Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and more game music from the Olympics

Square Enix won the opening ceremony.

by Corey Plante and Jen Glennon
Originally Published: 

The 2020 Summer Olympics have officially kicked off in Tokyo, and one of the most epic early surprises is how prominently video game music featured in the opening ceremony.

Did you catch yourself imagining Cloud Strife spinning his Buster Sword as the athletes marched by on your screen? That’s probably because you heard the familiar notes of the Final Fantasy’s “Victory Fanfare,” which has been a staple of the series for decades.

It wasn’t just Final Fantasy. The July 23 event featured memorable music from a number of high-profile Japanese video game franchises, including Dragon Quest, Sonic the Hedgehog, Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and more. While classic role-playing games had a strong showing at the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony, it also included memorable tracks from brawlers, shooters, and sports games.

Here’s a complete list of all 19 game music tracks featured during the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony:

Twitter very quickly figured out a rough track list.

Twitter: YOON

Translations for track titles can vary, but we’ve done our best to offer all relevant versions where applicable with links to YouTube videos for individual tracks. Some of them are orchestral covers, unofficial or otherwise. In other cases, it’ll be the original lofi versions from the classic games.

  1. Dragon Quest - "Introduction: Lotto Theme" / “Erdrick’s Theme”
  2. Final Fantasy - "Victory Fanfare"
  3. Tales of Zestiria / Tales of series - "Sley's Theme-Guru-" / “Sorey’s Theme”
  4. Monster Hunter - "Proof of Hero"
  5. Kingdom Hearts - "Olympus Coliseum"
  6. Chrono Trigger - "Frog Theme"
  7. Ace Combat - "First Flight"
  8. Tales of Series - "Royal Capital-Dignified"
  9. Monster Hunter - "Wind of Departure"
  10. Chrono Trigger - "Robo's Theme"
  11. Sonic the Hedgehog - "Star Light Zone"
  12. Inazuma Eleven - (Pro Evolution Soccer) "eFootball walk-on theme"
  13. Final Fantasy - "Main Theme"
  14. Phantasy Star Universe - "Guardians"
  15. Kingdom Hearts - "Hero's Fanfare"
  16. Gradius (Nemesis) - "01 ACT 1-1"
  17. NieR - "Song of the Ancients"
  18. Saga Series - "Makai Ginyu Poetry-Saga Series Medley 2016"
  19. Soul Calibur - "The Brave New Stage of History"

We’ve also put together a Spotify playlist of these iconic tracks, should you wish to host your very own Parade of Nations from the comfort of your living room:

It was remarkable to see just how well this music paired with the pomp and circumstance of the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony. If you didn’t recognize these tracks from the games of your youth, you could easily have assumed they were bespoke compositions for the Olympics.

As delightful as it was to soak up these classic tunes, one Japanese gaming icon was conspicuously absent from the tracklist: Nintendo.

That means music from Super Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros., and more of the world’s biggest video game franchises wasn’t featured in the July 23 event. It’s unlikely the event organizers forgot about Nintendo — presumably, the company declined to participate. The Osaka-based console-maker is notoriously protective of its IP, and apparently, even the Olympics are no exception.

Here’s hoping we hear the familiar tunes of Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom before the Closing Ceremony on August 8.

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