If you’ve ever played a video game, chances are you’ve been terrified by some background music. It’s pretty well unescapable, especially as games evolve and narratives twist and turn. And what better way to terrify players than including some absolutely terrifying music to get into their heads and play over and over until they feel like they can take no more?
It’s super easy to stop thinking about bizarre visuals, but music is far more difficult to cast out of your head. Even when you think you’re safe from the chills that run down your spine after being forced to listen to some painfully atmospheric soundtrack cuts, a few key notes arise in the back of your mind to plague you once again.
These are five particularly spine-tingling tracks that’ll be hanging around to haunt you long after you press pause. Are you brave enough to listen to them all?
Earthbound – “Giygas Battle”
Earthbound can be scary on its own without Giygas involved, but the final showdown with this creature is absolutely horrifying. The various stages of the showdown against Giygas come with their own respective tracks, but the final battle’s theme takes the cake. If you subscribe to the theory regarding Giygas as a fetus (look it up, we’re serious) then the “lullaby” portion and what sounds like a hundred computers crashing to a screeching halt with error messages abound should make plenty more sense.
Pokémon Red/Blue – “Lavender Town”
Ask any Pokémon fan what the scariest part of the original games are and you’ll get one definitive answer: Lavender Town. The deceptively calm town’s tune features a plinking chiptune introduction and then a cavalcade of jarring chords crop up like some kind of uneasy fog on the town. And while orchestral arrangements of the familiar tune only seek to amplify the creep factor, the original’s uneasy melody is enough nightmare fuel to power an especially malevolent terror machine. Try not to picture the spirits of all the deceased Pokémon of the past when passing through this town.
Super Mario 64 – “Looping Steps”
Okay, Super Mario 64 is absolutely terrifying sometimes. Seriously. Have you even played it? Did you ever really think about the things going on in that game? When you ascend these particular stairs the Shepard tone-infused “Looping Stairs” theme that follows you on the way up is simultaneously disconcerting and hopeful – if you’re on this particular staircase without enough stars, you’re not going anywhere. The constant rising, never reaching a climax is particularly unsettling, especially when listened to for prolonged periods, not to mention frustrating.
Sonic CD – “Hidden Message”
Sonic CD has one of the greatest series of stages and accompanying background music of all time, but it’s also home to one of the creepiest Easter eggs ever. You’ve got to fiddle with the sound settings a bit to get to this screen, but once you do you’ll be rewarded with a freaky screen as seen above in the video with some sort of distorted developer face on Sonic’s body and music straight out of a nightmare. A calliope would be hard-pressed to make that sound any worse.
Silent Hill 3 – “Prayer”
Just sit alone in a dark room and listen to this track without immediately reaching for the light switch. You can make it if you try, but who would want to? Why are these voices chanting like this? Who are they? What are they saying? Who are they praying to? Perhaps these are all questions you don’t really want the answers to. A psychotic chant rife with darkness, made to a series of demonic gods? Best to let it end and forget you ever heard it, lest something terrible happen to you. That sums up Silent Hill 3 pretty well, after all.
Are you scared yet? What are some of your favorite creepy tracks from video games?
Featured image credit: Nintendo
Image Credits: Nintendo, SEGA, Capcom