My Top-10 Horror themes from Video-Games

skullRecently I posted my favourite pieces of music from horror films, now I wanted to do the same thing for video-games.

However, I haven’t played enough horror games to make a convincing list, so instead I’ll be picking these themes from a variety of games and not just horror ones. So, in order for the musical theme to make the list, it does not need to be from a horror game, it just needs to be creepy in its own right or just a catchy piece of music over-all.

Also, remember that this is just my list of preferences and feel free to share your favourite horror themes from video-games in the comments. I wont be including themes from games which I haven’t played, but feel free to present your own favourite creepy tracks from other titles if you wish.

But enough babbling, let’s get to the list…

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10. Haunted Mansion (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom)

Let’s start with a more light-hearted entry from a childhood classic of mine. The Haunted Mansion stage of the NES game Adventures in the Magic Kingdom was always my favourite level in the game. Despite it’s cartoony horror atmosphere, I hadn’t really experienced anything quite like it before and especially the effects of the falling rain and lightning flashes made it feel very intense.

The theme has a strong beat to it, as is typical of Capcom, but it still managed to give me the creeps when I was younger. Now, it’s definitely a little cheesy, but I still enjoy it very much.

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9. Ghost House (Super Mario World)

This might seem like a funny pick, but honestly, I got seriously creeped out the first time I wandered into a Ghost House in Super Mario World. It was rather powerful change of pace from the otherwise cheery game. Even the castle levels, which were admittedly a little bleak, never really matched the over-all creepiness of the Ghost Houses (especially since the Boos were mostly invincible). Most people will probably think of Super Mario 64’s Ghost House theme as being creepier and ,don’t get me wrong, the Mario 64 Ghost theme is just disturbing as all fuck. However, I also enjoy the SMW Ghost House theme just as piece of music by itself.

I also felt like I could have included some tracks from Luigi’s Mansion, but I’ll let it go for now (wouldn’t want the list over-crowded with Mario-entries).

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8. Bad Morning to You (EarthBound)

There are loads of creepy and disturbing themes in the game EarthBound which is part of the reason I kept playing it until the end. However, visiting the illusion shadow version of the city of Fourside was one of the trippiest and right down unsettling moments in the game. Not only are your surroundings practically incomprehensible, moving around is difficult and you never feel really safe anywhere.

Plus, this disturbing background theme keeps blaring all through this part. It is truly unsettling to listen to.

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7. Skytown Metroid Xenoresearch Area (Metroid Prime 3)

This one comes from my favourite Metroid game. Again, there are many a theme from this series that could easily go up (including the iconic opening theme to Super Metroid), but I’m going to go with this one. The otherwise fairly pleasant Skytown (you know, except for all the aliens and space pirates trying to kill you) hides a dark secret in one of its outer-wings, a dark research area filled with Metroids.

This theme honestly nearly made me shit my pants playing the game for the first time, since I knew full well what was going to happen once I got deep enough into this area. Even the eventual break-out theme of the life-energy sucking Metroids wasn’t nearly as panic inducing as the build-up, knowing you were headed for some serious danger.

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6. Shadow Temple (Ocarina of Time)

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a Zelda entry. And here I’m willing to say that no entry is more appropriate than the shit-disturbingly creepy Shadow Temple theme. It’s full of chants and other strange noises and just seems to waft through the air like some ominous mist.

In that, it’s almost comically intentional, but you will doubtless start to get some chills after having listened to this theme long enough. I do like that it’s not too over-powering, but it does manage to cause chills to run down my spine.

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5. They’re Here (Splatterhouse)

Despite being a little tongue-in-cheek, the horror beat-em-up game Splatterhouse does include some genuinely terrifying enemies and themes. My favourite though has to be the first boss battle theme against the Poltergeist. It’s one of those rare instances where an entire room is your enemy and the jumping screen combined with the theme is actually more frightening than the actual boss. This one gets this high for being so utterly panic inducing.

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4. Black Rose (Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem)

Of course, my favourite survival horror game was going to make the list. Black Rose is the theme that plays during Maximilian Roivas’s quest inside his family mansion. This theme is probably the richest and most memorable composition in the whole game.

It’s perhaps not even that scary but rather it gets you excited and curious to look into the mysteries of the ancients. Also, it’s just a bitchin’, catchy melody and I could totally see this as the theme of a horror movie.

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3. The Suspended Doll (Resident Evil – Code: Veronica)

Despite being easily my least favourite game in the main Resident Evil franchise, Code: Veronica did have a couple of really catchy tunes in it. I’ve already highlighted Berceuse as one of my favourite songs in video-games, but for this list I want to focus on a background theme that genuinely gave me the creeps. The Suspended Doll plays in the mansion on Alfred Ashford’s island. Entering the mansion for the first time really is a haunting experience, firstly due to this theme and secondly, because of the actual giant suspended doll inside the mansion.

I generally don’t have too high of an opinion of the Resident Evil video-games’ soundtracks, since most of it is very nondescript ambience stuff, but this theme was actually a strong, creepy composition which stands out.

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2. Promise, Reprise (Silent Hill 2)

Even if you haven’t played Silent Hill 2, you may recognise this sad and powerful piano piece from both of the live action Silent Hill movies. Promise is just one of those themes that really sticks out for me, really creepy and sombre at the same time. I get almost a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever I hear this theme in the game or either of the movies…

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1. Bobby C (Clock Tower)

My number-1 pick from this list comes from a slightly more obscure title that was originally released exclusively in Japan for the Super Famicom (SNES). Clock Tower is one of early proto-survival horror titles and one that has aged extremely well. It has one of the most haunting main themes I’ve ever heard: “Cradle Under the Star”. However, as awesome as the main theme is, I’m going to go with one of the three theme variants for Bobby a.k.a. Scissors Man, who chases the protagonist, Jennifer, around through the whole game. The C-variant of the theme is my favourite for the percussions, flow and also for actually including a bit of the Cradle-theme as well.

And just because I do love it so much, here is Cradle Under the Star as a bonus…

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