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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Favorite Tunes #10: Select/Menu Themes

Choose your destination. Yeah, it's a cool way of saying that you're selecting your fighter, character or stage. There have been some pretty outstanding select themes in gaming. It wasn't easy to keep the number of these low but I controlled myself and narrowed it down to ten.

Are You Ready? - Tekken 2 (PSX)

The PlayStation version of Tekken 2 was my entry to the series and received some nifty bonus features over it's arcade counterpart, chief among them being an arranged soundtrack. The arranged character select theme from Tekken 2 is unique in that it's far longer than most fighting game roster select screens. In most fighting games, you'll have heard the select tune in it's entirety within the first 20 seconds. Tekken 2's arranged character select track is nearly two minutes long and it is amazing. The only down side? Since you only get 20 seconds to pick your fighter, you didn't get to hear the entire song! And in 1996 that was just about everyone that wasn't living in Japan. There were two distinct soundtracks for Tekken 2, one that was for the arcade version's music, while the other featured the arranged PlayStation music. But thanks to YouTube and this feature, you can hear all of it. You're welcome.

Stage Select - Mega Man 3 (NES)

In my humble opinion, Mega Man 3 has the best stage select music from the entire classic series. It's a fast paced tuned that has a sinister undertone to it that let's you know that Rock's journey will be long and not as easy as the previous one. For many people, Mega Man 3 is a very hard game. The first eight robot masters are tough to kill with just the Mega Buster, the Doc Robots are much tougher than the Mega Man 2 originals and the stage design can be quite brutal. And even with all that, Mega Man 3 is a lot of people's favorite classic Mega Man game, myself included. The bulk of Mega Man 3's score was done by Yasuaki Fujita, who goes by the alias of Bunbun in Capcom games, which has got to be one of the coolest aliases of all-time.

Level Select - Mighty Switch Force! (3DS Ware)

Have you played Mighty Flip Champs or Mighty Milky Way? If so, this tune, while updated, will sound very familiar to you. It seems to have turned into the main theme for the Mighty series. A very upbeat tune that's great to whistle aloud and makes for a fine ringtone. I hope we get a fourth Mighty game just so I can hear what Jake Kaufman would do with this wonderful theme.

File Select - Super Mario 64 (N64)

So much about Super Mario 64 was awesome. It had fantastic controls, jaw dropping worlds to explore and some of the best Bowser fights in the entire Super Mario series. The music is also among veteran composer Koji Kondo's best works. The File Select theme is vastly underappreciated tune in a sea of fantastic tracks. Numerous times I'd hesitate to select my file because I wanted to let this tune play. Even now I can clearly hear Mario saying "Okie-dokie!" after pressing the A button.

Pick of the Litter - Skullgirls (XBLA, PSN)

A sexy-looking 2D fighting game that has a wide assortment of jazzy themes? Sign me up! Being a huge fan of jazz and contemporary jazz, I was in awe of Skullgirls' compositions. Pick of the Litter is one of the longest character select themes of any fighting game, going over a full minute before it starts to loop. It's a very relaxing theme, unlike a lot of fighting games. Instead of trying to pump you up for a fight, Pick of the Litter is more along the lines of encouraging you to chill out. I've listened to this song on repeat countless times. It's just that good.

Stage Select - Gunstar Heroes (GEN)

Not all developers can hit the ground running with their first game, but Treasure did just that with Gunstar Heroes. Turning the run 'n' gun shooter on it's head, Gunstar Heroes is without question one of the finest games on the Genesis. It's packed with incredible stage design, memorable bosses (Seven Force, I know you're all thinking of it) and some of the best 2D action in the gaming. Equally impress was NON's music. The SNES usually had the edge when it came to 16-bit songs, but numerous composers proved time and again that in the right hands, Genesis music could shine just as well as SNES music. The jolly Stage Select tune is but one of many great tracks Gunstar Heroes has to offer.

Battou - Akai Katana (Arcade, 360)

If you're fortunate enough to play a game by Cave, not only will you be treated to a magnificent SHMUP experience, you'll be in for some sweet music as well. Akai Katana is no exception. This is very much a tune of the "GET HYPED" variety and I honestly have no problem with that. For those of you that are wondering, "Battou" translates to drawing a sword or sword drawn. The game received an American release on May 15, 2012, making Akai Katana one of the few Cave titles to get a western release. Akai Katana's scored was composed by the late great Ryu Umemoto. Hearing this song and all of his other works just makes me wish the man were still with us.

Combat Simulator Menu - Perfect Dark (N64)

One of my favorite N64 games and one of the few that made my friends and I stop playing GoldenEye 007. The single player game was fun with an intriguing story but the multiplayer mode kept us coming back for more again and again. Imagine all the scenarios you could play out in GoldenEye's multiplayer mode. In Perfect Dark, you could do even more thanks to the copious amount of options that the game handed to you. Perfect Dark's music had a more futuristic feeling to it when compared to GoldenEye but it sounded no less engaging, serving up plenty of memorable tracks. Combat Simulator Menu is the track that's heard when you're going through the multiplayer options. It tells you right off the bat that killing human friends or bots in Perfect Dark is serious business.

Character Select - Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2)

Tekken Tag Tournament had the largest character roster up to this point in the series, containing all of the fighters from Tekken 1-3. That made for a good number of clones, but it was still nice to mix it up with so many characters. And that better way to get you excited for the beat downs that are about to ensue than this high energy select theme? Every time I hear this track I get stoked and start bobbing my head.

Menu Theme - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

The first game I bought when I picked up my Wii and it did not disappoint. While some choose to bicker over why Melee or Brawl is better, I'm too busy unlocking characters, music and stages to care. Matter of fact, there are still things I haven't unlocked yet. Brawl's score is staggering, consisting of some of the best names in the business as the composers (Koji Kondo, Nobuo Uematsu, David Wise to name a few). The Menu Theme is an excellent arrangement of the game's main theme and it's great to listen to while you're going through the game's many options, setting things up or selecting a character. A great battle preparation theme that I never get tired of listening to.

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