Resonance: The Pit of 100 Trials

(Featured Image by Flickr user: mac morrison)

I like game music. I enjoy how it can turn a fairly bland encounter in to something exciting! how it can take drudgery and turn it into a fantastic adventure, and how it can turn a dark room into a space to be feared and dreaded. You know what? I take it back. I don’t like game music…I absolutely adore it! Sure there’s your generic themes and the tendency to overuse orchestra, but what can I say? It just moves me!

So because I know that I’m not the only one affected by the music of the games I play, I am very pleased (and perhaps more than a little excited) to introduce Resonance! A new weekly article that’s equal parts enthusiastic analysis and musings concerning those pieces that move and endear themselves to us in a way most music could only hope to.

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Before we begin, please take about a minute to listen to the track at the top of the post. Don’t worry, I can wait…

Anyway, as the title states, what you just listened to is the theme from The Pit of 100 Trials in Super Paper Mario. This is a game chock full of wonderful musical pieces, ranging from humorous, to exciting and adventurous, to tear jerkinging-ly sad and bitter-sweet, and even downright dark and a little creepy. This game’s music runs the full emotional spectrum with many memorable themes. However, if you dared to take on the challenge offered by the Pit of 100 Trials then this is the piece you’ll be taking with you once you stop playing. Why this one? Well, listen to it again and consider the list I just provided. Which of those categories would you say this belongs to? Any of them? All of them? None of them?  Whereas every other piece in this game, and indeed in most games, isn’t very difficult to classify, this one is. It’s doesn’t evoke any one emotion or feeling, and so cannot be pinned down. Which is exactly what makes it such a brilliant and memorable piece.

When I listen to this piece, I find myself feeling more and more as the music progresses; almost as if I were moving diving into its depths and having all compound on top of me as I descend. It starts out with with a sense of optimism, that this is something light-hearted and pleasant. That initial sense is then joined by a sense of wonder inspired by the thought of mystery. Diving deeper, those initial feelings and senses are dulled and mostly replaced by a sense of forlorn aimlessness, of wandering about with no sense of a clear destination. Going deeper still, all other feeling are eclipsed by resignation; a mental image of reaching the end wherever it may be, a thought that brings it all full circle and inspires a hint of that original optimism once more.

Now I won’t deny that this interpretation is very likely informed by my experiences playing through the Pit of 100 trials in the hopes of facing the boss for each (yep, there’s more than one). What I could be feeling as I listen to this piece may well be an echo of how I felt while playing through the Pits. That’s what’s so wonderful about this piece though. Since there is no strong identifiable emotional core to the theme, its left up to the player to fill in that blank with their own experiences. For me it may be the emotions and feelings brought on by a Pit run, but for you it may be entirely different.

This is the Pit of 100 Trials theme, a musical piece that defies simple definition.

What does this piece inspire in you? Does it evoke similar feelings or something entirely different?

(I appreciate suggestions, if you have a piece that you think would make for a good discussion be sure to talk about it!)


  1. cary says:

    Having not played Super Paper Mario, I don’t know what the Pit of 100 Trials is. Based on this music, I imagine it’s not a dank, dark pit — it seems like it would be a fun place to explore.

    There’s something about this music that reminds me of the kind of tune that might play during a Final Fantasy battle — it has that upbeat muzak (in a good way) sound that I envision playing while I choose my next summon.


    1. Hatm0nster says:

      You’re right about the Pit of 100 Trials. It’s more like a series of corridors than it is a pit. It’s something you have to wander through and explore in order to advance.

      I like your take on the music. I hadn’t thought of it as a battle theme before, but I agree it would definitely make for a fun fight when paired with the right setting or enemies.


  2. duckofindeed says:

    I was just playing through these the other day, and that is so true; this song is hard to define. It just…is. It certainly doesn’t make the place seem creepy, and it isn’t, as it is quite well-lit for a pit, but I guess it does give that wandering feel, with a bit of mystery with the murals on the walls. I’m not sad, not scared, not much of anything. I’m just trekking farther and farther down into this place and seeing what awaits me on each level.

    And you’re right about this game’s music, too. There were a lot of good songs. I was listening to some the other day, and there are so many good songs that make me feel a whole range of emotions.


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