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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

S3: Sensational SNES Soundtracks Part 2

The Super Nintendo is widely regarded as Nintendo's best console and arguably the greatest console of all time. It's an outstanding game machine with a hefty amount of games, visuals that still hold up well today and much of the music in SNES games is nothing short of amazing. SNES music is what we're here to discuss in S3, highlighting some of my favorite SNES soundtracks.

Super Mario World

Composer: Koji Kondo

Back in the day, we used to have system launches with pack in games. The game that came packed with the SNES? Super Mario World. Hot dog! This game was the reason myself and many others wanted Nintendo's 16-bit machine and Super Mario World did not dissapoint. For a lot of gamers, this is the greatest 2D Mario game. Like the previous Super Marios before it, the music in Super Mario World favors quality over quantity and Super Mario World's music is pretty darn good. Koji Kondo uses variations of a single theme for most of the game's music but keeps one distinct. The Underground theme has an echo sound to it, the Athletic theme very energetic and piano crazy and the Castle theme is dark and forboding. If you find or bring Yoshi into a level, you get the addition of bongo drums, a very nice touch. The final battle with Bowser treats us to a sick rock theme that was arranged in Super Mario Kart and then decades later in Fortune Street. Super Mario World may have been one of the earliest games to release on the SNES, but it still has one of the best soundtracks the system has to offer.

The Evil Koopa King

Donkey Kong Country

Composers: David Wise, Eveline Novakovic, Robin Beanland

1994 was the year DK made his big comeback. First there was Donkey Kong on the GB which played like the classic 1981 co-op game while adding tons of new levels and gameplay elements, and then there was the mindblowing SNES platformer Donkey Kong Country that boasted visuals and sounds that were thought to be impossible on the system. Donkey Kong Country has a soundtrack so rich that many a player has paused the game just to listen to the music. The soothing sounds of Aquatic Ambiance, the calm turned frantic pace of Northern Hemispheres and that pumping final boss music that is Gang-Plank Galleon, Donkey Kong Country has a soundtrack that is a feast for your ears.

DK Island Swing
Aquatic Ambience
Forest Frenzy
Northern Hemispheres
Fear Factory
Gang-Plank Galleon  

Chrono Trigger

Composers: Yasunroi Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu

A memorable cast of characters, a time travel plot that's easy to grasp yet interesting, no random battles, charater designs by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and an superb soundtrack make Chrono Trigger a masterpiece. This is the game that put Yasunori Mitsuda on the map for game soundtracks. Nobuo Uematsu contributed a some trakcs but Mitsuda did the lion's share of it. All of the wonderful things I could say about Chrono Trigger's soundtrack have already been said. One need only look into the number of arrangements Chrono Trigger's soundtrack has received to see how much the video game music fans adore it. Chrono Trigger can hold it's own to the SNES trilogy of Final Fantasy titles and many current RPGs in many respects, especially music. If you haven't heard this game's score, give it a listen and if you have, hear it again. I know I'm due for another go.

Green Memories
The Trial
Boss Battle 2
Factory Ruins
Showdown with Magus
World Revolution

Contra III: The Alien Wars

Composers: Miki Higashino, Masanroi Adachi, Tappi Iwase

The aliens have had their skin handed to them twice over. That's enough to make anyone feel butthurt. For the third strike, the launch an all out assault on the human race, starting by turning an entire city to ruins with one attack. Kinda sends the message that they are done screwing around. Since the world has pretty much been transformed into scorched Earth, the soundtrack reflects the hellish wasteland the aliens have created. Clocking in at only six stages, Contra III is on the short side, but it does a lot in those six levels and with each one have their own music track, Contra III delivers an apocalyptic score you won't soon forget.

It's Time For Revenge
Bloody Storm
Battle Runner
Hell Messanger 
Go Forward Under Fire
The Showdown


Composer: Yuzo Koshiro

Some games give off a vibe so undeniably strong that you know you're in for a good time before you start playing. ActRaiser is such a game, combining city building simulation elements with side scrolling action into one incredible package. ActRaiser's beautiful musical score is the icing on an already delicious cake. From that breath-taking Opening to the pumping themes of Fillmoa and Blood Pool~Casandora, ActRaiser wows your ears time and again.

Blood Pool~Casandora
North Wall
Birth of the People

Street Fighter II

Composers: Yoko Shimomura, Yoshihiro Sakaguchi, Tetsuya Nishimura

For a while, the SNES was the system to own if you wanted to throw down with a buddy in Street Fighter II without dropping some quarters. It was by no means a perfect port, but it got so much right that it was like having the arcade game in your living room. I love the CPS-I version of Street Fighter II's music, but I was exposed to Street Fighter II on the SNES and as such, I love this versions soundtrack equally as much as the arcade version. In fact, I think some themes honestly sound better on the SNES like Sagat's theme, a tune, I didn't think was bad, but never really grabbe me when I heard it on CPS-I hardware. That SNES sound chip really brings out the roar of those trumpets in Sagat, Blanka, Guile and Vega's stage themes. The bassline in Sagat's theme is absolutely sick as is that guitar solo at the 1:18 mark.

Ryu Stage
Chun-Li Stage
Blanka Stage
Guile Stage
Vega Stage
Sagat Stage

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