Tag Archives: ghosts

Undertale – Spider Dance

There are certain songs and sounds that call to mind terrifying experiences.  Classic horror movie themes rely on specific melodies to conjure uncomfortable and haunting memories to the mind of the viewer.  In the case of video games, a repeated theme or visceral noise can be used to emphasize the power of a specific scene.

Very early in Undertale, the player may find a pair of spider webs surrounding a sign that reads, “Spider Bake Sale. All proceeds go to real spiders.”  The player is presented with an option to purchase a Spider Donut or a Spider Cider, payment made by leaving money stuck to one of the webs.

spiderbakesale

As a devout arachnophobe, this little scene made my skin crawl.  I pictured the spindly legs of spiders stirring donut batter and pouring cups of cider for horrifying local bake sales. With limited funds (and a fear of eight-legged bakers), I decided not to leave any sort of monetary gains for these little monsters.  Little did I know that by supporting the efforts of the spider-kin of Undertale, I would avoid battling their leader, Muffet.

spiderdance

Later in the game, as I made my way through a room filled with cobwebs, I was ensnared by the leader of the Spider Bake Sale.  For not supporting her efforts to liberate her arachnid comrades from the cold of the Ruins, Muffet lashes out at the player; attacking with unique spider-themed strikes.

The music for Muffet’s battle (appropriately called Spider Dance) calls to mind the spindly movements of a spider.  A frantic melody launches from the start of the song; calling to mind the feeling of first laying eyes on a spider that has invaded your space.  This gives way to a minimalist string sample, which simulates the actions of a spider spinning a web to capture their prey.  The whole song is intense, engaging, and appropriate for the frantic battle with Muffet.

As with so many of the themes in Undertale, composer Toby Fox uses leit motifs across tracks to emphasize a certain theme.  In the case of Spider Dance, this song shares its melody with equally haunting tracks like Ghost Fight, Pathetic House, and Dummy!  Each of these songs centers around otherworldly encounters; where the player is faced with haunting moments that could scare them into submission.

Of course, any frightening situation can be overcome with enough… DETERMINATION.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost Pokémon

GhostLavender

Nearly 18 years ago today, my brother and I set out to be the very best, like no one ever was.  Catching Pocket Monsters was our first real test, but to train them, aye, that was our cause.  Pokémon had hit the shelves not a week prior, and our parents graciously gifted both versions of the Game Boy classic to us.  My brother received Pokémon Blue, and became a great trainer of water-types, with a stately Blastoise at the helm of his troop.  I was given Pokémon Red, but I did not find my true calling in this game until I ventured into the tower at Lavender Town.  It was at this resting place for fallen Pokémon that I would catch my first Gastly, which cemented my destiny as a ghost-type trainer.

GhostBelieve

With each new journey into the world of Pokémon, Nintendo would increase the number of ghost-types to catch and raise.  As a young trainer, I delighted with each new phantom that became available; marveling over the new designs and attacks.  But once I grew older, I started to notice that my beloved ghost-types harbored a much darker nature.  With just a quick glance through my trusty Pokédex, I found stories of hauntings and torment; tales of restless spirits that prey on the souls of the living.  Just take a look at some of these examples below!

GhostHaunter

Haunter: Its tongue is made of gas. If licked, its victim starts shaking constantly until death eventually comes. In total darkness, where nothing is visible, Haunter lurks, silently stalking its next victim.

GhostGengar

Gengar: To steal the life of its target, it slips into the prey’s shadow and silently waits for an opportunity. The leer that floats in darkness belongs to a Gengar delighting in casting curses on people.

GhostMisdreavus

Misdreavus: A Misdreavus frightens people with a creepy, sobbing cry. It apparently uses its red spheres to absorb the fear of foes as its nutrition. It likes playing mischievous tricks such as screaming and wailing to startle people at night.

GhostLitwick

Litwick: Litwick shines a light that absorbs the life energy of people and Pokémon, which becomes the fuel that it burns. While shining a light and pretending to be a guide, it leeches off the life force of any who follow it.

