Let's Petition The Galactic Federation To Declare Galactic Pinball An Honorary Metroid Game

Image: Nintendo / Evan Amos / MobyGames / Kotaku
Morning MusicMorning MusicSet your dial to Morning Music to enjoy friendly chat and great game music with other early risers. Coffee optional!

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today I’m seein’ red: Virtual Boy red, as we’re checking out a soundtrack of unusual provenance on Nintendo’s misbegotten 1995 misstep. (Hey, that was also my nickname in high school!)

Galactic Pinball (playlist / longplay) stands out for a few reasons, not the least of which is it’s a very good pinball game by 1995 standards. Four tables, an interesting 3D effect (thanks, Virtual Boy), and a few cool Metroid references (a lot of its developers worked on Super Metroid!) make it an obvious winner among the unlucky semi-portable’s tiny library.

It’s also a good demonstration of what a Virtual Boy game can sound like. Which is to say, kinda beepy, kinda chunky, and with some scratchy digitized voices thrown in for pizazz. (“Welcome to space world, let’s go!” exclaims the title screen.) The system’s VGMPF wiki page has a little info on its hardware, noting it has one noise and five wavetable channels—a couple more than the NES—but suffers from “lack of bass range and frequency precision.”

Sounds about right:

Nintendo / RBM95 (YouTube)

It’s good, though. (That first track sure is reminiscent of classic Metroid.) I like this sort of rustic electronic sound: primitive, dirty, but plenty expressive enough to convey some great melodies. Most of the brief pinball fanfares are excellent, but If you wanna hear the more developed, lengthier cuts, check out “Moon Man Fandango,” “Milky Way Wormhole,” “Cosmic,” “Galaxkull,” “Alien,” “Lucky Star,” “Gunpei’s Voyage,” and—(lovely synth sweeps in these two)—“Colony” and “One Million Chance.”

The soundtrack’s credited to Super Metroid’s Kenji Yamamoto and Masaru Tajima, who made his debut here and later co-composed Metroid Prime Pinball. Super Metroid’s co-composer Minako Hamano is along in a support role, too. The space family’s all here!

Indeed, you’ll find Samus’ Super Metroid theme, VB-ized, in “Flight of Aran.” Neat, but it’s not even a highlight in a game with the legit great tunes Galactic Pinball has. Hearing these spaced-out, atmospheric tracks makes me long for an alternate future in which the Virtual Boy actually made sense and got to thrive a little. I wanna hear more.

That’s a wrap for today’s Morning Music! I wonder if there are other Virtual Boy games worth listening to? I’ve only played a few. Anyway, discuss life, the universe, and space pinball in the comments, and I’ll see y’all back here tomorrow.

Staff Editor, Kotaku.


Ahh, the good ol’ Virtual Boy...

Was talking to a friend in Indiana last night, reflecting on how absurd it is that he lives in a deep enough red state and I live in a sufficiently blue state that each of us could vote for a dead cat and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference because Biden’s carrying Washington and Trump’s carrying Indiana no matter who we vote for.

The Founders completely screwed the pooch on the Electoral College, and even though most of the other election weirdness got patched out of the Constitutional game pretty early, the most obvious rule exploit’s still out there like a bug that got promoted to a feature.

I wonder what American politics would be like if not for the 12th Amendment though...at the very beginning, the winner got to be president and the loser ended up as vice-president, and in a two-party system that all but ensures that any given administration would have the party that lost the White House able to cast deciding votes in the Senate as a consolation prize. Not to mention there’d probably be a lot more assassinations in American history if the parties knew they could get their guy into the chief’s chair through a bit of strategic bribery of the Secret Service, who would’ve become the Praetorian Guard in this alternate American history...

Needless to say, whether Biden wins or Trump does, I’ll be glad when the election is over and I can get back to thinking mostly about basketball and video games.