05/10/2011

VGJUNK'S 2011 MUSICAL HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST PART 1

Musical terror can come in many forms. A lonely church organ. John Carpenter-style synthesiser hooks. Cats. However, here at VGJUNK we're only interested in macabre music of the videogame variety, so here's the first part of VGJUNK's 2011 Musical Hallowe'en Playlist!
If you want last year's playlist, it's in three parts here, here and here.

Pirate Ghosts Appear, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Gamecube.



A Mario game, you say? Yes, everyone's favourite plumber might not be the first thing you associate with spooky music but there are some instances when Nintendo veer away from the usual joviality of the Mushroom Kingdom and slap their mascot in a slightly more PG-rated situation. Okay, so that's pushing it a bit, but this track from the Gamecube RPG certainly has the Hallowe'en spirit in buckets. It's called "Pirate Ghosts Appear" for chrissakes, what did you expect? I don't care what day of the year it is, be it the middle of summer or Christmas goddamn Eve, but if you're in a situation where the wandering spirits of ancient buccaneers appear, you drop whatever you were doing and make it Hallowe'en.

The Last Mariachi, Silent Hill 4: The Room, PS2



Akira Yamaoka and Hallowe'en go together like a kittens that need drowning and a sack with a rock in it, so it's only right that he appears here with the title screen music from Silent Hill 4: What Were They Thinking With Those Burping Nurses. It's called "The Last Mariachi", and it certainly has a mariachi feel to it (even though it's much more of a flamenco thing really). If you're thinking, hey, mariaichi is super-fun-time-happy-music, you haven't heard it played on an out-of-tune guitar and accompanied by the ceaseless howling of some interdimensional void. It's creepy in a way that's different from Yamaoka's usual (although no less excellent) methods of clanging metal and industrial noises, and I think I'd go so far as to say it's my favourite thing about Silent Hill 4.

Damnation, Quake, P.C.



Every year or so, I re-install the original Quake and play through it, and every time I do it moves higher and higher up my internal list of "best games ever". Given the amount of changes, revisions and compromises that id Software made when creating it, it seems nothing short of miraculous that it came out so well, but there you go. The setting, the enemies, the level design, everything about is extremely well crafted, and the music is no exception. No hokey ghost train tunes here, just unsettling, ambient tracks designed to put you on edge while you pray there isn't a Shambler waiting around the corner. I've got issues with Shamblers, man. They don't shamble, they fucking run.
Oh, and, Quake's music was composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, which is why the in-game boxes of ammo for the nail gun have the NIN logo on them. So, if this freaks you out then you know who to blame.

Old Chateau, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, NDS



After that bit of sonic punishment, let's head back over to the cheerful cartoon spookiness of Nintendo, this time with Junichi Masuda's haunted-house theme from Pokemon D/P/P. It's very much in the spirit of the season, even if it's more the Hallowe'en of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown rather than Friday the 13th. That's the joy of Hallowe'en right there - horror and cutesiness jammed together to form a mangled fun abomination.

Happy Happy is Blue, Earthbound, SNES



Speaking of combinations of cute and disturbing, here's Earthbound! Seemingly a jolly cartoon romp about the adventures of a psychic boy who likes hitting things with baseball bats, it's got enough dark undertones and sinister edges to put Twin Peaks to shame. I'm sure most gamers are familiar with the story of how game creator Shigesato Itoi was traumatised as a child by accidentally witnessing a rape scene in a movie, the dialogue from said scene ending up in Earthbound during the final battle - this kind of thing is going mean your game ends up with some odd flavours to it.
Now, most people would have suggested the genuinely unsettling final battle music for a Hallowe'en playlist, and I agree that the musical theme for what might well be an abortion metaphor is sufficiently creepy, but I personally get rather perturbed by cults. Brainwashing, undying loyalty-inspiring pseudo-religious cults. Brr. So, here's the theme of Happy Happyism, Earthbound's very own crazy cult of Ku Klux Klan lookalikes. It's a disturbingly disjointed melange of wonky organ hits, ticking percussion and carnival whimsy, and it perfectly fits the creepy mood of Happy Happy Village and its blue nutjobs.

Right, that's your lot for part one. Go and listen to them while standing on a windswept, moonlit clifftop or something. Okay, maybe not that Quake one: I think it's be a little too tempting to take the quick route down to the beach. Part two to follow... at some point! WhooOOoo!

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