5. Light Plane (Vocal Mix)
Origin: Pilotwings (SNES, 1991)
Arranger: Marato Coda/RiRiKA (Monster Hunter/Arpeggio of Blue Steel)
Kenny Says: When it comes to Marato Coda and RiRiKA’s Light Plane (Vocal Mix) remix, there’s honestly only one thing that needs to be said; “Da da-da DEE YAA!” Admit it; you totally just sang that in your head, right? Point made. As goofy as this song is – I mean, it’s a vocal mix whose only lyrics are non-words like “dee” and “ya” – it’s unbelievably catchy.
Like an awesome 90s anime protagonist who plays by his own rules but still has a heart of gold, Light Plane (Vocal Mix) is uniquely stylish, cool, and hard not to eventually be won over by. While a bit on the shorter side in terms of length, its jazzy saxophone and bass lead the way, with a bit of retro-sounding synth sprinkled in for good measure, making an incredibly smooth experience overall that’s easy on the ears. Flying on top of an airplane is kind of terrifying (or so one would assume, anyway), but with a song like this it’s pretty darn hard not to feel hip and happenin’ while doing so.
4. Menu (Melee) (Ver. 2)
Origin: Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube, 2001)
Arranger: Nobuko Toda (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Kenny Says: There’s no arguing the immense pull that Super Smash Bros. Melee still has in the Smash Bros. community even today. No matter how old the game gets, it never stops getting plenty of love – so it’s only natural that it managed to creep its way into Smash 4 somehow. Although Nobuko Today’s Menu (Melee): Ver 2 is technically a remix of a menu theme, this version features such a wildly new arrangement that it’s hardly befitting of a simple menu screen any more.
Making itself entirely at home on the Final Destination level in both Smash 3DS and Smash Wii U, Menu (Melee): Ver. 2 immediately hits the players ears with its hard-and-fast re-imagining, its increased tempo, heavier beat, and greater instrument variation tipping the scales in its favor, and the addition of vocals ensuring that it will all but entirely win over those who listen to it. Final Destination has always been an important stage in Super Smash Bros., and, with a song like this in its arsenal, you can rest easy knowing that it’s getting the respect that it deserves.
3. Cut Man Stage
Source: Mega Man (1987)
Arranger: Michiko Naruke (Wild ARMs)
Anthony Says: Armed with rock guitars and persistent percussion, Michiko Naruke sets out on her quest to produce both her greatest Smash arrangement and the greatest Mega Man remix the world has ever seen. From the very first strum of her guitar, we’re instantly hooked, light strumming paving the way for Mega Man’s very first stage to flash through our minds. That very instant is all the time we have to prepare for aural paradise.
And then, it starts: guitars, cymbals, and drums syncing together to form the world’s greatest Mega Man remix. Admittedly, I’m not an authority in that area, but I can hardly imagine a more engaging ensemble, particularly with a lead guitar confidently rocking away throughout the entire song. With Smash Bros. Ultimate reportedly featuring a boatload of Mega Man arrangements — nearly triple the Wii U version’s size! — Cut Man Stage will certainly have some stiff competition, but I truly wonder if any newcomers could possibly top this.
2. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Medley
Origin: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES/Famicom, 1986)
Arranger: Katsuro Tajima (Splatterhouse)
Anthony Says: We do not know why, exactly, a medley of The Lost Levels exists when considering the source game’s a near-carbon copy of Super Mario Bros. – especially right down to its recycled soundtrack — but whether it was one of Sakurai’s out-of-the-box whims or arranger Katsuro Tajima desiring a challenge, it’s clear they had one goal: craft a medley from Super Mario Bros. that purposefully excludes the iconic main theme. Ordinarily, such a concept would be blasphemy, but this divergence is necessary for the remix’s existence – what better way to distinguish your faux-Super Mario Bros. medley than excising said world-famous theme?
And by god, does it succeed. Playing on both Mushroom Kingdom U and Super Mario Maker, Tajima’s orchestral flair renders The Lost Levels Medley the game’s most majestic track, and we know we’re in for something special when it immediately pronounces its individuality with the Rescue Princess Peach Theme; specifically, the iteration representing Lost Levels’ only unique song. What’s already a congratulatory feel-good tune is conducted with all the glamor of a stage play curtain-closer, further recapping Mario’s forgotten journey in sneaking through the Underground and waltzing alongside deadly Bloopers in the Underwater depths. Nostalgically giddy in performing the Invincibility Theme and climaxing with the Clear Level Theme’s flag finish, it’s a remix fully embracing Smash’s cherished identity as a video game celebration, and I’ve never not grinned ear-to-ear whenever it’s graced my Mario-staged matches.
1. Magicant/Eight Melodies
Origin: EarthBound Beginnings (NES/Famicom, 1989)
Arranger: Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts)
Anthony Says: From roaming Sky Runners to wormholes televising famous moments from EarthBound and EarthBound Beginnings, Magicant is an irresistible mecca of EarthBound nostalgia. Such a stage demands the most delicate of musical representation, and Yoko Shimomura steps up to the plate with Magicant/Eight Melodies. A dreamy, cloudy synth makes way for her trademark keeps her violin steady and grounded, lulling us into a world of childhood dreams and faint nostalgia.
Left vulnerable to her hypnosis, Shimomura coaxes the gentlest of instrumentation to prepare a segue into one of the series’ most cherished themes: Beginnings‘ iteration of Eight Melodies. A soft, loving string arrangement accompanied by piano, it is a tear-inducing lullaby for a kingdom of dreams. What was already heaven for series fans transcends into otherworldly bliss, rendering it an impossible listen without our eyes watering.
From elaborate orchestras to 8-bit replicas, Smash’s variety in remixes pay ample, proper tribute Nintendo’s history. For Magicant’s two arrangements, it’s careful in not overloading us with excessive catharsis even with two emotionally-charged songs. With Smiles and Tears functioning as the alternate theme, it can appropriately function as a fast-paced remix for those who’d rather get to fighting than wistfully reflecting upon memories past. But for those of us who don’t mind shedding a tear or two while duking it out, it’s right there for us to enjoy. It is the finest example of Smash’s endless flexibility, one I’ll forever treasure cherish as my own nighttime lullaby.
Thank you, Ms. Shimomura.
And that’s a wrap! Whether or not your favorite song/s made the cut or you disagree with a particular placement, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. In the meantime, we’ll see you on Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s launch this Friday, and you can bet I’ll be providing a review sometime next week. We may very well provide a similar list once the game’s DLC ends, perhaps something to the vein of “The 25 Best Smash Bros. Ultimate Songs Not From Mega Man or Castlevania.” Sound fair?