Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most beloved gaming franchises of all time. Pokemon has held a special place in gamers’ hearts for two decades now. One of the most loved things about these games is, of course, their soundtracks. To celebrate the oncoming anniversary, here are 20 songs from throughout the franchise’s history reimagined by gamers who also happen to be really talented musicians!
This is by no means any sort of top 20 list, just some of my own personal favorites. I mean, how do you rank this stuff? From rock to metal to electronic to jazz, it’s hard to compare. Enjoy!
Title Theme (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - FamilyJules7x
The opening title theme for the original set of Pokemon games is one of the most iconic songs in gaming. The epic, aggressive opening leads into a soaring melody that gets you pumped up! YouTube sensation FamilyJules7x transformed this track into a rockin’ metal tune that just turns up the energy level to 11. He throws in a nice little solo in there for good measure.
Mt. Pyre (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) - Smooth McGroove
Smooth McGroove makes awesome a capella arrangements of video game songs. My personal favorite Pokemon track of his is this amazing rendition of the often overlooked Mt. Pyre theme from the third generation Pokemon games. It just has this really neat feel to it.
Battle! Champion Lance/Red (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal) - ToxicxEternity
The champion battle theme from the second generation is one of the most spectacular Pokemon tracks of them all. It’s just so epic. Know what else is epic? Metal! ToxicxEternity put together this heavy arrangement of the music that plays when you face off against the Indigo League champion Lance as well as Red, the player character from the first generation.
Psychic Encounter Medley (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) - insaneintherainmusic
Back in 2014, insaneintherain music put out a whole album, a jazz tribute to the third generation Pokemon games, entitled Back to Your Littleroots. One of the standout tracks is this jazzy as hell medley of the “Look!” theme for the Psychic trainer type, the trainer battle theme, and the battle victory theme.
Battle! Champion Cynthia (Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) - LittleVMills (feat. Aaron Lang)
I’m not gonna lie, the music of the fourth generation games just wasn’t very memorable to me, except for a few tracks, one of them being the awesome battle music for the Sinnoh League champion, Cynthia. LittleVMills put together this epic and melodic metal cover laced with some electronic elements and it is just so good.
Route 3 (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - Ace Waters
Ace Waters makes excellent ambient electronic covers of video game music. One of my personal favorites is one of his few Pokemon songs. He just layers on so many different tracks of sound while also staying true to the original chiptune, even going so far as to rig up a Gameboy for the true chiptune experience.
Pokemon Center (Every Pokemon Game) - CSGuitar89
CSGuitar89 did something cool with his rock cover of the Pokemon Center theme; he rigged up his guitar so that it could emulate a chiptune sound for the intro before transitioning into his usual melodic rock/metal style. The tones a crisp, clear, and will make you smile.
Abandoned Ship (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) - Pokemon Reorchestrated
A tragedy occured several weeks ago when Pokemon Reorchestrated’s YouTube page got shut down due to copyright infringement notices. So I had to dig this one up on Soundcloud. Pokemon Reorchestrated has actually put out two versions of this song. My personal favorite is the version on the Double Team! album which features an amazing strings and piano arrangement that just gives me chills. It still has the same sense of mystery and wonder as the original but it’s just a little darker. This is easily one of the best songs from the third generation games.
Route 113 (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) - RichaadEB
Route 13 is another often overlooked gem from the third generation. RichaadEB arranged what might be my favorite version of this song. It’s so melodic, so proggy, so beautiful, so skillful.
Battle! Lysandre (Pokemon X/Y) - ToxicxEternity (feat. ThunderScott)
This cover is just soooo heavy. It just makes you wanna headbang. The battle theme for the boss of Team Flare in the sixth generation games was pretty funky sounding, in a good way, but these two dudes made it metal as hell. It’s got really groovy bass and rhythm guitars layered with dual lead guitars. So good.
Azalea Town (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal) - XatoDrum
XatoDrum usually does drum covers of songs, but his channel features a few really well done acoustic renditions of video game songs. Azalea Town has such a beautiful theme, and this acoustic guitar/acoustic bass cover perfectly captures what I always envisioned in my head as a kid. The fourth generation remakes got it wrong.
Pokemon Tower (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - FamilyJules7x
I absolutely adore the Pokemon Tower theme from the original games. It’s somber, it’s spooky, it’s haunting. FamilyJules7x stayed true to that mood while also making it super metal. This cover is just so freaking epic in every sense of the word. The chilling guitar melodies, the solo, the shredding, the everything!
Pyrite Town / The Under (Pokemon Colosseum) - insaneintherainmusic
During the third generation, we got our first taste of Pokemon on a console. A lot of people didn’t particularly like the direction they went with it, but damn if Pokemon Colosseum didn’t have damn good music. Pyrite Town and The Under had amazing jazzy themes. insaneintherainmusic may have made them even jazzier, if such a thing is possible.
Battle! Gym Leader/Elite Four (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - RichaadEB
RichaadEB usually gets really proggy with his covers, but this cover of the original gym leader battle music is a straightforward, fast-paced headbanger!
National Park (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal) - FamilyJules7x
The National Park theme from the second generation games is a really amazing track, and FamilyJules7x did wonders with it! The slow, clean intro feeds into a soaring piece of melodic rock that’s just so full of emotion.
Battle! Trainer (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - The Consouls
Australian jazz band The Consouls slow things down with a chilled out jazz rendition of the original trainer battle theme. This is a pretty unique spin on this song and I love it.
Kalos Power Plant / Pokeball Factory (Pokemon X/Y) - ToxicxEternity
This theme was sort of just kind of ambient in the sixth generation games, but ToxicxEternity turned it on it’s head with this reinterpretation. It’s got a constant groove throughout and it never lets up. It’s so different from the original but it’s still amazing.
N’s Farewell (Pokemon Black/White) - insaneintherainmusic
This piece from the fifth generation games is a real beauty. There’s just so much emotion to it, and insaneintherainmusic really captured it with this piano cover.
Battle! Champion Blue (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow) - LittleVMills (feat. FamilyJules7x)
So, you reached the end the first generation games, and, surprise, your rival is the champion! Now you must face off! It was quite the awesome surprise back in the day and it had a pretty awesome theme too! LittleVMills threw together this awesome and epic cover with a guest-shred from FamilyJules7x!
Try to Catch a Few (Pokemon Anime Opening Parody) - SmoothMcGroove & Dookieshed
To wrap up this list, we move away from the games for this amazing parody of the opening for the English dub of the Pokemon anime. SmoothMcGroove teamed up with YouTuber Dookieshed to bring us this tribute to the random trainers that get wasted by the player character on their journey to be the very best that no one ever was.
I was only 3 years old when the first Pokemon games came out in Japan, and 5 when they finally hit the US. Pokemon Red was the first video game I ever played and all these years later it still hold a special place in my heart. I grew up with Pokemon, I abandoned Pokemon when I felt I was too old for it, but Pokemon found me again in college, and now, at 23, Pokemon in once again one of my favorite game franchises. Thanks Pokemon for 20 years of amazing games! Here’s to 20 more! I know I’ll be playing ya when I’m 43!