Ah boss themes…the climax of any given playthrough of a game. They become the rallying cry of your journey to vanquish your foe or the faint whispering in the back of your head that you may be out of your league. Boss music often leaves us with a sense of courage or dread as we enter into that moment where our skills will be tested like none before and Mega Man X is a series filled with bosses mind you. One could actually say that is pretty much most of what the formula for a Mega Man game is. And what is pivotal in getting you into either a sense of dread or excitement when facing a boss? Well it’s true that the gameplay and pattern is a factor, but it’s also the music. The boss battle music to me is a crucial part of why some bosses are memorable and Mega Man X has a great selection of music for that very purpose. So let’s get to my top 10 Mega Man X Vs themes!
WARNING that there will be spoilers for the Mega Man X series. Even though these should be well known by now, might as well put out a precaution because I’d rather not get “Oh I didn’t know you fight “insert villain here””. You have been mildly warned.
10. Shadow Devil – Mega Man X5
Shadow Devil is a remake of the Yellow Devil from the original Mega Man games. Immediately hearing the music you realize that indeed darkness has returned. The organ composition is intoxicating as this harmoniously somber theme plays over a battle of endurance and reflexes. The Shadow Devil, much like its predecessor, is a decently tough boss fight for the uninitiated and this theme easily reminds you from the get go what you will be up against. And it’s not pretty…
9. VS Boss – Mega Man X8
This is the only normal boss theme I have on my list and that is because it is the only boss theme with an appropriate guitar riff and mood to sell me on being intimidated by what’s in front of me. A lot of the boss themes in Mega Man X games are good but not memorable, X8’s theme creates an intense mood straight from the beginning and continues throughout the fight. You feel like you are locked in a fight to the death with whichever maverick you fight.
8. Gate – Mega Man X6
There is something about Gate’s theme that I could never get out of my head. It is a tad bit repetitive, kind of like his battle mind you, but even then it engrained itself into my mind as a child. The first moment I heard this theme I began to get a bit jittery, I began to realize that I was close to beating the game. Yet as the song gets higher…I start to realize that Gate is getting further and further out of my reach as my inability to defeat his boss battle still hovers over me to this day. And it’s whenever I listen to that boss theme that the feeling of helplessness and inferiority comes back to me. Is it the experience or is it the song? I don’t know but still to this day I dread going back to the first Mega Man X game I had played because of it.
7. Conclusion vs. Sigma Final – Mega Man X7
The only theme I feel worth mentioning in Mega Man X7, and where this list starts to get difficult for me. This is the final fight against Sigma in X7 and…oh boy does it create a great atmosphere. Yes technically it is ridiculous to fight Sigma above the Earth and his huge new body looks bigger than the Earth itself in moments. It is not the best boss fight, but arguably one of the best moments and culminations of a Mega Man X game. It all comes together due to the gravitas of his boss theme. It’s loud and orchestral sound gets you swept away in the moment of having to fight what seems to be like a titan. Where Sigma feels like he has transcended higher than he ever has before in scale. This is the battle that has you fighting in space and you feel ever moment of it through its visual presentation and musical accompaniment. Yes X7 is not a good game, but I have to give props where it’s due and this final boss theme is just too good to pass up.
6. Epsilon 1st and 2nd Movement – Mega Man X Command Mission
The only Mega Man X RPG, Command Mission should easily have some of the better music from the franchise because the RPG genre is well known for its terrific music. Epsilon’s first and second movements are the final battle you desire against the maverick you have been hunting from the beginning. You have lost, felt betrayed and could easily see this maverick as the cause of it all. This theme of Epsilon encapsulates all of your feelings you should feel towards him. There is a sense of intimidation, a sense of hopeful idealism with the higher notes, a sense of finality with the second movement. The faster it picks up in the second movement the direr the situation feels. It creates that singular moment you have been playing hours upon hours for and I would say this theme does deliver in the moment.
5. Dynamo – Mega Man X5
Dynamo is the brash, cocky, and level-headed mercenary you face off against in X5 and X6 and his theme expresses that beautifully. It is like this cavalcade of narcissism that you can hear from the uniqueness of his theme comparatively to others. He feels superior and often refers to both sides as too hot when in battle, so this theme aptly describes his feelings. I feel like after seeing his character model, his portrait and this theme you can get a good understanding of who Dynamo is. For a boss theme that is distinctly about said boss, this is probably one of the best in terms of personality (and its just such a catchy theme to fight to).
4. VS Vile – Mega Man X8
As much as I like Vile’s original theme in Mega Man X, X8’s rendition feels like it instills life back into Vile as a character. The song is more fleshed out due to it actually being able to showcase more variety in sound and not being limited by the SNES’ capabilities in regards to music composition. Albeit Mega Man X always pushed those boundaries with some amazing tracks. X8’s theme for Vile feels rebellious as the main guitar riff completely deviates from the starting beat and from that moment on it feels as if the instruments are competing with one another for supremacy. That fits Vile’s M.O. to a T. The rambunctious and overzealous ex-maverick hunter who turns his back on good to settle a score. It creates this feeling of both cockiness and determination that I love from the character.
3. Iris – Mega Man X4
This is the only theme where one could probably feel a sense of despair while fighting the boss. Iris’s theme is one devoid of the same intensity as previous bosses in the X series. Instead the entire fight feels like a cry for help and this melancholy accompaniment certainly sells the emotional impact Zero has while fighting Iris. It feels like Iris is breaking in two due to her loyalty to her brother and her love for Zero forcing her to be torn. While the voice acting for the English dub is notoriously bad, this one fight and theme accurately displays all the emotions you should have felt at this point in the game. Where you should be torn about fighting Iris and how this fight is not one that ends in a pleasant sense of satisfaction.
2. X vs Zero – Mega Man X5
Oho if you know Mega Man X, then you knew this song needed to be on this list. This is the moment that kind of defined X5 for some fans. The moment where you finally get to face off against your partner. This battle easily towers over many other boss fights especially due to the stakes at hand, yet what pushes it over the edge is this battle theme. It is hard hitting rock that infuses you with this sense of aggression and raw emotion. It is hard to really sell someone on this boss theme without them experiencing holding a controller in their hand and taking on your opposite. It is the near perfect culmination of emotion and adrenalin into a boss theme remembered still to this day as many people’s favourite Mega Man X song.
1. VS Lumine The First & Second Form – Mega Man X8
Remember when I said there is gravitas to the theme of Sigma’s final form in X7? Well let’s just say that Lumine’s first form’s theme creates this sense of dread much better with its accompaniment. Everything about this boss music and its two phases embodies the elements I loved talking about in this list, which is the emotional draw and the personality. Lumine’s final boss theme is two parts of an amazing fight. You have the magnanimous Lumine who lords over his superiority towards you in the first part and when he was pushed back to the brink we have the desperate and erratic soundtrack that hypes you up for a final fight much like X vs Zero did. This composition and how it is the final boss fight of all the mainstay Mega Man X games, truly stands alone due to its great music. It is memorable not only because it is a good boss fight, difficult but effective, but also because it creates the perfect environment for a final boss. This is the last bastion of Sigma’s will, the last fight we know of that X endures through in the main franchise. And it certainly delivers one great boss theme.
The first top 10 list for the Mega Man X marathon was certainly one I had to put more time into than I thought. Originally I thought it would be easy, until I started listening to some themes again and got stuck on my order. What I wanted from a boss theme was certainly something I needed to find as well. Hopefully the top 10s in the future will be a bit easier to do.
So what is your favourite boss theme in gaming? What do you look for in the music when fighting a boss? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a fantastic day!