While the Super Smash Bros. series is engineered to be a fun and accessible fighting game first and foremost, it's grown to become so much more since its humble beginnings as an N64 title.
The Super Smash Bros. series is a stage where first- and- third-party characters turn their history into combat ability. It's a gallery of jokes and references. It's a pure hype engine; a digital realm where unexpected visitors drop in for a fight.
Smash Bros. is arguably gaming's most exciting property for all those reasons, plus one more: Each game offers a playlist of epic music remixes. The acoustical floodgates cracked open with 2001's Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, which treats us to epic remixes from retro games. Melee's remixes of Metroid's Brinstar and F-Zero's Mute City were novel in an era before people could easily make and distribute their own remixes.
Super Smash Bros. Melee also lets us experience old music in a new context. To date, no piece of game music says "Rest up, you've got another big battle coming" like Melee's Rest Area music—which is a peaceful remix of the "Save Game" music from Kirby Super Star's "Great Cave Offensive."
Even before its launch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Switch made a point of leaning into the quality and diversity of its music. There are 850 music tracks in Smash Bros. Ultimate—we listed every single one!—a tremendous jump over Melee's 80 tracks. Granted, some of the songs in Smash Bros. Ultimate are straight ports of their source material, and many are imported from previous Smash games, but the constant addition of new characters means there are still plenty of songs to celebrate. Better still, retro stars like Simon Belmont are amongst the new Smash characters. That means heavenly remixes of still-celebrated chiptunes.
Smash Bros. Ultimate is so thoroughly stuffed with music, it even includes a feature that lets you turn your Switch into a portable Smash music player. I'm probably never going to do that, but I appreciate the idea. Series director Masahiro Sakurai clearly understands Smash's music belongs to the series as much as Assist Trophies, Final Smashes, and energy-packed character reveals.
Here's a sampling of the Smash Bros. Ultimate songs making the rotation through the background playlists of my life.
So Much Castlevania
I think Simon's my favorite new arrival in Smash Bros. Ultimate. He's a strong, chunky fighter with great reach. Sure, his recovery is garbage, but I usually main Bowser, so talk about training while wearing ten-pound weights for most of my life.
Better still, when Smash invited Simon, he invited a whole lot of Castlevania music in turn. That's a jerk thing to do at most parties, but I guess the Smash series isn't your every day party. Heck, Smash Bros. Ultimate's remix of Stalker / Wicked Child from the very first Castlevania game is invited to do whatever it wants within my four walls. Stalker and Wicked Child are both under-appreciated tunes, and I'm happy to see them sharing Smash Bros. real estate.
Speaking of the Castlevania series' oldest music, the world isn't short on remixes of Castlevania II's Bloody Tears, but Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers one of the best in ages. Even better, it segues into Monster Dance, Castlevania II's oft-overlooked nighttime theme. Hats off for the bells at 1:30.
Aquarius from Castlevania III isn't my favorite tune in the game (maybe because childhood trauma still causes me to associate it with those damn mermen enemies), but Smash Bros. Ultimate turns it into a real thumping fighting song. See you in hell, Castlevania III's pink-bricked aqueducts.
Smash Bros. Ultimate's hard rock remix of Symphony of the Night's gorgeous Lost Paintings initially had me saying "Ehhh," but it's since grown on me. What's the point of music if you can't experiment? Besides, the second half of the song still sounds ethereal and mysterious, so it's not "on" the whole time. Lost Paintings Ultimate is not relaxing, but it's not overwhelming, either.
I'm sad to report one significant "miss" in Smash Bros. Ultimate's Castlevania line-up. The remix of Castlevania II's Dwelling of Doom understandably tries for a retro chiptune-inspired sound, but it lacks the percussion and unique warbling of its source material. Bit of a shame.
New Mega Man Music
Mega Man was a big-deal reveal for Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U. He was revealed at E3 2013, amid a long, barren period bereft of game releases (a barren period that lasted almost five additional years until Mega Man 11 administered a shock to the series' heart in 2018).
Mega Man brought an incredible remix with him: A medley of Mega Man 2's iconic soundtrack. Smash Bros. Ultimate expands on the Mega-Menu in a big way, including a medley of remixed Mega Man 4 songs. I wish Dust Man's experimental theme was represented here, but "settling" for Dive Man and Skull Man is hardly a chore.
There's no medley for Mega Man 3's music—because most of the bosses received dedicated remix tracks! I'm 100% for Smash Bros. Ultimate's remix of my favorite boy, Snake Man.
Top Man, too.
Smash Bros. Ultimate also has a remix of Mega Man X's opening Highway Stage. Heck, Zero's already an assist trophy, so why not?
Mega Man has plenty of non-remixed music to his name, too. I'm happy Smash Bros. Ultimate included X vs. Zero, one of the series' best battle themes. For context, it plays in Mega Man X5 when X and Zero have their apocalyptic showdown. No, it's not remixed, but I don't think that's to its detriment. Ah, listen to those guitars shred.
All that said, having the remixed "Rockman Holic" version of the song in Smash Bros. Ultimate's rotation wouldn't hurt my feelings.
More Donkey Kong
King K. Rool, the swaggering head of the Kremlin Empire, is larger than life. His Smash Bros. Ultimate remix of Donkey Kong Country's Gangplank Galleon serves him well. By the way: It has lyrics. Turn in your turntables, DK Rap. Your reign as the most beautifully awkward Donkey Kong tune is over.
You can do it, whelp
You can claw ‘em, gnaw 'em, stone 'em, beat 'em
I’ll do this with my mind, you just obey ME!
And do you stammer, stammer, seein’ my eye?
You better star me, steam me, see me, scrub me, feed me my pie
You ready already, or wheezy oh? And bestial crushin’, easy though
And total-ly the very top D-N-A, now! You need a shanty, shanty, shanty: A song
You’re an extremely scary regent that conquers us all, you go:
(Thanks to TheQuickT for sharing these…words.)
If rapping gorillas and freestyling alligators aren't your jam, Smash Bros. Brawl has a cool new remix of Crocodile Cacophony, K. Rool's final battle theme in Donkey Kong Country 2.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Joins the Fight!!
Zelda music's been a big part of the Smash series since day one: I still adore Melee's remix of the Zelda II Temple theme. Most of the Zelda series' music catalogue is in Smash, but the success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild means we have some new tunes.
There's a remix of Kass' Theme, for example. There was nothing like travelling through Hyrule and seeing (and hearing) this beautiful sky-blue birb play his accordion with all his heart.
Smash Bros. Ultimate even has a heavy remix of the trailer music Breath of the Wild used at its E3 2017 presentation. An exciting remix fit for an exciting memory.
It's finally time to give a shout-out to Sonic the Hedgehog's music in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sonic doesn't add too many new contributions or remixes to Ultimate's pot, but that's simply because Sonic music is already perfect. The human race should've quit music after Crush 40 produced Open Your Heart.
Now, Super Sonic Racing (written for 1997's Sonic R and also included on Smash Bros. Ultimate's soundtrack) is arguably the best Sonic song in existence, but I can't hear it without thinking of Grand Theft Auto. It's effectively ruined.
Did I forget to give a shout-out to your favorite Smash Bros. Ultimate song? No kidding. Again, there are 850 damn songs in this game. Share your own picks in the comments or social media. Whatever you do, just take a second to marvel at Smash Bros. Ultimate's musical repertoire. It almost transcends belief.