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Super Smash Bros. Brawl – “Underground Theme ~Easton Kingdom~ – Super Mario Land” (Koji Hayama)

May 18, 2010

More coverage of Super Mario Land means more insanity. With giant firebreathing sphinxes, flying Moai statues, airplanes, and more, Super Mario Land was quite a departure from the original games (though perhaps not so much so if we consider Super Mario Bros. 2). Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) saw the reappearance of several classic Nintendo tunes, including music from this somewhat forgotten Game Boy game. Koji Hayama of Cho Aniki infamy put his skills to the test with “Underground Theme ~Easton Kingdom~”.

Super Smash Bros Brawl – “Underground Theme ~Easton Kingdom~ – Super Mario Land” (arr. Koji Hayama)

“Underground Theme ~Easton Kingdom~” is the Egyptian temple theme, in Brawl, used for the underground ruins. Hayama’s heavy guitar riffs strongly affect the mood of the piece with an exotic intensity. The track starts out quite strong, with drums that explode on to the stage, an organ supported by a synth bass line, and bells to add detail. Instant atmosphere. A relatively quiet intro, this section lasts only about 24 seconds before blasting into the guitars. From this, the theme loops with three more variations.

While the synth line makes for a very atmospheric piece, Hayama also throws in some Aniki-ized sampled voices for good measure (“HEY!”). These cheesy samples – along with the echoing guitar riffs – are trademark to his style and appear in nearly every kind of song he’s made – though the half-naked, grinning body builders are, of course, absent. For a type of music that can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously, I do enjoy Koji Hayama’s work – he always has excellent layering and the cheesy samples provide a healthy dosage of humor.

Hip Tanaka’s original is quite impressive as well, though it feels like it wandered out of Kid Icarusthe composition has many echoes of the “Temple” theme from that game as well as similar drum samples. Again, the bass here produces most of the atmosphere, the step-like nature of the notes reflecting the giant stone stairways inside the pyramid. The strong, reedy square wave that makes up the main melody is only one of three layers, the other two consisting of the low, bassy notes that support the mid range, and the second the drums. Those deep notes of the middle layer reflect the stairs of the temple so well, and also blend in with the jumping sfx. I remember how that would affect gameplay performance, as I would always try and time the jumps to match with the rhythm of those notes. Rarely did this work well, though it certainly helped me get into the groove and atmosphere of the game!

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