Small Ensemble

We All Lift Together
Warframe (2013)
Composed by Keith Powers
Arranged by A.C. Menes

“We All Lift Together” is the working song of a society of cyborgs called the Solaris that live under the surface of Venus. The cyborgs are forced to work long, arduous hours under the watchful eye of Nef Anyo, and his repo squad, in order to pay off their debts. The alternative? Having their organic body parts harvested instead. Despite being subjected to a life of slavery, the cyborgs still find it in themselves to sing in order to pass the days.

600 A.D.
Chrono Trigger (1995)
Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda
Arranged by Leann Erickson

Every classic JRPG has that one theme that evokes levels of nostalgia that the average human brain can simply not comprehend. It’s something so majestic, so iconic, and so lovingly crafted that it sounds as if it’s from another world. For Chrono Trigger, every song is that song; but one in particular that stands out is the overworld theme of 600 A.D. From the lightly plucked strings to the somber, yet delightfully gorgeous main melody, this is a theme that can make the most hardcore JRPG veterans wallow in nostalgic bliss. One of the alternate titles for this piece is “Yearnings of Wind,” which is fitting when you consider how much you’ll be yearning to hear more of this fantastic soundtrack.

Mario Underwater Theme
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
Composed by Koji Kondo
Arranged by A.C. Menes

Underwater levels may not be everyone’s preferred level type in a video game, but Mario usually makes an effort to alleviate some of the stress. Koji Kondo’s iconic underwater theme has been remixed and rewritten countless times throughout the Mario franchise history. Sometimes a piece doesn’t need to be complex or multi-layered to still be memorable. For this arrangement, we’re taking everyone back to 1985, with simple instrumentation featuring clarinet, saxophone, and flute. This is the type of song that feels light and floaty, yet sounds upbeat all the same.


Galactic Warrior

Super Metroid (1994)
Composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes

This tune plays twice in the game. The first time I when you emerge victorious from Brinstar by coming up the long way after venturing to Norfair. The second time happens after the Baby Metroid sacrifices its life to save Samus from Mother Brain, and she earns the Hyperbeam ability, which she uses to destroy Mother Brain, escape the Tourian base, and escape Planet Zebes. This is a triumphant tune, performed by our brass section.


Forest Maze
Super Mario RPG (1996)
Composed by Yoko Shimomura
Arranged by Leann Erickson

If ever there was a video game song to get stuck in your head for the rest of the day (or week…or the past 23 years), it’s the Forest Maze theme from Super Mario RPG. Before the age of memes and OC Remixes, this simple yet infectiously catchy tune was a staple for Super Nintendo RPGs. It’s the theme that follows Mario and his companions as they desperately try not to get lost in a maze of trees and enemies that look strikingly similar to Donkey Kong (and plenty of bees). For this arrangement, the music features a duet between clarinet and flute. These are the perfect instruments to bring out the whimsical nature of one of the most unique games in the Mario series.


Promised Grace (“Veo Lu Sluice” Stage Music Rondo)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003)
Composed by Kumi Tanioka
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes

Long ago, peace returned to this tumultuous land, and Lilties kept the highways safe. At long last, travelers walked the roads without fear of monsters. The Yukes constructed a great sluice to channel water down from Lake Shella, transforming Jegon creek into a great river. Over time, the river turned the vast plains of Fum into farmland, thereby providing food to people the world over. To us, this sluice is more important than anything.

This tune plays during one of the early stages of the game, the Veo Lu Sluice. Players have to navigate the sluice and open or close the sluice gates using their wits and their spells. The sluice brings water to the surrounding farmland.

 

~*~INTERMISSION~*~
Full Orchestra

Terranigma
Terranigma (1995)
Composed by Masanori Hikichi and Takeshi Hama
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes

Terranigma is the third game in a series of titles created by ENIX and developed by QUINTET for the Super Nintendo, following SoulBlazer and Illusion of Gaia. Like its predecessors, Terranigma explores the duality of mankind and how there’s always the balance of light and darkness, like the balance of good and evil.

