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The Many Melodies of the Nintendo 3DS

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Welcome back to "Menu Music," a regular Kotaku Melodic feature in which we'll be listening to the best and worst menu music in video gaming.

Last week, we listened to the mind-numbing music of the PlayStation Vita, so it seemed only fair that this week we should listen to the music of its competitor, the Nintendo 3DS.


I'll admit, I started recording this music fully expecting to hate it, but I wound up impressed by how great most of the 3DS's music is. It all feels of a piece, and was composed with care—the melodies are strong, the orchestrations sparse and creative, and there is a distinctive "vibe" to it all that feels very Nintendo.


I asked the folks at Nintendo if they could get me the name of the composer behind this music, but the weren't able to get the information. It seems a shame that someone would write this much good stuff and not get credited, but that's the way of this kind of gig sometimes. To whoever composed this music: good show!

Another impressive thing about the 3DS is how much music there is. Every sub-menu has a different theme that plays, and even the loading sounds have a distinctive groove to them. I picked a few tracks that are indicative of the qualities of the 3DS' menus, but there are easily twice as many as I've posted here.


Let's dig in, shall we?

3DS Home Screen

Home Screen

Much more ambient and aquatic than the Vita's backdrop, and more pleasing to the ear. I certainly don't mind it, and like how the drops of sound get out of the way of the various stingers that play as you move your scroller around and select different apps. This is home menu music done right.


3DS eShop


This sounds very similar to the Vita music, and yet it's got more going on. Mainly the unexpected chord changes that happen a little ways in. The five-note motif is pleasant, and is moved around creatively. As "music to shop to" goes, this is pretty inoffensive!


3DS Mii Creator

Mii Creator

This is, basically, the "Mii Theme," which is one of the themes that unites the 3DS across its various programs. I like this version, a low-key latin thing with a playful melody and a tight little orchestration. This music immediately makes me think of Miis, which make me think of Nintendo. Great branding.


3DS Mii Parade

Mii Plaza

A groovy march version of the Mii Theme that plays out as you go through your street-passed Miis. I always call this song "The Mii Parade." The latin-tinged bridge is kicky, and the whole thing really works. It's a smart way to bring the Mii Theme together and tie the creator to the Mii Plaza.


3DS Health & Safety

Health and Safety Information

You may not think that the music for the Health & Safety Information screen should have a spot on any list like this, but it's actually a great example of ambient music done right, with some subtle melodies happening in the background. Nice and soothing. Makes me feel healthy, and safe.


3DS System Settings

System Settings

Gradually building chord progression. A steady build up the major scale - starting on the three, then up to the sixth, then back again. Dig how much better this is than the ambient music on the Vita! It's no comparison, really.


And so there you have it, a sampling of the melodious music of the 3DS. Honestly, Sony could take a page or two from Nintendo's book on this one—while the 3DS' music is actually much more forceful and present than the music on Sony's Vita, it's also got a lot more character and is easier to listen to.

That doesn't mean you won't get sick of it (and I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste), but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed digging into the many melodies of the Nintendo 3DS.