Super Mario Galaxy – “Ship Plant” (Mahito Yokota)May 27, 2010
“Ship Plant” is the famous “Airship Theme” from Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988). Originally composed by Koji Kondo, the track was orchestrally arranged for Super Mario Galaxy (2007) by Mahito Yokota, who also composed the majority of the Galaxy and Galaxy 2 soundtracks. The song was only available in the Platinum version of the soundtrack CD released through the Japanese Club Nintendo. The track is memorable for its steady rhythm and punctuated notes, a short theme that is easily recognizable and instantly oppressive.
“Ship Plant” is full of slowly building menace through the ominous drums, trumpets calling out gloom and disaster, and twirling strings that signal the steady twirl of the airship propellers. What one gets is the overwhelming sense of an unstoppable juggernaut, Bowser’s massive fleet of warships, a threat that must be conquered by Mario’s steady advance for the Mushroom Kingdom to be saved. The steady beat and punctuated notes of the main melody make for a readily memorable track that does great justice to the original version. The recording quality is also superb – listen for the cellos at 0:24 and the snare break at 0:33. It’s a shame the soundtrack was never widely available. The track was so good it was reused in Super Mario Galaxy 2.
The “Airship Theme” has begun to reappear in the Mario games, most recently in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which uses Super Mario Bros. 3 as its template. It’s not that great, but a welcome comeback nonetheless (the airship sfx for the propellers are excellent though).
The best arrange this side of Galaxy is Motoi Sakuraba’s fantastic remix of this theme for Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008). This mix is absolutely insane, with a crazy breakbeat and steady discordant build with strings and blaring trumpets that culminates at 1:15 with synth distortion that goes off the scale. This is some crazy airship battle, but it’s a little too wild for me to give it the number one spot.
Mahito Yokota began his career at KOEI, composing soundtracks to Kessen and Saiyuki: The Journey West before working on Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat and composing the teaser trailer for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Nintendo. He quickly catapulted himself to the top of Nintendo’s roster of composers with the fabulous Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack – which contrary to popular belief, only contains four tracks composed by Koji Kondo. That’s right, Mahito Yokota almost singlehandedly composed one of the greatest videogame soundtracks of all time! Quite impressive!