Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo’

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods” (Koji Kondo)

December 6, 2010

What’s this? Two songs in one? Well, it IS almost the end here, and I realized I’d forgotten to talk about two of my favorite Zelda tracks, “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods”. I was always a fan of “Windmill Hut” due to its stormy nature – tossed ’round and ’round by wind and weather, and the sadness of never knowing where you’ll end up. “Lost Woods” likewise has the mystery of the winding forest path as well as the nostalgia of returning to the place of your childhood, a point that was by no means lost when the track was arranged for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Thankfully, there’s a piece that combines them both, “Eye of the Storm” by Rozovian.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Eye of the Storm” (Rozovian)

“Eye of the Storm” is a new age electronica piece with rich instrumentation through bells and percussion combining both forest and rain, water dripping through the canopy, a pure stream trickling through the glade. And I must say I was instantly taken by the atmospheric sounds of the thunderstorm in the intro. Rozovian chose to arrange the two tracks together because he saw a melodic similarity between the two, though “Windmill Hut” is more clearly audible than “Lost Woods”, which seems sunk more into background support.

“Windmill Hut” has a couple notable arranges, the first by SAiNT 420 (Jeff Little) called “SoS” (“Song of Storms”), a guitar arrange whose West Coast funk I’m partial to. The other is a more hardcore rock cover by Ashane, picked off VGMix 2.0, which is great for the angst of the storm.

Of course my favorite version of “Lost Woods” is from Twilight Princess, known there as “Sacred Grove“. What really sets this piece off is the use of harp for a truly enchanting walk through the forest. The song draws particularly heavily on player nostalgia, as it is most directly tied to Ocarina of Time, the favorite Zelda game to many, and so when the song plays, it brings back so many memories of past games in the series to longtime fans. I know this version isn’t exactly highest quality and has the forest sfx in the background, but all the same, its calmness and the centrality of the notes draws on the one-ness of nature befitting of a sacred grove. The spirit of Saria of the Kokiri Woods must still reside in this sacred place…

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Super Mario World – “Ending” (Koji Kondo)

December 5, 2010

Super Mario World was the first Mario game I ever beat, and the first Mario game I really played. It still holds a special place for me as being my favorite of the 2D Marios for this reason – difficulty was a little higher than my skill level, so it was quite a challenge, there were tons of secrets (including a whole new world!), and a massive tropical archipelago full of dinosaurs. The music was also pretty good, if a little cheesy (and maybe a bit too long). So here you have it, as a nice farewell to VGM Daily, the Super Mario World “Ending” music.

Super Mario World – “Ending” (Koji Kondo)

The “Ending” theme is divided into four movements, which means there’s a LOT of repetition here! There’s the first joyful exit from Bowser’s castle where Mario leads Princess Peach (riding Yoshi) and being trailed by the seven eggs rescued from the other castles (that funky dance you see is not normal – you have to hold Up, L, R, X, and Y when you beat Bowser). What begins is a tour of all the worlds (pretty standard stuff) that ends with the arrival at Yoshi’s house (1:36). Here, the eggs all hatch and Mario and the gang have a wonderful celebration! (You can’t see it though because you have to watch the character credits). Next follows a review of all the enemies in the game along with their names (unfortunately, the little ninja guys are missing!). This part is divided into two sections, the first with a cheerful section played on strings and tuba (1:58) and then again with organ and strings (3:11) to illustrate the castle enemies and bosses. So in all, you’ll get to hear that main theme played about a dozen times!

However, what I really like about this theme is not just the nostalgia and familiarity, but the instruments and composition. The instruments are actually a little abstract – it’s hard to pinpoint what they are supposed to be. Is that a pipe or an ocarina? And then there’s a mix of guitar, bass, and violin, as well as accordion and tuba! It’s some sort of mad Italian polka! It’s just the kind of thing you’d expect really from a game like this.

