Super Mario Galaxy 2 – “Koopa’s Road” (Mahito Yokota)May 29, 2010
It feels odd using yet another Super Mario Galaxy 2 remix from Super Mario 64 (after all, that’s what yesterday’s was!). However, “Koopa’s Road” is another track that stands out for me. Whether it’s the song’s driving beat, its atmosphere of a grueling obstacle course from which the track’s name is derived.
The snare drums, sticks, and trumpets make for a very precise rhythm, a forward march through conjured images of flames, bubbling lava, and baked stone. The song is simultaneously melancholic and determined, a multi-layered beat and rhythm that drives the player forward, but also a steady upward movement in intensity that never achieves tones of triumph, lying instead in the minor key. Another fine defining point is the exotic synth line in the final section of the loop, a very Kondo-esque plucking that is similar to both Super Mario World and also the Middle East.
“Koopa’s Road” from Super Mario Galaxy 2 in contrast is a step to the side of Ravel’s “Bolero”, with heavy use of trumpets, brass, and choir to achieve dramatic tension through smoothly flowing waves. While “Koopa’s Road” was used in every Bowser stage in Mario 64, the track is only used in one or two Bowser fortress stages in Galaxy 2, and so it has to make up for the original in high drama. The instruments are graceful and sweeping, building ever upward to the final segment where the choir hits home. However, there is an odd point to the song where the distortion in the introduction sounds like the grumbling of the Koopa king.
It’s interesting because both songs are quite good, differentiated mainly by instrument selection (the compositions are otherwise more or less identical). The unique sounds of the midi snare and synth line in the Mario 64 version help it stand on its own while the graceful trumpets from Galaxy 2 are the real backbone of the song. Ultimately, I like Mr. Yokota’s version better, but Mr. Kondo’s source material is outstanding.
There have been a small number of mixes, most notably “Devastation’s Doorway” by Sole Signal, a title which captures the melancholy of the originals. It’s a nice electronica piece that is worth a listen.