Super Mario Galaxy – “Wind Garden” (Koji Kondo)December 23, 2009
Mario is an ordinary plumber from Brooklyn who really has done it all. After exploring the Mushroom Kingdom and Super Mario World, going to 3D in Mario 64, about the only place left is, well, outer space! Super Mario Galaxy (2007) is one of Koji Kondo’s best compositions, and it’s my favorite Mario game of all time. The music is powerful, full of wonder, danger and adventure, just the kind of things you would expect to have in outer space. To top it off, the soundtrack was recorded by a live orchestra (the Super Mario Galaxy Orchestra), which as far as I know has been a first for in-game Nintendo music and one I’d like to see a LOT more of.
“Wind Garden” is one of my favorite tracks from the game. It is so open and free, the airy strings giving a sense of floating in the breeze, the high notes of the main theme give a sense the motion of leaves floating in the wind. The guitar in the first section gives it a more intimate, folksy feel for the intro area while the brass in the third segment is adventurous and explorative, the big jumps in the notes giving a sense not only of Mario’s jumps but also of the distance between the small planets that compose the Wind Galaxy. And again, the beat of the snare drums provides the engine that keeps the song moving forward. This is Kondo’s best with the music emulating the structure and feel of the level down to the T.
The Super Mario Galaxy OST was available through Club Nintendo in Japan in both Gold and Platinum versions (the Platinum having a two-disc set). Unfortunately, the US Club Nintendo has not offered soundtracks (you used to be able to buy music through the Nintendo Store, but that was discontinued a few years ago). For a time, the two-disc Platinum version was available through VGMWorld, but quickly sold out (they still have the one-disc gold version, but who wants that!?). You can find it on e-bay starting at around $40.
An interesting thing was during the recording of the soundtrack, Shigeru Miyamoto, the game’s designer, spoke to the orchestra and asked them to please put their best effort into it. Videogame music, unlike other music, is heard over and over again in a game. While one composition might only be heard once or twice a day on the radio, a single game tune will play for as long as a player is engaged in the level – perhaps an hour or more. This means that a 2 minute track would play for over 30 times! As a result, the music has to be very good so it won’t cause the player to get tired of it. The orchestra was awed to hear this and the end result is spectacular.