Posts Tagged ‘Metroid’

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Super Metroid – “Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” (Kenji Yamamoto)

September 1, 2010

A second favorite Metroid song is the “Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” theme from Super Metroid. This track plays in Ridley’s hideout, deep beneath the surface of Zebes in the fiery depths of Norfair. Lower Norfair is boiling hot, with heat waves rising in the background amongst the cracked and burning statues of the Chozo. Why they decided to build a civilization down here is anyone’s guess, but it’s just a comfortable day for Ridley, the fire dragon that lives at its heart. “Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” takes on this feel of oppressive heat, but also the mystical lore of the warrior Chozo training for battle within the inferno. The war horn trumpets are oppressive, as is the booming beat of the drums and a choir that recalls “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. One of the final areas of the game, the theme also contains a hint of the last steps on the road to revenge – Samus has tracked down the Baby Metroid that was stolen by Ridley from the Space Colony to the dragon’s lair and has come to reclaim it.

Super Metroid – “Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” (Kenji Yamamoto)

This emotional impact is absent from Metroid Prime‘s “Lava Caves,” the volcanic underbelly of Tallon IV. “Lava Caves” is a remix of “Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” which was both a pleasant surprise for long-time Metroid fans and also something of a disappointment. The midi score simply lacks the booming, brooding impact of the original. Wooden sticks, muted trumpets, and cymbal crashes dominate this piece. Another arrangement of this version found its way into Metroid Prime Pinball.

“Norfair – Ancient Ruins Area” has seen its fair share of remixes from fans, too. Some outstanding notables are Adhesive Boy’s “Braving the Flames” from Relics of the Chozo with its choral line that seems to have been lifted from Ocarina of Time and industrial beat. Of course, Metroid Metal’s “Lower Norfair” mix is also pretty good, and as usual, the Varia Suite version is even better. Another excellent mix is Enki’s “Stygian Depths” from VGMix 1.0, which has sadly not gotten as much coverage as it should have. This orchestral medley is quite excellent, though I admit the introduction of Lower Norfair’s drums is a bit loud.

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Super Metroid – “Theme of Super Metroid” (Kenji Yamamoto)

August 31, 2010

To celebrate the launch of Metroid: Other M, I’m running a week of Metroid remixes! First up is a perennial favorite, the “Theme of Super Metroid.” This amazing piece plays into the intro to the game when Samus narrates the story so far. The combination of pounding drums, heroic trumpet, and creepy choir sets the atmosphere perfectly for a series full of terrible monsters, epic battles underground, and biotech intrigue.  It really illustrates how much of a badass galactic warrior Samus is. Pay special attention to the drums at 0:44 and again at 1:40 – this section drops the accompanying instrumentation and relies solely on these pounding drums. You will definitely want to crank the subwoofer, as even from 1994, Super Metroid is one of the boomiest games out there. It was tracks like this which made Kenji Yamamoto famous and the official composer for the series up until Metroid: Other M.

Super Metroid – “Theme of Super Metroid” (Kenji Yamamoto)

The “Theme of Super Metroid” has appeared in more than a few games in the series, showing up in Metroid Prime 2 and 3 as well as a shortened version in Metroid: Other M. However, the arranges are where the track really shines, particularly Yoshiyuki and Masumi Ito’s “Theme of Super Metroid” arrange from Super Metroid “Sound in Action” (1994). The theme has a great trance element to it, with a synth bass that sounds like Batman, a synth choir, and dramatic strings instead of trumpets. And of course the drums are fantastic as well. Original material at the 2:10 mark with the choir fits perfectly with the rest of the theme, and the metal bars used for percussion fulfill the doomsday prophecy of the Metroids. Don’t forget the great echoing water drops at the 1:00 mark, too. Because the track is so awesome, it’s included here in FLAC format.

For another take, there’s Metroid Metal’s rock rendition. The “Prelude/Theme” played on guitars is wicked-cool. It’s got a smooth transition from the “Prelude” section to the “Theme” and in lieu of a choir, there are some high guitar whines; guitar also sounds perfect for the trumpet section. There’s an excellent combination of guitar and drumwork at 2:28, making it my favorite part of the song. Metroid Metal made an even better arrange on Varia Suite, which you can pick up for $8 from Bandcamp or Silent Uproar.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Becket007’s orchestral remix that sounds like it’s out of Robocop or Total Recall and Sam Dillard’s “Metroid Overture” which includes “The Destruction of the Space Colony,” the game’s title theme. Becket007’s arrange also includes this, but he ends it with the Mother Brain theme.

