Friday, January 24, 2014

It Was Luigi in the Dining Room With the Vacuum Cleaner

There’s a certain thing that happens online among video game-oriented people, where someone posts a clip of some game music that everyone has heard a billion times and says “OMG, this song is *TOTALLY* this OTHER SONG! #ripoff” It happens often, and I've been guilty of it too in the past, but after reading enough responses from people who better understand music — “No, this is a standard chord progression,” “No, this is an established musical trope,” “No, your two years of piano lessons do not give you the authority to decree this Final Fantasy music as a ripoff” — has prompted me to state these similarities more in the context of “Hey, this thing is like this other thing. Isn't that neat?”

And it’s with that very notion that I present to you this clip from the 1985 film Clue, with gentle encouragement to listen to the music that plays at the exact moment the eight main characters split up to explore the mansion.

If you’re like me and Nintendo still plays an unusually large role in your life, then that music might just sound familiar -- in both tone and context.

Above is the main theme from the beta version of Luigi's Mansion, Nintendo’s 2001 title that had Luigi cautiously sneaking around a spooky mansion. (For comparison's sake, here’s the final version of the theme.) He was looking for ghosts, not murderers like the Clue kids were, but I think the music sounds strikingly similar, especially considering the context. (The Luigi’s Mansion soundtrack consists almost entirely of different variations on that same melody. If there’s one where the instrumentation sounds more like the Clue soundtrack, I’m all ears.) I’m not saying “OMG ripoff,” of course. After all, what other musical cues would you consider for a scene in which characters explore a spooky mansion on a dark and stormy night? I just enjoy this little similarity between two pop culture entities that I wouldn’t have linked before, and I'm curious to know if anyone else hears the resemblance.

Myself, I don’t think I could watch this part of Clue now and not think of Luigi’s Mansion. All this via a tweet by Brad O'Farrell that sparked my interest.

Also of note: Guile’s Street Fighter II theme and The Square’s 1984 track “Travelers” (via), and the Super Mario Bros. 2 overworld theme and this version of “Smoke Rings.”

Video games and pop music, previously:

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