Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Metroid “Brinstar” (Kenji Yamamoto)November 20, 2009
So as this is later than midnight where I am now, I technically missed my deadline, but it came from a great purpose (going to Child’s Play downtown, a charity event for donating games and money to needy children). As a result, I picked a track that I know very well and has been sitting on the backburner for awhile. Even though Metroid is my favorite game series out there, I’ve been patiently waiting for a good time to share some music from it. Now is better than any, so I give you the “Brinstar” theme from Metroid as played in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Actually, this is really the “Main Theme” theme in Brawl because for some odd reason the guys who named the soundtrack decided it would be a good idea to completely change the music titles from what they’ve been called for the past 20 years.
There are some really good renditions of “Brinstar”, but this is my favorite version (the mix from Metroid Metal – Varia Suite is a good second place winner and merely lacks the speed and energy I enjoy in Yamamoto’s mix). “Main Theme” is really energetic and the march-like nature perfectly captures the feel of boldly exploring the upper regions of Planet Zebes; this area is quite tame compared with the depths of the planet, and so the track is much more light and positive than later tracks. The high, quick notes of the second section of the song do a great job of replicating the feel of Samus’s spin jumps and the underlying drumbeat captures the rhythm of Samus’s footsteps. The Brawl version also has a great break into an 8-bit NES square wave section (complete with ‘game pause’ sfx). And, of course, the frills and accentuations on some of the guitar notes just go to show that Samus is a badass. Also, fantastic recording quality on the guitar.
Metroid (Famicom/NES, 1986) was originally composed by Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka. He composed the soundtrack with the idea of treating the score as a living organism, perfectly integrating the music with the sound effects. Coupled with the unique feel of discord and arhythm that the game’s other tunes possess, the soundtrack stands out as a unique indication of where game music would eventually expand: moody and atmospheric rather than happy and cheerful; dynamic and adaptive rather than static.
Kenji Yamamoto has since taken up the helm of directing Metroid‘s soundtrack, having established his music as top-notch through the absolutely fantastic soundtrack to Super Metroid (SNES, 1993) as well as the Metroid Prime series (2002-2009).
A couple points of interest. First, this version of the song appears in the Subspace Emissary section of Brawl rather than the main levels (which oddly contain a cheesy narrator’s description of how Samus is now in battle). It makes absolutely no sense and no other tracks in the game contain narration. Second, this version is actually an extended mix of the piece from Metroid Prime Pinball (DS, 2005).