In a For Our Consideration article about Metroid Fusion, Jake Muncy mentioned how the game’s hostile clone of the series’ hero Samus Aran effectively gives players a taste of their own medicine, forcing them to feel the same unstoppable threat that Samus poses to her enemies. NakedSna—I mean, Big Boss identified with this conflict and tried to work it out:
Whenever that feeling hits me when I’m playing video games—where I wonder what the enemies must think of me—it really messes with my mind. For most games, it’s just a question of realizing that the protagonist must be one of the most violent and feared people alive. Nathan Drake, I hope those treasures are worth it to you, because the destruction & anguish you have caused is legendary in mercenary circles. One series that does a good job of handling the tension between the protagonist and their victims, funnily enough, is Metal Gear Solid. On the one hand, you play as a hardened soldier for whom killing is simply part of the job. On the other, the game takes pains to display the humanity and complex motivations of your enemies (even simple grunts). The games resolve this by evoking a chivalric notion of war. You don’t kill your enemies because they are evil. You kill them because they are your enemies. Thus the feeling is somehow mutual: The enemies must fear you, but perhaps they don’t hate you.
And Tinkerer pointed out that this feeling Jake inferred from Metroid Fusion was made explicit elsewhere in the series:
Samus as “The Terminator” is actually reinforced in Metroid Prime 3, where you can scan the computers in the Pirate Homeworld and read about how “the Hunter” is consistently foiling the Space Pirates’ plans and they hate her. It’s really satisfying for the player to learn that. Of course, they should stop building those save stations and morph ball-sized tubes on their Homeworld as well, but don’t tell them that.
And Proto Man expanded on that with some specifics from another Prime game:
The Pirate Logs in Metroid Prime 2 are the best because the pirates start out with “Jesus, the Hunter is murdering us! God no!” referring to Dark Samus. Then after real Samus’ arrival, their logs switch to “Dear God, there’s TWO of them?”
This week, we tried out another one of our collaborative playlist Inventories. The theme this time around was great songs from games’ idle moments (save points, pause screens, and safe havens), and we got a fantastic response! We’ve gone ahead and added 21 of your suggested songs to the YouTube playlist (which you can find by clicking on these blue words right here) rounding it out to a nice, even 30 songs. Here’s what we added and the commenters who suggested them:
· Pause music, Battletoads—craigward
· Menu music, Star Fox 64—Colonel Sanders
· Galaxy map, Mass Effect 2—NakedSnake Big Boss
· Loader music, The Last Ninja 2—Teacher in China
· “Serenity,” Resident Evil 4—Aussie50
· Pause music, Goldeneye 007 —Will Riker’s soggy finger
· “Extreme Outlaw King,” Disgaea 3: Absence Of Justice—Shinigami Apple Merchant
· “Main Menu,” The Wolf Among Us—Matthew Legarreta
· “Whispering Rock Summer Camp,” Psychonauts—Sleverin
· Pause music, Banjo Kazooie—jakeoti
· “I Made It All Up,” Portal 2—hellisland
· “City (Japan),” Front Mission 3—EndOfTheWorld
· Password screen, Mega Man 3—The Mortiest Morty
· “Awakening,” Ghost Trick—Tinkerer
· “Empty Warehouse,” OFF—Decibelle
· “Cuddle,” Star Ocean: The Second Story—Andrew Howie
Thanks for the awesome response on this one, Gameologicians. Once again, here’s a link to the full YouTube playlist for your listening pleasure.
We also wanted to highlight the explanations that a couple of readers gave for their picks. First up is DL:
My suggestion is “Birdman” from Pilotwings 64. I believe the Birdman suit is one of the most passive yet fully interactive experiences in a video game, and the music complements this feeling in every environment the game has to offer. Whipping around the refineries and snowy peaks of Ever-Frost Island has the same comfort and leisure as basking in the hot, steamy beaches of Crescent Island. Playing any of these at night is an absolute must. Many years ago, I drove up to Chicago one night in the early fall, just to walk alone along the shorewalks at the Adler Planetarium and bask in the cityscape and peace I feel when listening to this song. I’ve actually fallen asleep playing this game, my character gently gliding to rest at the place I stopped inputting controls. Very little can be considered more idle than that.
And Andrew Howie explained what makes one track from Star Ocean: The Second Story so special:
“Cuddle” from Star Ocean: The Second Story is the track I’d like to highlight this week. It stands out because it doesn’t represent one specific moment shared by specific characters but rather an overarching intimacy in the game. Unlike the event music in Xenogears where a tragically short soundtrack left many pieces doing double and triple duty throughout the course of the 80-hour adventure, “Cuddle” plays sparingly and only when appropriate—when learning something about the relationship between two characters, huddling close by the fireplace to discuss future plans, or engaging in melancholy reflection on the past. The emotional ties formed between characters is what drives Star Ocean 2, making “Cuddle,” a track that evokes a warmth and domesticity that’s emblematic of its subject matter as a whole.
That does it for this week, folks. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week!