GhostBanette

Banette: A doll that became a Pokémon over its grudge from being junked. It seeks the child that disowned it. Banette generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body. This Pokémon was originally a pitiful plush doll that was thrown away.

GhostDuskull

Duskull: Duskull wanders lost among the deep darkness of midnight. There is an oft-told admonishment given to misbehaving children that this Pokémon will spirit away bad children who earn scoldings from their mothers. It loves the crying of children. It startles bad kids by passing through walls and making them cry. Once this Pokémon chooses a target, it will pursue the intended victim until the break of dawn.

mimikyu

Mimikyu: This Pokémon lives its life completely covered by its cloth and is always hidden. People believe that anybody who sees its true form beneath the cloth will be stricken with a mysterious illness. This Pokémon is dreadfully lonely, and it thought it would be able to make friends with humans, if only it looked like Pikachu.

GhostCubone

*Brrrr* That is some creepy stuff!  Little did I know that the most tragic and gruesome tale of all would lie with a normal-type Pokémon.  I am speaking of none other than Cubone, the sad little creature who wears the skull of its dead mother.  When it thinks of its mother, it cries, making the skull it wears rattle with a hollow sound.  Now, when you first look at this little monster, you may feel sorry for it and want to take it home to be your friend.  But put that situation in human terms, and the mood completely changes.  After all, would you be friends with someone who wears their mom’s skull as a hat?  I didn’t think so.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Banjo-Kazooie – Mad Monster Mansion

Halloween means different things to different age groups.  For older adults, it is a season of decoration and preparation.  Entire neighborhood communities work together to cover their homes in increasingly scary items and fill their candy bowls with all sorts of treats.  For young adults and teenagers, this is a time to wildly celebrate and consume piles of horror media.  House parties full of costumed patrons overindulge in autumn drinks and scary movies.  And for kids, Halloween means costumes, candy, and trick or treating.  The holiday is certainly spooky, but there is a sense of goofiness just behind the scenes.  All of the ghouls and ghosts take on a playful demeanor, as kids dress up and make believe.

Typically, it is the more lighthearted media of the Halloween season that transcends the age groups.  Campy horror movies, fun animated television specials, and spooky platforming video games can be fun for a broad audience.  The Nintendo 64 classic Banjo-Kazooie provides a great example of this with the Mad Monster Mansion.

BKMadMonsterMansion

Mad Monster Mansion is full of traditional horror elements.  The world features spooky locations like a graveyard, a hedge maze, and a creepy old mansion.  The main enemies are ghosts, skeletons, and animated tombstones.  Banjo even gets in on the act, transforming into a little pumpkin to complete certain challenges.  This haunting area also features an appropriately fun track:

Composer Grant Kirkhope crafted a bouncing melody inspired by the film Beetlejuice, and included tons of campy sound effects to enhance the playful mood of the piece.  The track matches the goofy and spooky aesthetic of Mad Monster Mansion, creating an experience that is fun for all ages.

For an episode of their podcast, the Super Marcato Bros. featured an exclusive interview with Grant Kirkhope.  Their talk with the composer is fantastic, giving all sorts of insight on the history of developer Rare and the creative process behind the music of games like GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, and of course, Banjo-Kazooie.  If you are a fan of the glory days of the Nintendo 64, or just an enthusiast of game music and composition, I highly recommend listening to this episode!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pokémon Red and Blue – Lavender Town

Sometimes, the legends behind a piece of spooky media are scarier than the media itself.  That is certainly the case with the theme for Lavender Town.

Within the world of Pokémon, Lavender Town is home to the main gravesite for departed Pokémon.  There is a seven-story tower located in the town that serves as a mausoleum for hundreds of deceased creatures.  Many of the people present in this town are visiting to pay respects to their fallen Pokémon, so there is an ever-present air of melancholy.  Outside of the mourners, there are also aggressive Ghost-type Pokémon that will attack the player as he/she travels through the tower.  Composed by Junichi Masuda, the theme for Lavender Town reinforces the gloomy atmosphere of the area, with a lilting melody and haunting sound effects.

