Lots of major league game composers get a bevy of back pats and buttslaps, and deservedly so. Nobuo Uematsu? Man’s a powerhouse. Koji Kondo? (Deep, nostril-flaring breath) ain’t nothin’ finer. But what about the soundtracks that people aren’t still gushing over at the moment?
What about Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka, composer of some real fan favorites, from Donkey Kong to Earthbound (with Keiichi Suzuki)? This isn’t about DK or Ness, though, this is about a real gem that doesn’t get enough spins on my virtual needle: Super Mario Land.
Oddly enough, I generally associate Super Mario Land with the first time I ever came to New York City, sometime around ’88 or ’89, back when bootleg shirts of “The Sampsons” dotted the landscape; back when Howard & Nester was the funniest dang comic out there about Howard and Nester. At the time, the only thing I was listening to outside of my Gameboy’s tinny, prehistoric speakers was my cousin’s copy of Digital Underground’s Sex Packets, which, when combined, collectively blew my mind.
This was the first time I finished the game (and DU’s album!), and I think I may have solved it a dozen more times that week, never any less enamored by the rousing end credits theme.
Or you can download individual tracks from the original source.
Surely the “Chai Kingdom” track helped develop the way that I view Chinese people: hopping Mr. Vampire-like enemies set to the Gameboy musical equivalent of Coke bottle glasses and me-so-solly gag dentures. What vile creature has Tanaka’s music birthed?