There are plenty of aspects that go into a great video game; the story, the art style, and the gameplay are among the first things that come to mind for avid gamers. Arguably one of the most essential components that pushes a game to greatness, however, is its soundtrack.
As a series that’s nearly 20 years old as of this writing, the Pokémon games have some very memorable tunes among fans, and it’s here that we celebrate some of the best songs heard in the series.
Today, we’re stepping into Generation III with Pokémon Emerald, the definitive version of Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire. Unlike Pokémon Crystal, which had only a few new additions to Gen II’s beefy 8-bit soundtrack, Pokémon Emerald brought a lot more songs exclusive to this version in addition to Ruby & Sapphire‘s already stellar soundtrack.
As this soundtrack is one of my personal favourites, it was tough to narrow this list down to just 20 songs; nevertheless, I’ve picked out my absolute favourites – songs that I not only find enjoyable, but also represent how great the soundtrack is.
Nevertheless, let’s look at my personal list of Top 20 Songs from Pokémon Emerald!
Title Screen: Main Theme
Mostly free from the constraints of the original Game Boy’s sound processor, this tune bears many similarities to the theme we know and love but fleshed out with that added verse at the 0:47 mark as well as the closing part of the song beginning at 1:15. You get a sense of a grand adventure that’s about to unfold before you even start the game!
One of my absolute favourite arrangements of the Pokémon Main Theme ever.
Battle! (VS Brendan/May)
In contrast to Pokémon Gold & Silver‘s Rival Battle music, the battle theme that plays when fighting your Rival in Pokémon Emerald is a very upbeat a song that represents your relationship with Brendan or May in the adventure. You’re in a competition with a friend, trying to prove your strength to another strong Pokémon Trainer, but they’re not a total jerk like your Rival in previous Pokémon games.
The music for Slateport City perfectly fits the bustling port town to a “T.” This absolutely catchy theme captures the essence of a town that not only prospers on friendly commerce and neighbouring beach fare, but also on the development of ocean travel and its port town. The bells that dot the early parts of the song are a real nice touch as well.
While the earlier Routes in the game are very docile, laid-back themes that practically ease you into the start of your journey, Route 110’s theme signifies your start as a true adventurer. No longer are you just walking through grassy plains or backyard woods, but you’re hiking towards mountains, volcanoes, and even deserts on your journey through Hoenn.
As you travel towards Fallarbor Town, you enter what looks like a snow-covered landscape. Dirty snow, even.
Except that’s not snow.
The falling ash from Mt. Chimney coats the surrounding landscape as this unique theme plays. It’s a different kind of location than you’re used to, and the music reflects this change into terrain that’s familiar yet slightly odd. It’s not unsettling, but the place has its sort of weird charm – an atmosphere that resonates deeply with this pleasant theme.
Capturing the essence of a quiet little village behind the mountains, Verdanturf Town’s theme is carried by a soothing piano and flute melody that really helps set the perfect tone for a town known for its clean air and relaxed atmosphere.
Battle! (VS Gym Leader)
Harking back to the same tone of music found during the Gym Leader battles of Pokémon Red & Blue, the Gym Leader battle theme from Pokémon Emerald helps solidify the idea that you’re not fighting evil villains, but powerful trainers in a friendly (but fierce) competition to prove yourself worthy of a Gym Badge.
Once you crossed that lake to the East of Mauville City, you were greeted with this adventurous tune. Kick-starting the second half of your journey in style, Route 119’s theme conveys this sense of a great adventure as you step into the wilderness of Hoenn, encountering rougher terrain and stronger Pokémon as you make your way further North.
Battle! (VS Team Aqua/Magma Leaders)
Archie and Maxie, the leaders of Team Aqua and Team Magma respectively, prove themselves to be formidable Pokémon Trainers. The strong emphasis of both the trumpet and the bassline do wonders to invoke the idea that you’re not fighting childish opponents, but battle-hardened foes with fierce ambition.
While it won’t be until Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire that we see a fully fleshed-out Archie and Maxie, this battle theme totally captures their determination and ferocity as tough opponents.