GhostBelieve

In the real world, a very creepy urban legend has grown from this off-putting tune.  This track contains high-pitched sounds that are outside the typical adult hearing range, but still within the typical child hearing range.  This fact led to stories of Japanese children being driven to fatally harm themselves when hearing the Lavender Town theme.  Tales of children being driven mad and clawing at their faces have made their way across the internet, giving this song an even darker reputation.

While none of these stories have been verified, the legend of the Lavender Town theme persists as a particularly creepy tale of video game music.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luigi’s Mansion – Main Theme

Let’s say you are put in the precarious situation of saving someone you love from a haunted mansion.  You are provided with the proper tools to defend yourself from spectral attackers, but the actual task of searching this creepy building must be undertaken.  How would you keep your courage up while traveling the dark and dilapidated hallways?  Would you talk to yourself?  Call out for your beloved?  Maybe you should just keep quiet, to get the drop on any would-be ghosts.

LMSpooked

Or you could take a page from Luigi’s playbook and simply hum along to some music while exploring:

The main theme for Luigi’s Mansion is a great example of taking a very ominous track and turning it into a goofy sing-along.  Instead of relying solely on the heavy tones composed by Kazumi Totaka and Shinobu Tanaka, the song includes voice actor Charles Martinet humming the tune as a frightened Luigi, desperately trying to keep his cool while facing down ghosts.  This track matches the mood of the game perfectly- a spooky experience that still manages to be lighthearted and fun.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By the Pricking of my Thumbs…

…the first of October this way comes.  While I may have started the festivities a bit earlier, my favorite time of year officially begins today.  That magical month where ghouls and ghosts parade across television screens, a chill wind blows throw the air, and pumpkin is imbued into every food possible.  Hordes of horror games have been piling up here at GIMMGP Headquarters, ready to crawl out of their coffins and into our consoles.  So pour yourself a pumpkin ale, grab a handful of candy corn, and settle in for a spooky month of gaming.  It’ll be a scream!

KingsQuestVIDance

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost Pokemon

GhostLavender

Nearly 14 years ago today, my brother and I set out to be the very best, like no one ever was.  Catching Pocket Monsters was our first real test, but to train them, aye, that was our cause.  Pokemon had hit the shelves not a week prior, and our parents graciously gifted both versions of the Game Boy classic to us.  My brother received Pokemon Blue, and became a great trainer of water-types, with a stately Blastoise at the helm of his troop.  I was given Pokemon Red, but I did not find my true calling in this game until I ventured into the tower at Lavender Town.  It was at this resting place for fallen Pokemon that I would catch my first Gastly, which cemented my destiny as a ghost-type trainer.

GhostBelieve

With each new journey into the world of Pokemon, Nintendo would increase the number of ghost-types to catch and raise.  As a young trainer, I delighted with each new phantom that became available; marveling over the new designs and attacks.  But once I grew older, I started to notice that my beloved ghost-types harbored a much darker nature.  With just a quick glance through my trusty Pokedex, I found stories of hauntings and torment; tales of restless spirits that prey on the souls of the living.  Just take a look at some of these examples below!

GhostHaunter

Haunter: Its tongue is made of gas. If licked, its victim starts shaking constantly until death eventually comes. In total darkness, where nothing is visible, Haunter lurks, silently stalking its next victim.

GhostGengar

Gengar: To steal the life of its target, it slips into the prey’s shadow and silently waits for an opportunity. The leer that floats in darkness belongs to a Gengar delighting in casting curses on people.

GhostMisdreavus

Misdreavus: A Misdreavus frightens people with a creepy, sobbing cry. It apparently uses its red spheres to absorb the fear of foes as its nutrition. It likes playing mischievous tricks such as screaming and wailing to startle people at night.