Super Mario World – “Peaceful Kinoko-World” (Soichi Noriki)

If you find this version overlong, check out Soichi Noriki‘s arrange, “Peaceful Kinoko-World”, from the official soundtrack! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dr. Mario – “Fever” (Hirokazu Tanaka)

December 3, 2010

One of the games I remember playing as a kid was Tetris & Dr. Mario for the SNES. Dr. Mario is a puzzle game where you have to line up different-colored pills so they wipe out a virus of the same color. If the bottle fills up with pills, you’ve lost. It also had this really funny commercial. In the SNES version, there was a multiplayer option that was a lot of fun at the time, but I kind of lost interest in the game after I selected the hardest level and played through it for about an hour or two until I cleared it, saw the ending screen, and then was prompted to play another level. Then I realized it was pointless! Still, the game had some pretty trippy tunes that were so funny to hear, we couldn’t play some of them, or we’d mess up because we were laughing so hard! So yes, another classic from Hip Tanaka.

Dr. Mario (SNES version) – “Fever” (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

“Fever” is a pretty cheeky tune – actually, all of them are, thanks to the jeering faces of the little viruses. The designers must have been inspired by Space Invaders, as you can’t help but enjoy squashing them with the pills. The SNES version uses an organ as well as provides chirps and insults from the viruses. At 0:29 there are a few bars from a famous classical tune that I have trouble identifying… You will also want to check out the classic Hip Tanaka bass line at 0:50, definitely a little reminiscent of Balloon Fight (especially with the bubbling pops).

I’d also like to point out that Dr. Mario was a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and so his theme saw a remix. However, I like the arrange of “Chill”  by Masaaki Iwasaki (Mother 3, Heavy Barrel) from Super Smash Bros. Brawl more, with its combination of original chip music and grunge guitars. Awesome high hat past the one-minute mark, too.

Finally, there is this incredibly awesome music video by Brentalfloss about Dr. Mario. Warning – it’s a tad NSFW! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Totaka’s Song (Kazumi Totaka)

December 2, 2010

Here’s an interesting piece of music that not many people know about: “Totaka’s Song”, so-called because it appears in every single (or almost every single…) game that Kazumi Totaka helped compose. “Totaka’s Song” is his signature, basically a means of signing the work as an artist signing a painting and having a little joke in the process. The piece is 19 notes long and is a short, playful ramble that seems embarrassed to have been discovered and so sheepishly pauses at the end. Here it is from Mario Paint, one of its most famous appearances:

The song first appeared in X for the Game Boy (1992, Japan-only). It was also played by Mr. Totaka’s ‘avatar’ in Animal Crossing, the guitar-playing dog K.K. Nindb has a collection of several versions of “Totaka’s Song”, and more are on YouTube. PhilBond has a three-part video series on the song that sparked interest across the Internet, but admittedly the pacing is a little slow… Most instances of “Totaka’s Song” have been discovered, but a few are missing such as Wii Sports (though there is this funky version of the title theme played backwards). I’ve also yet to see any kind of arranges (anyone up to a heavy metal joke version for Dwelling of Duels?).

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Symphonic Legends – “Ending Medley” (arr. Jonne Valtonen)

September 24, 2010

September 23 saw yet another feather in the cap of the German Symphonic Game Music Concerts series (Symphonic Shades, Symphonic Fantasies), Symphonic Legends, a concert dedicated to the themes of Nintendo games. The concert was live broadcast around the world from the official website and some clips from the live broadcast have now found their way to YouTube. The concert was conducted by Niklas Willén with many of the pieces arranged by Jonne Valtonen (PLAY! A Videogame Symphony).

Though my favorites include the F-Zero, Mario, and Starfox medleys (and I still have to listen to the epic 32-minute Zelda piece – my internet crapped out during the intermission) I felt the Encore performance of the “Ending Medley” was a good pick. The piece opens with a lovely interpretation of the Wind Waker ending theme, complete with the ethnic, Celtic instruments used throughout the soundtrack, particularly the flute and bongo (and actually, I believe that’s Rony Barrak on the bongo! He did a bongo solo for Symphonic Shades). The piece then transitions to the beautiful Super Mario Galaxy at 2:25 before playing a short segment from Zelda at 4:05. The real treat here though is the ending theme from Super Mario Bros, complete with a 50-some-person choir. While I’m not very good at picking out lyrics (particularly when sung by a large choir), I will say the effect is quite impressive. The final segment beginning at 5:08 I have trouble placing, but I think it might be a few more notes from Super Mario Galaxy. Admittedly, I was hoping for the ending to Metroid!

