The Battle for Everyone’s Souls (Nyx Avatar – Persona 3)
The Persona series is well-known for its stellar soundtracks. And this is one of the best video game villain themes you’ll hear in the third installment of the popular JRPG franchise. The Battle for Everyone’s Souls from Persona 3 kicks off this list with a bang.
Death has reached its final form as Nyx Avatar and this metal guitar kicks in to let you know you’re in for a heck of a battle. The way this song balances the heavier parts with lighter piano and then mixes in the velvet room melody will send shivers down any Persona fan’s spine.
Star Wolf’s Theme (Team Star Wolf – Star Fox 64)
There’s no more sinister team of evil-doers in a Nintendo game than the infamous Star Wolf. From launching attacks on defenseless cities to taunting Fox about the way his dad screamed as they killed him, there are no depths too low for these nefarious rogues.
Despite their despicable nature, Star Wolf has one of the best video game villain themes of all time. The main melody gives you a feeling of traveling through space at high speeds while the staccato notes played by the trumpet give you that tension of a high-risk dogfight.
E.G.G.M.A.N (Dr. Robotnik – Sonic Adventure 2)
The Sonic Adventure titles have some of the most distinctive music in gaming and no track is more memorable than E.G.G.M.A.N. It was bold of them to use an iconic line from a Beatles song. But, it certainly worked out and only helped to make this villain theme unforgettable.
Dr. Robotnik isn’t a truly menacing or evil villain, so this somewhat playful theme fits his personality perfectly. On top of that, the mechanical sounds in the intro and the very deliberate drum beats are reminiscent of Robotnik hammering away at another one of his creations.
Hisstocrat’s Theme (Hisstocrat – Super Mario 3D World)
The big band soundtrack from Super Mario 3D World just had one hit after another. However, Hisstocrat’s theme stands out as the best gaming villain theme on the soundtrack.
The swinging trumpets and accompanying drum fill the space with sound. Then, the synthesized bass and melody lines that drop in give it a bit of a playful, almost goofy feeling. In other words, it’s a perfect song for a massive purple snake that wears a royal mantle and crown.
You Have Nowhere to Go (Vol Opt – Phantasy Star Online)
Phantasy Star is one of those franchises that just can’t get enough love. This classic JRPG from Sega is one of the best Dreamcast games of all time. And the music that plays during the battle with the boss Vol Opt is one of the best gaming villain themes you’ll ever hear.
Just imagine being trapped in a cramped room with a massive machine whose sole purpose is to kill you. This track perfectly captures those feelings of simultaneous dread and urgency that you experience during the Vol Opt battle.
Ridley’s Theme (Ridley – Super Metroid)
What’s worse than a giant maniacal fire-breathing space dragon on a mission to destroy you? Absolutely nothing. That’s why Ridley’s theme had no other choice than to be one of the most intense of the best video game villain themes.
There just something about this track that feels frenzied but at the same time like there’s some kind of order behind it. The hurried tempo of the melody gives you a sense of Ridley’s intensity and the bridges mirror his more methodical nature.
Lavos’ Theme (Lavos – Chrono Trigger)
Lavos is evil incarnate. This beast has an insatiable hunger drive to feed on the energy of Earth itself until nothing is left but a husk of a planet. Of course, this hideous creature also has a theme song that is perfect for a villain of this stature.
Nothing is quite more evil or menacing than the foreboding sound of an organ. There’s just something about the sound of this instrument that lets you know some bad stuff is about to go down. Even the strings help to add to the tension with their unpredictable movements between notes.
Ghirahim’s Theme (Ghirahim – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
Ghirahim is a confident villain that might be seen as cocky to some players. Yet, his swordsmanship speaks for itself in all your battles with him in Skyward Sword. He somehow manages to stay composed during some incredibly intense battles, but he occasionally goes off the rails.
The repetitious piano that plays behind the main melody is certainly dark but it also drags to match Ghirahim’s movements in battle. He moves slowly across the battlefield waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. At the same time, the erratic melody reveals Ghirahim’s frenetic nature.
One-Winged Angel (Sephiroth – Final Fantasy 7)
This one just had to be on here. One-Winged Angel is a classic when it comes to video game villain themes. Not only is it a great song, but it also does a fantastic job of letting the player get a better sense of who Sephiroth is. Final Fantasy 7 just wouldn’t be the same without this song.
I will admit that the violins might be a bit on the nose, but they truly let the player know that they should be absolutely terrified of this SOLDIER. The intensity of the choir kicks up the intensity a few notches. All in all, this is a non-stop heart-pounding seven minutes of masterful orchestration.
Battle! Team Plasma (Team Plasma – Pokemon Black/White)
I liked this song so much that it was my ringtone for a little while back in 2011. Team Plasma has some goofy-looking outfits, but they also have a track that more than makes up for how stupid they look. Pokemon has had decades of bad guys, but this is definitely the best theme of the bunch.
The intro to this song is clearly the best part of this song. There’s just something about battle themes in Pokemon that get you hyped up to start battling. This one does that more than any other for me. And the hype from the intro just keeps on carrying throughout to make this song unforgettable.
