Resonance: In the Darkness

Video from Youtube user: BrawlBRSTMs3

Hatm0nster was kind enough to let me use his “Resonance” idea, where, if you haven’t yet read these delightful posts, he discusses a particular song from a video game that stands out to him.  I have the same love for video game music, as the right music can bring you into the game and make you feel so much more that you’re a part of the experience.  One such song that comes to mind is “In the Darkness” a song from “Super Paper Mario”.  This particular song is not my favorite song from the game, but it certainly stands out to me above all others.  First, a little background.

This song only plays a few times earlier on in the game, and it takes place when Peach or Luigi are wandering around Castle Bleck, trying to find a way out.  The castle is dark, so dark, literally all black with some white details, before a churning purple sky that is the Void, a hole in between all dimensions that will eventually destroy all worlds.  With the darkness of the castle, set before the Void, and the destruction of all worlds imminent, this location and the events surrounding it are unsettling, to say the least.

And not only is the landscape foreboding, but the song that plays here manages to add so much more to this place, giving me much the same feelings that Peach and Luigi must feel, wandering in this lonesome place, unsure how to escape, if there is, in fact, any way out to begin with, while they worry about being spotted by Count Bleck’s troops and being brainwashed to serve him.  If they make one mistake, they may never leave this place.  And the music that plays here is rather strange and slow and not anything like a typical song.  The song has all these different pieces to it, with no rhyme or reason, the flow of the song as uncertain as what might become of Peach and Luigi if they aren’t careful.  At the same time, this song gives me so many emotions, as well, like sadness and loneliness, which fit perfectly with what’s happening in the game.

There are several specific parts of the music in particular that I want to point out that serve to make the area even more disturbing and creepy.  Shortly into the song, about 18 seconds in, I have always noticed this higher pitched noise, almost like someone whistling, just under the surface of the music.  It’s not obvious, but it’s there.  You swear there is another sound beneath the music, and it just gives the feeling of wandering somewhere dark and lonely, and there really should be no one there but you, but then you think you hear something in the distance beneath the sound of your footsteps.  And then when you stop and listen, you’re not sure.  This only creates more unease when you wonder if it was simply in your head or if something is really out there.  And then, when you start to believe that what you heard was simply your imagination (at 54 seconds in), you hear this distant, echoing crashing, all on its own, not beneath any other sounds, making it much more obvious than the whistling.  And it is here that you start to become certain that you really were hearing something.  Like you’re not alone.  That there is something or someone making noise off in the distance, and you can’t tell what it is or if it’s getting closer.  All you know is that you need to keep moving because you are certain you don’t want to find out.

I don’t know if anyone else got this same feeling from the song, but that only serves to make this level an even more personal experience, as different people can interpret the song different ways, and yet the same overall vibe is there.  And so it is all these reasons that this song had an impact on me more than any other song from this game.  This is the song that has stuck with me through the years and has so much more meaning than the songs I simply enjoy, but get nothing extra from.  These songs are rare, but this is definitely one of them.

For those of you who have played this game, what impact did this song have on you?  Did it give you the same ominous feelings it gave me or something different?

And if you haven’t played the game, having only the music to go on, what kind of feelings does it give you?  What does it make you think of?  Are there any songs you’ve heard that are similar?

In the Duckness

5 Comments

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    You know, I never really paid much attention to this song until you talked about it here. I thought of it as a decent piece but nothing more beyond that. Listening to it again, I think I more or less agree with your assessment.

    For me, the key word to describe this theme is “uncertainty”. Is it omnious? Well, yes and no. Is it chaotic? Again, yes and no. It could be both of these things, either, or even none. Your feelings constantly change as you listen. It may be that this tune is as alien as the world it’s connected to and follows a logic that is beyond us.

    Great pick, and great post.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      Yes, the uncertainty of the song is indeed the best way to describe it. It changes so much, I suppose it’s hard to get just one feeling from it. It’s unpredictable, just like the location it takes place in is, because it is so unfamiliar.

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  2. cary says:

    Y’know, the only thing that make me thinks this music is from a Mario game are those low, repetitive “chimes” (sounds like someone’s hitting random pipes or something) that are reminiscent of the Underground theme from Super Mario World. It’s both ominous and strangely happy-sounding in a way. Like, if this music was playing while I was exploring a creepy place alone, it would make me feel really uneasy; yet, I think I’d still find myself humming the “happy” part. I like Hatm0nster’s note that it sounds “alien” because it does.

    Man, I think I have to play this game now!

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      You’re right, there are parts of the song that are a bit more cheerful in a way. I think I know which parts you mean, as those are the parts I do actually hum sometimes. A strange song if there ever was one.

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