Soundtrack Review: Super Mario Galaxy
by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo
Possibly the GREATEST venture in video game music ever (along with its sequel), Super Mario Galaxy has a TREMENDOUS amount of PHENOMENAL music, all performed by a live orchestra. Revolutionary in the video game music industry. The specific album I am reviewing is the platinum version of the soundtrack, which includes the original soundtrack plus a second disk, making for nearly every song in the game, and a grand total of eighty-one tracks. If the theme for Professor Layton was beautiful, the theme for this is epic.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Mahito Yokota was the main composer for Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and composed or arranged nearly all of the songs. He is currently Nintendo’s orchestral head, and has assisted with the music of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (which is also utilizing a live orchestral score).
Koji Kondo is the most famous video game composer in this age, composing for Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and many, many others in those series. He is epic, but only composed four songs for this album (not including his older compositions which Yokota has remixed).
From the beginning, Yokota introduces us to the Super Mario Galaxy main theme in “Overture”—it is a two-measure, six-note motif that can be heard in several other pieces and is perfect for Mario’s cosmic adventures. The rest of the piece is calm compared to what one would expect from an overture, but still pretty and, yes, it sounds like space. The theme is used again in “Daybreak – A new Dawn.” “Space Junk Road” and “Gateway Galaxy” use a similar spacey idea, expanding into a more beautiful (Space Junk) or upbeat (Gateway) motif. “The Star Festival” brings a cosmic, cheerful, and undoubtedly Marioesque theme into play. It is absolutely great and fun to listen to.
The four songs composed by Kondo are in truth only two. The first, “Egg Planet” is the first course in Super Mario Galaxy, and is practically the essence of the game. Fun, brave, and blatantly courageous, this song is definitely one of Kondo’s best. The second is the theme for the Comet Observatory, and it’s a very, very pretty waltz piece. There are three different versions: the first is quiet and restrained, with only a few soft instruments singing the melody; the second is more bold, with more melody and parts of the orchestra, and the third is a brazen, extravagant version which utilizes (it seems) as many instruments as it possibly can. The theme is used as a BEAUTIFUL piano solo in the final track on the album, “Family.”
And as for the rest of the galaxy themes, Yokota shows a ridiculously broad variety of styles of music in addition to the peaceful style mentioned above—all of them masterful. In “The Honeyhive,” he brings a relaxed, carefree style which is almost addictive
to listen to. “Big Bad Bugaboom” uses a frantic version of the theme for a dangerous battle with two unfriendly mandibugs. The epic “Battlerock Galaxy” sounds like an army going to battle. I honestly cannot describe this piece; it is amazing. In “Beach Bowl Galaxy” and the underwater version of the same track, he uses a tropical approach for a beach setting. “Waltz of the Boos” is his attempt at creepiness, and it works amazingly. This is quite reminiscent of Danny Elfman. “Melty Molten Galaxy” is also good for a lava theme—but is almost lackluster when put in comparison to the others. “Ice Mountain” and “Lava Path” are interesting, to say the least. They are the same theme arranged two different ways to sound fiery or freezy. CAUSE FREEZY IS TOTALLY A WORD. O__O Anyway, “Dusty Dune Galaxy” is the cooler-than-you desert theme, which is reminiscent of Kondo’s earlier desert/volcano theme from Super Mario 64. “The Galaxy Reactor, as the final level, is dark and moody—full of win. “Enter the Galaxy” and “Buoy Base Galaxy” are both great tries for epicness, but the true winner of all the galaxy themes is “Gusty Garden Galaxy.” This game has been out for several years, so you ought to have heard this song by now. If you have not. GO LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW.
It is epic, beautiful, simple but complex, and just…just…flawless.
Next I’ll tackle boss battle themes, several of which are actually a bit…well, annoying. The first is “Dino Piranha,” and is actually fairly jazzy. XD Same goes for “King Kaliente,” which is better due to its less frenzied style. Sounds like a theme for a secret agent, now that I think about it. “Megaleg” is cute in its electronic march, but sounds less like a boss fight—not “epic” enough. “Major Burrows” is catchy with its overt use of brass. “Kingfin” is actually quite frightening, especially since it plays also when you fight Bouldergeist, whose Daredevil Run is practically impossible…just throwing that out there. But it’s tense and stuff. “Heavy Metal Mecha-Bowser” (though I don’t know if this qualifies as a boss theme) is a kiddie march that’s nice for those oddly cute Mecha-Koopas tromping around in the Toy Time Galaxy. “Kamella” is playfully catchy, and kind of bizarre, to be honest. I like it. And of course, you have the EPIC Bowser fights. “King Bowser” is probably the best boss theme to date. I honestly can’t think of another Mario game besides Super Mario Galaxy 2 that has this amazing of boss music. “Final Battle with Bowser” is also dangerous and scary and such.
