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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Game Music Showcase: Nintendo Medleys

Founded on September 23rd, 1889 in Kyoto, Japan, Nintendo is nowadays recognized as one of the world's largest video game companies, netting an over-85 billion dollars of market value. With the first activites involving all sorts of niche businesses, the company shifted its focus on toy-making since the early 60ies, up to entering the consumer electronics market during the later decade. Since then, a wide number of electronic systems, both for home and portable gaming, were realized for the general market, while also creating its own personal catalog of titles ang game series along the years and its many video game systems.

While Taiko no Tatsujin started adopting music from Nintendo games quite early in its life span, we've had to wait over 15 years since the franchise's inception for an inclusion of custom medleys that are based on its gaming past, looking at both time-honored classics and relatively-recent releases. As usual, the entries listed on this series will respect their chronological Taiko debut.

[NOTE]
This series features all the not-Pokemon-related Nintendo songs. For the Pokemon song showcase, see here.

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-Nintendo Medley series-




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 Super Mario Bros.(スーパーマリオブラザーズ) --- Old ---
Version
All arcadex3 (131)x4 (175) x6 (442)x7 (589) 
All consolex3 (131)x4 (175) x5 (442)x8 (589) 
 Taiko 8 to 11, Medal 2, Taiko DS 1
 100~150
 none
 mario


 Super Mario Bros.(スーパーマリオブラザーズ) --- New ---
Version
All arcade, Taiko Wii Ux4 (126)x5 (187) x7 (444)x8 (599) 
Taiko Wii 1x4 (130)x5 (191) x7 (444)x8 (599) 
 Taiko 12 to 14, Taiko 0, Taiko Wii 1, Taiko Wii U
 100~180
 none
 mario2


Appropriately enough, this showcase starts with one of the very first cornerstones in the Kyoto company's history! This medley of songs comes from the NES game Super Mario Bros., a platform game created by Shigeru Miyamoto on September 13th, in 1985. The game was so good and Mario was so popular that the original SMB sold over 40 million copies throughout its lifetime, a Guinness World Record which would only be broken twenty one years later by another Nintendo game (Wii Sports).

There are two versions of the medley, an old one and a new one. The old one was introduced in Taiko 8, and featured 8-bit sprites of Mario, Luigi, Peach and other Mushroom Kingdom staples. The Level 1-1 medley is looped twice, followed by 1-2, then the Star theme, then back up to level ground, then the time running out music, then stage completion. The new one, which replaces the old one in Taiko 12 and Wii1 onwards (and is a lot harder to pass), takes things a little differently, and is a lot less repetitive. 1-1 is looped once only, then 1-2, then Star theme, then 1-3 (underwater), then 1-4's Bowser fight theme, then world completion theme. There are more sound effects and even the infinite 1-up glitch can be heard in the background. Neither medley made use of the Game Over theme.

In terms of notechart difficulty, the old one is easier and more predictable since the slow Level 1-1 theme plays for most of the medley. The new medley has a tougher spot especially towards the end after the Bowser's Castle music starts playing, because that is where the BPM is ramped up to pretty high levels. The world completion music, short as it is, is one long 1/12 deathstream with 1/24 clusters mixed in; definitely a troublesome spot for those aiming to FC. Both medleys have a difficult high BPM area during the Star theme.

 New Super Mario Bros. Wii (New スーパーマリオブラザーズ Wii)
Version
Taiko Wii 3, 4x3 (159)x4 (182)x6 (297)x9 (637)
Taiko Wii 5x3 (159)x4 (182)x6 (297)x8 (637)
 Taiko Wii 3, 4, 5
 97~154
 none
 mario3


Once more, Taiko pays homage to Mario and the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom, this time with a Wii-exclusive song, as the game in question bears plenty of obvious Wii-grounding tells!

