The best metal covers of gaming soundtracks


We’ve all been there. Trying to get a mosh pit started at school when someone turned their Game Boy’s volume up to max, or headbanging to the title screen music of Desert Strike. Right? People may tell you to grow up, get a haircut or GET A JOB, but they’re ‘the man’, dude. They need their faces melting with a blistering guitar solo, that’s what they need.

That’s (probably) why these videos exist. These are heavy metal interpretations of some of gaming’s finest musical compositions. Kingdom Hearts with double bass pedals. Contra with harmony solos. Pokemon with power chords. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Needless to say, PLAY LOUD, turn everything up to 11 and hope that air traffic control are on a different frequency to your guitar’s wireless system. #rock4eva

Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2) by FamilyJules7X

There are countless heavy metal arrangements of Chemical Plant Zone on YouTube, but this one has feeling dripping from every harmonic note in the main riff. Energy, passion… it’s what heavy metal is all about. Oh, and speed. I bet Sonic plays guitar like this.

The sequenced drums emulate that ultra-quantized feel of 16-bit MIDI. But that guitar work? It’s really that fast. Jules has got loads of other metallified gaming videos on his channel so check him out. Quite the showman.

Contra Twin Guitar Metal Medley by FerdK

Classic side-scrolling shooter Contra has a great soundtrack. Indeed, listening to it now, it’s entirely possible it was composed with metal in mind. The 8-bit percussion is pretty damn pounding and those intricate lead melodies sound just like guitar flurries, without too big a leap of the imagination.

So it’s little surprise that this metal medley of Contra has turned out to be one of the best things ever. Especially when it’s played this well and features decent video editing to show the interweaving parts. This is such a class act, it makes me want to get my guitar out AND play Contra. Yes, at the same time.

Kingdom Hearts Meets Metal by 331Erock

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone play guitar as fluidly as this guy does at around the 1:20 mark. His command of the tapping technique is majestic and this technical skill fuses with Utada Hikaru and Yoko Shimomura’s incredible melodic compositions to create the slickest, sickest metal interpretation of Kingdom Hearts you’ll ever hear.

The dropped E-strong tuning gives the power chords that gutsy, metal feel and the piano theme from ‘Dearly Beloved’ somehow fuses perfectly with the pounding rhythm… it’s anything but ‘simple’ or ‘clean’. Complex and dirty? Fine by me. Kudos to you, Eric. We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!

Pokemon medley by DSC

If you ever wanted to ‘be the very best’, you should probably give up now. This guy’s already done it. This medley of music from the original trilogy of Pokemon games is simply brilliant. The chilled-out mood of the unforgettable Pokemon Center theme gets smashed up by the trainer battle, which is played exceptionally well.

Flawless technique, great production/mixing, fantastic reproduction of the interweaving melodies… I love it. Perhaps something else should have ended the medley aside from Lavender Town, as the ending is a little anticlimactic. And I’m not convinced the intonation is set up properly on that guitar. But that’s just nit-picking. Basically, TOWELL used ‘MUSIC CRITIC’ and it’s not very effective…

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Saria’s Song by Charlie Parra del Riego

Saria’s Song from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is perhaps the most enduring and magical melody in an game soundtrack ever. Considering its incarnation uses synthesised notes playing from a MIDI file, it’s just proof that a great composition is a great composition no matter how it’s delivered.

But man, is this a great delivery. The acoustic intro is a nice touch, but my favourite aspect is the attack. That must be one heck of a fat guitar pick, and surely the neck pickup has been selected. Juicy!

Tetris medley by Powerglove

Tetris’ main theme is so iconic, of course it was going to be covered in every style imaginable. But this is the finest metal version I’ve yet heard. I love the pounding bass pedal on the second time through, the shouts of ‘hey’ and the way it speeds up towards the end.

Exemplary harmony guitars, nods to each of the BGM choices and great production, which even sounds great through the crappy headphones I use at work. Great stuff.

Uncharted main theme by Frank Hamilton

Uncharted’s main theme is dramatic already, with its slow tempo, victorious cadences and swooping melody. But when turned into heavy metal, it’s one of the most massive, lighter-waving, crowd-unison-‘woah’ing-est pieces of music this side of a 30 Seconds to Mars gig.

The video that accompanies it may be purely perfunctory in order to show that this is a real performance and not an overly edited ‘cheat’ performance, but that is some sweet fretting (on a particularly sweet-looking fretboard, I might add). I should imagine if Nathan Drake played guitar, he would take one look at this, consider his own prowess and summise: “ah crap”.

Road Rash title screen music

Now, this may not be the most technically proficient performance in this feature, nor the heaviest-sounding, but it absolutely nails the feel of Road Rash’s 1991 title screen. This is thanks to the slow string bends and liberal use of a wah pedal to emulate that cat-like MIDI from the Mega Drive/Genesis original.

It’s a straight performance of the original rather than a complete re-imagining, but the guy deserves more than the paltry number of subscribers and views he currently has. Go on, give him a ‘like’. If you like it, of course. I do.

Skyrim: The Dragonborn Comes by pellekofficial

I always wondered what Ville Valo was doing these days (oh ho! Is funny joke about singer of a band nobody’s heard of! Oh-hoho!) but, seriously, this metal + vocals rendition of The Dragonborn Comes from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is excellent. Perhaps not quite as magical as Maluka’s acoustic version, but the vocal talent on display here sets this apart from most covers. And there are a LOT of covers of this one on YouTube.

Guitar-wise, it’s not mind-blowing–faces will be singed instead of melted–but the overall effect is high in quality. And makes me want to get out my copy of Love Metal again. Well, alright, my mum’s copy of Love Metal.

WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE! Er… is there more?

YouTube is just full of people turning video games into metal. Not that I’d ever do such a thing. All of the videos here are the result of enthusiasts combining their love of games with their love of metal–and they’ve all got loads more metal on their channels. So subscribe to your favourites and spread the word. We’ll bring down this pop pap yet. \m/

And if you’re looking for more, check out What if video game characters wrote songs? and Top 7 games that broadened our musical horizons.

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