One name inevitably pops up when people think about video game music: Nobuo Uematsu. That is for good reason, of course, as Mr. Uematsu has composed some of the most iconic songs in video game history. But there is also quite a bit of quality compositions outside of the Final Fantasy series (and other games composed by the great one), and we thought we would take a bit of a different trip down memory lane and focus on one era in particular: SNES. Of course with all the quality games that there are on the system it would be easy to compose entire lists focusing on only one game, but I decided that it would be more fun to spread the love and not limit myself to one specific game or composer. Given that, we tried to pick out what we felt were shining examples of SNES era music that are atmospheric and representative of the quality music from an era that many in gamers look fondly back on. So sit back, relax, turn up your volume and enjoy the music.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island -Ending Theme – Koji Kondo
Leading off the list is the ending theme to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. This track stands as my favorite ending theme of any game to date, topping even the iconic Chrono Trigger “To Far Away Times”. This song is the perfect capstone to what is arguably one of the best platformers in Nintendo’s sterling library of classics. While it’s probably best listened to after laying the smack down on a giant baby bowser, it easily stands on it’s own as a great song.
Secret of Mana- Fear of the Heavens – Horoki Kikuta
Ah Secret of Mana, the game that set fans up for years and years of let downs as SquareEnix has yet to produce a game in the franchise that has yet to come close to the happy brilliance that Secret of Mana represents. Out of all the quality songs that comprise it’s sound track this opening theme is arguably the most iconic. It made you hesitate to start the game, as it was the games opening theme, so you could just sit back and soak up it’s atmospheric melody.
Donkey Kong Country 2 – Forest Interlude – David Wise
Yes a track from Donkey Kong Country 2. Out of all the entries in the franchise DKC2 easily has the best soundtrack of them all. It would have been easy to pick “Stickerbush Symphony” which was revived and put into Smash Bros Brawl, but really the entire soundtrack is amazing and appropriate to the levels in which you are playing. It was the perfect backdrop for all the wonderful platforming goodness that was DKC2 and is truly indicative of Rare being in top form.
Super Metroid – Lower Norfair – Kenji Yamamoto & Minako Hamano
Time for the combo breaker. Each track so far has been a relaxing melodic trip down nostaligia lane, but this track has a decidedly different flavor. Throughout Super Metriod you’ve been going around collecting power-ups to enhance your already bad ass power suit. Enemies crumble before your plasma beam, and with the purple hue of your gravity suit activated not even the lava of Norfair can make you sweat anymore. That is until you got to the lower levels of Norfair, where just this theme lets you know that playtime was over. This track sets you on edge just enough to know that this new area can tear you to shreds even with all your high powered gear in tow.
Tetris Attack – Froggy Stage – Masaya Kuzume & Yuka Tsujiyoko
And we arrive back at the calm and melodic theme once again. Tetris Attack is easily my favorite puzzle game of all time, and part of that distinction has to do with the wonderfully appropriate musc that would play in the background as you were flipping panels around like crazy. I would start games in endless mode, just to listen to some of the songs and end up playing for hours non stop. Something that I can’t really say about the DS successor to Tetris Attack Planet Puzzle League, simply because while PPL’s music is arguably decent it just doesn’t hold a candle to these delightfully composed tracks.
And there you have it; five of our favorite tracks from the SNES era of gaming. This of course is not meant to be an end all be all list of compositions — just a small snapshot to capture some of that nostalgia as we head towards the new year. Do you have your own favorites? Share them in the comments below!