Tokyo 2020: Gamers React to Video Game Medley at the Olympics Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games featured a compilation of classic video game soundtracks to welcome its athletes to the stadium.

Which Video Game Soundtracks Were Played in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

The parade of countries was accompanied by an orchestral medley of songs from famous Japanese titles. The rearrangement included motifs from iconic franchises like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Chrono Trigger, Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest to name but a few.

Thanks to Twitter user @osasai, we have a full list of every piece of music that was featured in the segment.

  • Dragon Quest: "Introduction: Loto's theme"
  • Final Fantasy: "Fanfare of Victory"
  • Bandai Namco's Tales Series: "Theme of Slay – The Master"
  • Monster Hunter: "Proof of Heroism"
  • Kingdom Hearts: "Olympus Coliseum"
  • Chrono Trigger: "Frog's Theme"
  • Ace Combat: "First Flight"
  • Bandai Namco's Tales Series: "King's City – Dignity"
  • Monster Hunter: "Tabidachi no Kaze"
  • Chrono Trigger: "Robo no Theme"
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: "Star Light Zone"
  • Pro Evolution Soccer: "Winning Eleven"
  • Final Fantasy: "Main Theme"
  • Phantasy Star Universe: "Guardians"
  • Kingdom Hearts: "Hero's Fanfare"
  • Gradius: "01 Act 1-1"
  • NieR: "Initiation"
  • The SaGa Series: "Makai Ginyusei"
  • Soulcalibur: "The Brave New Stage of History"

Gamer Reactions to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony

In Japan, video games are treated with a greater degree of reverence than they are elsewhere around the world and, as such, music associated with the medium has become something of a cultural touchstone.

Many industry composers, like Koji Kondo and Mahito Yokota (who collaborated on the majestic score for Super Mario Galaxy), are respected artists in their home country, and it is not unheard of for video game soundtracks to enter the mainstream charts over there.

With that in mind, it should not come as a surprise to see that the Tokyo Olympics has dedicated an entire section of its opening ceremony to the art form and its catchy earworms. In this sense, it is comparable to when the London 2012 ceremony shone a spotlight on British culture, with appearances from Daniel Craig as James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II.

Nevertheless, hearing familiar tunes from the likes of NeiR and Soulcalibur did catch some fans off guard. Here are the best reactions to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics' video game medley.

Starting us off, British film critic Robbie Collin dedicated an entire Twitter thread to speculating which pieces of music were playing throughout the parade of countries. While he did hit the nail on the head with some of his guesses, like most people he also got a few wrong (the track he identifies as Super Smash Bros. was likely The Final Fantasy fanfare).

The Dragon Quest score????? #Tokyo2020

— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) July 23, 2021

Twitter user @CanipaShow remarked that he never expected to hear the Tales of Zestiria soundtrack during a global sporting event and was so unprepared for its inclusion that he did not even recognize it.

Can't believe I couldn't place Sorey's theme from Tales of Zestiria earlier. It used to be my PS4 background music. I guess it never occurred to me to play at the Olympics.

— Canipa (@CanipaShow) July 23, 2021

@KevDGrussing pointed out that Nintendo games (like Pokemon, Mario and The Legend of Zelda) were absent from the medley.

No Nintendo music at all in this mix is most certainly going to be a topic of discussion.
Did Ninty ask and get denied?
Or did they flat out refuse to participate?
We prob'll never know, but the absence is notable.
Maybe they show up in the Closing Parade...#OpeningCeremony

— Kevin D. Grüssing (pronounced Grew-Sing) (@KevDGrussing) July 23, 2021

The official Final Fantasy account asked if its followers were humming along to the medley, and the question was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Some fans even commented that they were "in tears."

Anyone else humming along to the #Tokyo2020 #OpeningCeremony?

— FINAL FANTASY (@FinalFantasy) July 23, 2021

@TropicalMaku shared a meme to illustrate how invested gamers suddenly became in the Olympics once the medley started to play.

Gamers watching the Olympics when they hear all these video game music being played that they know. pic.twitter.com/BWi6iHNooC

— Maku (@TropicalMaku) July 23, 2021

Likewise, @gatewaytta posted an image of an excitable Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with the caption: "Me for the past 40 minutes, recognising all that video game music."

Me for the past 40 minutes, recognising all that video game music #OpeningCeremony pic.twitter.com/sPIgPc66Yu

— GatewayToTheAniverse (@gatewaytta) July 23, 2021

Meanwhile, @yoracrab was touched by the show of respect for the video game medium and was especially pleased to hear the score from NeiR.

THEY'RE PLAYING NIER MUSIC AT THE OLYMPICS YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY I AM

— 🦀YORA🦀 (@yoracrab) July 23, 2021

Finally, @StevWright joked (at least we think he was joking) about starting a petition to begin every Olympics from now on with video game music.

Petition to open every ceremony with video game music

— Steve - BRITISHLEMON (@StevWright) July 23, 2021
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony
Picture shows athletes at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The opening ceremony featured a compilation of classic video game soundtracks. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images