The recent release of Super Metroid on the Wii U Virtual Console is a great reminder of how incredible the music for the Metroid games has been across the entire series. As many of you know, I am passionate about my gaming music and listen to it even when I'm not playing a game, and I admit I've even purchased a couple of official soundtracks here and there over the years. This list is completely my personal selection of favorite Metroid music tracks.
To say this was no easy task is an understatement. I narrowed down my long list to ten tracks that I definitely enjoy going back and re-listening to, in addition to selecting music based on the impact the soundtrack has on the area of the game. I also wanted to represent a range of Metroid games that I feel deserve a spot on the list.
As if the original Norfair music from Metroid weren’t creepy enough, the Game Boy Advance update to the classic adds in some menacing vocals and extra instrumentation that adds a lot of ‘oomph’ to this wonderful tune. Zero Mission is one of the best examples I can think of a 'remake' that really feels like a brand new game and is vastly improved upon the game it is based off.
Maridia Underwater (Super Metroid)
This tune seems a little sad yet soothes the player with its simple melody as Samus explores the underwater section of Maridia. The music sounds even better in-game, since you also clearly see and hear small air bubbles escaping from Samus’ Power Suit. This is but one of several emotional displays of greatness that embodies the essence that is Super Metroid.
End Credits (Metroid)
The original NES game was a bit rough in some respects, but it was still a great game that surprised gamers when they found out who the hero, Samus, really was. The credits theme music feels very cinematic and pulls off a 'space opera' sound really well. It's dramatic and a fitting conclusion to Samus' first adventure in the struggle to bring peace to the galaxy.
Tallon IV Overworld (Metroid Prime)
There's a slow build up of sound with this track, as Samus explores this new world for the first time. This is the first open world players experienced as Samus in a 3-D Metroid game, and after having escaped the chaos and brutality of the cold and death-filled Frigate Orpheon (now destroyed), the beauty and serenity of Tallon IV is a welcome respite. Samus (and the player) knows the road ahead is anything but peaceful though, and so we proceed cautiously all the same, as this immense environment lies ahead. The music is also welcoming to long-time Metroid fans, since it mixes in some of the original Metroid's Brinstar music.
Gandrayda Battle (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption)
Intense! I feel this is probably the most underrated song on this list. Fighting the other bounty hunters made for a new kind of challenge and was always something I wanted to see more of after having played Metroid Prime: Hunters. Gandrayda herself was a formidable opponent, being able to mimic various enemies and their powers. Even in her natural form, she was quick and nimble, easily eluding Samus' attacks.
Torvus Bog (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
I don't know what it is about the sounds used for the music in the Metroid Prime games, but they just sound fantastic and fit the theme of the games so perfectly. In this case, Samus is exploring the wet and rainy Torvus Bog environment. There's a really cool synth drum rhythm playing in the background. At 0:39, a whistling sound kicks in, sort of like it's saying 'Be careful, Samus, for danger lurks around every corner.'
SR388 (Metroid II)
The Game Boy sound lends itself really well in creating a sense of adventure in this handheld Metroid. It's pretty amazing how Nintendo was really able to nail this unique theme; there's some great complexity with this one, and I feel like Samus is definitely being acknowledged for being the awesome warrior that she truly is. I love the part at 0:43 where the music seems to climax.
Brinstar Overgrown (Super Metroid)
I strongly debated to myself which variation of the Brinstar music I wanted to be on this list, and as much as I love Brinstar Red (also known as Lower Brinstar) with its sinister undertones, I have to say Brinstar Overgrown is the best. This well-known melody does such a great job of setting the atmosphere for Super Metroid; it's full of energy; it has the industrial sound mixed with music that sounds more... tribal? And it even has a voice-like chant on top of it, which was really expanded on in the Prime games.
Sanctuary Fortress (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
That sound that kicks in immediately is frantic! It shows off the technological (and mechanical) environment Samus is entering and the ensuing chaos that is to follow. Brilliant. And don't you just love the chants? Then at 1:30, an awesome sound kicks in! I have no idea how to describe it, but it really drives the music forward. It's all like... digital noise that works in perfect harmony?
Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime)
When I think of the most amazing moments in a video game, this area of Metroid Prime almost always comes to mind, without a doubt. The first time I walked out and saw the snowy landscape of Phendrana Drifts was definitely a beautiful experience. It is no wonder that a game that consistently ranks as 'best game of all time' on many gamers' lists also has some of my favorite music in any video game.
Sorry for leaving out Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Other M (the most disappointing Metroid soundtrack by far), but I wasn't a big fan of the music in those games.
Is it any surprise that the three Metroid Prime games dominate the list? I would like to acknowledge Kenji Yamamoto for he is the man, for sure, as his contributions to the Metroid series (the Prime games and Super Metroid in particular) clearly demonstrate his musical talent.
I also want to recognize Hirokazu (aka 'Hip') Tanaka (composer for the NES Metroid) and Ryoji Yoshitomi (composer for Metroid II).
How does my list line up with your favorite Metroid music tracks? Chime in below!
I find it really difficult to rank the Metroid soundtracks since they're inherently less about melody and more about atmosphere. I really like the game OSTs, it's just hard for me to say what songs I like more than others.
Regardless, good list! But I do think my two favorite songs are the Theme of Super Metroid and the NES Kraid's Lair.
I like many of your selections, but I don't think I could make a list of my top 10 Metroid Music Tracks. Well, I could, but it would pretty much just be the soundtrack listing for Super Metroid!
Though, there is simply no question that your number one pick would be among my top ten. That song is just plain awesome. One of the best Metroid songs of all time, and one I listen to quite often. I wasn't a big fan of the music in the other Prime games, save for the Torvus Bog song you noted, but the music in the first Prime is superb.
I think what really sets the series apart (save for Metroid II and Other M - for different reasons) is how well married the music, sound effects, and atmosphere are. It's pure genius in many cases.
I can't think of too many video game songs where I was like holy shiat something is gonna go down soon. Maybe one of my favorite areas of any Metroid game. Just epic music. Fighting the super space pirates on my way to Ridley was just badass. The title screen I remember getting pretty pumped for it when I first heard it. Super Metroid is prolly my favorite Metroid game of them all, maybe Metroid Prime after that.
It was a tough choice. Like I mentioned in my #3, Super Metroid's Lower Brinstar was a strong contender, but I ultimately had to select the other Brinstar music. Although in the link I provided up there in #3, they call it 'Brinstar Red', so I guess that track has different names?
"Overgrown Forest" as I knew it (saw it somewhere?) is my personal favorite. I love that thing so much. I used to go and just sit there on the Item screen.
And I have no idea why I clicked on any of these Metroid Prime 2 songs. I played that game TOO MUCH (against my wishes; I would've liked to beaten it a lot faster!), and these songs turn my stomach and BRAIIIINS.
And I never really liked Phendrana Drifts. I know I'm deep in the minority with this one, but I just don't get it.
Big fan of the Super Metroid open, too. I think I generally like most of that music more than Prime, head to head.
Ah yes, Brinstar Depths from Metroid is great. The Melee version is a fantastic remix. It was a strong contender for the list, for sure.
I'm not as big a fan of Planet Zebes though, even the Melee version. I agree it's a classic, it's just not a track I go back and listen to on a regular basis. I've heard some awesome remixes of the track though, and I've been thinking about putting together a Top Ten remixes list, but... I'm not sure.