Let it be known that I stayed up late trying to get this done, even though I spread my effort throughout the week instead of the usual protocol of saving it all until the last minute.
This week, I will be introducing a new series for this blog. It’s called Brain Food, and the premise is that I will ask myself a silly question on my mind and, of course, answer it.
The question of the weekend is…
If I had to make a Super Mario 64 ROM hack but could only change the music, how would I change it?
(For those unfamiliar with the term “ROM hack,” refer to http://sm64hacks.com/thread-992.html)
Now, I’m not here to discredit the original music of Super Mario 64 (on the contrary, I would describe it as timeless), and I don’t actually plan to do what the question entails. This is entirely hypothetical, and purely for enjoyment.
For the individual music changes, I will cover as many different areas/events as I can, including areas that are different but have the same music normally (e.g., Bob-Omb Battlefield and Whomp’s Fortress), but excluding the title screen, courtyard, credits theme, and non-looping jingles (which are 100% okay as is). I’ll also try to use as few Mario games as I can, but no promises about Nintendo games.
Hmm… Which file should I select? What am I getting myself into? These sorts of questions and perhaps more are what surfaces on the mind during file selection. Thus, a serene tune that nicely complements thinking is the best fit for the file select screen.
Peach’s Castle can best be described as a hub world of sorts, where most of everything else is located. Such also describes ACDC Town in the Battle Network series, and the theme in question has the same sort of upbeat yet welcoming charm that befits Peach’s Castle.
“Why 3 in particular?” you may ask, and that is because 3 was the game that introduced me to the Battle Network series and has the most memorable ACDC theme of the Battle Network games I’ve played.
Bob-Omb Battlefield is the first world (like Pop Star in Kirby 64), is filled with round creatures (Bob-Ombs), and introduces the wonkiness of the game. No doubt in my mind that Kirby 64’s Pop Star theme would be a great match.
This theme applies to King Bob-Omb, Whomp King, Eyerok, and Wiggler. I was tempted to come up with a custom theme for each one, but on the basis that Super Mario Star Road only has one type of miniboss theme, I decided to discard that idea.
Quite honestly, this is one of the most memorable battle themes that I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In my experience with Bravely Default, it’s the sort of tune that made me want to keep playing to the end, for better or for worse. (It may not be applied to that many situations in this case, but that doesn’t matter.)
Nothing says “I’m in a heated race with this eccentric creature” quite like the good ol’ Diddy Kong Racing boss theme. It’s always been a catchy tune, and it fits well with the Koopa races in Bob-Omb Battlefield and Tiny Huge Island.
Kind of a joke this time. The “Fortress” part is the main justification of it.
Homestar Runner was a memorable part of my childhood, and nowadays I have occasional nostalgic cravings to satisfy (mainly along the lines of “What was that one toon/sbemail with [insert phrase/event here]?”), and following homestar_ebooks on Twitter is part of the reason for that.
Sleeping Piranha Plant theme
This music is surprisingly catchy, yet it fits the theme of an unsuspecting sleeper, like an undisturbed Piranha Plant in Whomp’s Fortress. Not much more to say there.
Cool Cool Mountain
Fits the essence of an entry-level area blanketed with snow. Snowpoint City is, after all, the first residential area in the Pokémon games to canonically feature any sort of snow. Quite fitting for Cool Cool Mountain.
Inside the cottage (CCM)
And this tune fits the atmosphere of being in a snowy area but being sheltered enough to where you can play around unhindered. It’s also hype enough to go well with racing a penguin.
What I didn’t realize is that there are apparently two versions of the Icirrus theme: with and without percussion. Back when I played Pokémon Black, I didn’t really pay much attention to how the music tracks—let alone that of Icirrus City—varied among seasons, but I’m guessing the track without percussion is associated with winter (because it’s more fitting that way).
What better tune to describe fumbling around in an aquarium than the underwater theme of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, widely known (or at least to me) as the theme of fumbling around underwater to try to figure out how to progress the story past Tate&Liza? Ah, good times in both situations.
Jolly Roger Bay
Both Jolly Roger Bay and Gloomy Galleon are water levels, ship-related levels, and even the fourth level in their respective games. No better match here, I’d say.
Because the ship in Jolly Roger Bay has its own loading zone, I would give it separate music, namely the Ship Ruins rendition of the theme.
Big Boo’s Haunt
“I ain’t gonna let it get to me; I’m just gonna creep.” Granted Big Boo’s Haunt doesn’t really have any pumpkins, the spookiness of it matches with the spooky vibe of the Pumpkin Hill theme.
Sonic Adventure 2 (Battle for GameCube) was another one of my childhood games, as well as the first Sonic game that I remember fondly.
