Ah, the villain stronghold. Their hideaway. Their trap factory where they plan their many misdeeds. Also the place where the player can expect to lose a lot of lives. From castles, fortresses in the sky, craters and even space stations, this is the bad guy's spotlight edition of Favorite Tunes.
Koopa's Road - Super Mario 64 (N64, DS)
Running towards a huge picture of Princess Peach that slowly morphs into Bowser as you get closer. Before you know, you've fallen for the old trap door trick and you're plunged into Bowser's dark world. Unlike many of the open ended courses you've been playing, Bowser's worlds tend to have more straightforward paths with death all around you. With Super Mario 64 Koji Kondo crafted another winning Mario score with Koopa's Road ranking as one of the best themes to ever be associated with Mario's arch nemesis.
Pete's Castle - The Magical Quest Staring Mickey Mouse (SNES)
I don't know what it is with villains and castles but they just love to use these places as hideouts. I guess it's no surprise that Pete also holds himself up in one as well. Pete has been antagonizing Mickey Mouse since the early days of the mascot's career. He's taken on just about every villain role imaginable. In The Magical Quest, he's a dognapping sorcerer. A bit of trivia. Debuting in 1925, Pete is older than Mickey Mouse by three years as Mickey's first cartoon wasn't aired until 1928.
Exdeath's Castle - Final Fantasy V (SNES, PS)
He may not have the same popularity as Golbez or Kefka, but I've always been quite fond of Exdeath. He has the best villain theme of the entire series (screw Sephiroth) and his castle is positively eerie. Exdeath spends a great deal of his encounters with the heroes merely swatting them aside like insignificant pests. But in one highly memorable scene where he decides the time has come for their lives to end, he shows just how frightening he can truly be.
Castle - New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
When this game was released, it had been more than 10 years since we'd seen Mario in a new 2D platformer. New Super Mario Bros. was designed with the 2D Super Mario Bros. games in mind, with many of it's levels paying homage to Super Mario Bros. 1-3 and Super Mario World. The music wasn't scored by Koji Kondo, but I think Hajime Wakai and Asuka Ota did a fine job giving us new, catchy themes. In particular, I love NSMB's Castle theme. I'm surprised that it didn't get any remix love in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Black Fortress - Bomberma 64 (N64)
Bomberman 64 is no easy game. Much of the game's world's leading up to Black Fortress will make you want to pull your hair out and if you do manage to make it here, you'll be in for some of the toughest challenges this game has to offer. Remember what your parents and teachers told you as a kid? Look both ways before crossing the street. Black Fortress is filled with traffic. If the copious amounts of enemies don't kill you, those buses will.
Judgement Day - Final Fantasy VII (PS, PC)
The final showdown between the heroes and Sephiroth takes place beneath the planet, inside the Northern Crater. If this madman isn't stopped, countless lives will be lost all so Sephiroth can become a god. I think this score is one of Nobuo Uematsu's lesser works but there are a lot of great tracks in Final Fantasy VII. Judgement Day, or The Last Day as it's also known as, doesn't get the attention it so rightly deserves. It's one of the series' best final dungeon themes and really gives you a feeling of "This is it. Everything is on the line."
Last Duel - Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (SNES)
This tune actually plays at the very start of the game. Your party are in their late 70s in levels. The Sinistrals are already stupidly powerful and unless Maxim and company stop them, well, everyone and and planet Earth is screwed. Confused? I was, too when I first started this game as a teen. It seemed strange to have the final confrontation take place at the start of the game. Turns out what seemed like the ending was only the beginning. It was a different, albeit, fantastic way to start off the adventure.
The Castle - Final Fantasy VIII (PS, PC)
After a long and perilous journey, you arrive at Ultimecia's Castle. It has a classy look to it and is quite enormous. The first 24 seconds of this theme has a light, happy feel to it. Then those low organ notes come in, as if to scream in your face, "SUCKER!" I love how this song misleads players, lowering them into a false sense of security. There's a fair bit of complexity to this one and like FFVII's Judgement Day, it's an under-appreciated song. I'm happy to see it was chosen as DLC in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
Castle Theme - Super Mario World (SNES, GBA)
For the most part, I find a lot of castles in Super Mario World to be some of the most devious levels in the game, so this Castle Theme is rather fitting. There's the slow, tense build up that last for nearly a full minute. I usually hate it when a song takes forever to get to the main course, but not a second of this build up is wasted. It all adds to the tense platforming that's present in each castle. The main course is quite good, too.
Deep in Space (Dr. Wily Stage 5) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
There were some questionable Robot Master designs (what Mega Man game doesn't have those?) and some of the weapons were weaksauce (again, there's at least one in every game), but I still loved Mega Man 10. I'm only bummed that Roll didn't go crazy. Missed opportunity, Capcom. Anyway, this is actually a remix of Future World, one of the game's opening themes.
Favorite Tunes Database