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Skullmonkeys – “The Lil’ Bonus Room” (Terry S. Taylor)

January 9, 2010

Partly to coincidentally coincide with the release of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus in Denver, here’s “The Lil’ Bonus Room” from Skullmonkeys (PS1, 1998) in  Terry S. Taylor’s Imaginarium (2000, 2004), one of the weirdest – and creepiest – vgm tunes out there. Remember to play it loud! (The lyrics are at the bottom so you can sing along!)

Terry S. Taylor’s Imaginarium – “The Lil’ Bonus Room” (Terry S. Taylor)

Terry S. Taylor is the composer and singer in this song, and his happy whispering into the microphone is hilariously creepy, especially when he compares himself to your parents and how he will always be there. The song also breaks the fourth wall by referencing itself as a game – and further, of bringing the composer into play (Terry S. Taylor is thus your “video friend”).

What’s also interesting is this song plays during the bonus room stages, so the player is actually playing while the lyrics are sung. The calm, happy nature of the music is somewhat reassuring and matches the theme of collecting things to make the player stronger (power-up items and lives mainly). In some ways, the circular movement of platforms in these levels reflects the rhythmic nature of the song, but it also can motivate the player to sit there and listen to what this crazy person has to say – or conversely try to escape.

At the same time, I feel the song points out some of the ridiculousness of item collecting gameplay mechanics: “Here’s a little bonus tune / about collecting real cool stuff!” Actually, the stuff really isn’t that cool most of the time (even shinies, like gold coins, though 1ups are necessary) and so you kind of have to question the motivations of the player for collecting it – and additionally those of this poor dumb bastard, the Protagonist, who’s task is to go out and find shit on the ‘endless list of things to do’ that has little to no logical reason for existing. I sometimes think they just put those things there to force the player to ‘explore’ all the places on the map (if you haven’t found everything, then you obviously haven’t been everywhere). Which is a lot different from exploring for the sake of exploration (which is another reason why Shadow of the Colossus is pretty unique).

Anyway, I think it’s rather fitting that a game with a great visual and audio design style can point to some gameplay flaws that this game itself in many ways falls victim to. Oh yes, and here’s the credits, so you can sing along:

Here’s a little bonus room
Because I know you’ve had it tough
And here’s a little bonus tune
About collecting real cool stuff

Yes, here’s a little bonus room
Where you can play
Don’t be frightened
Don’t run away

You can linger
‘Cuz I’m your video friend
Think of me as a father figure
With a hand to lend

Here’s a little bonus room
Where you don’t have to worry
Take your sweet time
You need not hurry

Oh, you’re looking incredible
You’re the bomb!
And me, I’m kind of like your dad
And a little like your mom

There are no monsters here
Hey wait, look over there…
$#@!?*!!
…I was just kidding
Don’t be scared

And when you turn this game off
In the real world once again,
You won’t have to play make-believe
Or try to pretend

‘Cuz I’ll be right there
When you open your hand
‘Cuz I’m your little invisible
Musical friend

So, show me to your pets
Or show me to your pals
You really will impress
Every nifty guy and gal

Show them you are individual
Show them you are BOLD!
Besides, I get residuals
For every game that’s sold

I’m your little invisible
Musical friend
For life

I’ll never leave you

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