The Sounds of Hauntery

We all have those memories. The one level in that one game you played as a kid that scared enough that just a little bit of poop would come out. Here are just a few classics from the vault of ‘Mommy, I don’t want to play this game anymore’.

  1. Giygas’ Theme (Earthbound) – Here is where Nintendo decided to put all its resources into the ‘we’re going to mentally scar these kids for life’ division of development. Having lost all sense of self, the almighty Giygas becomes a screen full of endlessly cycling… foetuses? Yup, pretty sure those demon babies are what his dark mass of existence has become now, and with music in the background which gradually devolves into a mess of screams and static, you will know the one undeniable truth: ‘’you will be… just another meal to him!’
  2. Big Boo’s Haunt (Super Mario 64) – Mario 64: an absolute joy for children everywhere and a cornerstone in the history of gaming. There are levels galore to explore: snowy mountains, rainbow roads, and, oh yeah, a haunted mansion with ominous background music.
  3. Lavender Town (Pokémon Red and Blue) – Much like Mario, Pokémon has become a franchise deeply ingrained in the hearts of all thanks to its spirit of adventure and colourful world to explore! Which is what makes Lavender Town all the more jarring as you discover a literal graveyard filled with sobbing trainers grieving for their lost partners, all to the eerie droning of Lavender Town’s.
  4. The Shadow Temple (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) – While some might argue that the Fire Temple has a more disconcerting tone in its Arabic chanting, the Shadow Temple’s gradual build of slow rhythmic drumming, intermittent piano notes, and distorted choir twisted into what is more akin to roars than song, far exceeds its peer in my mind. Add to that the surprising introduction of the temple’s boss as some invisible almighty force in the lead-up, and the generally spooky environment, and you have one chilling trial to overcome.
  5. Leaving Earth (Mass Effect 3) – A very different kind of hauntery, but one coming from the same horrifying place of the weakness of humans that all horror comes from. When this plays your character suffers his first symbolic defeat of the game, and the most major of the series so far, and the visuals at the time juxtapose the tiny humans against their incredible foes. If you don’t get chills down your spine when this plays then you’ve clearly played the game too many times. The piece is by Cliff Mansell, of Requiem for a Dream fame, so you know you’re getting some pretty powerful pieces at the important points of this game.
  6. Hunter’s Dream (Bloodborne) – By far the piece you’ll hear the most in the game, this plays when you’re in your safe haven. However, the shrill violins, rasping whispers and lonely melody seem to portray it as scarpy and duplicitous in a way that the rest of the game barely scratches at. This is fitting, due to events near the end of the game, but this piece makes sure you don’t feel safe even when you’re out of harm’s way.
  7. Main Theme (Fallout 3) – This piece is very different form most other spooky soundtracks, featuring heavier brass parts compared to other games and other soundtracks in the game. But the ringing of the metallic horns, and the hollow tone that comes from no harmonies and a rather restricted orchestra, and the increasing drumbeat throughout, creates a sense of paranoia and unease that would fit perfectly in the game’s wasteland. It’s just a shame that people listen to the radio in the game, and so only hear it in the main menu.

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