to come to my mind as well.

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Final Fantasy IX uses this in a couple ways that I can think of off the top of my head:

The Overworld theme "Just over those Hills," "At the South Gate Border," "Garnet's Theme," and the ending vocal song "Melodies of Life" all share the same melody.

The title screen song "The Place I'll Return to Someday," "Oeilvert," "A Transient Past," "Ipsen's Heritage," and "The Four Mirrors" all share the same melody (but certainly not instruments!) as well.

Going down the list, there were actaully more songs that shared melodies than I realized now that I've bothered to write them all out. Well, there you have it!

May be some others on the FFIX Plus! OST (in fact I can almost guarantee there are), but I'm much less familiar with the tracks on that album.

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Final Fantasy VI did it to a degree (most notably with the themes used for Terra and Celes).

Tales of Symphonia does it a fair bit as well. Lloyd, Colette, Raine, Zelos, Kratos and Mithos each have (at least) two versions of their themes (used in different emotional context), there are four verions/variations to the Derris-Kharlan theme (Appear, Fear, Shine, Requiem), two versions of the Last Battle tracks (Will and Decision) and then the House of Salvation/Guidance and Heimdall/Exire themes...

While a lot of recent Sonic games have been less than stellar (if not worse), the music's usually pretty good, and they also use themes this way. SA2 had menu versions of Live and Learn (I think Shadow the Hedgehog also used a short piano version of it) and its chao theme appeared in several variations around the garden. The disaster known as Sonic the Hedgehog 06 had acoustic and orchestral-themed versions of His World (the final battle one was a pretty sweet track IMO).

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Wario Land II.

Mario Land 2 and Super Mario World are leitmotif incarnate. While Mario Land 2 maybe went a bit overboard, it was certainly a tremendous acheivement. But Super Mario World perfected it.

I also thought Donkey Kong 64's handling of motifs was pretty cool. The overworld map had the same melody throughout, but always changed depending on which part of the world you were on (just like Diddy Kong Racing 64's overworld). Then each level would have its own new melody, and the song would change drastically in different parts of the level. Heck, I think the boss themes even had the same melody as the level.

Am- am I just describing exactly what they did in Banjo-Kazooie?

Also I've been meaning to point out these things here for a while, but never got around to it:

1) The title screen in Ocarina of Time has the melody of the "warp whistle" theme from the first Zelda and Super Mario Bros 3. But you probably already knew that.

2) You know that small town in Twilight Princess with the guy who sells bombs? I can't remember the name of the town, but it's at the right edge of this map:



(The map's from the GameCube version, so East and West are reversed; confused the heck out of me!)

[Fake Edit] It's Kakariko Villiage, duh! :<

Anyway, the town's theme starts off with a couple bars from the recognizable Kakariko Villiage theme from past Zelda games - but then, to me at least, the rest sounds like a liberal rearrangement of the Dark World theme from Link to the Past. Am I crazy? Also, what about this song stuff I'm rambling on about?

(You might not start to hear the resemblance until 0:54)



(both good songs by the way)

One thing I don't get though: Twilight Princess did a great job of sticking together several songs with one melody in the Hyrule Market. They also had the whole "the main theme is in every friken song" thing going on, which worked pretty nicely. But their implementation of the battle music was simply horrid! I won't even start about how the enemies were easy as shit, but every time you so much as walked by one, some unfitting battle song would suddenly start up out of nowhere. And it's the SAME SONG for everywhere in the whole game (except maybe there was a second one for Hyrule Field). And it wasn't even a good song! This was excusable in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, but then they do it again (badly) in Windwaker, and again (even more badly) in Twilight Princess.... get with the times, Nintendo!! IMO music programming in the vast majority of games is severely lacking. Same with the stiff robotic crowd in every Smash Bros. iteration, what the hell?? We need to look back at games that did dynamic music right *coughSystemShock2cough* [/rant]


Goldeneye was a James Bond game made by Rare for the N64 - I wonder if it had multiple songs with the same motif anywhere in it?? Nah, probably not.

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Yoshi's Story is one of the most blatant examples I can think of, if it has't been mentioned already. And yeah Mario Land 2 is aswell... perhaps totaka has a thing for them.

Saga Frontier II is another good example. But as noted, most soundtracks use it to some extent. I know one that didn't - Secret of Mana. I think only two or three tracks share the same theme.

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Final Fantasy VI did it to a degree (most notably with the themes used for Terra and Celes).

Actually, each character and major factions theme is used to represent them in FFVI -- Kefka becomes the most obvious example IMO, followed by the girls and Locke (who has a minor variation of his theme as Rachel's song, further tying the two together).

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