Boss Fight (Multiple Bosses – Castlevania III Dracula’s Curse)
You can’t talk about great video game villain themes without bringing Castlevania into the mix. This is another one of those franchises that is constantly touted as having some of the best soundtracks out there. The boss theme from Castlevania III is no exception to that rule.
It starts slow as the boss begins to appear and quickly picks up until it reaches full speed. The anticipation that’s built from the intro is paid off in full once the song hits its maximum tempo. The speed and cacophonous sound make you feel uncomfortable and get your heart racing.
Dr. Wily’s Castle (Dr. Wily – Mega Man 2)
Mega Man is a beloved character that sadly has not seen tons of love as of late. Luckily, we can still look back fondly at the glory days of the blue bomber. For example, Dr. Wily’s Castle theme is one of the most recognizable and best video game villain themes out there.
From the start, this track gets you ready to take on the evil Dr. Wily with its relentlessly fast melody. It perfectly matches the gameplay of Mega Man which focuses on constantly moving and shooting just to survive. If this doesn’t get you hyped up to defeat evil, then it’s likely nothing ever will.
King Dedede’s Theme (King Dedede – Kirby Superstar)
Everyone’s favorite little pink puffball, Kirby, is surrounded by tons of classic gaming music. Of course, that means that King Dedede will naturally have one of the best gaming villain themes around.
This theme has an air of playfulness to it even though Dedede is Kirby’s main rival. But, that’s just how the franchise is since its target audience is young gamers. Still, this arrangement is very well-written and is able to get a feeling of conflict across to the audience with a kid-friendly sound.
Blooming Villain (Multiple Bosses – Persona 5)
Again, Persona knocks it out of the park when it comes to gaming villain themes. This time around, it’s just the general boss theme from Persona 5, Blooming Villain. There are tons of great tracks from this game, but this one is just too good to pass up.
For a game soundtrack that is mostly acid jazz, this track stands out with its intense electric guitar. The very heavy portions of the song let you feel the nastiness of the villains you’re fighting. At the same time, the less distorted guitar riff gives the player a feeling of hope in a perilous battle.
Gangplank Galleon (King K. Rool – Donkey Kong Country)
King K. Rool is one of the goofiest-looking baddies out there, but there’s no denying that he has one of the best gaming villain theme songs. If you’re going to jump on his ship, then you better get ready for a fierce battle and even more ferocious instrumentals.
It starts out almost sounding like an old sea shanty tune. Then a little bit of percussion starts to layer on top of that. Before you know it there’s a full rock band dropped on your head. Once the song hits full steam it perfectly matches the intensity of this final encounter with the king of the Kremlings.
Die House (King Dice – Cuphead)
Like many games on the list, this game’s soundtrack is just filled to the brim with one banger after another. I can’t just put 20 Cuphead songs in here so I’ll go with Die House since it’s the most memorable villain theme in the game.
You can almost smell the smoke of an old 1920s lounge as soon as the light drumming and bass kick in here. Then King Dice’s raspy vocals come in and you can see the image of some slimy master warbler with a lit cigar in one hand and whiskey on the rocks in the other.
Koume & Kotake (Twinrova – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Ganondorf is great and all, but I’m willing to posit that Kotake and Koume have the best song in this game. Oracina of Time is a classic title, but this incredible gaming villain theme hardly gets any notice thanks to all the attention the Demon King gets.
The main melody has of a playful yet nefarious sound to it that is perfect for the theme of two witches. Also, the interweaving of the occasional lines of harmony in the main melody act as a way of musically expressing how Twinrova exists as a single witch made of Koume and Kotake.
Nobody Told Me About ID (Cyberdemon – Doom 93)
The Cyberdemon is one of the most iconic bosses of all time. It’s only fitting that this video game villain gets a theme that’s part intense, part haunting. This towering beast doesn’t pull any punches and neither does the song that plays during its level.
The echoing synth at the beginning gives you a feeling of isolation and impending doom. Once the grimy melodic line jumps in you know you’re about to run into something truly terrifying. By the time you reach the drums, it’s just the straight metal that Doom is known and loved for.
Decisive Battle with Magus (Magus – Chrono Trigger)
Yes, it is absolutely necessary to have Lavos’ and Magus’ themes on here because they’re both that good. You can argue which one is the best of the two gaming villain themes. But you can’t go wrong with whichever one you end up choosing.
As the ominous black wind howls in the beginning, it sets the stage for what you just know is going to be a memorable showdown. Then, the sudden tempo jump as soon as the battle begins is just perfect. It’s a masterful example of using music to set up a scene.
The Vital Vitriol (Plague Knight – Shovel Knight)
Plague Knight is probably the most popular bad guy from the Order of No Quarter. And his song, The Vital Vitriol, is one of the best gaming villain themes of all time.
This song is just constantly beating you over the head with sound from every direction. Its melody doesn’t care if it follows some patterns that most people are used to in music. The track is constantly unrelenting madness which perfectly captures who Plague Knight is as a villain.