Greetings! Welcome back to part two of our Look at Mario and his music! Last time, we talked about Mario’s music during the SNES/NES era. Today we keep chugging along the timeline to the time of the Nintendo 64
Super Mario 64 (1996)
This is one of the best “must play games” of all time. This game brought Mario to life in a way that we know and love even more!. The jump in technology from the SNES to the Nintendo 64 was mind blowing. And we all got to experience that jump with the new console. Kick it off with a familiar theme, but add some steel drums and a driving drum beat and you have some fun music to stretch Mario’s face with. Then jump into the largest experience in the mushroom kingdom, with this gem. I always loved how vibrant the horns sounded in this game, even today I think its relatively good quality for a synthesized trumpet. And… dat bass.
Need more songs with high energy! Nintendo says ‘NO PROBLEM!’ You’ve got the whistle-powered “Slide”/”Race” song. Yeah remember that penguin race… some of us heard this song a lot more than others. I love to see that even as time goes on, the water levels (WHICH STILL ARE SUPER FRUSTRATING) still have a similar feel as the old school, peaceful and gentle. Or maybe you need some polka music in the snow?! Even something as small as making a song dedicated to the sleeping piranha plants. And I loved the distinct songs for each of the hat/powerups metal cap is the best IMO. There is plenty more in this game, but it was a wonderful use of the new technology available on the N64, and its committed to memory.
Mario Kart 64 (1996)
The racer’s return for Mario Kart 64. I can still hear the Mario’s voice exclaim at the beginning “Welcome To Mario Kart!”. More Bass slapping for the title and selection music. And that very first race going to the Mario Raceway hearing this just helped you bob your head along as you chucked some red shells and dropped decoy boxes for your foes. And maybe bluegrass at Moo Moo Farm is your thing! I love hearing the music for Frappe Snowland and noticing how similar it feels to the music in the Wii Sports/Wii Resorts games that would come much later in Nintendo’s Legacy. And of course the legendary Rainbow Road pt 2. I remember seeing the characters in the constellations in the background for the first time and just thinking how neat it was to have the “Final Level” show you all the awesome characters that you know and love. Lot of fun memories playing this with my family with the racing and the balloon battles. Also if you used this short cut.. don’t ever play this game with me ever…
Mario Party (1998)
This game showed me that destroying your friends in a game… can be amazingly satisfying. I know it makes no sense.. but I will brag and say I am amazing at all Mario Party games. Understanding that 60% of it is RNG, but if it was appropriate to put this on a resume… I would. And the name implies, the title screen is a party in of it itself. I loved the way that you clicked on the separate houses in order to access your standard menus. The Option house throwing back to the original 1-2 theme of Super Mario.. but some serious funk and random voices sprinkled throughout. My siblings and I would practice minigames (I’m telling you… the Allison family takes Mario party seriously) so the minigame house music is quite familiar as well. As as you descend in the warp pipe to your board game adventure you have a mystical melody to follow you down. Rolling to see who goes first, and scoping out where the precious stars would be located set the stage for some very unique and fun maps. DK’s Jungle Beat, Peach’s Sweet board, Yoshi’s Tropical Island (currently my ringtone), Wario’s Mischievous battlegrounds. And Luigi’s Steamroom(which I think was the most difficult map), and up in the clouds with Mario’s map. The mini-game rules music was pretty catchy itself. I remember spending an annoying amount of time spamming the buttons that were meant for rehearsal time, but we just did it to bother each other. And Mario Party was cruel. Sometimes, despite doing everything right, your fate was decided with Chance Time! Some of our favorite games were “Cast aways”, “Bumper Balls”, and “Buried treasure“.
Super Smash Bros. (1999)
Smash Bros. took our relatively peaceful Mario group and escalated it quite fast. Much violence, much fighting, and so many pokeballs. It was amazing to not only take your Mario characters, but mash them with link, fox, kirby, pokemon and so much more. It was a lovely start to the most competitive franchise Nintendo owns today in the esports world. So here’s to all the homerun bats you used to crush your opponents! Going back to play this game makes it feel very dated compared to the later entries in the series. But remembering that this was 18 years ago, I think it expanded the fighter genre in a way never been done before in the likes of Mortal Kombat or Tekken.
Mario Party 2 (1999)
A year later, and more friendships to ruin, but this time with Costumes! Not only are the boards themed, but this game added consumes to each character appropriate for the scenery around them. This is probably the pipe theme I remember most of all the franchise. Mario Drops his red cap for a cowboy hat in western land, or his overalls for a space suit in Space land. Mystery Land to explain aliens and their possible connection to Stonehenge. And my sister’s favorite Horror Land. As for mini games Hexagon heat and shy guy says always got really intense in our house. Cake Factory always gave a good laugh if the AI controlled anyone. The battle mini games were also a great addition to the series. Loved that they implemented a skill based opportunity to comeback.
Mario Golf (1999), Mario Tennis (2000)
Mario instead of fighting, spent some of his energy through classy sports like Golf and Tennis. Mario Golf, much like real golf, was very frustrating when you play badly, but felt extremely rewarding when things went well. Most of the music isn’t too memorable for me, but I DO remember the minigolf music and the intense putting music.
As for Mario Tennis, this seems to be ringing more bells for me. I remember in college playing this with Donoran and some friends. We all cheered as loud as we could when we all sat down and defeated the computers on the hardest difficulty.
Paper Mario (2000)
There is waaaaaay too much good music to get into too many specifics, but if you love RPG’s with turn based combat, Nintendo served up something special with the first Paper Mario Game.
Here’s a link to the whole soundtrack. Paper Mario set up a future for games like Kirby’s epic yarn or Yoshi’s Wooly World where the art assumed a new medium. The genius that goes into ‘Paperfying”the world is so charming and something that isn’t done enough today. The theme extended to everything. It built an epic story while not taking itself too seriously.
Mario Party 3 (2000)
I think Mario Party 3 had some of my favorite mini games. The boards were very difficult and at times frustrating, but some of these games we played OVER AND OVER. Chip Shot Challenge, Mario’s Puzzle Party, awful tower, and of course Eatsa Pizza. This game left a lot of opportunity for breaking records and perfecting the skills. The story mode was entertaining to not only play through all the maps and earn the stamps. The duel mini games being a new addition to the series here. This served as the “Boss” in the story mode
Good ole times
if you have a nintendo 64 still DON’T GET RID OF IT. These things are expensive, because after we played through our modern systems we still realized how good some of these games were. And there are still many many more great games, but sticking to just Mario is keeping me pretty busy. Next time we will tackle the Gamecube (which is probably my favorite console… mainly because animal crossing.. but we will get there eventually) Tell me your favorite 64 memories and which songs still linger in your brain.