Merry-go-rounds are fun…but not when they’re invaded by spooky creatures. Just like how Persona Q worlds (particularly You in Wonderland) always tend to have some sort of uncanny aspect with their theme. As in, the theme in question conveys some sort of fun, albeit a demented sort of fun…if that makes sense.
In the spirit of my decision to associate the ACDC Town theme with Peach’s Castle, I figured that the Beach Street theme can be considered a sort of upbeat and playful theme. Appropriate for playing around on a slide and trying to get some sort of record time.
Wing Cap / shell theme
The feeling of being able to move around in a whole different, more majestic way. That sort of feeling is conveyed well in the Waterskip Slider theme of Amazing Island.
Under normal circumstances, the theme accompanies a minigame where monsters build up speed by running across a large ramp, jump at the end of a ramp, and skip across the water so as to achieve a record distance.
And, conveniently, the aspects of gaining air and staying above the water’s surface are also characteristic of the Wing Cap and shell, respectively.
Wing Cap stage
You don’t hear much of the normal music in the Wing Cap stage, and when you do, you’re most likely falling into the sky-colored abyss or stranded on the island containing the switch, so I figured: “Why not just go with a meme song?” The song also works because it has “breeze” in the title, and the stage in question is in the sky.
Bowser in the Dark World
The premise of liberation missions in MegaMan Battle Network 5 boils down to clearing darkness from a treacherous area. That’s how it first seems when searching for Bowser in the Dark World: “I’m gonna defeat Bowser and be done with this!” Yet in reality, the story of MMBN5 doesn’t end with a liberation mission…nor does Super Mario 64 end when you enter a warp pipe.
Simply put, the tune is for a place of darkness and treachery, but far from the finale.
vs. Bowser 1
Once again in the spirit of my previous decision, this music plays more than a few times in the main story of MMBN5, and mostly when fighting the boss of a liberation mission. Just putting two and two together, plain and simple.
Hazy Maze Cave
Hazy Maze Cave and Forgotten Forest are not nearly at the same relative progress point in their respective games, but the two areas have two key aspects in common: (1) It’s easy to get lost, and (2) getting lost may result in death. That’s what led to the association here.
Oh, and both areas can be skipped in their respective games.
Metal Cap theme
“Bringin’ the metal back to where it belongs!” I don’t know if this song is really metal (and I always have a hard time distinguishing musical genres), but I really couldn’t think of anything else.
Metal Cap stage
In the spirit of
saying “in the spirit of” my previous decision, I figured it would be funny if the Metal Cap timer were to expire in the Metal Cap stage and leave a totally non-metal track in its wake. Because, guess what? They are related.
Lethal Lava Land
The intensity of Super Meat Boy music doesn’t exactly fit with the lightness of Super Mario 64…except when you can’t help feeling like the music isn’t intense enough. Such is the case with Lethal Lava Land. I mean, the place is chock-full of destructive fire everywhere, yet the music there is the same as in a freaking desert (which, let’s be honest, isn’t nearly as intense).
With that in mind, wouldn’t the music of the Hell world of Super Meat Boy be appropriate?
Inside the volcano (LLL)
In the…volcano is even more intense, and thus could use more intense music than the outside. Also, the BGM is associated with Dark Hell, which makes sense in conjunction with the previous choice because the volcano is not as exposed to light as the rest of Lethal Lava Land.
Shifting Sand Land
Like Hazy Maze Cave, Shifting Sand Land is far from the final level, and yet somehow is befitting of the final level music of some other game. Pecan Sands can’t be skipped in Wario World, but the music associated with it is intense and desert-like enough to work in this situation.
Inside the pyramid (SSL)
Hey, look, a music choice of an interior area that has nothing to do with the music choice of the exterior area! It may not be quite as intense as the exterior music, but it honestly fits exploring the interior of a sand-infested pyramid where lots of falling is bound to happen.
Dire Dire Docks
Okay…maybe this might be a bit too intense, but my thought process was that Dire Dire Docks is somehow Bowser’s territory, considering how there’s a Bowser-branded submarine (at least for the first star) and an accompanying hatch leading goodness-knows-where, and so it’s kinda like the Battle for Dire Dire Docks…if that makes sense.
Simply put, the music is rather appropriate for the first star, but perhaps a bit too intense for the others.
Vanish Cap music
Painfully obvious, but I love the theme and the meme.
Vanish Cap stage
All I could think was that the Vanish Cap stage had so much unused space…even in the DS remake. That said, you can’t completely remake the Vanish Cap stage in the Brawl Stage Builder (or any Smash Stage Builder for that matter), although some elements look like they can (notably the platforming just before the blue switch).
Bowser in the Fire Sea
The loop provided cuts off awkwardly (e.g. at 2:29), but at least it gets the point across, that being that the area accompanied by the music is fiery and has a boss up ahead. (In the case of Re;Birth 2, it’s the place where you fight the grunt villains for the last time (at least in Normal End).)