Considering a good portion of your journey is spent sailing the ocean with your Pokémon using Surf, it’s important for that ability to have a theme that does’t get grating after extended periods. Fortunately, Pokémon Emerald‘s Surf theme fits the bill for being a nice, relaxing song you can easily listen over and over again (or until the 800th Tentacool you encounter pushes you over the edge).
Cave of Origin
First heard in Meteor Falls, the Cave of Origin theme invokes a feeling of majestic mystery. This is a cave theme that invokes a sense of grandeur, like you’re uncovering the ancient dwelling of a mystical creature and not the home of a billion Zubat and Geodude.
Arguably one of the absolute best cave themes in the series.
If Route 119’s theme was all about your journey through the second half of your adventure, then Route 120’s music signifies a “final push” to your adventure. Whether you’re trekking through a terrible storm past Fortree City or wandering along the scattered isles as you make your way towards the easternmost parts of Hoenn, it’s as if this final Route theme is saying “your quest is almost over, now give it all you got!”
Battle! (VS Regirock/Regice/Registeel)
It was a long and arduous process, but your efforts have paid off: you’re about to challenge one of the legendary golems of Hoenn.
This unique battle theme reminds you that you’re not battling ordinary Pokémon, nor mystical birds or the like. You’re trying to capture ancient stone beasts from time immemorial, and they’re not going down without a fight.
This is it – the final test before entering the Pokémon League. A cave full designed to push you to your limits as you solve puzzles and clash against Hoenn’s strongest Pokémon Trainers just outside the doorsteps of the Elite Four, Victory Road is not to be trifled with. This song helps cement this idea that you’re marching through the absolute toughest parts of Hoenn, totally contrasting with other Route themes and cave themes that proceeded it.
If you listen carefully, you can hear elements of the Pokémon Main Theme within this song.
Battle! (VS Elite Four)
Pokémon Emerald is filled to the brim with amazing battle themes, and the Elite Four battle theme is no exception. While the music sets the tone for a downright fierce battle, the chorus at the 0:43 mark reminds you once again that you’re not up against bad guys, but incredibly tough Pokémon Trainers proving themselves of being the best (much like yourself).
You’ve entered the Battle Frontier, an isle hosting the world’s strongest Pokémon Trainers and the most difficult battles set before you in all of Hoenn. The majesty that this theme exudes is a reminder that you’ve entered a place that prides the glory of battle over all.
Before you set out to take on these grueling and somewhat unorthodox challenges to prove your prowess as a Pokémon Champion, take in the music as you wander the Battle Frontier, and realize how far you’ve come from your simple beginnings at New Bark Town.
Surprisingly, the Battle Tower theme is slightly different in Pokémon Emerald than it is in Ruby & Sapphire. Ultimately, I feel this rendition wins out because of its more eloquent composition, especially the piano segment first heard at the 0:16 mark. Regardless of what version of this song you prefer from original Hoenn video games, they’re all wonderful renditions of the original Battle Tower theme first introduced in Pokémon Crystal.
A tune with a very distinct flavour from the Far East, the Battle Arena’s theme really helps cement this feeling like you’re in an intense old-school martial arts competition. The use of traditional Japanese musical instrument samples really creates a theme unlike anything else heard in the whole game.
Battle! (VS Frontier Brain)
More challenging than any Gym Leader or member of the Elite Four, the Frontier Brains of Hoenn’s Battle Frontier are among the absolute toughest Pokémon Trainers in all of Pokémon Emerald. Rather than play an ominous musical theme to scare you off, however, this song practically trumpets you into battle – signalling you to charge forth and give it all you got.
Unlike the more upbeat melodies found in the ending songs of previous titles, the Ending Theme of Pokémon Emerald is a much softer song. That doesn’t mean it’s any less wonderful though, as it signals the end of an incredibly journey through Hoenn with a tune that helps you wind down from the intensity of battle while simultaneously praising your victory as a new Pokémon Champion.
Though I feel these are among the very best tunes from Pokémon Emerald, every song resonates differently with everyone. What are some of YOUR favourite songs from the original adventures in Hoenn? Leave a comment below!