Iron Maiden is one of the most prominent bands of all time. Formed in London in 1975, their 37 album discography makes them synonymous with the UK’s heavy metal scene. Yet while their contributions to music can’t be denied, you’re perhaps less likely to associate the group with video games.
Clearly, that must be corrected. To redress the cultural wrong that would have you believe Iron Maiden aren’t also mavens of the digital playground, the video for the band’s latest single, Speed of Light, sees fictional frontman Eddie the Head touring through gaming’s history.
The undead mascot starts out digitising himself before materialising in an 8-bit era pixel art world, equal parts inspired by Donkey Kong and Wreck-It Ralph (bonus points for the sneaky batsignal in the background). Fast forward to a SNES-style run-and-gun shooter — shades of Megaman, or perhaps the Alien 3 game — then to a Mortal Kombat style beat-’em-up (complete with “Finish Him!” fatality), before capping with a Skyrim/FarCry modern setting.
The song itself is pretty great too, a powerful slice of metal that wouldn’t sound out of place on some of Iron Maiden’s greatest past albums, such as Powerslave or The Number of the Beast. As it is, Speed of Light will be appearing on The Book of Souls, their 16th studio album, out on 4 September.
Weirdly though, it’s not the first time old Ed’s taken a punt at gaming stardom. In 1999, Iron Maiden released a greatest hits album called Ed Hunter. Rather than a mere ‘best of’ compilation though, the band partnered with developer Synthetic Dimensions to release a companion game of the same name. It’s a fairly by the numbers effort for the period, an on-rails shooter in the Doom mould, but each of the game’s eight levels was set to one of the tracks on the album.
Although none of the “games” seen in Speed of Light are real, the video is a surprisingly fun trip down memory lane for the style of gaming’s years gone by. If Iron Maiden fancied developing it into an actual game, it’d be interesting to see how Eddie’s journey played out. Hopefully better than Ed Hunter, if nothing else.