Super Smash Bros. Brawl – “Theme of Tara” (arr. Takahiro Nishi) (2008)January 27, 2010
Today I’ve got yet another Konami track for you, which doubles as another Super Smash Bros. Brawl track! (I must say, Brawl has a fantastic soundtrack – such a wide range of music, all popular themes from popular games!) This track is “Theme of Tara” from the original Metal Gear (1987) on the MSX2. This is great sneaking music that plays (in 8-bit form) throughout most of the game. In Brawl, this song plays in the Shadow Moses stage.
I love “Theme of Tara” from the cheesy almost 8-bit trumpets that begin “Theme of Tara” to the slick ’60s Peter Gunn-esque guitar complete with bongo drums! (It is well documented that bongos will change a song from ‘good’ to ‘awesome’.) There are even a few mechanical chirps, referencing the sound chips it came from. I think the trumpets make it feel like Snake is saluting his superior officers before jumping in the plane and parachuting into the jungle – a really quick, simple videogame cutscene from the 1980s that tells all you need to know efficiently in all of four seconds. From this point, it’s perfect espionage music, with Snake sneaking around in the jungle and concrete bunkers – you can almost smell the cardboard box. It’s serious, it’s cool, and it’s fun – just what you’d expect from classic vgm! The Brawl mix also has some parallels with Metal Gear Solid 3, also set in the ’60s. While the loop is fairly short (and about average for vgm in1987), it has excellent rhythm and melody, which makes it a keeper. The style is also unique from the traditional ‘Konami Sound’ fare of the 1980s, feeling a tad more orchestral and seeming more in line with Hideo Kojima’s unique design philosophy. And where does the name of the song come from? Well, according to The Metal Gear Wiki, it’s because the beat sounded like “ta-rah” to Hideo Kojima!
“Theme of Tara” was originally composed by Iku Mizutani (Shadow of the Ninja, Renegade). The theme doesn’t make good use of the MSX2 sound system (unlike Solid Snake) – it actually sounds a bit like the Virtual Boy! The song has been arranged numerous times, including in Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. I don’t find either version terribly interesting (the VR Mission versions feel more like a slow-paced electronica James Bond – bleh!). Another official mix on the Hideo Kojima Red Disc (1998) is too also much of a dance/techno version, though I will say the synth at the beginning feels a bit like the Jew’s Harp, which is pretty cool. Still, it doesn’t have that sense of atmosphere from Takahiro Nishi’s (Silpheed, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue) version. So the Brawl version is by far the best official version of the song. There is a really good orchestral version as part of a medley in the Metal Gear 20th Anniversary ~ Metal Gear Music Collection, though this one really comes off as too serious! (It’s still a fantastic medley though!)