Rango’s Smash Column – The Importance of Music in Super Smash Bros.

When Super Smash Bros. released in 1999, it brought with it 12 characters from 10 different franchises. With each character, a stage, and with each stage, a song from their respective game. These throwback tracks, arranged by Kirby composer, Hirokazu Ando, brought forth the love of Nintendo’s 18 year history. But when Super Smash Bros. Melee arrived in 2001, it changed the gaming music landscape forever.

Melee’s soundtrack changed the landscape thanks not only to its orchestral remixes, but the sheer quality and quantity of music. Not only did each stage feature one of these beautiful arrangements, but some of the stages even had a “hidden” track which could play if you held the correct button down while picking the stage. In addition to both F-Zero and EarthBound gaining a stage, Nintendo even brought over Fire Emblem’s recruitment theme, “Together, We Ride.” This piece in particular became an instant favorite among players. In fact, it created so much impact that Nintendo even re-used the theme as the recruitment theme for the first western release of the series, Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, in 2003.

You can listen to Melee’s orchestral playlist here.

My Music

When Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrived for Wii in 2008, director Masahiro Sakurai once again changed the gaming landscape. Introducing the My Music feature, players could pick and choose which songs they wanted to hear. No longer limited to one or two tracks per stage, each stage featured a handful of tracks dating back years to the series’ respective history. Brawl’s soundtrack even included music from series not represented by characters in Smash.

Not only did My Music bring in a much wider variety of tracks, but it introduced multiple composers to compose on the same game. Final Fantasy veteran composer, Nobuo Uematsu, composed the game’s opening theme. And various songs would be handled by well-known composers of video game music. Yoko Shimomura, Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, and more would contribute to a singular soundtrack. This tradition would continue through Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Smash 4).

In Smashville and Town & City, K.K. Slider would appear, on Saturdays, to play one of his songs.

One particular thing to note, unfortunately, is Square-Enix‘s lack of contribution to Smash’s music. When Cloud came to Smash 4, he was given only two battle themes from Final Fantasy VII. Neither were remixed. While fans lauded Cloud’s debut in Smash, many of them sent backlash towards Square-Enix, accusing them of being stingy.

The Ultimate Soundtrack

When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, it featured over 900 tracks. This includes nearly every track from the Smash series history as well as new ones featured for many of the stages. Even Capcom, creators of Street Fighter and Mega Man, let Nintendo use nearly their entire Street Fighter II soundtrack just for the Suzaku Castle stage. Plus, some stages received a prominent number of remixes. Wily’s Castle received a dozen new remixes alone just for the love and recognition of the Mega Man soundtracks.

Michiru Yamane, one of the composers for Smash 4, composed music for the Castlevania series. One game later, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would introduce the Castlevania series to the line-up. Sakurai would later showcase this in a Nintendo Direct. Much like Mega Man, Castlevania is highly reputable for its music among fans.

DLC

When Joker, from Persona 5, debuted in Smash, Sakurai did something special with the character’s stage, Mementos. Featuring remixes from Persona 3, 4, and 5, the song you picked on the stage would change the stage’s very color and thematic. Even Joker’s victory theme would come from the respective game that the song was playing.

Once again, however, with the debut of Dragon Quest‘s Hero in Smash, the character was given zero remixes and only a handful of songs from Dragon Quest’s legendary soundtrack history. Much like with Final Fantasy’s lack of music in Smash 4, fans would once again react similarly to Square-Enix’s reported stinginess.

On the flip-side, however, Banjo & Kazooie’s entrance into Smash brought many wondrous tracks from their titles into Smash. Sakurai even noted that this was the first time he collaborated with a western composer for music in Smash. The composer in question was none other than Banjo-Kazooie series composer, Grant Kirkhope. He would arrange the series’ main theme for Spiral Mountain stage.

Also noteworthy was Terry Bogard’s debut into Smash brought perhaps the single biggest selection of new tracks, including remixes, to the King of Fighters*** Stadium stage. Not only did this introduce many new fans to the wondrous tracks of Fatal Fury and SNK’s history, but even Sakurai showed his love for their music in his Nintendo Direct.

Finally, Byleth’s inclusion to Smash introduced the final bit of first-wave DLC. Their reveal included a stage – Garreg Mach Monastery – along with a new arrangement of their game’s main theme. The stage also received tracks from the critically-acclaimed Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Mii!

Finally, one of the biggest surprises for fans was the debut of Sans, as a Mii Fighter, from the notable RPG, Undertale. In addition to the Mii Costume entering the game, Sakurai featured a remix, arranged by composer Toby Fox himself, of Megalovania. Fans reacted with great joy upon hearing this news. Similarly, Cuphead’s Mii Costume also featured Floral Fury, a boss theme from the game, but it was not a remix of the song.

Final Thoughts

One cannot understate the importance of Smash’s musical presence. It contains over 40 years of history and roughly 1,000 tracks of memories and new introductions to players. All of these tracks either came from their respective games or were remixed by talented composers.  Furthermore, you can even take your Switch with you and play it using a Playlist feature. This debuted initially in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. With each game’s soundtrack building over the last, it would not be a surprise to state that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has one of the best soundtracks in gaming history.

What are your favorite songs in the Smash series? Let us know in the comments below.