By MajorMitch 2 Comments
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Metroid games is their fantastic music. This is certainly the case with Metroid Prime, one of my favorite tracks being Phendrana Drifts.
I’ve always thought there’s a certain ambiance to Metroid music. To me, the best songs in the franchise are often ones that don’t initially jump out at me. They blend in with the surrounding environment perfectly, helping to set the tone and mood that’s such a defining aspect of the series. Metroid Prime’s soundtrack does this as well as any, and Phendrana Drifts is a great example of it. The level itself is a snowy, mountainous area, and there’s a certain serenity to it that can be pretty relaxing. At the same time, it all feels kind of cold- and that’s not just because of the snow. It can come across as a lifeless place, and yet there’s a palpable energy to it that seems to suggest that there’s more than meets the eye. That notion adds a sense of adventure and mystique to the level that’s pretty exciting. As you explore, you find all sorts of awe-inspiring ruins and ferocious monsters that reveal a lot of life in an initially lifeless place.
I’ve talked a lot about the Phendrana Drifts level itself, but only because the song does such an amazing job at representing the same traits. When the song begins it’s very serene, and the short, punctual notes feel cold and lifeless. I simply can’t listen to this song without thinking of snow, and there are even wind and chime-like sounds in the background which only further the notion that you’re alone in a cold, desolate world. But as the song continues on, it starts adding new rhythms and complexities. The pacing picks up, making it more adventurous and almost playful in some cases, and there’s this subtext of awe and wonder that’s pretty cool. All of these traits are ones that I feel best define the level (as well as the game) itself, and it’s so great that its music harbors the exact same traits. In fact, I often feel that the music in games like Metroid Prime do as much as anything to create their awesome atmosphere. I just love it when great music plays such a large role in creating great games, making Phendrana Drifts another wonderful showcase for the medium.
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