After the advent of the 3D platformer starting with Super Mario 64 (and tons of spinoffs in between), nostalgic Nintendo fans longed to see the Italian plumber return to his 2D roots where he was at his prime, with quality titles like Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) and Super Mario World (SNES). Nintendo's answer was a new 2D platformer for the then spanking-new handheld DS, simply named 'New Super Mario Bros'., in which new power-ups and new graphics attempt to deliver a fresh breath of air to the aging 2D format. NSMB comes sixteen long years after Mario World, and the return to 2D was met with overwhelming satsfaction. To date, the original DS New Super Mario Bros remains one of the highest selling games for that console, together with the Pokemon games, Brain Age and Nintendogs.

The crux of all the 'New' Mario games are the same bouncy soundtrack and 3D graphics on a 2D plane, and Mario has his 3D platforming moves brought in, like wall jumps, triple jumps, and side somersaults. A few years after NSMB, a Wii sequel was made, where for the first time the adventure can be played with other 3 players on the screen at the same time. Whatever the player's purpose is - to help each other clear the level or fight each other for coin supremacy - Nintendo's big risk paid off for NSMBWii (a risk due to criticisms that the game would be too similar to the DS original), leading the Nintendo EAD development team to create another 2 more 'New' Mario games, one for Wii U and one for 3DS, each with their own new gimmick blended with the same classic platforming players have grown to love over the decades.

This medley is from the Wii version, although some of the music here can also be heard on the DS. Like the previous Super Mario Bros. medley, this is a mix of the most common BGM tunes in the game with some random sound effects, following this order: Ground Stage, Underground Stage, P-Block BGM, Bonus Stage, Ground Stage 2 and Stage Clear BGM. The beat signatures and pace of the song change widely between each music sample, making for a frantic time as players try to get used to new timing, with 1/16 beats, 1/24 clusters and speed-up sections all in one song, with the final leg of the song being the toughest part to read.

There are four special dancers in New Super Mario Bros. Wii instead of the usual five (3 in the Ds games), matching the playable characters in the game: Mario, Luigi, Yellow Toad and Blue Toad. The song's side dancers are Bowser's sons and daughters (which act as sub-bosses in the game): the red-haired Bowser Junior from Super Mario Sunshine and the seven Koopalings from Super Mario Bros. 3 (from the left to the right: Ludwig Von, Lemmy, Morton Jr., Wendy O., Iggy, Roy and Larry).

 The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説)
Version
Allx3 (76)x4 (107)x6 (249)x7 (297)
 Taiko Wii U 1
 90.2-150.25
 none
 ???


Published in Japan with the subtitle of 'The Hyrule Adventure', the original The Legend of Zelda was one of the launch games for the Japan-exclusive NES peripheral known as the Family Computer Disk System, both being released on February 21st in 1986. Set in the fantasy land of Hyrule, its human inhabitants have been forced to live inside of caverns to avoid monsters and its main ruler -the princess Zelda- has been kidnapped by Ganon, who is seeking the power of the Gods known as the Triforce. With the artifact being divided in three parts, the young adventurer Link has to search the land for the eight pieces of the Triforce of Courage in order to face Ganon and save Zelda. This top-down perspective action-adventure title if often credited one of the inspiring pioneers of the RPG genre, due to the sense of exploration given by the game.

With the Famicom Disk System being a Japan exclusive, the game was released worldwide for the NES with an internal battery for game saving means (a first in console gaming), managing to become the system's first game to sell over a million copies in the world. Counting over 6.5 million sales under its belt, the first Zelda title has inspired a slew of sequels for many of Nintendo's later platforms, as well as 'true-to-form' different versions to the NES title. While the first in-title sequel to the cold classic was Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, limited versions of the first title could be found for the Famicom's Japan-exclusive services, such as Myojo Foods's Zelda no Densetsu: Teikyō Charumera (ゼルダの伝説 提供 チャルメラ), which was made to advertise the company's charumera noodles, and the two Satellaview remakes of the original Zelda title for Super Nintendo: the episodic BS The Legend of Zelda (BS ゼルダの伝説) and its MAP 2 sequel, both of which could be downloaded with the aforementioned Super Nintendo feature alongside some audio clues and game hints.

