It's the time of the year when the days get shorter, retailers stay open longer, big games are released and there seems to be a holiday every other week. Defunct Games wants to ring in this festive season with a look at the most memorable video game themes of all time. For five weeks straight, Cyril Lachel and Kevin Bailey will share their thoughts on themes from the last thirty years. Join us every day between November 22 and December 25 for The 34 Game Themes of Christmas!
[ Company: Nintendo | Year: 1993 | Console: Super NES ]
By now Samus should be used to being stuck on an alien planet. After testing the waters on both the Game Boy and 8-bit NES, Nintendo really delivered with Super Metroid. Not only was this one of the best reviewed games then, but years later EGM named it the best game of all time. Fans of the 16-bit adventure will be quick to remind you why it's such a masterpiece. But we're not here to convince you to play Super Metroid, but rather listen to a theme song. (You should want to play Super Metroid without us pushing you.)
My heart stops beating even before the melody chimes in. All around me are the sounds of alien cries and heavy breathing. And then we get to the short notes. There are three of them, repeated slowly for maximum creepiness. Behind it is the buzz of a synthesizer ... or maybe somebody vacuuming in the apartment upstairs. Between the heavy breathing and the short notes, this Super Metroid theme sounds like it's from a deleted scene in Eyes Wide Shut. All of a sudden I break out into a cold sweat worrying that I forgot my mask ... or worse, the password. Sadly, this orgy of haunting noises doesn't go anywhere. While it does a great job of capturing the right kind of atmosphere, there simply isn't enough here for a theme song. Also, the password is "Fidelio."
Super Metroid, like Flashback, is a theme that features sparse instrumentation in favor of focusing on ambiance. Fortunately, Metroid uses it to much greater effect. There are no questionable noises here. The most prominent sounds in the beginning are an alarm and the noise of what must be an alien creature, warning you that something is going wrong. Obviously, that creature is the metroid. Once the alarm stops, most of the ambiance is slow breathing, with the occasional sound of an opening door, representing Samus's exploration of Zebes. From a musical standpoint, save for a few bars at the beginning of the theme, you only get two piano notes and a sustained bass note per measure. This is really where the theme falls apart. There's no melody to it behind the ambiance. It sets the mood, but it doesn't stand on its own.
It's another bloody sequel. No wait, I mean that this sequel is really bloody. People's hearts get ripped out in this game, it's really violent. In fact, maybe it's too violent for your virgin eyes. Perhaps this should be the last episode you read. Go to sleep now.