High Scores

High Scores: Pyramid Peril

“Pyramid Peril” is an appropriate song to spotlight, not only because it’s Maddigan’s favorite but also because it speaks to the game’s opportunities—and its perils. For an indie game, Cuphead has had an amazingly wide reach, which is sure to continue growing.

High Scores: Dire, Dire Docks

If “Dire, Dire Docks” sounds celebratory of the developers’ achievement, the celebration is earned. Super Mario 64 turned 25 this month (its original release date, in Japan, was June 23, 1996), and it has aged remarkably well. More time has passed between Mario 64 and the present day than had passed between Pong’s release (November 29, 1972) and Mario 64’s. And yet Mario 64, while obviously blockier than current-gen graphics, still looks, sounds, and feels like a modern game.

High Scores: Hateno Village (Day)

What I find most compelling about “Hateno Village” is how it nods to the Legend of Zelda series’ past without totally bowing to it. Take, for instance, the way the song incorporates the first four notes from the beginning of the “House” music from Ocarina of Time; “Hateno” sprinkles the familiar notes in at around 1:13 like a light seasoning, subtly cuing the longtime Zelda fan to feel at home in the new environment. Essentially, the game creates nostalgia for a place the player’s never been before.

High Scores: Aerith’s Theme

I can’t help but hear “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII the way I hear “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. Both are 1997 babies. Both elegize a young, poor, plucky, orphaned savior. Both build to swollen, gushy climaxes.

High Scores: Terra’s Theme

That “Terra’s Theme” disappears from the game in the World of Ruin (the game’s second half) does not diminish the importance of her character. In fact, by examining how “Terra’s Theme” and its leitmotifs dominate the World of Balance (the game’s first half) but localize in the WoR, we can see how Terra’s story is, in fact, the story of FFVI. To cast Terra as less than the protagonist is to miss the game’s central themes, narratively and musically.