I remember going through Final Fantasy VII for the first time back in the late 90′s. I was twelve at the time and was thoroughly enjoying my play time with the RPG. I’ve always caught on to a lot of things going on in complex games back then. I fully understand what Sephiroth was trying to do and just how dangerous and insane he was. I was devastated when he showed up in the Forgotten City and there was always one thing made me tense up in my chair whenever he came on-screen. Sephiroth was usually followed by a track on the official soundtrack entitled “Those Chosen By The Planet”.
That track was haunting and made Sephiroth, at least for me, an eerie and chilling character. It is songs like these can make me grip my controller tight and press on despite chills running up and down my spine. I’m not saying Sephiroth is terrifying but his motives, demeanor, actions, and the selection of music for his scenes did well to imprint his cold eyes in your mind.
Sephiroth isn’t the only character, scene, or event in a game that was accompanied by music like this. I went through my gaming memories, searched up some widespread opinion, and ultimately came up with a list of the five scariest songs that play in a video game.
Note: These are not in order or ranking. This is just a list of the top five scariest songs in gaming.
Obviously, “Those Chosen By The Planet” is on my list.
Next up on the list we travel to the land of Hyrule during a time of darkness and hardship. While Link traveled through time, Ganondorf sealed the kingdom in his grasp. Of course I speak of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This was a mesmerizing adventure when it first came out. A wonderful evolution of the series, Ocarina of Time used a lot of themes for its dungeons. We marched through a corrupted forest, an angry volcano, a cursed lake, a forgotten desert, and the subject of my list: a sealed catacomb.
The Shadow Temple was by far one of the most uneasy and eerie places I have ever played through in a game. The layout of the dungeon makes it so you will always get caught by surprise by a baddie or some trap. The enemies selection is just downright creepy. Even the boss is a nightmarish creature. The worst part, however, was the music. The Shadow Temple’s music only helps solidify the scary aspects of this place.
Just listen to its haunting tune.
Out of one Nintendo franchise and into another we go with the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Gen 1 of Pokemon holds a ton of nostalgic memories for a lot of gamers. Catching your first Pokemon was easy but exciting. Fighting your first gym leader was intense. Toppling your rival over and over again in a series of tests of strength was heart-pounding. Heading into the Indigo Plateau for the first time was gratifying.
Everything about the first generation of Pokemon was every bit as fun as any other game you have game then and now. It wasn’t all rosy, though. There is one part during the first games that had many gamers uneasy and even a bit freaked out: Lavender Town.
This place was the home of the Pokemon Tower which holds the memorials for deceased Pokemon. It’s a tense and eerie journey as you proceed through the tower but what it harder was the legend of Marowak and Cubone. The Yellow Version of the games had this entry for Cubone in the Pokedex: “Wears the skull of its deceased mother. Its cries echo inside the skull and come out as a sad melody.” That’s just… WTF…
Worst of all? As you go through this depressing and horrid tower in this drab and awful town you constantly hear this song. What a terrifying song to hear repeated.
Now we move on to a beloved game called Earthbound. Those who have played through this game know exactly where I’m going with this one. Earthbound was a great experience with some awesome characters and combat. This series has such a following that a team even translated and unofficially “re-released” the third entry for English speaking audiences. Yes, the entire game.
Earthbound was a fun adventure but what struck home for a lot of people was the final encounter with the alien known as Giygas. This being is terrifying. Its methods and mission are easy to see and understand but the being itself is unknowing and void of any real existence. Even the developers say that no sense can be made of Giygas. He just… is. He is the judge and jury of the human race and his battle theme is perhaps the most haunting song in gaming.
Finally we jump right back into Nintendo territory. It’s surprising that a company that enjoys family experiences occupies some of the most disturbing, eerie, and chilling tunes in all of gaming. For the last game on my list I bring up the original Metroid. The main theme of the game was heard for most of it and became pretty synonymous with the game itself.
Before Nintendo had an idea where Metroid would go storyline-wise, I like to think that they saw this as their unexplored space game. I always played through the original Metroid as if Samus was on some unknown world and encountering some of the most disturbing and dangerous lifeforms in the galaxy. This main theme played to that so well. Everything about the song conveys mystery, danger, wonder, exploration, and an overall terrifying feeling that she is on this planet with no back up and a mission that must be completed no matter what. No matter what Samus sees during her mission, she cannot turn back or run away. She must endure the horrific things she encountered and finish her mission.
That’s why I always thought of Samus as the strongest woman in gaming.