20+ funkalicious music tracks from video games

We got our groove on and slapped together some of the finest, funkiest tunes ever to grace a video game. 

By Thomas Quillfeldt

Track picks by Joe Caithness, Leon Cox, Mat Ombler, Michiel Kroder, Niklas “El Huervo” Åkerblad, and Ryan Hamann

We had a lot of fun checking out how original video game music intersects with various flavours of jazz, so this time we’re diving into another swinging genre. 

There doesn’t seem to be much more to say about why game makers harness the awesome power of grooviness other than funk is fun, it’s sexy, it gets people geed-up, and it can add a sheen of cool. 

Musically speaking, funk is one of many genres originating from African-American culture that has gone from a well-defined sound (e.g. an emphasis on the first beat of the bar, syncopated/swung rhythms, and driven by bass and drums) to being woven into many other popular genres, including pop, house, hip-hop, and more. 

So put on your star shades, strap on your four string, and let’s take a chronological swing through some of the funkiest tunes from video games.

Our highlights are embedded below, or you can check out this…

YouTube playlist

...which includes a further selection of funky goodness from games old and new, big and small. 

“BGM4” by Yasuhiro Kawakami

Shinobi (arcade; 1987)

Funky like a synth-ninja

Picked by Michiel Kroder of the Cane and Rinse crew.


“Crash Man” by Takashi Tateishi

Mega Man 2 (1988)

Funky like a bomb

Picked by Joe Caithness, mastering engineer.

“We’ve Gotta Do It” by Masanao Akahori

Cybernator aka Assault Suits Valken (SNES, 1992)

Funky like a mech

Picked by Michiel Kroder.

“Ready Funk” by Yuzo Koshiro

Streets of Rage 2 aka Bare Knuckle II: The Requiem of the Deadly Battle (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1992)

Funky like a chicken (in a bin)

Picked by Mat Ombler, games journalist. 

“Mystic Cave Zone” by Masato Nakamura

Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1992)

Funky like a flying fox

Picked by Mat Ombler.

“Funk Funk Funk E” by John Baker

ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1993)

Funky like an earthling in a jar

“Power Games” by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi

Sega Rally Championship (arcade, 1994)

Funky like a slapped E string

Picked by Mat Ombler.

“Title” by Dan Hess

Pilotwings 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996)

Funky like a thermal column

Picked by Leon Cox of the Cane and Rinse podcast crew.

“Short Fuse” by Justin Scharvona

Buck Bumble (Nintendo 64, 1998)

Funky like a house with a (UK) garage

Picked by Mat Ombler.

“Title Theme” by Allister Brimble

Driver: You Are the Wheelman (PlayStation/PC, 1999)

Funky like a set of spinning trim rims

Picked by Leon Cox.

“A Ghost's Pumpkin - Pumpkin Hill Theme” by Tomoya Ohtani & Hunnid-P

Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast, 2001)

Funky like an emerald-wielding echidna

Picked by Mat Ombler.

“Romantic Love” by Masaya Matsuura, RYU (as Chop Chop Master Onion), & Dred Foxx (as Parappa)

PaRappa the Rapper 2 (PlayStation 2, 2001)

Funky like a Tamanegi flava

Picked by Niklas “El Huervo” Åkerblad.

“Funky Akuda Bar” by Christophe Héral

Beyond Good & Evil (multi-platform, 2003)

Funky like a photojournalist

Picked by Niklas “El Huervo” Åkerblad.

“Sport Acapulco” by Man and Birdmen

Tiny & Big in Grandpa's Leftovers (PC, 2012)

Funky like an underground funk band (literally)

Picked by Ryan Hamann of the Cane and Rinse podcast crew.

“A-Mazing Post Pounding” by Tomoya Tomita

Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U, 2015)

Funky like a yarn dinosaur

Picked by Ryan Hamann.

“NuVark - Snow Drift” by  The Otherworld Agency

Obliteracers (multi-platform, 2016)

Funky like vehicular manslaughter

Picked by Ryan Hamann.

“Titanic Monarch Zone Act 2” by Tee Lopes

Sonic Mania (multi-platform, 2017)

Funky like a Hard Boiled Heavy

“Beneath the Mask (New Arrangement)” by Shoji Meguro, Lyn Inaizumi, & Rike Schmalz arr. ACE (TOMOri Kudo / CHiCO)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate/Persona 5 (Nintendo Switch, 2018)

Funky like the Metaverse

Picked by Ryan Hamann.

“BK Squad” by Daniel Koestner & Ben Esposito

Donut County (multi-platform, 2018)

Funky like the Raccoon King

“You Will Never Know” by Bill Kiley

Katana ZERO (multi-platform, 2019)

Funky like a neo-noir assassin

Further listening

Be sure to check out the other tracks on the YouTube playlist, including:

— “The Maker’s Beckoning” by Nobuo Uematsu from Terra Battle

— “Cyber Dance” by Tenpei Sato From Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories

— “Arashi no Saxophone 2 (Arranged)” aka “Stormy Saxophone 2 (Yagami Team Theme)” by Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan from The King of Fighters '96

— “Briefing” by Tim and Geoff Follin from Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge

— “Main Theme” by Atsuko Asahi & Yasuaki Iwata from ARMS 

Of course we've barely scratched the surface of funky game tunes. Let us know your favourite grooves on our Facebook page (article post is here) on Twitter (tweet) or on Instagram (post).

And now...