The Tokyo 2020 Olympics finally kicked off today after being delayed for a year by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its opening ceremony had a surprise for gamers around the world.
Athletes March to Familiar Tunes
As athletes from over 200 countries marched into the Olympic Stadium, spectators at home immediately recognised the dozens of legendary Japanese video game themes. Some of the more prominent ones were ‘‘Roto’s Theme’’ from Dragon Quest and ‘‘Victory Fanfare’’ from Final Fantasy. Fittingly, the Kingdom Hearts ‘‘Olympus Coliseum Theme’’ also played. Seasoned gamers also noticed soundtracks from NieR, Tales Series, Chrono Trigger, Monster Hunter and Sonic.
Here is the full list of video game tracks at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as reported by nikkansports:
- Dragon Quest “Introduction: Roto’s Theme”
- FINAL FANTASY “Victory Fanfare”
- Tales of Series “Sley’s Theme-Guru-“
- Monster Hunter “Proof of Hero”
- Kingdom Hearts “Olympus Coliseum”
- Chrono Trigger “Frog Theme”
- Ace Combat “First Flight”
- Tales of Series “Royal Capital-Dignified”
- Monster Hunter “Wind of Departure”
- Chrono Trigger “Robo’s Theme”
- Sonic the Hedgehog “Star Light Zone”
- Winning Eleven (Pro Evolution Soccer) “eFootball walk-on theme“
- FINAL FANTASY “MAIN THEME”
- Phantasy Star Universe “Guardians”
- Kingdom Hearts “Hero’s Fanfare”
- Gradius (Nemesis) “01 ACT 1-1”
- NieR “Initiator”
- Saga Series “Makai Ginyu Poetry-Saga Series Medley 2016”
- Soul Calibur “The Brave New Stage of History”
The Japan Times started reporting the music live on Twitter during the ceremony. Fan reactions followed shortly, which pushed the subject to the top of Twitter’s trending section.
However, the prominence of the games that had their soundtracks featured only made the absences more noticeable. Namely, no Super Mario Bros. or Legend of Zelda themes were played during the ceremony. Whether it was a voluntary choice from the organisers or whether other issues were at play, we may never know.
All in all, this subtle, but bold choice by the Olympic organisers combined Japan’s nationalist traditions with the modernity of worldwide renowned Japanese video games. In a rare moment, gamers around the world united.
The first full day of Olympic events kicks off this Saturday all the way to August 8th.