October means Halloween and Halloween means ghosts, goblins, imps, werewolves, dark and sinister creatures of the night...and of course, Count Dracula himself. In honor of the upcoming holiday Midweek Music Boxes and Friday Night Rentals will be dedicated to those games that most remind us of Halloween. Kicking things off with Midweek Music Box, Castlevania, the Nintendo 64 version and several of its musical backgrounds.
While not my favorite entry into the Castlevania franchise, I will say this: Several of the tracks in the game create a haunting and foreboding atmosphere that help sell the tone of the game better than the polygon graphic's now painfully dated attempt at spookiness. Let me name a few tracks in particular that help capture the "spirit" of the game and of Halloween, of course.
Odd chimes, sometimes discordant tingling noises and haunting use of synthesizer tones help afford the Watch Tower track a tone that leaves the listener with a feeling that things are slightly off-kilter in the world. I love that it's not strictly musical in the sense that you would "jam" to it or necessarily have it playing in the background on an average day. It evokes a sense of unease that's great not only for Castlevania but for the month of October as well.
"Annex Silent Madness"
Unearthly tones, a repeating use of string instruments, and a few well placed piano strokes help set the stage--so to speak--for your meanderings around this portion of the game. The faint, occasional inclusion of what might be a harpsichord helps to also add a level of dread to this track. Personally, I think a lift of this track would provide great ambient music for the front of any home come Halloween night.
There are certainly other tracks within the Castlevania (64) soundtrack that would suit a home during this time of year, but I wanted to highlight the ones I felt in particular should get a play in your home this Halloween. The game gets flak these days for its dated graphics, occasionally clunky gameplay thanks to poor camera use, and-of course-the infamous long walk with sensitive explosives. Despite these flaws, the game still had moments of brilliance within its soundtrack. To this day I still remember the image of the boy in Victorian dress playing the violin as the camera circles him. The graphics looked chunky then, but the music was fantastic, and it still is. I recommend hunting down more tracks from Castlevania 64 this Halloween. You might find a gem you forgot was there.