Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today, we’re looking at what I think is the best boss battle theme in modern history.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (playlist / longplay) is an incredible game that arguably improves on its beloved predecessors shifting to a turn-based battle system. But in its new turn as a role-playing game, Like a Dragon needed to get one thing right (apart from the combat, of course): its battle music. While I’m not a big enough Yakuza fan to compare this game’s full soundtrack to previous entries in the franchise, I can say that Like a Dragon contains an absolute banger of a boss battle theme in “Cold-Blooded.”
Sega / Hai Dudu (YouTube)
“Cold-Blooded” first appears several hours into Like a Dragon during a pivotal fight in the game’s over-arching storyline. There weren’t a lot of boss battles in Like a Dragon up to that moment, so this fight was perhaps one of the most emotional I’d encountered thus far. That’s because this track also serves as the character theme for Akira Mabuchi, a conniving gangster who killed an associate of the main party with the hopes of setting off a turf war in the fictional Japanese district of Ijincho.
After chasing the minor villain through all kinds of shenanigans for what feels like a week, Like a Dragon protagonist Ichiban Kasuga and his allies eventually get a chance to throw hands with Mabuchi himself. I was pretty pumped to bodyslam the douchebag into next week, and “Cold-Blooded” felt like a direct affirmation from veteran Yakuza composer Hidenori Shoji and his team of the exhilaration I felt at finally being able to channel all my frustration into knocking his lights out.
“Cold-Blooded” itself is everything you want from backing music to an energetic boss battle. It opens with blaring horns before shifting into a frenetic club beat, completed by an obnoxious melody that perfectly suits Mabuchi’s demeanor. It feels almost like a rollercoaster, constantly climbing and dropping, ebbing and flowing much like the way a typical Like a Dragon encounter might go from taxing to celebratory with one smart move. “Cold-Blooded” made beating the crap out of Mabuchi that much sweeter.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music! How does today’s track compare to your favorite boss battle theme? Sound off in the comments!