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: Konami | Year: 1988 | Console: NES ]
If there's one thing gamers like to do, it's kick alien ass! From the very beginning games had you flying through space and going head to head with aliens from across the galaxy. With its fast-paced action and great use of aliens, Contra quickly became one of the most influential 2D action games of all time. Played solo or with a friend, Konami's Contra throws you into a messy situation, gives you a bunch of cool power-ups and prays for the best. If you are tough enough you can make it to the end and destroy the aliens once and for all. Everybody else can use the Konami Code.
Hey Konami, is there a code that makes this theme song more interesting? With only seven notes and an explosion, I dare say that this Contra theme gives Pac-Man a run for his money. It's short, but not very sweet. Any hope for an ominous tone is scrapped the moment the cheesy explosion sound effect hits. I get it, this is an action game. But not even the most macho Arnold Schwarzenegger movie had a theme song comprised of explosions. Leave that for the special effects guys, not the musicians. Sadly, this song would still bite even if we took out the terrible sounding explosion. Konami would have been better off with no music at all.
There's not much to Contra's theme. It has all of seven notes, or maybe seven if you include the weird initial buzzing sound. Plus, of course, there's an explosion noise. It lasts all of ten seconds and is completely unexciting, despite the big boom. In fact, if I just heard this song and you told me it was from a video game, I would guess it as the game over music. If not game over, perhaps the music on the continue screen. I would never guess it as a theme song, especially not to a side-scrolling shooter. I think they would have been better off following Mario's example and treating the stage one music as the theme.
When the reviews came in about this game, critics said that it had the best video game music of all time. They wondered if there was a tiny orchestra in the cartridge. I wonder if this Super NES launch game will hold up.