Before the end of the Wii U era, it was rare for a Nintendo game to feature vocals in its prominent songs for its flagship games. The release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses in July will mark the fourth year in a row a landmark title will include singing in its main theme, of all places.
Vocal Nintendo songs have existed since the Nintendo GameCube. Captain Falcon had a theme song in F-Zero GX. The credits theme for Xenoblade Chronicles, “Beyond the Sky,” is an underrated gem of emotion, and one could argue that Zelda from Skyward Sword, K.K. Slider and the Squid Sisters had been singing all along before 2016.
That was the year when vocals finally started to appear for the masses, however. With the growing popularity of Fire Emblem, the Nintendo 3DS Fire Emblem Fates titles brought with them “Lost in Thoughts All Alone,” the main theme sung in both English and Japanese for those highly successful titles.
But Fire Emblem was, and still is, not for everyone. Mario, on the other hand, is a much different story in terms of mainstream appeal, which made it all the more shocking during Nintendo’s E3 2017 presentation when “Jump Up, Superstar” was revealed in the trailer for Super Mario Odyssey.
Hearing that song echo throughout the E3 booths and Nintendo Treehouse really hammered in before the release of the newest 3D Mario platformer, that this infectiously cheery song was indeed the main theme.
Gone were the days of boppy “Bob-Omb Battlefield” or the epic orchestral chords of the Super Mario Galaxy main themes. Viral marketing with vocals and over-the-top lyrics became the way to go. Heck, even Azura and Pauline could be added to the list of great Nintendo character vocalists, and could you imagine a night club with DJ K.K. and Off the Hook emceeing a show featuring those women?!
Back to my point, the marketing of female vocals in the main themes of Nintendo’s biggest games has not stopped. “Lifelight” for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was another major surprise last year when it was revealed in the November 2018 Nintendo Direct that the main theme for that game was also a vocal one.
And now, the Nintendo Switch years are three for three in terms of having kick-ass vocal themes. The main theme for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, while not surprising that it’s being sung like in past Fire Emblem entries, still feels like a daring musical departure, combining electronic melodies with the usual sweeping orchestral overtones that identify Fire Emblem music. The lyrics are over-the-top as usual, but I’d be lying if I didn’t feel pumped up to do battle in Three Houses when it releases in a few months.
Which future Nintendo games would you like to see have vocal main themes in the future? Would English or Japanese vocals fit the feel of the Zelda, Star Fox or Kirby franchises? Let us know in the comments below!
I’ve been playing Nintendo games since I was 3 years old, and my earliest memory is watching my dad play Super Mario 64.
Since then, I’ve become as big of a fan as you might imagine: YouTube video projects, fan fiction, owning just about every amiibo — you name it!
I’m also a stalwart defender of underappreciated games like Skyward Sword, Other M, Super Paper Mario, Star Fox Adventures, Star Fox Zero and more. I love to see passion in a gaming product, and my desire on this site is to share a similar passion in what I write.