Our arrangement takes us from the title screen of “Light and Darkness” to the Darkside Underworld Field, where our Dark side protagonist is from, as he sets off on a journey that will take him out of the Underworld and up to the world above. He sets off outside his town of Crysta and into the unknown, into “The Departure.” This piece is a somber tune that showcases that darkness isn’t necessarily evil.

As the hero, “Ark,” trudges on and solves a number or riddles and overcomes some challenges, he is able to awaken the planet and can eventually travel into the overworld. This allows him to go “Further into the Wide World,” which is the title of the second piece in the medley. This is a more triumphant tune that shows the life of the planet Ark has to traverse, so it has more positive overtones.

Kid Icarus Medley
Kid Icarus (1986)
Composed by Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka
Arranged by A.C. Menes

Skyworld has been plunged into chaos! The evil Goddess Medusa has launched a massive attack, kidnapped the benevolent Goddess Palutena, and turned many brave warriors into stone. It’s up to the angelic warrior Pit to save the day and rescue Palutena, ruler of Skyworld. But this will be no easy task for our young hero.

The four themes heard in this medley each come from a stage in Kid Icarus. In order to rescue Palutena, Pit must climb out of the treacherous depths of the “Underworld,” navigate the harsh terrain of the “Overworld,” ascend the dizzying heights of “Skyworld,” and lead the attack on Medusa at the “Palace in the Sky.” To victory!


Lament of the Highborne

World of Warcraft (2004)
Composed by Russell Brower
Arranged by A.C. Menes

World of Warcraft is probably the most familiar, if not the longest-running, MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games with many thousands logged in at the same time, and with more than a decade of constant use. “The Lament of the Sin’dorei” is sung in the Warcraft universe language of Darnassian. It describes the splintering of the game’s High Elves into not only two warring factions, but an entire species of the undead.

The song itself is featured as part of several quests, mostly to establish the painful fall from grace of the elves in the game world. It makes an interesting departure from the usual World of Warcraft repertoire of killing boars while waiting in your PvP queue.

NiGHTS
NiGHTS into dreams… (1996)
Composed by Tomoko Sasaki
Arranged by Peter Tom-Wolverton (after Hayato Matsuo)

“Let’s make a game where we can fly!” Thus was the seed planted for NiGHTS into dreams…, the first non-Sonic game developed by Sonic Team. Along the way, the team had to research dreaming and psychology (including Jung and Freud), learn how to optimize the Sega Saturn’s architecture, and even design a new controller (the 3D Pad, with an analog stick to facilitate the flight controls).

The result was a game that captured the joy and sensation of flying perhaps better than anything the world had ever seen, becoming a perennial resident on lists of “greatest video games of all time.” Even Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto asked Yuji Naka when he was going to make a sequel!

This arrangement of the main title theme evokes visions of both Nightopia and Nightmare, with the bombast of the brasses and saxophones in exotic meters contrasting with the lighter, flightier woodwinds and strings feature, before the dream world is saved in a triumphant climax.

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King – Medley
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (2017)
Composed and Arranged by Josie Brechner

Indie games commonly draw inspiration from other classic video game titles of the 80’s and 90’s; and Blossom Tales is no exception. Drawing its influence from Nintendo’s famous Legend of Zelda franchise, Blossom Tales is a grand adventure in a wonderfully 2D, sprite-based world. The game’s composer, Josie Brechner, brings charming and upbeat melodies that blend the simplistic style of the 8-bit generation would a modern orchestral flair. Of course when the time comes for more dramatic arrangements, the soundtrack is ready to kick up the tempo and increase the tension. Josie has arranged this medley based on a variety of memorable tunes from the game, and we couldn’t be more excited to perform them!