GhostLitwick

Litwick: Litwick shines a light that absorbs the life energy of people and Pokémon, which becomes the fuel that it burns. While shining a light and pretending to be a guide, it leeches off the life force of any who follow it.

GhostBanette

Banette: A doll that became a Pokémon over its grudge from being junked. It seeks the child that disowned it. Banette generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body. This Pokémon was originally a pitiful plush doll that was thrown away.

GhostDuskull

Duskull: Duskull wanders lost among the deep darkness of midnight. There is an oft-told admonishment given to misbehaving children that this Pokémon will spirit away bad children who earn scoldings from their mothers. It loves the crying of children. It startles bad kids by passing through walls and making them cry. Once this Pokémon chooses a target, it will pursue the intended victim until the break of dawn.

GhostCubone

*Brrrr* That is some creepy stuff!  Little did I know that the most tragic and gruesome tale of all would lie with a normal-type Pokemon.  I am speaking of none other than Cubone, the sad little creature who wears the skull of its dead mother.  When it thinks of its mother, it cries, making the skull it wears rattle with a hollow sound.  Now, when you first look at this little monster, you may feel sorry for it and want to take it home to be your friend.  But put that situation in human terms, and the mood completely changes.  After all, would you be friends with someone who wears their mom’s skull as a hat?  I didn’t think so.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Brief Story About Zelda

LinkSwordsmiths

Back in my day, my brother and I used to walk fifteen miles in the snow to buy our video games.  We would work 26 hours a day in the steel mill, save our pennies for months on end while only eating old newspapers soaked in rainwater as food.  Eventually, we would earn enough money be able to afford our precious Super Nintendo games.   And we used to save our games on the cartridges themselves, and we were grateful, dag’nabit!

LinkController

That is how I feel going into this story.  Old and senile towards todays video game youth (who definitely don’t know how good they’ve got it these days).  In reality, my brother and I were rather fortunate to have a father who also enjoyed video games for a time.  After the Super Nintendo came out, my Dad’s interest in actually playing games with us declined sharply(I think it was the addition of the X, Y, L, and R buttons that he found to be unnecessary and frustrating).  But his love for his children meant we were spoiled by getting a new video game on each of our birthdays.  One year, my brother and I had our little hearts set on the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

LinkMemory

At this point, a little explanation of how memory on video games has evolved over the years might be necessary.  You see, most modern games utilize a hard drive that is built into the system for saving your game progression.  Most of them even save the game automatically as you play, just to make sure you don’t lose any progress due to a freak power outage(or glitchy game design).  But back in the days of the Super Nintendo, there was no hard drive built into the system itself.  We didn’t even use the Memory Cards that became common with the advent of the Sony Playstation.  The cartridges that Nintendo produced would actually contain your game progresssion.  This way, whenever you would rent a game from Blockbuster (a store that used to exist where one could rent movies and video games), you often got to see the previous saved games of those who had rented before you.  This often left me with a feeling of seeing history laid out before me, or gave me a rival to work against.

LinkSelect

ANYWAY, as my brother and I placed the newest tale of Link into the Super Nintendo, we discovered something odd.  This brand new game our Dad had just given to us as a gift, already had saved data on it.  It was like something out of a horror story, as if the game was cursed or haunted by some spirit who adventured before us.  Not only were there games in progress on our cartridge, but one of them had already completed the entire game!  And collected all the heart pieces!  Needless to say, my brother and I were perplexed by this mystery.  These were before the days of buying games used, where the titles you bought may have had several owners before you, and thus would explain previous game saves.

LinkTitle

To this day, we have not figured out exactly how phantom data made its way onto our copy of A Link to the Past.  Maybe we somehow got a test copy from Nintendo.  Maybe the employees of Toys R Us repackaged this game after taking it home to play.  I still think it may have been ghosts.  Some spectre who had completed our game before us, and needed us to beat his legacy to lay his soul to rest.  The saved game has been long since deleted, in order to make room for each of our own saves, but the story still lingers, a secret never quite resolved.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,