Koji Kondo (近藤浩治) of Super Mario Bros. fame is the music composer for all the versions of the game, with most of the audio cues being reflected in the majority of later titles in the series. Namco caught the Zelda music ball at first with the Japan-exclusive Donkey Konga 3, featuring a medley based on the Famicom Disk System version of the game. Many years later, the medley has made its way to Taiko gaming thanks to a time-limited NES Remix collaboration. The medley starts with the Bootup/Disk Insert jingles that can be heard on the Disk System, with a shorter Famicom DS version of the Legend of Zelda's title screen and the oh-so-familiar Zelda themes from the NES versions, ranging from the overworld, the 'Item Get' jingle and the theme that can be heard by collecting a Triforce piece.

As a tradition with Nintendo music in Namco music gaming, this is a quite short medley, which on Taiko is mostly played under Go-Go Time. It's still quite the challenge to Oni newcomers for practicing different kinds of note spacing with alternating BPMs to handle!

 Animal Crossing New Leaf Medley (とびだせ どうぶつの森 メドレー)
Version
Allx3 (122)x4 (204)x6 (367)x7 (509)
 Taiko Wii U 3
 74~120
 none
 ???


Coming to the third Wii U Taiko game as an amiibo-related unlockable tune, this is a medley with bits of music from the (currently) latest main instalment of the Animal Crossing series, Nintendo's game series which attempts to make the 'slice of life' everyday scenarios as its own gaming genre!

Known in Japan as Dobutsu no Mori (どうぶつの森, lit. 'Animal Forest'), this is a series that made its debut in Japan on April 2001 as a Nintendo 64 title and in the rest of the world years later, both as one of the titles the Chinese-exclusive N64-alike console iQue and as an improved version of the original game for the Nintendo GameCube. The game features the human character generated by the player moving out to a town inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, where the player can take in a number of activities of his/her choice to pass the time in said town.

In fact, one of the main features of this game series is the fact that the system's internal clock also dictates the real-time flow inside the game, with many places, festivities and other events available at certain times and hours. While certain characters are staples in each of the game's installments for each of the player-generated town in the games, the other inhabitants are randomly picked from a pool of over 300 characters (as titles go by), each with their own personality. The latest main game of the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is a 3DS title released in Japan in 2012, which let players cover the duties of their town's major for the first time, together with both new and returning additions to the game and capabilities of visiting other players' houses and towns, through both local and Internet connections.

The Animal Crossing series' music is entirely made by Kazumi Totaka (戸高 一生), a Nintendo musician so popular to even have one of the games' animals in the game -the dog singer K.K. Slider- built around his persona! The tracks featured in this medley are the game's own title music for daytime sessions, followed by the Town Hall theme that can be heard by entering said building in the game. After that we have the daytime theme of former turtle major Tortimer's Southern Island, the Re-Tail shop music and the night-time variation of New Leaf's main theme.

No troublesome clusters with more than 4 notes can be found in the New Leaf Medley's Oni mode, although the calm BPM shifts can already become a good testing ground for new players to adapt to different rhythms in the same track.

 Kirby's Dream Land Medley (星のカービィメドレー) Hoshi no Kirby Wii
Version
Allx2 (84)x4 (175)x5 (338)x8 (457)
 Taiko 0 R, Taiko 3DS 3
 172~181
 none
 kirby


The Nintendo representation in Taiko gaming had its time to shine again with the very next portable Taiko release, thanks to a re-arranged medley of classic music from the Kirby series, one of the Kyoto company's still-running franchises.

