Thursday, August 5, 2010

Top Five: Video Game Soundtracks You Should Never Listen to While Driving

There are plenty of things you should never do while driving, like using a cell phone, drinking alcohol, shaving, reading the newspaper, eating sloppy joes and listening to political talk shows that are likely to give you road rage. But did you ever consider that the music you listen to in your car could affect your performance as a motorist? Judging by the charred wrecks littering my lawn and the unpaid tickets that taunt me everyday, the right tunes could mean the difference between driving like a kind, nice car champ and a blind, NASCAR chump. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and never hit the road while listening to the following game soundtracks. As my father is fond of telling me, the life you save may be your own. Or more importantly, mine.

Ridge Racer – PlayStation
There are plenty of racing titles I could have put here, but I chose Ridge Racer because every song in the game has been clinically proven to increase adrenaline, disable speed related inhibitions, and cause the listener to mash his or her right foot into the ground as hard as humanly possible. When played in your car stereo, the Ridge Racer soundtrack makes you feel as if your hair has burst into flames, but its okay because you know how to put it out: All you have to do is roll down all of your windows and break the sound barrier with that NASA surplus rocket engine you strapped to the roof of your car. Cops hate speeders, if you’ve got Ridge Racer in your CD player, chances are they’ll never catch up with you to give you the ticket.

Listen to "Rare Hero" from Ridge Racer
Listen to "Ridge Racer" from Ridge Racer

Mother 1 + 2 (Earthbound and Earthbound Zero) – GameBoy Advance

The original Mother game – known in some circles as “Earthbound Zero” – bore the tagline “No crying until the end.” This game and its sequel both live up to that promise, with endings that will make you ball up into the fetal position and weep like a jellyfish-stung baby while simultaneously smiling you rear off, just to spite yourself. Considering the emotional baggage these games heap upon the unsuspecting player, not even the surliest of pirates would be able to keep from bawling with the likes of “Eight Melodies” or Mother 2’s ending theme pouring from their speakers. It’s very, very difficult to explain to a police officer that you drove into the car in front of you because you couldn’t see though the tears. It’s even harder to explain that you were crying because a ragtag group of robot teens thwarted a demonic space alien by praying at it thousands of years ago in your living room.

Listen to "Eight Melodies" from Mother 1+2

Silent Hill series – Multi platform

Anyone who’s ever played a game in Konami’s Silent Hill franchise knows that it was designed to twist unsuspecting gamers into spastic madmen, no longer able to handle all but the most kid-friendly titles. Silent Hill was originally just a way for Konami to sell more copies of Dance Dance Revolution to traumatized players looking for reintegration into gaming society, but some people actually like writhing in psychological agony, so they ran with it.

All official Silent Hill soundtracks lull the listener into a false sense of security by putting an awesome rock or pop song first, then slowly moving into more atmospheric and creepy tracks. Before your know it, you’re listing to the sonic equivalent of 1,000 Satans tying you to a vomit-stained torture rack in an abandoned mental hospital and sawing off your limbs with rusty sporks and shards of broken funhouse mirrors, all while cramming flaming bat guano down your throat. The dangers of listening to a Silent Hill soundtrack while driving include an increased heart rate, intense feelings of paranoia, and wetting the rich, Corinthian leather of your driver’s seat. If you’re foolish enough to listen to Silent Hill tunes at night while on a lonely back road, there’s at least a 3000 percent chance that you’ll wind up crawling out of your overturned vehicle and bolting into the night, screaming like a child wearing underpants made of wasps.

Listen to "Until Death" from Silent Hill

Listen to "Angel's Scream" from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Superman 64 – Nintendo 64

Everyone knows that Superman 64 is an abomination unto the Lord and no one should ever play it. This includes the equally horrendous soundtrack. Listening to the tunes from Superman 64 in your car won’t cause you to drive at warp speed or crash into anything, but it will make for a pretty crappy ride to work. When given the option, listen to the news instead: It’s just as aggravating and depressing, but at least you’ll learn something other than the fact that Superman 64’s soundtrack converts disappointment into music at a one to one ratio.

Listen to some music from Superman 64

Mortal Kombat: The Album – Inspired by the arcade game

If you’ve never heard of this gem, then you wouldn’t know that someone through it would be great to convert the bestselling Mortal Kombat arcade game into a poorly received technopop jam fest. In addition to a song based on every MK1 character – except for mildly offensive Asian stereotype Shang Tsung and mysterious palette swap Reptile – there’s also two versions of the infamous Mortal Kombat theme song. So why shouldn’t you listen to this pseudo-game soundtrack while crusing for chicks (or dudes, whatever) in your sweet ride? One word: Kano.

When I purchased this album about 15 years ago, listening to Kano’s theme song, “Use Your Might,” inspired me to create my own Mortal Kombat spin-off game called “Kano’s Go-Kart.” Here’s how I envision the intro movie:

After loading up the game, the screen remains black. Out of nowhere, the player is aurally assaulted with “Use Your Might” from Mortal Kombat: The Album. There’s a series of jaw-shattering orchestra hits.

The garage door of his suburban home slowly slides open, revealing Kano with his hands on his hips, wearing his white MK1 uniform. To his left is a go-kart, a tiny, homemade vehicle with just enough space for an adult rider to sit in the seat and steer, albeit with his knees up his nose. The morning sun shines upon Kano and his marvelous machine.

MK1 Announcer: KANO WINS!

Kano hops into his go-kart, and with his knees in the air, speeds down his driveway at a blazing 13 miles per hour. The orchestra hits continue, accompanied by an aggressive drumbeat and a face-pounding bassline.

The wind whips over his half-metal face and through his hair. Kano speeds over the stop sign at the end of the street, reducing it to thousands of twisted metal shards. The deer that had been grazing in the nearby alcove gallop away in terror. Suddenly, Kano’s go-kart screeches to a stop. He gazes onto the unmolested expanse of a suburban Saturday morning.

A female singer, who is probably hot, chimes in: Use your might, Kano fight! The world is at your feet. Fight! Use your might! I’m on your side!

Kano cracks a feral smile and revs up his kart, blasting towards the now-endangered livelihoods of the unsuspecting residents. End intro video; cue title screen.

The object of Kano’s Go-Kart is to destroy as much of suburbia as you can. This includes running over dogs and rabbits, plowing through lawns and gardens, and chasing small children up the stairs of their homes before shredding all of their toys with your kart. There are three power ups: a spinning knife that increases your kart’s maximum speed from 13 to 16 miles per hour, a dragon icon that changes Kano into his MK3 uniform for a limited time, and a grain of rice hidden somewhere in the grass that awards the player a single point upon pickup.

If I listened to Mortal Kombat: The Album in my car, I’d be highly inspired go on a Kano-like rampage, destroying my neighbor’s light posts, mincing garden gnomes, and collecting mailboxes with my windshield. And now you would too, because I guarantee that after reading this article, you’ll think of nothing but Kano’s Go-Kart whenever you hear MK: The Album. I’m sorry that I just ruined any possibility of you ever listening to one of the best/worst video game based albums of all time while driving, but learning about Kano’s Go-Kart is a worthy tradeoff. Well, at least it was for me.

Listen to "Kano (Use Your Might)" from Mortal Kombat: The Album

Drive safely!

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