“Story Organ,” from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, released in 1995
There’s something magical about the music of Koji Kondo. It’s not that it’s terribly clever, motific or well-structured, but there is something that speaks the kid in all of us. I think it’s that he understands that there are different elements in every kid (or every person, really): There are adventurers (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), explorers (Super Mario Galaxy) or care-givers. I think that Yoshi’s Island speaks to that demographic… really, I do.
When you take on the role of Yoshi, your job is take care of baby Mario. Now, put yourself in a young person’s shoes and just think about that for a second. It’s not that the life of your hero is in your hands (because that’s always the case in every game), but it’s that your hero is a baby and is unable to take care of himself, so you have to.
When we look at the artistry in this game, the designers really tried to push the imagery of crayons, colourful shapes, nothing too precise, and everything is just really happy (like the hills, who are smiling in the picture below). It was almost like a kid had drawn it. In fact, it was like the player had drawn it. You really feel empowered in this game because you’re taking care of the protagonist as he looks for his baby brother. The art in this game is just so lovely, I am in love with this world.
Musically, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is its greatest strength. All of the music is fun, like dancing with your grandmother in the kitchen as the pot of stew is cooking.
… Did anyone else do that?
Anyway, it’s light and kind. Kind… yeah, it’s kind. The “Story Organ” has a real sense of kindness and warmth in it. The music box as an instrument often serves the purpose of imbuing a sense of memory into the music, as though to give the sense that whatever happened was a long time ago or, at least, harkens back to a sentimental time. The piece again is a fantastic work of Kondo’s, not doing anything too serious, but not coming off has hackneyed or cliched. It’s cute, but warm; light, but sentimental. This balance of finding that character inside the player is his true gift 🙂
See you next week! (Hopefully!)
PS: Here’s some more music interspersed with gameplay video 🙂