Warning: includes spoilers
“Super Mario Galaxy” is a game for the Nintendo Wii console. Released by Nintendo in 2008, the OST—composed mostly by Mahito Yokota— was a sprawling, otherworldly delight. Filled with vast orchestration as well as the classic Mario adventure themes, Galaxy incorporates everything that a Nintendo fan could ask for on this soundtrack.
The first triumphant swell of horns and violins holds down the main title screen, really amping the player up for something new and big.
After Princess Peach’s kingdom comes under attack from Bowser, this daunting track rolls out. These are some huge and elaborate sounds for a Mario game. It makes it funny to think about the original Mario theme, so campy and playful, to the big sounds of Galaxy.
“Rosalina in the Observatory 1”
One of the sweeter tracks on the OST, “Rosalina” is a nice lullaby track for when Mario meets the keeper of the cosmos. It’s not uncommon for the more stripped-back tracks to become fan favorites, and this cut takes a few Brian Eno-esque synths and a flute to create a perfect “space house” atmosphere.
“Waltz of the Boos”
Nintendo games wouldn’t be complete without at least one mid-tempo waltz track. Spooky and cool, you should really take notice of the song around the one-minute mark. A violin adds another dimension to the seemingly cheesy dance track and breathes life into the game.
“Buoy Base Galaxy”
Perhaps the best song in the game, “Buoy Base Galaxy” takes the space arpeggios up a notch. The pentatonic melodies and down beat bass gets any player ready for the ensuing battles or trials. The last piece of the structure before the track repeats is a strained and urgent call to arms. Phew, are we still playing Mario?
“Gusty Garden Galaxy”
At this point in the game, the musical mastery is probably in the forefront of any player’s mind. Floating around in fantasy galaxies with such a beautiful, jubilant orchestra to accentuate the experience puts this game way over the top musically. The songs alone are too strong to ignore, in context of the game or not.
“The Galaxy Reactor”
Adding queues and instrumental throwbacks from earlier in the OST adds the ability for the player to remember what it took to get to the end. Good game design will always use music as a vehicle to remind the audience how expansive their adventure has been. “Galaxy Reactor” is a nice reminder of where Mario has been in the galaxy before the game’s climax.
“Final Battle with Bowser”
Now it really wouldn’t be a Nintendo game without a choir on the very final boss battle. Harsh, dynamic synths dance with the battle drums striking the down beat, complete with a swirl of orchestral movement. This is the battle the game has been leading up to.
“Daybreak~A New Dawn”
Yokota lets the lighter instruments float around as the game comes to an end. A well-deserved pat on the back musically, this is a nice little exclamation point to your novel of an adventure.
The credit music lets the player lament on the game, being that “Birth” is a piano ballad from outer space with enough room for the afterparty of emotions to roll through. After this song concludes, the Nintendo crest appears and you’re back on the title screen with the overture to get you feeling all kinds of ways.
Almost 10 years old, “Super Mario Galaxy” hits home for Nintendo fans of all varieties. No Mario fan should leave this game unplayed if they want to experience some of the best modern orchestration in recent history. It’s a journey in itself, one that will be fully recognized as a gaming cornerstone in due time.