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LONG BLOG

Top 10 Brawl Themes That Belong in a Concert Hall.

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So there's no denying that SSBB is an awesome game, and with a whopping 314 songs included, the soundtrack is no different.

However, many of these songs sound awesome to us because of the nostalgia we attach to them. If you grew up endlessly depositing quarters into the insatiable Donkey Kong arcade cabinet at the local pizza parlor, hearing the remix of the level theme might just bring a tear to your eye. But will it have the same effect on someone who's never played a video game before? Which songs, regardless of the series that spawned it, can be considered classical masterpieces befitting a concert hall or opera house?

That question is what prompted me to construct this list. There are many songs that I love in SSBB that did not make this list simply because they are not acceptable to more "sophisticated" listeners, or those that don't appreciate heavy techno bass and electric guitars. However, in listening to the songs here, we can hope that those that look down upon games as an art form can take something back from these reimagined themes and use them to more fully appreciate what we play. So the following songs are those that achieve that, among other things: encompassing the scope and mood of the medium that different listeners may not understand otherwise.

(Another note, this list only contains songs that are created solely for Brawl, and not simply taken untouched from another game.)

#10: Theme of Samus Aran, Space Warrior

Even if you have no idea who Samus is, you instantly understand the tone of the Metroid series when listening to this song. It brings to mind a triumphant adventurer braving danger and loneliness to achieve his or her goal. But while the song itself is very good, this track gets bumped to this spot on the list because it's not completely orchestrated. A minor quibble, but considering the literally hundreds of other songs in Brawl, #10 is a very respectable standing.

#9: Star Fox Main Theme

The main criteria for determining which songs made the cut on this list is whether it could retain its artistic merit once nostalgia and other feelings attached to the game it's associated with were stripped away. As I've never played any Star Fox games before, I never heard this song before Brawl, but I still think it's really incredible. So there you go.

#8: The Legend of Zelda - Overworld/Underworld theme.

Ah, now we get into tricky territory. The main LoZ theme is very widely recognized so it's difficult to approach it compeltely objectively. However, there's a reason why it became so famous, apart from the success of the franchise itself: the main theme happens to be really, really ridiculously epic. So what do you get when you take an already epic song and put a chorus in it? Not to mention the church organ for the underworld theme. It's a more obscure tune, but still manages to almost surpass the opening because it features a full church organ. That practically defines "epic", and is something you can appreciate without any experience with the Legend of Zelda series at all.

#7: Underwater Theme - Super Mario Bros.

Blasphemy! This one starts out in it original 8-bit form! How is this acceptable outside of the gaming community? The answer is that the two other variations contained in the song more than illustrate its artistic merit and versatility. It almost stands as a representation of the evolution of these arrangements - how you can take such a simple tune and turn it into a song that can stand independent of the game it originated from.

#6: Legendary Air Ride Machine.

I can personally testify to this one. While surfing through the various songs from Brawl to pick the best ones for this list, this particular song started playing, and my mom asked me from the other room who composed it. I believe that speaks for itself.

#5: Fire Emblem Main Theme

Fully Orchestrated? Check. Latin choir? Check. Epic song of camraderie and herioic-ness? Check. Next!

#4: Airship/Boss Theme - Super Mario Bros. 3

If this song doesn't put the fear of God in you, you're either deaf or dead. Or atheist, but that's another matter. Imagine every dark, evil, depraved power that haunts your nightmares and roll them together. This is their theme song. Go ahead, try not to let loose a little evil laugh of your own when listening to it. It's a bit of a departure from some of these other songs with some synth-y effects in the middle, but the overall effect is so amazing that I had to include it.

#3: Tetris A Theme.

Some of you may know this is originally a Russian folk tune. I bet whoever first wrote down this little ditty never would've imagined it to be reinterpreted with so many different instruments, styles, and variations. It's almost overwhelming. But not quite. Just enough to keep the simple melody fresh throughout the song.

#2: Metal Gear Solid 4 - Love Theme

Gotta hand it to Konami. The game's not even out yet and they recorded this version purely for Brawl. And what an awesome version it is. With a heavy, sweeping opening, then giving way to a sad, eerie violin carrying the main melody, I actually end up stopping in a match simply to listen to it in the background. Unlike other themes in this list that conjure images of brave heroes, victory, riding off into the sunset, etc, this song brings very complex emotions into play. Loss and sadness, but also determination. Maybe a bit of bitterness to add to the mix. It's this ambiguity that makes it a true masterpiece.

#1: Super Smash Brothers Brawl Main Theme

Were you expecting something different? When I first heard this song in the original opening teaser for the game at E3 those years ago, I definitely was. With the esteemed Nobuo Uematsu at the helm, this song almost seemed too grand, too serious for what we had come to expect of the Smash Brothers series. However, when you understand the lyrics, it all falls into place. It accurately puts into words what we first felt when we saw the opening of the N64 game with the Hand placing the figures on the table and bringing them to life. Some people wonder why gamers spend so much time exploring these artificial worlds and stories, but our answer (or, at least, my answer) can be found in this song: Saeve certando pugnandoque/ sprendor crescit. "And as we face each other in battle, locked in combat, We shine even brighter."

Cheesy? Probably. But that is still why it deserves to be performed as a "serious" work, not just as the main theme from a popular video game.
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About SWE3tMadnessone of us since 6:04 PM on 01.10.2008

-About Me-

A recent graduate in Biology, neverless my first love in entertainment and media has always been video games, even though I don't get a lot of time to play recent ones now. I still enjoy following the industry and gushing about the latest Nintendo releases.

A Critical Ear: Analyzing Music in Video Games

If there's one thing that I like more than talking about video games, it's talking about music in video games. As a classically trained pianist that has been playing for more than twelve years, I take a look at some of my favorite soundtracks and how they contribute to the gaming experience as a whole.

#0: Introduction
#1: Villain Themes and Leitmotifs (April, 2010)
#2: Anti-Music (June, 2010)
#3: They Wasted a Perfectly Good Song (July, 2010)
#4: Fight On! (August, 2010)
#5: More Than Just Noise: Nostalgia and Homecoming (September, 2010 Monthly Musing)
#6: While I Play Unfitting Music (November, 2010)
#7: Thinking Outside the Soundchip (December/January 2010)

-Other Promoted Articles-

Using Post-Modernism to Reinvent the Horror Genre
Final Fantasy VI's Dancing Mad - A Critical Analysis
The Wrong Thing: The Root Of All Evil
Other Worlds Than These: Pokèmon
Music and Rhythm Games: A Classically Trained Pianist's Perspective
Feel the Hatred: Zant (Twilight Princess)
Instant Replay: Guitar Hero III
The Start of the Affair: Super Smash Bros. 64