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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Favorite Tunes #34: Horror Edition

I'm not one to celebrate Halloween but I know a lot of other people love this spooky holiday. So I thought I'd devote this edition of Favorite Tunes to horror-inspired themes. As you might expect, there's some Castlevania tracks, but they don't dominate the list.

Beast from the East Mix 2 - Biohazard 2 ReMIX ~met@morPhoses~

Biohazard is the name that Resident Evil goes by in Japan. I've never really been a huge Resident Evil fan. The only game I ever played was the remake of the original Resident Evil on the GameCube. I couldn't get used to the blocky controls and quit after I got killed by that dog that jumped through the window. That said, I do think it has some nice character designs and some creepy music. Beast from the East Mix 2 is from an arranged Resident Evil 2 album. The first time I heard this track was on the now defunct GamingFM on the modern radio station. It's been one of my favorite Resident Evil songs ever since.

The Trick Manor - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

A remake of the original Castlevania with some new material added for good measure. Thankfully, Simon can now jump off stairs. He can also whip in more than one direction. One of the earliest SNES games, Super Castlevania IV is impressive on many levels. It still looks and sounds fantastic and some oft he graphical effects pulled off, particularly in the fourth stage, are quite a marvel. The opening section of the level is standard fare but about once you get indoors, either the room or the entire castle begins to rotate. To keep from falling into spike pits you have to use Simon's whip to grab onto the hooks. I can still remember being caught off guard by this area years ago. This game's audio made great use of the organ but it really shines through with this track.

Dark World - Final Fantasy VI (SNES, PS, GBA)

Never played Final Fantasy VI? Spoiler alert: The bad guy wins. Not forever, but at the midway point in the game, he scores a huge victory over the heroes that has disastrous consequences for the entire planet. Most RPG villains spend the bulk of the game trying to take over the world. Unlike most of those big bads, Kefka actually succeeds. Under Kefka's rule, the once lush green World of Balance is literally reshaped into the World of Ruin, a world where much of humanity has given up on life having either joined Kefca's cult or committed suicide. The world map theme that played in the the World of Balance, Terra, a track that inspired hope and encouragement, is replaced by Dark World, a tune that reflects the hopelessness and despair that has fallen over the planet. Dark World will eventually get replaced by Search for Friends once you get your new airship, but if you go back to Narshe, you can hear Dark World again. At this point in the game, Narshe is now abandoned of all townsfolk and overrun with creepy critters.

Haunted Graveyard - Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SNES)

Mario and Arthur have much in common. Both are heroes that have trouble keeping their lady friends from being abducted. But while Mario's quest gets difficult as he progresses, Arthur's is mind numbingly brutal from the get-go. Not only is the road to saving Prciness Prin Prin a nightmarish one, it's one that has to be traveled twice. In each Ghost 'n Goblins game, the player has to beat the game twice in order to save Arthur's lady love. At least in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts you have a double jump, though that new move hardly makes things any easier. This is by far my favorite version of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts main theme.

Shade Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

The first 16-bit Mega Man game set in the classic series, Mega Man 7 gets quite a bit of flack for not being nearly as tight as the 8-bit games. The sprites are larger to be sure, but Mega Man 7 is hardly an awful game. Shade Man has got to be one of the coolest looking robot masters in the classic series, complete with clever stage design and a haunting musical theme. If you hold B while selecting Shade Man's level, you'll hear an alternate version of the Stage Select them. In addition to this, Shade Man's level theme will be changed to the Ghosts 'n Goblins main theme played with Mega Man 7's instruments. Since Shade Man's level was one big shout out to Capcom's Ghosts ' Goblins series, throwing in the music from that series seemed like a natural Easter egg to hide here.

Screamer - House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii, PS3)

My personal favorite entry in the series, House of the Dead: Overkill has a very Grind House feel to it. Bad voice acting has always been a staple of the series, but Overkill actually has good voice work. That's a bit ironic since Overkill never takes itself seriously. There's lot of funny back and forth banter between protagonists Issac Washington and Agent G and so many F-bombs that it makes a drunken sailor's mouth seem clean by comparison. Overkill has a marvelous soundtrack to go long with the solid on rails shooting. Much of it is funk based, the game isn't afraid mix things up. Screamer is definitely on the horror side in the audio.

Factory Tour - Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64)

"What? Scary music in a Kirby game? You're crazy." If that's what you're thinking you've probably never played a single Kirby adventure. Despite the game's cute characters and brightly colored levels, the Kirby games have enough nightmare fuel to last a lifetime. Shiver Star is the obligatory ice world in Kirby 64 and it's heavily implied to be planet Earth. What makes one wonder that? You can see what each planet looks like before you visit it. Shiver Star contains continents that look exactly like the ones seen on Earth. It even has a single orbiting moon. Shiver Star looks to be a post-apocalyptic Earth, frozen over by what was more than likely some man-made creations. The boss of Shiver Star is HR-H, a huge transforming mech that fires deadly lasers and missiles. During the fight with this boss you can seen plenty of tall buildings in the background. One of the areas that Kirby goes through is a mall. So there are plenty of areas that resemble human environments, but there's not a single human to be found. Then you've got this factory next to the mall full of conveyor belts, instant death crushers and strange creatures behind glass. Shiver Star is one of the creepiest places in a Kirby game. I love how you can hear gears moving during this track. This track was including in the compilation soundtrack CD in Kirby's Dream Collection.

Bogmire - Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

Luigi, searching through a mansion full of ghosts to rescue Mario. You gotta give Luigi props for going through that whole ordeal, especially since he was terrified. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was spooked a few times during my play through of Luigi's Mansion. A random ghost messing with me here and there, knocking out some of my coins. But the biggest scare came from my encounter with Bogmire. If I recall, I nearly fell out of my chair in the cut scene that introduced him. Took me a few minutes to take him down, too.

Picture of a Ghost Ship - Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)

There are three different versions of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. One is on the PC Engine and is hailed as one of the greatest Castlevania games. Another is on the SNES and is a stripped down version of the PCE game, which gets it a lot of criticism. The other is on the PSP along with an unlockable version of Symphony of the Night under the compilation title Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles where it was remade. The PCE version is on the Wii's Virtual Console and it was one of the first games for I downloaded for that system. It has branching paths and that old-school Castlevania difficulty. It took me numerous tries to pass the game's first three stages. Currently, I'm still stuck on the Ghost Ship level.

New Messiah - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (GB)

I've only played one Castlevania game on the original Game Boy, Castlevania: The Adventure, even by the series standards, it was painfully slow and clunky. I'm fairly certain I traded that title in shortly after I purchased it. Castlevania: The Adventure was remade as a Wii Ware title where it was actually a good game. It used arranged versions of numerous Castlevania tracks, including New Messiah from Adventure's sequel, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge. Even on the Game Boy, this tune was quite fast paced and the composition is highly impressive.

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