Super Mario Galaxy – “Hell Prominence Galaxy” (Koji Kondo)May 16, 2010
Wow – 12 hour trip from Dallas to Denver was quite the task. Just barely missed some monster storms cutting through the southern part of the state thanks to an unintended detour through Oklahoma, but hey, it all worked out in the end! What’s more, I find I enjoy looking at places I’ve never been to, even if it’s just through the window of the car. Maybe that’s why I enjoy games where exploration is a big part from Metroid to Super Mario. Super Mario Galaxy (2008) has an excellent selection of such locations, with each galaxy its own unique theme. Nintendo put all kinds of creativity into this one to make each section as well-polished and different as possible, and I think they succeeded. Of course, Koji Kondo’s orchestral score is fantastic (I’ve already done another piece from it), and the “Hell Prominence Galaxy” is one of the best (actually, it was going through my head for part of the trip and I hadn’t heard it in awhile, so it was tough to place!). I will say though that I am surprised with the title – Nintendo has come a LONG way since 1986!
“Hell Prominence Galaxy” is the background music for the fire-themed galaxies, which are characterized by searing heat, bubbling lava, great bursts of fire, and large rock formations collapsing into the lava to leave huge tidal waves to burn unwary plumbers to a crisp. The instrument set provides a different, less oppressive take on the lava (unlike say Ninja Gaiden), and is more in the spirit of exploration and quick movement through obstacles – which is what the Mario games are all about. Again, a little bit of Mickey Mousing that’s central to the Mario games, with sweeping string notes mirroring Mario’s leaps over rocks and bursts of fire with a slight Middle Eastern rhythm for heat, quick running, and bubbling lava. There is quite a range of expression from the opening, bubbling section to the sweeping strings that paints a broad canvas of the types of things one might find in the fire galaxies. Long, strong notes with short, repeated sections that steadily build textural complexity makes for an easily memorable track while the major scale makes it fun to listen to. Those same exotic drums, brass, and sweeping strings are full of wonder, exploration – and the fun and confidence of playing around in giant obstacle courses. Mario has certainly got an enviable – but dangerous – job.