Videogames: Midi Metal
Like (probably) many of you, I discovered tons of music by playing videogames. Game developers didn’t take much time to figure out that shooting nazi-demon-aliens in the face could be enhanced by putting killer riffs in the background. In fact, my first encounters with metal came through videogames. Here are some examples of both overlooked tracks and those that might make you get “them feels” and waste your day on nesbox.com.
Super Mario World
The Mario games are generally all about pretty colors and tunes, and in Super Mario World you go playing in jolly rainbow-puking worlds until you hit that first castle and listen to the music. They were probably going for an organ kind of sound, but that theme and the Ghost House theme are straight up Black Sabbath. This was the audio queue that said “This isn’t happy anymore”.
Doom I and II
Doom is about shooting demons from Hell that came through a portal on Mars. It was meant to be metal from the drawing board. This is kind of cheating because a lot of music from the Doom games is made of stolen material taken from other songs: you’ve got Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Slayer’s Behind the Crooked Cross, Pantera’s Mouth of War, Alice in Chains’ Them Bones and Black Sabbath’s After all (The Dead), to name a few. The thing is that the 6 year old me didn’t know that, he just knew the music from Doom was the shit.
Donkey Kong Country II
This may not sound very metal due to the sounds they chose for the music (this is a game about monkeys doing somersaults, after all), but make some arrangements and they wouldn’t be far from Iron Maiden songs. Most people who talk about Donkey Kong Country’s music only talk about that final boss song from the first one, but I didn’t play that one so I didn’t listen to that song until the Internet became a thing. Instead, I remember finishing every level as Dixie to listen to her play guitar.
Earthworm Jim II
This game and Donkey Kong Country II were my favorites on the SNES as a kid. You play as a worm in a spacesuit. Every level is filled with “What the fuck did I just do/see?” moments. This game used very different styles of music on each level, mostly for a comedic effect, but “Anything but Tangerines” stands out for being genuinely great. I’ve posted the PS1 version of this song because I must admit it’s the superior version.
There seems to be a generation gap depending on how old you were when Pokémon came out. There are people who look at it and just don’t understand what’s going on, and then there are people who refer to it as “my childhood”. If you’ve played any of the games then you’re familiar with the simulated-by-chiptune electric guitar solos designed to get you pumped. There’s also that feeling when you cross Victory Road in Pokémon Gold & Silver to battle the Elite Four and the League Champion (the final bosses), after you’ve defeated Team Rocket, captured a legendary, and raised wimpy critters you caught on the beginning of the game into solid fighters, to be treated to this song.
While I believe Metroid Prime is a better game with better music overall, Super Metroid gave us Ridley’s theme song which is insanely metal.
The races in Starcraft have their own different styles of music, but never going too far away from the game’s general eerie theme. While the Zerg brood got synthesizers and the systematic Protoss got orchestral, the trigger-happy Terrans got their Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Fuck Tina Turner. I don’t even consider this sampling. The theme for Goldeneye on the N64 is pure genius. Nothing beats gunning down waves of square-faced soviets than doing it with this playing in the background.
If there’s a game that needs an HD reimagining, it’s this one. You can race at more than 1000 mph, and that’s not an euphemism. The music on this game kicks an amazing amount of ass, even with the limited audio capabilities of the N64. “Endless Challenge” and “Decide in the Eyes” became well known because they appeared in Smash Bros., but every track in this game, even the menu, is metal as fuck.
I’m pretty sure I’m missing A LOT of examples, considering I stopped paying too much attention to videogames after the Gamecube and there are games that look like they have lots of metal in them, like Splatterhouse or Twisted Metal (haven’t played ’em). Maybe you guys can post your examples of nostalgia boners in the comments.