Star Fox – “Main Theme” (Hajime Hirasawa)December 3, 2009
Back in the days of the Super Nintendo, videogame soundtracks first started to become something that most people would recognize as ‘music’. Which isn’t to say that the classics of the 8-bit era weren’t, it’s just that most of them required a little bit more listening. With the better audio technology of the SPC700 though (and, of course, the Amiga), game composers could now create music that reached the epic proportions of your standard film score. It was also about this time that some old gamers (such as myself!) can remember sitting in front of the game console and being floored by some of the music that would come out of this thing – maybe even plugging in a tape recorder to capture some of the music! If you were like me, then you might also remember hastily trying to scribble down the name of the composer – because the soundtrack was just that awesome. Star Fox (1993), by Hajime Hirasawa, is one such soundtrack.
While at first the “Main Theme” from Star Fox screams STAR WARS!!!, it’s actually a really cool rendition of epic space battles that define the game. This theme plays during the game credits with a starfield backdrop and the credits floating in 3-D style. It’s a thousand times cooler than the ‘interpid rodent’ crap they put in Star Fox 64. Come to think of it, I never thought any of the later Star Fox games were any good, even though people continue to hose the original for its low-tech polygons (including Shigeru Miyamoto…).
Another cool thing was if you sat around for about 12 minutes after the last note of this song, you would also hear this hidden track. Thankfully, SPC emulation allows us to access it instantaneously, but I remember being surprised when this appeared (actually, the original version just plays three times, but the SPC is for some reason set to fade out).
In any case, if you want to join the intergalactic navy, you need to have a heroic soundtrack with lots of brass, drums, and strings – after all, you want people to think it’s a big adventure and not realize just how horrible it is to see people blown up in outer space (or for that matter, have your own ship destroyed). But hey – that’s why we can do it from the safety of our game consoles!
There have been a few great orchestral remixes of this theme, including one on the Super Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack by Seiji Momoi (which contains part of the “Main Theme” yet is labeled “Main Theme”) and “STARFOX Main Theme” from the dojin album StarFox Anthology (2008) that had a slightly lighter approach to the notes. There’s a slightly slower-paced version in Game Music Concert 3 (1993). I personally find the overly dramatic Brawl version to have the best instrumentation, but unfortunately it isn’t complete.
Hajime Hirasawa is one of those great composers who has been credited with… Well, practically nothing. Aside from Star Fox, he did Wave Race for the Game Boy (1992) and the Japan-only Time Twist for the Famicom Disk System (1991). Immediately after, he left to found Faith, Inc., which produced music on demand (mostly cell phone and karaoke systems).