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8-Bit Mondays: Metroid II – “Title Theme” (Ryohji Yoshitomi)

April 12, 2010

Metroid II (1990) happens to be one of my favorite soundtracks for the Gameboy. While it’s definitely not the best in the series, the game gets a little bit too much negative press, and I think these opinions happen to snowball the more they are repeated. It’s definitely one of the best titles on the Game Boy and worth checking out. One of the more unique things about the game is the soundtrack, which appears to be the debut of Ryohji Yoshitomi (Wario Land, Wii Fit). The “Title Theme” is one of my favorite pieces – it’s incredibly rich and dynamic with a wide range of instruments and some really unique sounds, even for chiptunes.

Metroid II: Return of Samus – “Title Theme” (Ryohji Yoshitomi)

The Metroid II title theme is divided into two sections. The first opens with a very harsh pinging sound,like sonar or radio signals traveling through space off of Sputnik or some other early satellite. While not pleasing to the ear, these illustrate the depths of space, and the danger that lurks within. At 22 seconds into the track, explosions are added as percussion – yes, one of the most unique things about this track is instead of using drums, Yoshitomi takes the sound channel and brings out full-on explosions instead of drum beats. I mean seriously – where else have you heard explosions used but in “The 1812 Overture”? It’s a very cool effect when placed against that pinging. Finally, at 32 seconds, we have the opening notes of the song, a short, mournful tune that signals the emergence of Samus from outer space: somewhere in that dark void, she’s out there alone, looking for her next mission.
After a short interlude, the second half of the song begins (0:54), which is marked by a sad, but hopeful heroic tune. Here, the pinging has been replaced with a pleasant chirp (maybe a flute?) reinforced by a square wave acting as strings. Next a mellow bass is added for strength and finally powerful explosions are added as percussion (1:21). The track winds down with a low, buzzing drone as explosions become more frequent and the volume begins to fade. The electric flute provides a nice counterpoint to the low drone and explosions: a sense of hope and purpose following a descent onto the planet below. Unlike other vgm, this one does not loop, but fades out as a complete composition.
The range of notes and combination of instruments produces a very unique effect that I simply don’t see anywhere else in vgm. It’s really a shame this piece gets overlooked because there are so many cool things going on in it – though it’s quite understandable, considering the unpleasant opening notes. It really makes the player want to exit the title screen and get into the game asap (especially since there are no animations or anything on the title screen). But that’s all part of the piece, and I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was meant to be pleasant – Metroid has, after all, always been dark. For a debut and as part of what was then becoming a well-known series, Ryohji Yoshitomi’s work is pretty incredible. These unique sounds are used throughout the soundtrack, especially in the clicking and buzzing crazy maze of Ruins Area 3 – I swear those bugs are clicking to a beat!
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8-Bit Mondays: Metroid – “Ending” (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

December 29, 2009

If I was to pick one ending theme that I most like, it’s got to be the ending to Metroid. Hirokazu Tanaka’s masterpiece is something that really defines what the NES/Famicom sound chip was able to do by using each instrument to the fullest, taking the scale all over the place: you can hear the triangle wav move all the way from its more timber bass line to the airy bells used in the middle section. The drums in the next section have this great toe-tapping feel to them, with the taps to the beat seeming to penetrate right to the heart. Finally, the very last notes have a great sense of triumph to them that gives the player the feel of a job well done. This is the type of music that a player should be rewarded with! There’s a reason why they call him Hip Tanaka!

Metroid – “Ending” (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka) [FDS Version]

NES Version

The song gains even greater impact due to its relationship with the other songs as well as the showdown in Tourian. First, Hirokazu Tanaka composed the soundtrack with the idea of countering every pop game soundtrack that had been produced up until that point. As such, the soundtrack is very amelodic, chaotic, and discordant, with each song giving a different feel of darkness and terror to the labyrinth of Zebes. This atmospheric music was among the first first and certainly the premier of its kind. Hip Tanaka treated the whole soundtrack like a living creature, composing the music so it would absorb the player’s sound effects as part of the piece.