Jump Up, Super Star!
Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
Composed by Naoto Kubo
Arranged by Jorge D. Fuentes

The former damsel in distress, Pauline, from the very first Donkey Kong, is now the Mayor of New Donk City and is also the lead singer of a band from that town. Upon getting the band back together in that area of Super Mario Odyssey, Mario is treated to a live performance of this song by Pauline herself in game. It is the quintessential piece that defines Super Mario Odyssey.


Kongcerto 64

Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
Composed by Grant Kirkhope
Arranged by Robert Garner

With this collection of classic Donkey Kong 64 tunes there are many varying styles, and a whole lot of monkey business. The piece begins softly, with a flute and string medley from DK Isle, before cranking up the spookiness for King K. Rool’s Isle. He is the main antagonist, after all, and the shift to a darker tone helps emphasize his evil deeds. Though the haunting nature continues into Creepy Castle, it soon takes a backseat when the jazzy sounds of Jungle Japes crank up the swing. With a strong emphasis on brass, saxophones, and percussion, this section is full of energy and even a few solos.

The last section of the piece starts with the calming, though somewhat ominous tune, Crystal Caves. Much like the level itself, there’s a sense of mystery looming here, and it’s leading to something grand. Just when you thought it was okay to sit back and relax, a sudden boss theme emerges! The tempo kicks it into overdrive, with the return of a prominent trumpet lead for the main melody. It all comes to a triumphant finale, bringing all instruments together for the game’s ending theme.


Korobeiniki (Tetris)

Tetris (various releases, originally from 1984)
Traditional Composition, Lyrics by N.A. Nekrasov
Arranged by Greg Cox

On June 6th, 1984, a computer programmer in the employ of the Soviet Academy of Science finished work on the first playable version of Tetris, while he was working at the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre in Moscow. That programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, at the time could not have conceived of how far and wide his simple puzzle game would spread. It first spread to every corner of the Soviet blocs and managed managing to pierce the Iron Curtain and take the entire rest of the world by storm.

Many early releases of Tetris heavily played up a Russian aspect, including graphical elements that heavily referenced Russian culture and Soviet iconography. This would culminate in Nintendo’s Gameboy version the game, released in 1989. This version contained an arrangement of an old Russian folk song called Korobeiniki under the name “Tetris Type A.” According to Wikipedia, Korobeiniki “is a nineteenth-century Russian folk song that tells the story of a meeting between a peddler and a girl, describing their haggling over goods in a metaphor for courtship.” Throughout the lyrics of the song, our peddler complains about the weight of the load on his back. He bemoans his situation, until he comes across a “beautiful maiden with black hair” to whom he offers a single topaz ring.

At the end of the song, he comments, overjoyed, that his pack is so much lighter now, even though all that has been removed is a single ring. For its relation to Tetris, and for being a joyous and wonderful folk song on it’s own, MGSO is proud to present to you this rendition of Korobeiniki.


~*~ENCORE~*~

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Theme
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
Hideki Sakamoto
Arranged by A.C. Menes

Super Smash Brothers can be described in so many ways: zany, fun, silly, over-the-top . . . yet something about it compels friends to duke it out with each other just to prove who the best player in the room is. No matter how you think about Smash, one thing for certain can be said—what started as a quirky platform fighter pitting twelve Nintendo All-Stars together back in 1999 has exploded into a cultural phenomenon. The series has sold over 10 million copies (and counting) and has been played competitively at so many high-profile fighting game tournaments such as EVO, Genesis, CEO, and more.

But more importantly, Smash is a game that millions of gamers around the world hold near and dear to their hearts. It’s not hard to see why: gamers can play as their favorite Nintendo characters and spend hours upon hours playing with their friends. And yet, the real beauty of Smash is that it can be enjoyed in so many different ways, whether you want to play casually with items or competitively one-on-one. No other game in the world is that accessible by so many gamers of all ages and interests.

This arrangement is based on the main theme from the latest entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So choose your fighter . . . it’s going to be a SMASHING good time!