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Super Mario RPG – “Happy Parade…” (Yoko Shimomura)

December 30, 2009

There are so many different game endings to choose from, that it’s a little hard to pick which one to use. For a change, I decided to pick the tune to one of my favorite game endings. Role Playing Games are well known for their stories (which often times are a bit overrated), and as such, they tend to have more impressive endings. One of the ones I remember most is the ending to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996), Squaresoft’s swan song for the SNES. The whole sequence lasts about 13 minutes, with a cutscene showing everyone rebuilding the Mushroom Kingdom followed by a parade! Actually, that’s one of the neatest ways to end a cute game like this, showing a parade of all the characters. So here is the video of the ending as well as a copy of the MP3 of “Happy Parade, Delightful Parade/And the Parade Draws to a Close” by Yoko Shimomura (Final Fight, Parasite Eve). (You know, I think this is one of the longest track titles I’ve run into). Now it’s fun to listen to the track by itself and treat it as a musical piece completely removed from the imagery, so if you haven’t seen the ending before, I suggest giving just the song a listen first! Pay special attention to the harpsichord, cymbal crashes, and variations of the theme as you listen.

Super Mario RPG – “Happy Parade, Delightful Parade/And the Parade Draws to a Close…” (Yoko Shimomura)

Now there are some interesting elements to this ending theme that also make their way into many other game ending soundtracks. One of these is the leitmotif, a variation of the main melody that is flavored to include elements of the themes of each main character. This way, as that character appears on-screen, his or her song plays in accompaniment (such as a heavier harpsichord version when Valentina appears being carried by her giant bird). The result is the ending acts as a kind of flash-back of all the events that occurred in the game and a snapshot of all the characters the player has encountered, with both the cartoons and the music reflecting their characters.

Of course, the theme also changes depending on what is happening on-screen,such as when night falls at about 3:00 and the light show with the blinking Toad caps begins. The designers put a lot into the ending, and Shimomura’s music accentuates it very nicely (actually, her whole soundtrack is pretty stunning!). Looking back, after all these years, I can’t help but chuckle!

One interesting thing about the ending, as with most game endings, is if you let the game sit on the last bit after “The End” for a few minutes, it will begin playing the Super Mario Bros. theme.

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