Moon Music

The phrase moon music suggests compositions like Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” or Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” For the geeks out there, however, it may call to mind a miserly cartoon duck and his adventures on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The DuckTales video game should have been a disaster. More often than not, licensed games (i.e. games based on an existing intellectual property) are poorly-designed attempts to squeeze more money out of a media franchise. Seeing as DuckTales was never more than a decent cartoon in the first place, its game should have been an abject failure.

DuckTales turned out to be a masterpiece of the 8-bit era, and a resounding commercial success. I suppose Scrooge McDuck of all people (or poultry) really knows how to rake in the cash.

One of the game’s most enduring legacies is its moon music. “The Moon Theme” is among the most widely recognized game melodies of its time. Although the original version is a bit shrill, it’s quite complex for a song using the NES’s primitive sound chip. It makes me think of Schroeder from the Peanuts comics plinking out Beethoven’s masterpieces on a toy piano. The song also reminds me of the soundtracks to the old Mega Man games, which were made by the same developer.

When DuckTales was remade recently as DuckTales: Remastered, “The Moon Theme” was all over the game, not just in the Moon stage; I counted two or three arrangements of the song in the game’s end credits alone. One might even say… it eclipses the other songs in the soundtrack. (Pun intended. I’m so, so sorry.)

3 thoughts on “Moon Music

  1. I’ve never played DuckTales, so I’d never heard this track before. There’s something about the moon that seems to inspire fine music, isn’t there? DuckTales’ track reminds me of Cave Story’s “Moonsong”, which in turn reminds me of Risk of Rain’s “Chanson d’Automne”. Links to follow (so far as I can tell, I cannot use HTML formatting in comments):

    • I forgot Cave Story had moon music. I do recall, however, the game having a superb soundtrack generally. The main theme in particular is ridiculously catchy.

      I’d never heard of Risk of Rain, so I looked it up. It sounds sort of like a cross between Pikmin and Starbound. Have you played it?

      • Yes. It’s alright. It’s a very difficult side-scrolling shoot-em-up roguelike (well, more like Spelunkylike, really), with tons of playable characters and perks, and not much story. Its most unique feature is its increasing difficulty. The game starts on “Very easy”, and every few minutes goes up a difficulty level (which affects both the number and power of enemies). There’s a risk/reward aspect in that you can hang around levels for a long time, getting all the powerups, or you can run through the levels quickly, keeping the difficulty low. If you manage to stay alive for 45 minutes in one game, you hit the highest difficulty, at which point the game starts spawning end-of-level bosses about once a minute.

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