We've heard all of the Super Mario Bros. themes performed by an orchestra. Simon Viklund's blood-pumping update of the Bionic Commando soundtrack is still on my workout playlist. And this version of Tecmo Super Bowl's opening cinematic makes me eat lightning and crap thunder. The great NES chiptunes of the past have all had great instrumental covers by now. Except one.
There is no covering Metroid's Brinstar theme.
The menu music, to be sure, was undeniably brilliant. The pulsating, foreboding opening that resolves to the very personal melody of Samus Aran is as iconic as any in video game music. But in instrumental performance, I'd argue, its power is still there.
The Brinstar theme, which opens your first level in Metroid, is the most perfect piece of music written for a computer synthesiser. I have yet to hear any instrumental cover of it that fully delivered the drama or heroism communicated by the original.
It's beautifully paced with great changes of key throughout, and carries a recognisable bass line. The main instrument is, I guess, horns but could be anything, which probably is why it has to remain a chiptune. There are numerous guitar covers of the song, and all have fallen on their faces. Listen for yourselves in the gallery above.
I'm not sure even a full symphony could make me feel the way I do when the chiptune version of "Brinstar" rolls into its final stanza, building to a crescendo that I always tried to time to a jump when I played the game.
For my money, "Brinstar" is the greatest theme in video games -- because only a video game console can properly perform it.