Needless to say, the concert should be produced in album form within the next year or so, considering how every other concert done by Symphonic Game Music Concerts has been produced in an album. Interesting to note: though the concert sold out back in March, there appear to be plenty of empty seats! Maybe some people decided to leave early?

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Super Smash Bros. Melee – “Menu 1” (Hirokazu Ando)

September 9, 2010

Super Smash Bros. is a pretty amazing series, combining characters from all of Nintendo’s games into one where they fight each other to the finish. It’s always satisfying to smash an annoying green dinosaur with a 10-ton pink weight or send a plumber packing with a few swipes of the Master Sword. Nintendo pulled all the stops with nostalgia – and if there’s one thing Nintendo is good at, it’s selling nostalgia – and tops it off with some outstanding gameplay and plenty of humor. The best in the series in my eye still stands as Super Smash Bros. Melee (2002) due to its variation in the battle modes and an engaging story mode (though unfortunately not as well-developed as it was in Brawl). The game’s Main Theme stands out as one of the original pieces composed for the title, my favorite version seen here in “Menu 1,” the main menu theme.

Super Smash Bros. Melee – “Menu 1” (Hirokazu Ando)

The main theme is a heroic orchestral piece with noble strings, driving drums, bold trumpets, and even a few bells for emphasis. The notes are high and active, giving the player a call to action, fierce battles, and amazing rewards. At only 49 seconds in length, or about the length of an NES song, the piece doesn’t need to be longer, as the menu is designed to get players out of the menu and into battle mode as soon as possible. It’s a pretty fun little track that sees multiple variations in the various battle and boss themes added to the game.

The soundtrack was directed by Hirokazu Ando, who has worked on much of HAL’s soundtracks, particularly the Kirby series.

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EarthBound – “Smiles and Tears” (Keichi Suzuki)

September 8, 2010

EarthBound has a great soundtrack. It really does. Keichi Suzuki (EarthBound series). There’s comedy, there’s horror, there’s intensity, there’s weirdness…in short, the entire game is summed up in this one song, “Smiles and Tears.” The track plays during the credits and displays photographs taken during your adventures around the world. With each image, you remember the event that happened here with laughter – but you also know it’s time to say goodbye to the friends you met in this game.

EarthBound – “Smiles and Tears” (Keichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka)

“Smiles and Tears” has a mix of joy and sorrow, nostalgia and melancholy, all wrapped into an enchanting piano piece. The notes climb high, seeking happiness of friendship, and the short steps of the notes gives the track a confident, homely feel. At 2:04, we’re given the theme played back in minor key – the sadness of leaving friends and loved ones behind. But at 2:33, we dry our tears through resolution, reassurance – and hope. Everything is going to be alright because we still have the memories. From here, we return again to the main theme, this time with confidence (3:20) which slowly builds in intensity until we have a pause – and a synthesized voice – and the song fades away into disollution.

In the collaborative EarthBound remix project, Bound Together, Dhsu produced a touching piano arrange called “Bound Together.” His hands deftly play with a kind of tenderness from someone immersed in the emotion of the piece.
Actually, there are also some lyrics that go with this song, too. The only work in Japanese, but there is a literal English translation available. The lyrics were written by the game’s designer, Shigesato Itoi, and they were included with the Japanese version of the game. Players were encouraged to sing along. This video is the official lyrical version by Keichi Suzuki. I also like this fan rendition, but it doesn’t have karaoke.

I haven’t lived even half as long as adults have,
but I do have plenty of memories in my backpack
My favorite baseball cap, my sneakers with worn-out heels
Deep in my pocket is my worn-down guitar pick
There were some things sad enough to make tears come out,
but you were always by my side
I thought of the two of us as just friends the whole time
I probably loved you without ever realizing it

We walked while we laughed, played, and got hurt
I realized it as we took shortcuts and went in circles:
that even if you can’t believe in everyone
you can’t cast aside a heart you do believe in
You made me stronger just being who you are
Like a gentle wind blowing and swaying the grass
you always walked with a smile

Yes, the two who shared smiles and tears one after the other…..
(I miss you)
…..are now far apart…..