This series has started on April 27th, 1992, with the Japanese release of Hoshi no Kirby (星のカービィメドレー, lit. 'Kirby of the Stars') for the Game Boy, where Dream Land inhabitant Kirby is headed to the castle of King Dedede, a penguin who has stolen all of the planet's foods for a midnight feast. Created by HAL Laboratories, this portable platform game was created with the intention of making an actin title that was accessible to the younger audiences, while the most navigated players could also adjust the difficulty at their leisure though the use of cheat codes. The pink-colored Kirby is well known in the series for his two main abilities: flutter in air and inhale his enemies, whose abilities could also be copied by Kirby himself in later games, starting with the 1993 NES game Kirby's Adventure.

The tracks featured Taiko gaming's Kirby medley, based on Jun Ishikawa (石川淳)'s original score for Kirby's Dream Land, are actually re-arranged tracks that were featured in a more recent Kirby game: the 2001 Nintendo Wii title Hoshi no Kirby Wii (星のカービィWii), known in the Americas as Kirby's Return to Dream Land and in Europe/Australia as Kirby's Adventure Wii. For this game, HAL composer Hirokazu Ando (安藤浩和) was one of the main composers for both new tracks and renewed renditions of old Kirby tracks. From this medley, in particular, it's possible to spot the HAL Room BGM (HAL部屋), a revised version of the Green Greens theme from the original GB game (as well as a reference to a Kirby's Adventure Easter egg), the Duel! Mid-Boss Tower (激突!中ボスタワー, an arrangement of the King Dedede theme song) and the recurring Kirby Dance (カービィダンス), a small jingle that is played at the end of each level while Kirby dances with glee.

As a tradition for Nintendo-spawn tracks, this one isn't particularly generous in the length parameter, with most of its difficulty coming from the high BPM and small cluster sections a-la L・O・V・E. It's still a source of unexpected collaboration efforts as in its debut Taiko title it was paired with the appearance of Kirby and King Dedede themselves as recruitable characters for Dokodon! Mystery Adventure's Story mode!

 Famicom Medley (ファミコンメドレー)
Version
Allx4 (150)x6 (222)x7 (408)x9 (690)
 Taiko 0 R
 150.18~258
 none
 ???


Just to put a closure to the year that has seen the market release of a miniaturized version of Nintendo's very first model family for home console electronic gaming, Red Version's last software update of the year 2016 has seen the release of an over-2-minute-long medley made of BGM coming from three first-party titles that are also available in the aforementioned NES/Famicom Classic Edition: 1985's Balloon Fight, 1990's Dr. Mario and 1984's Excitebike. While we've extensively talked about the first two games in a former Song of the Week feature from a few years back, here we'll be mostly focusing on the console itself, as well as the eldest game contributing to this medley in both music and sound effects form!

Released in Japan on July 13th, 1983, the Family Computer (ファミリーコンピュータ; often shortened as 'Famicom') was Nintendo's follow-up to the success of the company's first foray with electronic videogames, following the footsteps to their arcade smash hits like Donkey Kong and the Game and Watch portable series. The red-and-white console is able to read games on a cartridge that is inserted into a top-loader with dust protection, with a couple of rectangular controllers that were hard-wired to the system in order to replicate the arcade feeling.

After a launch period troubled with issues that have held back the Famicom's distribution (such as crashes that were caused by the launch console batch's faulty chip set), it became a popular item in late 1984; its success has lead the manufacturing company to the decision of porting the system overseas in the coming years, with the North American launch on October 18th, 1985 together with South Korea and European countries getting it the year after, on September 1st, 1986. For the international outings, the console's name and aspect has been drastically changed from the original model, with South Korea getting it under the name decided by their local distributors -Hyundai Comboy (현대 컴보이)- while anywhere else it's known as the Nintendo Entertainment System. This 'international' version of the popular Japanese system was colored under a gray palette scale with an internal loader for cartridges and detachable controllers, boasting a wider launch window than the Japanese Famicom's then-predominant arcade mentality.