This song is one of the coolest dungeon themes in what I’ve played of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series (which, granted, isn’t much), and I especially like the double bass towards the middle of the loop.
vs. Bowser 2
From the same series, but not from the same game. I mean, I have to say as a whole that Re;Birth 2 took a step down from Re;Birth 1 in terms of music selection, but perhaps that’s mostly because of the poor audio balancing in Re;Birth 2. (Most noticeably, few if any tracks in the game can rival the loudness of the world map theme.)
Anyway, from what I’ve played of the series, One Two Three has to be the best track of all (and one of my favorite battle themes of all time), and it plays when you fight a low-tier dangerous enemy (at least in Re;Birth 1). Kind of a fitting description for Bowser 2, despite that he has a trick up his sleeve compared to Bowser 1.
When the snow area gets more intense, you can bet that a theme of intergalactic exploration would be more fitting than a theme of some peaceful town, even if both are covered in snow. There’s also arguably more treachery in Snowman’s Land, what with the violently windy breath of the giant snowman, the blanket of ice that somehow has the same effect on Mario as a pit of lava, and the water that drains HP faster and provides no healing.
Inside the igloo (SL)
This theme plays in a snowy town full of magic-operated machinery that keeps everyone healthy. The igloo in Snowman’s Land may not be that extreme, but igloos have a protective enough design to promote lifespan to some degree. So, I guess it works?
Wet Dry World
This one is kinda hard to explain. There’s some kind of magic in raising the water level (as there is magic in Dokapon Kingdom), there’s a town in the depths of the area, and the backdrop is…kinda weird for what the level is supposed to be. Weird thing meets weird thing, and they end up like peas in a pod.
That’s how it is in every case, really.
Tall Tall Mountain
Conquering a mountain is a bit like conquering the army of a sunrise land, hence the association here. The music chosen is one of the more intense tracks of the game, and Tall Tall Mountain is one of the last five levels of Super Mario 64, so the association makes sense in multiple ways.
Secret slide (TTM)
If you’ve seen all the slides in Super Mario 64 (granted there aren’t many), this would most likely be the last. Thus, it’s only appropriate for the associated track to have some sense of finality, being the last character race of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (and in the final kingdom, no less). There is also a bit of sliding involved in the aforementioned race.
Moreover, the secret slide in Tall Tall Mountain is arguably more tricky than Peach’s slide; although there is no time limit for the former, such is more than made up for with the forked path and quarter pipes.
Tiny Huge Island
Exploring two parallel worlds of different sizes is a grand undertaking. It almost seems like taking on random treachery in an otherwise peaceful area where exploration is obligatory. That’s the kind of feeling that ties this music with this area, I think.
Wiggler’s cavern (THI)
I’m sure anyone would consider it hostile if there were some giant worm wriggling around and making a scene with its anger. And also, getting the red coins in here is no simple feat, considering the varied heights and surface areas of the platforms within, combined with that gruesome abyss at the bottom.
Moreover, one Bravely Default track transitioning into another sounds like a plan, right?
Like the Wing Cap stage, you won’t be spending very long in here without the Wing Cap, so might as well not do much with the music, right? Also, City in the Sky is one of the later dungeons of Twilight Princess and…well, like the cloud secret, takes place in the sky.
Tick Tock Clock
It was between this and the Ancheim theme of Bravely Default, but I figured the latter was too desert-y, whereas the Clock Tower music of Jungle Beat would be perfect for the occasion of scaling a treacherous, daunting, and tower-like clock…if you can even call it a clock. (It definitely is in the case of Jungle Beat, but I don’t know so much about Super Mario 64.)
Both settings share one main trait: If you mess up one little thing, it will most likely cost you dearly. While Rainbow Ride involves grabbing stars with elegance, Cloudy Heights is where you get a massive heap of bananas (I’m talking at least 3000 if done correctly) or cry trying. Basically, they both bring a sort of exotic difficulty to the table as opposed to the rest of the levels in their respective games.
Do I even need to explain this? (I don’t know the song all that well, but I’ve heard/seen references to it when I was young.)
Bowser in the Sky
It’s dark, and it has a grand sense of finality. What more to say?
vs. Bowser 3
Okay, when I said I’d try to use as few Mario games as I can…this is the one Mario game that I will use. (Well, it’s a Mario & Luigi game if you want to split hairs, but that’s still Mario if you ask me.) Regardless, the final boss music of Bowser’s Inside Story is really upbeat and intense—perfectly suitable for any sort of final fight involving Bowser.
Well, I hope this turned out to be an okay first installment of Brain Food, in spite of how rushed it ended up being as a whole.
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)