By JOSEPh Walter
Better yet, it takes a page from "Super Mario Galaxy's" music book and opts for a (mostly) live score, with a small orchestra. Overall, the music is uneven but enjoyable (even though the title track seems to be "inspired" by a certain crocodile game, that also was supposedly an inspiration for a certain revolutionary game that was a specific plumber's first foray into true 3D) with often relaxing and smooth brass at a jaunty pace.
But one piece of music in this game stands out above the rest. By far. This is, of course, the "Bowser's Lava Lake Keep." Although underused when compared to the game's other Castle-tracks (the most recurring of which is sadly quite grating) this particular theme took me (and my co-op comrades) by surprise so greatly that we actually had to stop and listen to the entire track loop before we were satisfied.
Let's give it a listen and discuss:
Proud horns come into accent the martial approach and then at :30, some delightfully swanky strings join the core tune to add a touch of Bowser's funkiness, along with some very nice touches of percussion.
This brings us to the main event, the climax at at :48: Powerful desperate horns accompany the now forceful main theme, with sailing strings further indicating the crisis of the dangerous castle levels that the plumbers, and the princess and a lone Toad are scurrying through.
And right when you think the horns have done everything they can for the song, they crescendo in what can only be described as an explosion at :57 - 1:03, with the strings close behind. The entire song seems to die out like a ghostly warning written in music before it loops again for y/our pleasure.
What sets this piece apart from the majority of 3D World's score is that it's so... emotional. And while the Galaxy games had quite a bit of large-scale orchestral emotion, comparably few created such an organic and potent emotional impact as this particular castle theme.
It hits on all the right notes while creating an atmosphere that's far more perilous than the typical "scary Bowser" music featured in the previous games. It also steers away from the "epic" feeling of Galaxy's score. This is a smaller-scale, self-contained emotional crucible, and it works perfectly.
It's just so weird in the big picture, because there's nothing else like it in the whole of Super Mario 3D World. But I'm okay with that.