20. Stage Select (Pikmin 2)
Origin: Pikmin/Pikmin 2 (GameCube, 2001/2004)
Arranger: Masashi Hamauzu (Final Fantasy X)
Anthony Says: Here’s a fun fact for you: Masashi Hamauzu’s two Smash selections (this and Green Greens from Kirby) were songs he previously arranged for the German LEGENDS orchestral concerts. While his Kirby suite remains lost to time, one concertgoer captured his Pikmin suite and shared it on YouTube for all to see. While I personally prefer Hayato Matsuo’s Symphonic Legends arrangement, it’s a lovely take on both games’ map themes, expressing the daily life of the Pikmin. (Check out how he incorporates the swarm jingle!)
Clearly, Mr. Hamauzu was aching for more Pikmin — always a good thing! — and attempts another Stage Select medley for Smash (despite the name, it’s really the first two games’ map themes fused together). While there’s no thematic background behind this faster-paced remix, the collection of xylophones and elegant sci-fi thoroughly capturing the Pikmins’ adorable intrigue. The nature-filled wonder of Pikmin bears such presence that we feel we’re right there in Distant Planet and Garden of Hope, penny-high and poking about abandoned soda cans and broken china pots. Careful you don’t get munched by a Bulborb, now.
19. Duck Hunt Medley
Origin: Duck Hunt (NES, 1985)
Arranger: Manabu Namiki (Bloody Roar)
Kenny Says: Out of all of the arrangements on this list, the Duck Hunt Stage’s Duck Hunt Medley is certainly one of the most ambitious – and, in my opinion, one of the best. A product of the musical mind of Manabu Namiki, the Duck Hunt Medley is particularly amazing due to the fact that it created an entire song out of an almost non-existent source material. Taking what essentially amounts to the entire Duck Hunt “soundtrack” (if it can even be called that) and seamlessly stitching it together, the Duck Hunt Medley is literally a musical journey through Duck Hunt itself. How cool is that?
Naturally, because Duck Hunt is somewhat lacking in the music department, this arrangement takes quite a few liberties. Adopting a fittingly synthesized overtone, the medley begins with two playful, back-to-back renditions of the title screen jingle, before jumping to a “level start” jingle mini-medley (which I personally think is the best part of the whole song). Following this, the song then stops with a series of authentic NES-brand quacks and barks and then building up the tempo with renditions of the “duck shot” jingle, before ending things off with a swing-fueled rendition of the level clear song. And, like all things Duck Hunt, the song officially signs off with the infamous dog laugh. Even if you haven’t heard this song (and shame on you if that’s the case), this description alone should be enough to show you just how unusual (in the best of ways) this song is – and that’s exactly why it’s made its way into this list… and into my heart, as well.
18. Ryu Stage
Origin: Street Fighter II (Arcade, 1991)
Arranger: Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts)
Kenny Says: What’s cooler than composing the song for Ryu’s stage in Street Fighter II? Composing the song for Ryu’s stage in Street Fighter II, and then coming back over 20 years later to create a special arrangement for it for Super Smash Brothers – and that’s exactly what Yoko Shimomura did! And, while you may not have been aware that she was the one behind the original Ryu Stage theme, if you know anything about her more contemporary compositions then the fact that this arrangement is hers is easier to see than a Shinku Hadoken heading straight for your face.
This Ryu Stage remix (which plays on the DLC Suzaku Castle level stage) begins as little more than a slightly modified version of the original theme, primarily marked by its grittier base and brassier lead melody, however that normalcy is short-lived. Not too long after having started, the main melody is eventually backed up by a series of short musical quips from the bamboo flute, and a handful of seconds later a dose of violin (a seeming Shimomura favorite), quickly building up to a brief “low HP” interlude, before finally settling back down to a much fuller version of the iconic Ryu stage theme. I’d say that this is a great song for Shimomura fans to duke it out to, but who am I kidding – this is a great song for everyone to duke it out to.
17. Air Man Stage
Origin: Mega Man 2 (NES, 1988)
Arranger: Noriyuki Iwadare (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies)
Kenny Says: You could say a lot of things about Noriyuki Iwadare’s abilities as a composer after listening to his Air Man Stage arrangement, but you certainly couldn’t say that he’s full of hot air (get it?). Jumping back and forth between a striking synth and a hard-rocking electric guitar, the Air Man Stage’s clashing forefront instrumental choices hit the listener with the power of a raging storm in the Wily Castle stage, and don’t let up once they’ve started – ensuring a fight that’s all but absolutely electrifying.
Yet another cool point about this song is just how retro it sounds – but not in the way that you might thing. No, you won’t find any of the blips and beeps reminiscent of the original Mega Man 2 version of the song. Rather, Iwadare’s decision to infuse both rock and synth elements into it make it an unmistakable nod (whether on purpose or not) to the 80s – the decade in which Mega Man 2 was originally released. Between this “nostalgic duality” and the fact that the song is just plain awesome, it’s hard not to be drawn into its sick riffs one way or another.
16. Dark World/Dark World Dungeon
Origin: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992)
Arranger: Keiichi Okabe (Nier: Automata)
Kenny Says: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has been a long-standing favorite of many Legend of Zelda enthusiasts out there, and, thanks to Keiichi Okabe’s Dark World/Dark World Dungeon arrangement, it’s attained even more greatness in the fourth Super Smash Bros. Sounding off on the Bridge of Eldin and Pirate Ship levels on Smash Wii U and Smash Run for Smash 3DS, this song begins with a rather brass-heavy orchestral rendition of the Dark World theme, providing a unique feel that, while still foreboding in its own right, takes on an almost heroic feel at times. This ultimately results in a unique musical clash, with the naturally, well, dark melody of the Dark World theme fighting against the heroic overtones of this specific arrangement, and embodies the endless “Light versus Dark” struggle featured within the Legend of Zelda series very well.
The medley then cuts to a shorter, but equally well-orchestrated, arrangement of the Dark World Dungeon theme. While brief in comparison to the overworld theme, the dungeon theme doesn’t need much time to get its point across, featuring much more dire tones than its Dark World counterpart. All-in-all, it’s pretty darn hard to say no to a song like this. Whether your facing off against your opponents on Smash Wii U, or embarking on a dangerous adventure of your own on Smash 3DS, this Dark World medley makes an excellent musical companion and is sure to keep you going the whole way through.