The comet themes are few and brief. “Purple Comet” is easily the best, beginning oddly before bringing in the Gusty Garden theme for a second helping. “Speedy Comet” is nice in its wild piano thuddings. And “Cosmic Comet” is a bit of a mix between Kondo’s “Underground” and “Overworld” classic Mario themes; it’s quite odd to listen to.
Speaking of which, I’ll now describe the remixes of Kondo’s past themes. “Attack of the Airships” and “Airship Armada” are remixes of his Super Mario Bros. 3 airship theme, which sounds SO MUCH MORE EPIC performed by a live orchestra. “Blue Sky Athletic” is a remix of the well-known athletic theme from the same game, which is decidedly addictive and extremely fun. “Super Mario 2007” is the inevitable remix of Mario’s main theme, which is electronic and works well with puffs, whistles, and windings. The underground theme appears in “Space Athletic.” “The Fiery Stronghold” is the epic remix of Super Mario 64’s “Koopa’s Road.” “Rainbow Mario” is the remix of “Wing Cap” from the same game.
Next, we have some random themes that don’t quite fit anywhere else. “Enter Bowser Jr.!” is a great (if somewhat annoying) theme for the creepy little son of a Koopa. “Birth” is a beautiful piano solo using the Gusty Garden theme. Yokota also uses a theme for Rosalina and the Lumas, which appears in “Luma” and “A Wish.” It’s quite pretty and soothing; it sounds like a child’s lullaby. He also has an incredibly catchy race theme, heard first in “Aquatic Race” and later arranged into a delightfully quirky waltz in “Boo Race.” “Chase the Bunnies!” uses a similar athletic theme. “Bowser Appears” is a guilty pleasure of mine—I love those heavy evil drums.
Lastly, the ending theme, “Super Mario Galaxy,” brings a theme that is at once beautiful, heartfelt, adventurous, and, for the last time…EPIC
. With a brief deviation in the middle for a soft reprisal of the Gusty Garden theme, and a short intro of the overture theme, it’s a truly fantastic piece.
There are also several tracks I haven’t mentioned, simply because they don’t compare to the ones I have. They’re all pretty nice though.
In overview: This is an amazing soundtrack which captures the essence of Mario, and great orchestral scores.
DOWNLOAD IT: If you enjoy wonderful orchestral scores, Mario music, or video game music of any kind.
DON’T DOWNLOAD IT: If you don’t have ears. Seriously, everyone should have this soundtrack on their iPod.
Track listing (excellent tracks in red):
DISC ONE1. Overture
2. The Star Festival
3. Attack of the Airships
5. Peach’s Castle Stolen
6. Enter the Galaxy7. Egg Planet
8. Rosalina in the Observatory 1
9. The Honeyhive
10. Space Junk Road
11. Battlerock Galaxy
12. Beach Bowl Galaxy
13. Rosalina in the Observatory 2
14. Enter Bowser Jr.!15. Waltz of the Boos
16. Buoy Base Galaxy
17. Gusty Garden Galaxy
18. Rosalina in the Observatory 3
19. King Bowser
20. Melty Molten Galaxy21. The Galaxy Reactor
22. Final Battle with Bowser23. Daybreak – A New Dawn
25. Super Mario Galaxy
26. Purple Comet
27. Blue Sky Athletic28. Super Mario 2007
29. File Select
30. Luma31. Gateway Galaxy
32. Stolen Grand Star
33. To the Observatory Grounds 1
34. Observation Dome
35. Course Select
36. Dino Piranha
37. A Chance to Grab a Star!
38. A Tense Moment
39. Big Bad Bugaboom
40. King Kaliente
41. The Toad Brigade
42. Airship Armada43. Aquatic Race
44. Space Fantasy
46. To the Observatory Grounds 2
47. Space Athletic48. Speedy Comet
49. Beach Bowl Galaxy – Undersea
51. Bowser’s Stronghold Appears52. The Fiery Stronghold
53. The Big Staircase54. Bowser Appears
55. Star Ball
56. The Library57. Buoy Base Galaxy – Undersea
58. Rainbow Mario
59. Chase the Bunnies!
61. Major Burrows
62. Pipe Interior
63. Cosmic Comet
64. Drip Drop Galaxy65. Kingfin
66. Boo Race
67. Ice Mountain
68. Ice Mario
69. Lava Path
70. Fire Mario
71. Dusty Dune Galaxy
72. Heavy Metal Mecha-Bowser
74. Deep Dark Galaxy
76. Star Ball 2
77. Sad Girl
78. Flying Mario
79. Star Child
80. A Wish81. Family
Whoa, this took me a while! Hope you guys read it, and I’m planning on reviewing the second game’s soundtrack next week sometime!