Game That Tune

Tetris Attack

Flower Power

Underneath all that peat moss, Tetris Attack has some funky beats.

By Derrick Sanskrit • October 25, 2012

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

It wasn’t enough for Nintendo to simply come up with an addictive, engaging multiplayer puzzle game. Oh, no, they had to ensure it had a completely kick-ass soundtrack to boot. When it was localized North America and Europe, Panel De Pon may have been rebranded as Tetris Attack (despite having little to do with Tetris) and re-skinned with a Yoshi’s Island look, but it didn’t lose any of the original’s effortless charm. This late in the Super Nintendo’s lifespan, developers had learned plenty of tricks for getting the most out of the machine, and Masaya Kuzume’s soundtrack bent its squares, triangles, and sine waves to effectively emulate the style of a small jazz-pop fusion quintet.

A steady beat lays the foundation for a smooth and breezy bit of woodwind pop. Everything’s going exactly as you’d expect for a “flower stage” theme—that is, up until it kicks into a funky groove with a slap bass that would make Flea and Bootsy Collins proud. The flute becomes so staccato and punctuated that you’d imagine the musician were blowing poisoned darts instead of sweet flowery melodies. And then come the string swells to remind you that we are at peace, that life is beautiful, and all this ribbing is just in good fun.

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49 Responses to “Flower Power”

  1. YES!

    No matter how many times this game is re-issued, the SNES original will always sound the best.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      This is one of those games that I’ve never been able to find a copy of. I’ve played it on emulators and love it, but i’ve never  even seen a cart of it. Want.

      • One of my most prized cartridges, partially because my circle of friends in high school were obsessively competitive about this game. On weekends we would pick one of our houses and I would bring the SNES, two controllers, Tetris Attack and one or two other games, but we only ever had Tetris Attack tournaments. Raphael the Raven was my jam, but his music wasn’t nearly as funky.

        There was a mild resurgence of our competitive spirit with Planet Puzzle League on the DS, but it just lacked the ferocity without us sitting side-by-side in front of the TV or having cartoon characters shout whenever you scored a sweet chain.

        • George_Liquor says:

          I’ll have to check this game out. There’s a huge SNES-shaped gap in my gaming experience that I’m just beginning to fill.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          And I think the sterility of certain modern puzzle games hurt them in the long run, both for self-motivation AND competitive motivation.  There’s nothing distracting about charm done correctly.

          Fighting games don’t star transparent wireforms, right?  Why do the equivalent for multiplayer puzzle games?

        • alguien_comenta says:

          I can still hear the “Stop!” from when you were about to die but did a combo/chain. I love this game, but I didn’t have any friends that loved it as much as I did, so I never had any real competition.
          Poker smash is nice, but is just not the same

        • Necrogem says:

           Raphael’s was my second favorite (I loved the mystical feeling the harp lent to the piece), but my absolute fave was always Gargantua Blarg, ‘cuz that bass was groovy, man. Plus his “Arrgh!” every time you did a combo was so cute!

          I just wish I’d been as lucky as you and had friends to play it with, because I got so bored beating the computer on hard over and over again… and as a consequence, every one of the friends I tried to get interested in it would just get their asses handed to them right off the bat and never wanted to play me again :[

    • GhaleonQ says:

      I disagree.  The Gamecube version Panel Pon Gamecube, included in the Nintendo Puzzle Collection (which was that, which is what Pokemon Puzzle League was based on, Doctor Mario 64, which Japan didn’t get, and a remake of Yoshi’s Cookie)
      is 1 of my 10 favorite games AND has the best music.

      You play as the children, I think, of the original characters, so it’s all riffs on the original tracks.  It’s by this Masaru Tajima character who’s done the Excite and Made In Wario games, but has precious little solo work.

      Someone uploaded what I believe are my rips to YouTube at 1 point.  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5FB7FF7E85D47F87 I generally prefer chiptune emulation to “real”-sounding synths, but not here.

  2. George_Liquor says:

    I’ve said before & I’ll say it again: The SNES’ sound chip is simply amazing.

    Hey, are you guys taking chiptune requests? There’s a similarly tasty slap bass riff in Thunder Force IV/Lightening Force’s Stage 6

    And speaking of stage 6, Blaster Master’s level 6 music is equally awesome.

    • John Teti says:

      I know that Derrick reads the comments, so indeed, your requests will not fall on deaf ears.

    • Yes and yes and yes and yes.

      • PaganPoet says:

        I get the feeling this series is aimed at maybe some lesser-known soundtracks as opposed to the standard (albeit well-deserved) Uematsu/Shimamura/Mitsuda love.

        I would like to put in a request for a highlight of the music of Secret of Evermore. Before Jeremy Soule made it big with Guild Wars and The Elder Scrolls, he made an understated, sometimes ambient, sometimes melodic, but always beautiful soundtrack for an underrated action RPG.

        • You give me far too much credit. So far this series has been aimed at “man, I really like that song, I hope other people like that song too.” I’ll put a star next to Secret of Evermore on my list for you in the hopes that it catches my eye.

      • George_Liquor says:

        If I could just plug one more game for your consideration: Ballblazer for Atari, Commodore, and a whole mess of other old 8-bit consoles features a jazzy, algorithmically “improvised” opening tune that will play forever, never repeating itself. The Atari XEGS version is here, and the more down-tempo C64 version is here.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      http://vgmdb.net/artist/1004

      From Thunder Force to the sidelines of Atelier games: is there a more tragic path?

  3. Captain Internet says:

    I was looking for my passport yesterday, and one of the boxes of stuff I rooted through had a long-forgotten CD sampler of jazz-fusion from an issue of Jazzwise magazine that I bought in 1996.

    A warning children: mid-nineties jazz-fusion is perfectly fine when it has been pasteurised by running it through a Super Nintendo, but do not attempt to listen to the real thing. I dread to think what this would have sounded like if they’d been able to record it with a band. Well, probably a lot like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsfhADiaP5E

    I understand that I may be overreacting.

  4. caspiancomic says:

    Oh man, every time I read/listen to one of these, I just want to dump Youtube links to a hundred of my favourite tracks, but I know that would get tedious in a hurry, and I’m sure Derrick has a handsome backlog as it is. Still, I’ve been really digging this series. With the exception of the Shadow of the Colossus entry, so far every track has been one I’ve never heard before, and I’ve seriously enjoyed everything that’s been featured. I think Mr. Sanskrit and I must have similar tastes.