Heavy Metal In Video Games Part 3: The Retro Edition
Band Photo: Gwar (?)
A month back we idly asked why more video game developers aren't using heavy metal soundtracks, since gunning down enemies, conquering rival armies, and slicing apart demonic hordes seem like they should all be tailor fit to shredding guitars and harsh vocals.
We've been bombarded with suggestions from readers since then about games with solid metal or metal inspired soundtracks, and we'll be sharing those every few weeks – but don't stop letting us know about your favorites! Be sure to give us some suggestions below or over at Facebook.
The heavy metal gaming madness continues today, and this week we're going entirely retro, ranging from Super NES and Genesis to the PS1/N64/Dreamcast era, but advancing no further into the ever-increasing hardware specs of consoles.
If you missed our previous examinations of video games with heavy metal soundtracks be sure to check 'em out here:
Part 1: Brutal Legend, Saints Row III, Killing Floor 2, Pain Killer, and Guilty Gear X2 Reload
Part 2: Splatterhouse, Twisted Metal 2, The Witcher's bonus music disc, and Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And The Damned.
Without further ado, here's our tribute to all things metal in retro gaming history:
Rock and Roll Racing
This forgotten gem originally came out on SNES and Genesis, but was then later ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2003. For you folks who use emulators like ZSNES, this one is readily available on any given ROM site.
Featuring compressed, digitized versions (minus the vocals) of hard rock and metal songs in that distinctive Super NES quality, the soundtrack included songs like “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath and “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood. Like the classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors, in true old school style Rock And Roll Racing spat out a passcode to remember for returning to specific levels with all your car upgrades saved.
I have to wonder if some of the themes and imagery from these cars and tracks ended up as inspiration for the pinnacle of heavy metal video games – Brutal Legend – which featured its share of vehicle mayhem with heavy metal backing. A sequel to Rock And Roll Racing actually showed up for the Playstation a few years later titled Red Asphalt (named after those driver's ed videos meant to scare kids straight) with much updated sound quality. Seems like we're overdue for another one though – so game developers, get on it!
Beavis and Butthead
Remember when these two constantly chuckling idiots were the idols of all 10 year old boys everywhere and MTV still played music? Unsurprisingly a video game tie-in was involved with the famous series, setting you on a quest to reach a GWAR concert.
A metal-themed soundtrack is featured across the game (like Rock and Roll Racing, obviously it's in a MIDI style that leaves out vocals and has a more electronic sound) while B&B engage in shenanigans like frying and eating rats, getting chased by fat men in their underwear, and shooting people in the nuts with plungers.
The game play and soundtrack were quite different between the SNES and Genesis games, so here's some of both:
Anyone who played the Super NES as a kid knew that F-Zero was where it was at, so of course the game was updated with a new edition for the N64, switching from 2d sprites to 3d graphics.
Although the sound quality isn't as amazing as with newer games, the soundtrack is definitely on the metallic side, with guitar and keyboard solos aplenty along with heavier, remixed versions of music from the original game. For a very different take on racing games, you can't go wrong with F-Zero.
Spoken of in hushed whispers from the mist-shrouded time of the SNES days, Earthbound was an offbeat RPG that many who went through all the Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire games never actually played. Thankfully, its' readily available on any given ROM site so you can relive the experience of Ness trying to stop an alien force from consuming the world now as an adult.
The vast majority of the soundtrack has no real connection to metal – until the end of the game that just absolutely blew little kid's minds. The final battle had both clearly metal inspired music in the beginning as well as truly disturbing ambient sounds towards the end that beat out what some shoegaze bands are doing today.
In a time when most gamers were still young kids, the whacked-out boss fight with Giygas ending in nothing but static fuzz was a truly eye-opening experience that no doubt shattered some innocence – and that's about as metal as it gets.
Heavy Metal Geomatrix
Before there was Brutal Legend, there was actually another fully heavy metal themed video game... only this one was based on the Heavy Metal comic series. Considering the title, of course the Dreamcast game Heavy Metal Geomatrix had an all-metal soundtrack, and unlike the previous games featured here, this one included full vocals as well!
The cast of metallic tunes include songs from Megadeth, Wasp, Halford, Corrosion of Conformity, Dust To Dust, and Entombed while two players beat the holy living crap out of one another in 3D fighting arenas.
That's it for this week - but we'll be looking at more metallic game titles in the near future. What did you think of these picks, and what games with heavy metal soundtracks would your recommend to us?
Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.
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