Among these international launch games was Excitebike, a motorcycle racing game designed by well-known Nintendo personality Shigeru Miyamoto (宮本茂). In the game, the player competes as a red-wearing rider in order to be able to compete in (and win!) the Excitebike championship by clearing 2-lap courses as fast as possible. Being a 2-dimensional racing game, it's only possible to change course up and down as well as balancing the biker's position in mid-air after a ramp jump in order not to fall and lose time. Additionally, the game's biker can have a speed boost at the risk of heating up his bike, which would end up overheating as a result if it's not cooled off by running over arrows on the track. The game's main mode is presented into two variants, with 'Selection A' being a solo race against the clock and 'Selection B' featuring the other bikers on the track as an added obstructing factor to weight in. It's also possible to create and play custom tracks with the 'Design' mode, but custom courses can only be saved on the original game's Japanese port and all the post-Wii era ports, as the peripheral that was designed to store that data in separated cassettes -the Famicom Data Recorder- was exclusive to the Japanese territories.

Several games have been spawned from the original title's legacy, from the direct sequels Excitebike 64 (Nintendo 64) and Excitebike: World Rally (Nintendo Wii) to the spiritual followup Excite Truck (also for the Wii), but the lion's share has always been for the original's many ports through both in-house platforms and external boundaries! This trend has started in the mid-80ies with the enhanced arcade port Vs. Excitebike and the Hudson Soft-licensed ports for the JP-exclusive NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1, only to fully blossom in later Nintendo platforms either as part of unlockable minigame releases (even inside other Excitebike-related titles!) or as their own stand-alone foray, such as it's the case of the Super Famicom Satellaview-exclusive Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium (エキサイトバイク ぶんぶんマリオバトルスタジアム) and the Arika-developed Nintendo 3DS remake under their 3D Classics line.

This Taiko-crafted medley made of Famicom classics tributes also holds quite the legacy under several different aspects, with Taiko Team leader Etou handling the charts of this project due to his fondness of Excitebike while growing up... up to dedicate quite the long paragraph about his history with the game in the renewed Taiko Team blog! It's also a tribute to formerly-released notecharts of the past too, as the charting portions for the Balloon Fight and Doctor Mario parts are taken note-by-note from the charts of the Wii U1-exclusive renditions of the single songs, released in occasion of a small collaboration with 2013's Famicom Remix for Wii U.

This makes the Excitebike portion the only new one to talk about while being the medley's difficulty spike at the same time, as the high note density of the gameplay-recreating portion of the song crosses the 200 BPM margins! Combine this pause-lenient portion at high note density a-la Where is the Target? with the former passages and tons of scrolling variations and you'll get a familiar-sounding medley with nostalgia oozing from more than one direction.

 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Medley (ゼルダの伝説 ブレス オブ ザ ワイルド メドレー)
Version
Allx4 (88)x5 (140)x6 (279)x8 (469)
 Taiko 0 Y
 94~184
 none
 ???


In one of tis earliest updates, the Yellow Version arcade release has seen the debut of two iconic Nintendo-fueled medleys, with the first of those taking music from one of their most recent game releases that managed to cross the console transition boundary!

Released on March 3rd, 2017, The Legend Zelda Breath of the Wild is the very last videogame released for the Nintendo Wii U, as well as being one of the three launch titles for the Nintendo Switch, the Wii U's console successor. Awakened from a mysterious chamber with little to no memories of his past, the swordsman Link is called by an inner voice to slain the evil menace known as the Calamity Ganon, which is threatening to permanently destroy the kingdom of Hyrule. An action-adventure title like many others in the Legend of Zelda series's past, Breath of the Wild's main feature is the open world exploration across all Hyrule, with an heavier gaming emphasis on all-directional exploration and survival across the land.