The showdown in Tourian takes this to its zenith Read the rest of this entry ?

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Super Metroid: Sound in Action – “Theme of Samus” (arr. Yoshiyuki Ito & Masumi Ito)

December 24, 2009

It’s time for another Metroid tune, this time a remix from Super Metroid – Sound in Action (1994), which contains remixes and game recordings from the original Metroid and Super Metroid. This tune is “Theme of Samus Aran, Galactic Warrior” and is a wonderful tune illustrating the power and determination of Samus, the game’s protagonist. The drums evoke the sense of strength, power, and determination Samus has in her suit, as well as a sense of her movement within it. This is very important as the track plays during the exploration of the overworld, where there are many cliffs to climb and places to explore; the harp that plays in the middle section gives a sense of encountering these new areas for the first time, of climbing over a cliff face and seeing a vast new landscape ahead.

Super Metroid – Sound in Action – “Space Warrior Samus Aran’s Theme (Arrange Version)” (Yoshiyuki Ito & Masumi Ito)

The original version contains a more layered composition, with each instrument, even the drums, banging out the tune of the song. Unfortunately, this is something that got kind of lost in the mix, but it is still very powerful.

The “Theme of Samus” plays in two areas of Super Metroid. The first is in the outside of Crateria, the surface area of Planet Zebes, Read the rest of this entry ?

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8-Bit Mondays: Metroid – Title BGM (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

December 1, 2009

This song is probably one of the most important game tunes ever written. I’ve gone on and on about how vgm really first demonstrated its capacity as an art form in the mid-80s, and Metroid was one of the ones that truly demonstrated this. Hip Tanaka’s score was simply unmatched at the time, and the title theme is a perfect introduction to this new type of game soundtrack. The Famicom version of the soundtrack was available through the Game Sound Museum Volume 12 as well as the Famicom 20th Anniversary Original Soundtracks Vol. 1.

Metroid – “Title BGM” (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

The “Title BGM” is progressive. Unlike most vgm, it doesn’t have looping sections, but merely moves from one section to the next, developing the few central notes of the theme. Its harsh intonations and use of a more minor scale rather than the major scale common to most games at the time was a dramatic break and firmly established Metroid‘s musical aesthetic of descending into darkness and amelody and finally revealing the light and song at the very end in a catharsis of melody. It really set the stage for soundtracks that were more atmospheric, dynamic, and expressive rather than simply pop songs used to fill the background.

The track begins with a very harsh triangle wave like a trumpet Read the rest of this entry ?

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Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Metroid “Brinstar” (Kenji Yamamoto)

November 20, 2009

So as this is later than midnight where I am now, I technically missed my deadline, but it came from a great purpose (going to Child’s Play downtown, a charity event for donating games and money to needy children). As a result, I picked a track that I know very well and has been sitting on the backburner for awhile. Even though Metroid is my favorite game series out there, I’ve been patiently waiting for a good time to share some music from it. Now is better than any, so I give you the “Brinstar” theme from Metroid as played in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Actually, this is really the “Main Theme” theme in Brawl because for some odd reason the guys who named the soundtrack decided it would be a good idea to completely change the music titles from what they’ve been called for the past 20 years.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Metroid “Brinstar” (Kenji Yamamoto)

There are some really good renditions of “Brinstar”, but this is my favorite version (the mix from Metroid Metal – Varia Suite is a good second place winner and merely lacks the speed and energy I enjoy in Yamamoto’s mix). “Main Theme” is really energetic and the march-like nature perfectly captures the feel of boldly exploring the upper regions of Planet Zebes; this area is quite tame compared with the depths of the planet, and so the track is much more light and positive than later tracks. The high, quick notes of the second section of the song do a great job of replicating the feel of Samus’s spin jumps and the underlying drumbeat captures the rhythm of Samus’s footsteps. The Brawl version also has a great break into an 8-bit NES square wave section (complete with ‘game pause’ sfx). And, of course, the frills and accentuations on some of the guitar notes just go to show that Samus is a badass. Also, fantastic recording quality on the guitar.

Metroid (Famicom/NES, 1986) was originally composed by Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka. Read the rest of this entry ?