15. Battle! Trainer (X/Y)
Origin: Pokémon X and Y (3DS, 2013)
Arranger: Yuzo Koshiro (Actraiser)
Kenny Says: With Pokémon X & Y just released in 2013, it was only natural that Smash 3DS & U were going to have some Kalos-brand influence infused into it – and Yuzo Koshiro’s arrangement of the XY battle theme was certainly a great way to go about doing that. Rather than thematically morphing the song into something else entirely, this arrangement largely sticks to fine-tuning what was already present within the original version of the song.
The final product of this musical mixture is a version of the XY trainer battle featuring a more distortion-heavy lead guitar, with a contrasting, slightly more hushed, yet also more instrument-rich, accompaniment. While these changes are small individually, they all come together to make a very solid arrangement overall that only heightens the level excitement of the Prism Tower (3DS) and Kalos Pokémon League (Wii U) stages that it plays on.
14. Donkey Kong Country Returns (Vocals)
Origin: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, 2010)
Arranger: Kenji Yamamoto (Metroid Prime)
Anthony Says: It’s not exactly a secret Kenji Yamamoto’s Smash remixes aren’t necessarily “arrangements” as they are remastered versions of original compositions – one needs only look back at Brawl to recognize both Metroid (Main Theme) and Metroid Prime Opening/Menu are, respectively, upgraded rips from Metroid Prime Pinball and Metroid Prime. To dismiss this as “lazy” would be premature — who knows how occupied Mr. Yamamoto was during the arrangement period of both Brawl and for Wii U/3DS – but although they’re certainly serviceable, his output’s certainly discordant within the sea of individualized, unique remix.
Make no mistake: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Vocals) pulls the same trick with its arrangement of Returns‘ title screen theme, but Yamamoto brilliantly masks its familiarity with a certain stylistic choice: monkey coos. In what I’m certain are the current voice artists for DK and Diddy, the pair ooh-ooh- and aah-aah alongside Donkey Kong’s famous opening theme, making for Smash’s most hilariously bizarre arrangement. How this came together remains a mystery, but with the Wii U version going overboard with Jungle Level tracks, it certainly helps an headbanger like this is the game’s most distinctive Donkey Kong selection.
(Still, I gotta say…I get the process of elimination in splitting the Wii U version’s four Donkey Kong Country tracks onto both the Returns and Smash 64 stages, but shouldn’t the Returns remix go on Jungle Hijinxs? What a shame I’ll never get to rectify that for Smash Bros. Ultimate!)
13. N’s Castle Medley
Origin: Pokémon Black Version and White Version (DS, 2011)
Arranger: Shota Kageyama (Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver)
Kenny Says: Pokémon Black Version and White Version may have released several years before the fourth installation of Super Smash Bros., but that didn’t stop Shota Kageyama from stepping up to the plate in order to provide a fresh, and totally awesome, new arrangement featuring of some of his old BW tunes.
Letting its regal authority be known on the Unova Pokémon League and Kalos Pokemon League stages, the N’s Castle Medley begins with a fleeting and fragile 5-second “N’s Room” intro before quickly transitioning with the help of an electric guitar riff into a much heavier version of the normally stoic “N’s Castle” theme in BW which, though undoubtedly more aggressive, still manages to capture the original theme’s cautious and threatening air thanks to its careful crescendos and use of the organ. The song then finishes strong by amping up even further into an arrangement of “Ending ‘Onward to Our Own Futures’” which, while already powerful in its own right, becomes even more with its eventual inclusion of an electric guitar lead and vocal backups. Even after all of these years, it’s still hard not to bow down to the regal splendor of this arrangement – and I’m certain I’m not alone in that thought!
12. Balloon Trip
Origin: Balloon Fight (NES, 1985)
Arranger: Hirokazu Tanaka (Dr. Mario)
Anthony Says: I’m gonna be honest: despite the thrill of Nintendo legend Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka returning for Brawl, his experimental output in Donkey Kong and Squeak Squad Theme were soberly average. By Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, however, he’s emerged with a vengeance and churns out three amazing chiptune themes, two being reprisals of his famous NES works (Dr. Mario’s Chill and Balloon Fight’s Balloon Trip). It’s impossible not to drown in retro reverie by his reversions, his masterful chiptunes doing God’s work. (And before cynics suggest he lazily overlaid steadier percussion over the original tune, I direct you to the original version for comparison.)
I consider the original Balloon Trip one of the most addictive game tunes ever created: it is a joyous earworm, its prompt buoyancy inciting a soaring glee as we bop balloon after balloon. Graduated to an action game celebrating gaming history, this remix revs up into into an accelerated breakdown as we’re busy smashing our opponents through ducks and lightning bolts of 80’s past, granting an exhilarating high only Smash‘s best remixes offer. More than anything else, this is what makes the Balloon Fight stage truly an authentic 8-bit recreation.
11. The valedictory elegy
Origin: Baten Katios Origins (GameCube, 2006)
Arranger: Motoi Sakuraba (Tales of Symphonia)
Anthony Says: Hello, and welcome to the most unexpected remix in Smash history! Believe it or not, GameCube JRPG Baten Kaitos Origins was published by Nintendo, and that’s as good a connection as any for Sakurai and the music team. For Tales of fans, the signature frenzied tempo of Motoi Sakuraba should be instantly apparent; in fact, much like his reprisal for Brawl’s Golden Sun remix, he returns to arrange one of his more obscure works. (And you better believe it’s on Gaur Plain for a reason – both Xenoblade and Baten Kaitos were developed by MonolithSoft!)
Despite the pretentious name, The valedictory elegy was actually Origins‘ standard battle theme, but for those unfamiliar with the source material like myself, you’d hardly guess from the rapid-fire violin-work. Combined with the roaring chorus, you’d think it’s accompanying the final showdown between heroes and villains! Unless we’re being fooled by computer MIDI, it’s a wonder those violin strings weren’t shredded. Such talented effort for something so far removed from Nintendo earns it a special spot on our list.