While not as music-heavy as many other former installments, Breath of the Wild features a piano-inspired score which is represented in this Taiko no Tatsujin medley with four different tracks: the game's main theme, the Battle (Field) (戦闘(フィールド)) track for the outdoors enemy encounters, the boss battle theme against the Calamity Ganon's Blights and the familiar-sounding Item Acquisition jingle that is heard upon acquiring a handful of key items. While we currently know that the first two pieces are made by in-house Nintendo composer Manaka Kataoka (片岡真央) thanks to the soundtrack album that is included in the Limited Edition bundle of the game (The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Sound Selection), the latter couple's creator/s is/are still unknown.

Rather than puzzling players with hard sections to clear, the BotW medley's Oni mode relies the most on scrolling speed trickery to put on pressure to the player with selected high-speed portions. Aside from the boss battle portion featuring some more complex clusters to clear, however, its general difficulty and note pace is comparable to the Animal Crossing New Leaf Medley, difficulty-wise.

 Revenge of Meta Knight Medley (メタナイトの逆襲メドレー) Hoshi no Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe
Version
Allx3 (138)x4 (196)x7 (503)x7 (655)
 Taiko 0 Y
 152~185
 none
 ???


From one of the latest games down to an over-20 years old release, the BotW medley was paired with a selection of music coming from yet another Kirby game: Hoshi no Kirby Super Deluxe (星のカービィスーパーデラック). It has also been quite the fitting timing as well, seeing as the aforementioned series is turning 30 in 2017!

Known in America as Kirby Super Star and in Europe as Kirby's Fun Pak, this is a collection of main modes and sub minigames, starring the pink star Warrior Kirby and its unique abilities: floating, inhaling small enemies, absorbing special powers and -exclusive to the title- summoning enemiy allies from the absorbed powers which can also be controlled by a second player for in co-op fashion for most of the modes. The game was released on March 21st, 1996 in Japan, with the NA and European releases coming by respectively on September of the same year and on January of the year after. Between 2008 and 2009, the game was remade for the Nintendo DS as Hoshi no Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe (星のカービィ ウルトラスーパーデラックス, renamed as Kirby Super Star Ultra outside of Japan), adding extra modes on top of the original classic as well as introducing the title to the Korean and Australasian geographical market.

In both the original game and its remake it's possible to play with the Revenge of Meta Knight mode, in which Kirby is planning to hop abord the flying spaceship Halberd in order to face off against his owner: the mysterious swordsman Meta Knight. The key feature of this mode is that every stage has its own time limit, pushing players to press forward to the end in a race against the clock.  As of the rest of the game, the RoMK mode's music was composed by Jun Ishikawa (石川 淳) and Hirokazu Ando (安藤浩和).

The Taiko medley picks up a selection of tracks from the latter half of the game, all of which are the remastered versions of the original pieces: the stage tracks Hallberd Battleship: Deck (戦艦ハルバード:甲板) and Hallberd Battleship: Inside the Ship (戦艦ハルバード:艦内), the Heavy Lobster (ヘビーロブスター) boss battle theme, the stage selection BGM Revenge of Meta Knight: Battleship Map (メタナイトの逆襲:戦艦マップ) and finally, the VS. Meta Knight (VS.メタナイト) theme for the final boss showdown of the game. Right after the Taiko-charted portion, its also possible to hear the first segment of My Friend and the Setting Sun... (友と夕陽と…), the Revenge of Meta Knight mode's ending theme.

Much like for other songs's easier Oni settings, the Revenge of Meta Knight Medley's wide length is mostly padded out by mono-color clusters under different time signatures, in anticipation for harder trials to come...

  Revenge of Meta Knight Medley (メタナイトの逆襲メドレー) Hoshi no Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe
Version
All


x10 (1000)
 Taiko 0 Y
 152~185
 none
 ???



Standing tall on its 4-digit notecount, the medley's Ura Oni managed to be the first Game Music challenge with exactly 1000 notes, incorporating busy cluster sections together with more gimmicky difficulty spikes such as the long 1/24 cluster and the mixed-signature note stream towards the end.

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