The Curiously Moody Soundtrack of Strider Arcade

Halloween is still a ways off, but I already have an insatiable craving for all things spooky. I have a lengthy list of creepy movies to watch, and a longer list of games to play. I’ve been thinking about my favorite horror stories, and I’ve started to dream up some scary tales of my own.

I’ve also spent a lot of time listening to the Strider arcade soundtrack.

Although Strider‘s boss fights can be pretty brutal, there’s nothing about it that’s particularly horrifying. It’s hard to create a chilling atmosphere when your game’s full of ninjas and robot dinosaurs. Strider was designed to be fun, not frightening, and the game is decidedly nightmare-free.

But there’s something about its soundtrack that I find incredibly haunting. Even its most upbeat songs are a little unnerving; celebratory in the most foreboding of ways.

Strider‘s eerie soundtrack makes a little more sense when you realize who’s behind it. Its music was composed by Junko Tamiya, the woman who scored the spookiest game in NES history.

While Tamiya was composing the music for Strider, she was also penning music for Sweet Home, a Japan-only RPG that introduced the concept of survival horror. What it lacks in ninjas, it makes up for in scares, and its soundtrack is downright bloodcurdling.

Sometimes, I think Sweet Home managed to seep its way into Strider arcade, even if that influence was unintentional. When your mind is full of horrible monsters and brutal death scenes, it’s probably hard to not write moody music.

Strider‘s soundtrack is far less chilling when it’s accompanied by the actual game. Its melodies feel more intense than atmospheric when you’re frantically jumping from wall to wall. Still, it has to be the moodiest game with a mecha gorilla I’ve ever played.

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