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!
You get home with your brand new Nintendo Entertainment System. But instead of unwrapping your brand new copy of Super Mario Bros. 2, another game grabs your attention. You don't recognize it. It's called Shadowgate. Curious, you don't remember buying it. You open it and stick it in your new console to discover an adventure waiting for you. It's a graphic adventure where everything is told to you in short sentences. Sort of like this description. You decide to take the game out of the NES and play Super Mario Bros. 2 instead.
Few theme songs are as foreboding as this Shadowgate theme. You can almost feel a chill in the air with every extended note. The haunting tones are there to warn you about what lies behind that shadowy gate. The song doesn't think you're listening. Its spooky message is intensified with an octave change, forcing the player to reconsider pushing the start button. But it's okay, you'll probably make it out the other side alive. It loops back around and you're reminded that the Shadowgate isn't going anywhere. It's your move. The repeating bass line lulls you into a false sense of security. Everything is going to be okay. The theme has invaded your mind and there's no turning back. The somber notes fade out as you walk through the gate. It's a sad thing that your adventures have ended here!!
Shadowgate's theme is simple and haunting. It fits the feel of the game, but musically is not terribly interesting. The bass portion of the song follows a simple walking progression in C minor from the root note to the fifth, skipping the fourth note of the scale and then repeating. When the song changes key to D minor, the bass still follows the same basic progression. The treble side doesn't do much either, spending most of the song sustaining notes. There's a simple walk down progression centered around the key change, but like the bass notes, all it does is change key. As musically simple as this theme is though, it really fits the game, and that's what matters in the end. It's not inspiring, but it gets you in the mood for what's coming up.
I wouldn't go through that gate if I were you. Hey, suit yourself; I'm just trying to save you from rooms filled with endless puzzles. Don't forget your torch!