Number 15: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Long-time readers of this blog will recognize that I've had an entry from the Mario Galaxy series on this list every year. In fact if the day ever comes when a Mario title isn't on this list, I'll be one of the most shocked. This year the only shock I had regarding it was finding that by complete coincidence Super Mario Galaxy 2 has taken the 15th position held last year by the original Mario Galaxy. While this may be a jump down the list from it's position in 7thduring 2011, I can verify little has changed. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is still the epic improvement of the already impressive groundwork laid in the original Super Mario Galaxy. The music is still performed by a full scale orchestra, the sounds are still significantly space-like while still being grand, and while the original had a fairly large variety of compositions, the sequel outstrips it by a large degree.
There is a lot to like about Mario Galaxy 2 that's been improved over it's predecessor. One of the weaker points of the original were a few songs that just failed to catch the vision and the wonder of the universe that Galaxy had built for itself. Galaxy 2 has no such problems, delivering grand and sweeping pieces that really do make you feel as if you've been carried away to some other world. In fact, Galaxy even revisits one of my least favorite tunes from the original title and brushes it up to something a bit more listenable through some new instrumentation.
In fact, Galaxy 2 does this for several other tunes that long-time Mario players will recognize, especially if you are a fan of the SNES classic Super Mario World. Hearing this classic piece redone by an entire orchestra is both gratifying and a testament to the original composition itself. As is Galaxy 2's return to the always creepy Ghost Houses with a modern rendition that fully fleshes out the original composition in a most satisfyingly fun way.
Of course a few of Mario's greatest hits redone with a full orchestra are only the tip of the iceberg where this soundtrack is concerned. Mario Galaxy 2 constantly outdoes itself with bigger and grander tunes. Comparing the soundtrack of 2 to the first, it truly begins to feel as if the original Galaxy was just a warm up for composer Koji Kondo. The original was impressive and fun, yes. But the sequel knocks it out of the water with some truly epic (there is no better word) compositions. But enough gushing about the improvements from one to the next. What else does Galaxy2 have to offer that makes it such a great soundtrack?
One thing that Galaxy 2 does very well, almost perfect in fact, is bring a very wide variety of composition to the table. In fact, this is where the soundtrack scores highest. While there are a few common melodies and instruments used to tie it together as a whole, such as the spacey-strings, the soundtrack still has an incredibly wide and diverse array of music available. Mario Galaxy 2 also isn't afraid to reach out and tackle new genres, something that other soundtracks could (and should) learn from.
Of course, even with all that new variety, there are still the tried and true classic moments, and one thing that Galaxy 2 quite thankfully keeps from it's predecessor is the harder hitting epic sound for some of it's more impressive pieces, both as levels and of course, the finale. Again here Galaxy 2 demonstrates clever composition because even though it brings an epic sound, the songs themselves are still cheery and packed full energy. They make you want to accomplish something!
Super Mario Galaxy 2 scores quite well all around, with not a single score being below 4.25, an admirable feat, and even easily picks up a bonus approval point from Non-Gamers.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Stand Alone Quality: 4.25
Emotional Reaction: 4.25
Game Representation: 4.25
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
From the grand start to a rousing finale, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is truly one of the greatest compositions to come from composer Koji Kondo. It has a style and a class all of it's own. And in 2012, it hangs its plumbers cap in a well earned 15th place.
Number 15--Super Mario Galaxy 2 by Koji Kondo