Friday, 12 October 2012

Lost in the Music: Super Mario 64

     I have been a Nintendo fan since I was old enough to hold a controller. Yes I had played on an Atari but my first real memory was playing on the old grey brick. I remember that my dad had borrowed a Nintendo from my cousin and I watched in awe as I saw this red and brown man running across the screen and jumping on walking mushrooms. Throughout the years of gaming, we would always get the newest Nintendo system.

     I remember Christmas of 1997. my brother and I had saved up all our Christmas money and decided to get the Nintendo 64. Of course because Christmas had passed, we were only able to rent games and one of the games we had rented (and later bought) was of course, Super Mario 64.

     Now my brother and I were no stranger to Mario 64. We had played it over at a friends house many many times and we knew exactly what it was. However, there is a difference playing for 10 minutes on a pre-loaded file and playing on your own file and watching the opening cutscene for the very first time. Needless to say, the moment Peach spoke her first lines, I knew this was something special.

     To be perfectly honest, aside from a few tracks, I was never too fond of the Super Mario soundtracks. On his own, Koji Kondo does do a good enough job, but it is when he is partnered with other people, like Yoko Shimomura and Nobuo Uematsu, he really shines. However with Super Mario 64, my opinion of him changed for the better. I began to appreciate his style of musical production and I am glad I list him in my personal top 5 list of favourite video game composers.

     Listening to the Super Mario 64 soundtrack even after all these years is still a delight. This is some of Mr. Kondo's best work, rivalling his contribution on the Super Mario Galaxy Soundtracks. It could be the nostalgia factor talking, but I really do appreciate this soundtrack alot.

     After going through this soundtrack, I am hard pressed to determine which is my second favourite track as they are all wonderful. Of course the number one choice is Dire Dire Socks. I am not alone in this as it seems that many people seem to love this track. It could just be the nostalgia factor for people remembering a simpler time in their lives. A time before real life stresses took hold. Dire Dire Docks is much like Illusion of Gaia's Beneath the Earthen Womb. It gives a feeling of closeness and protection, but instead of also embracing the bad memories, it makes you feel like you are child and being held by a loved one.

     For my second favourite track, I do find it is a three way tie between Koopa Road, Haunted Mansion and finally Snow Mountain. Each of these tracks have something special about them. Haunted Mansion gives off a genuinely creepy vibe, and when coupled with the Merry Go Round, it gives off an unnerving feeling. However Snow Mountain is a plain old fun song. It is classic Mario of fun and upbeat, much like the Slider tune. The last song of the threeway is the epic sounding Koopa Road.

     Bowser has always had a rather unique theme when it came to his boss fight. They were usually menacing in their own way, but that was it. Didn't really feel any connection to the scenario. Koopa's Road however is far different as it gives a feeling of confrontation of epic proportions. This track is so well loved by the people over at Nintendo that it was remade for Super Mario Galaxy, giving it an orchestra treatment.

     In the end, the Super Mario 64 soundtrack is a good solid soundtrack, if dated. It still is a great listen to, but with the Super Mario Galaxy and the Super Mario Bros 3D, the only reason to listen to this is for nostalgia.

     This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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