Game music of the dead: Metroid

Game: Metroid

Song: Kraid's Hideout

Composer: Hirokazu Tanaka

Above: Kraid's Hideout from Metroid

Metroid is an inherently creepy idea - you, alone on a planet full of acid-spitting monstrosities, with not a single shred of help from the outside world. You'd think such a hefty concept would be hard to convey on limited 8-bit technology, but the labyrinthine corridors, otherworldly enemy design and, of course, claustrophobic music made the original Metroid one of the most atmospheric games of the day.

Most of my dread came from this one song, which plays as you enter Kraid's specific area of the map. Up to that point, the music had mostly been the same chipper Metroid theme song and the terrain stayed a rather normal-looking rocky blue. Now, this music starts up as you descend in an elevator, now seeing weird alien shapes and bright white walls that are covered with unnatural, sticky-legged monsters. I remember the very first time I made it to Kraid's Hideout, and it scared the shit out of me - mostly because of this oppressive, melodically maddening tune.

Above: The title screen music begins ominous, then goes into a soaring, beautiful 8-bit finale

Above: Metroid Zero Mission added more background creepiness, but somehow the extra tech makes it less frightening. Still an effectively creepy tune though, fit for an R-rated space monster movie

Above: Metroid Metal (who played at PAX this year) have a fittingly rockin' version as well

It's ironic how thoroughly the 8-bit Metroid creeped me out, while the vastly superior and lavishly decorated Metroid Prime never came close. Maybe it's easier to weird out a seven year old than a 21-year-old, or maybe consciously didn't play up the horror angle of Metroid. IMO, that's a great way to take the franchise if Nintendo's just gonna keep farming it out forever. Might as well take some chances and make its sole "serious" franchise a bit more vicious.


Game music of the day: Terminator 2
Really spooky stuff from Tim and Geoff Follin



Game music of the day: Pokemon Red and Blue
Lavender Town's suicide-inducing screeches



Game music of the day: Silent Hill 3
Sickness Unto Foolish Death by Akira Yamaoka

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  • Genericpenisjoketista - October 31, 2010 4:56 p.m.

    Kraid's Lair was the creepiest map on Super Smash Bros Melee and I always got a bit offput when I'd play extended matches on it.
  • Crimmy - October 30, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    My fave theme in all of Metroidland. I was never scared by this theme. I always thought it was rockin'. Also, I agree with erreip199. SA-X is creepy as Hell. I was always afraid until I hid in a spot that the CPU was to dumb to shoot at during the Ice Sector (5?). Then I just laughed at how pathetic it was.
  • erreip199 - October 29, 2010 4 p.m.

    the scariest metroid enemy award goes to: SA-X Holy Crap it scared me when i first got fusion
  • 510BrotherPanda - October 29, 2010 10:30 a.m.

    Metroid Metal version is still on my iPod after downloading it 4-5 years ago. I don't know about the "creeped-out as a kid by Kraid level theme", Brett... I was in High School when playing Prime's Metroid emulation, and it creeped me out the first time I heard it.
  • philipshaw - October 29, 2010 9:56 a.m.

    I forgot how creepy this music was. Metroid Metal version is awesome
  • Spybreak8 - October 29, 2010 6:04 a.m.

    Oh man I love Metroid. I remember when I rented Super Metroid when I was a kid. Oh man my back hurt so much because I tried to play as much as I could before I had to take it back. Zero Mission is baddass, still one of GBA games I insert into my DS from time to time. Atmospheric music in Metroid always sounded perfect and did it's job in the game.
  • 8bitBaby - October 29, 2010 5:02 a.m.

    yes. the music in metroid set a great mood from the start. hauntingly subtle, distinct, creepy, but hopeful.
  • xGREYHUNTERx - October 29, 2010 3:53 a.m.

    MOTHER FUCKEN METROID scaring the fuck out of me
  • Yirba - October 29, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    I eventually beat Metroid yesterday. Wow, the ending theme is really awesome!
  • slimjim441 - October 29, 2010 3:09 a.m.

    Greatest moment in my life = figuring out how to play Kraid's theme on guitar.
  • grappler51 - October 29, 2010 2:14 a.m.

    LOVE the metroid metal version of this
  • Strangleme - October 29, 2010 1:06 a.m.

    Fuck dude!! You nail it everytime!!!
  • Ristar200 - October 29, 2010 12:47 a.m.

    I really hope that the dungeon theme from the first Legend of Zelda game is Friday's entry. That song gets stuck in your head and won't leave, especially when you're lying in bed in the middle of the night in pitch black, wondering if anything is going to jump out at you and kill you.
  • Oracool13 - October 29, 2010 12:11 a.m.

  • Tenfey - October 29, 2010 12:06 a.m.

    I have to admit as a kid, this game was kinda spooky. I didn't know anything about it or its plot, I just knew you were some "guy" in a spacesuit running around this weird planet. The first time I found that freaky elevator inside a dead beast, and then heard this music playing as I rode the elevator down, I remember feeling actual dread. Probably contributes to the fact I never sat down and beat this entire game (sans JUSTIN BAILEY) until a couple of years ago.
  • CH3BURASHKA - October 28, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    Kraid's Theme > Everything ever. It's so damn creepy and haunting. I used to listen to the Metroid OST a lot, and Kraid's Theme was on repeat a bunch.
  • Mexicutioner - October 28, 2010 11:36 p.m.

    Christ, I can't believe I have not heard this before, (the song I mean). I feel as if I missed out on something big. Fantastic choice Mr. Elston!
  • elpurplemonkey - October 28, 2010 11:31 p.m.

    Prime actually freaked me the hell out. I had trouble finishing it because the world was so well realized that I got way too much of the 'solitary bounty hunter in space' sensation. And while this is a great song, I can't say that I find it too scary. Just about anything that played during the Phazon Mines section though- holy shit now that's terrifying.
  • batmanboy11 - October 28, 2010 11:30 p.m.

    Metroid music, eff yeah!
  • santaclouse37 - October 28, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    HOLY SHIT! FIRST FIRST!! Also, love metroid, and glad this finally got posted. Keep the creepy tunes coming, Brett!

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