Whats up guys, Cody “Kingblunkers” Allison here with part 2 of our music in video games discussion. I originally planned on this being a 3 part series, where this article would cover a multitude of games, but there is just waaaay too much good stuff to talk about. So I’m going to stretch this out and talk about specific games and series that just have amazing music. And why not kick it off with one of the most famous, MARIO.
Mario has been around since 1981, he and his crew have been featured in plenty of games, so the music we are discussing could even be broken down in to sub categories, but we will just generalize this to all Mario games. So get ready, We got a lot to talk about. So here is part 1 of a look at Mario’s Melodies over time Specifically the Mario NES and SNES days.
No One Can Top Nintendo
If I could work anywhere in the world, it would be for Nintendo, hands down. Their ability to consistently pump out amazing games is mind-blowing. And on top of that, each game has a unique soundtrack full of memorable melodies and catchy choruses. so here’s a look at the best of the Mario universe (in my opinion)
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
The OG, where it all started. 1985 brought us the song that alone defined the sound of Mario for year’s to come. If I asked you to sing “The Mario Song” it would be this one. Despite there being about 1000 more theme’s that are all also super catchy and being the theme of widely popular games, this is the one you’d start humming. This song has cover’s on YouTube on just about every instrument in the world, and even other covers on calculators?!?!?! I remember one of the first songs I learned on the Bass guitar in middle school was the Original Mario theme. Its a song that takes us back to when the stupid first Goomba killed us all.
After welcoming the cheery memorable theme song, Mario throws 1-2 at us, the first underground theme. And again Nintendo took up living quarters in our brain. I don’t think a single soul could not follow along with the initial 6 notes. We tunnel out from underground and go underwater. For such a cheery waltz, the water level brought many to anger, as most water levels do. Once we mastered swimming, we head in to fight Bowser for the first time with the menacing and chaotic castle theme.
Super Mario Bros 2 (1988)
This is probably one of the original 3 I played the least, but I still played it quite a bit. I played way too many video games, but Mario invites his crew to join him in Super Mario 2. After picking between Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach you return to the mushroom kingdom with yet another masterpiece. The over world music once again takes you to a high energy, adventurous, and fun spot. As you hop around grabbing turnips and throwing people, you can’t help but bob along to the music. The trippy underworld in this game takes a bit of a tribal feel. But push on and you meet your boss fights with a tense and sharp tune as you duke it out. I loved throwing the eggs back at Birdo… Ya jerk.
Super Mario Bros 3 (1990 U.S.)
Of the first 3 games, this one if my favorite. I think it has the most variety in gameplay, worlds, music, and more. I loved the level selection map, and the items. Super fun game. And it continues the tradition of songs getting stuck in your head. Grass Land Map, Koopahari Desert, Sea Side, and more. Pipe Maze was my favorite of the world map themes. And those are just the map selections, Nintendo once again sends the Mario fans into a cheery upbeat tune to stomp goombas and throw turtle shells. And with high up in the air or back into the sea you have a variety of songs to guide you through the mushroom kingdom. I loved the airship and boss battle music in this game as well.
Super Mario Land (1989)
This was my first experience of Mario on the go. Super Mario Land being on the Gameboy. I loved the submarine and airplane shooter levels on this game. I don’t believe there was a save feature in this game, so any time you turned it off, you started over… man, I am glad technology advanced. I really need to get my hands on this to play it again, Because this music is taking me back.
Super MarioKart (1992)
Jumping to the era of the Super Nintendo, Mario got a little faster and invited his friends to some violent racing. Back before Donkey Kong decided that a tie was more than enough to wear. I think I will always remember the odd horn-ish sounding instruments in the background of this. But blasting off for the Mario Circuit , Donut Plains, Ghost Valley and many more. But certainly not excluding Rainbow Road
Super Mario World (1993)
Now that you got your Super Nintendo, you can get your Super Mario and join him in his new world. Now with a companion you can punch, Mario can hop on the back of Yoshi and experience the mushroom kingdom with advancing technology and graphics. World map music, stellar as always. But I love the overworld music here… it was even my ringtone for a while. This music immediately puts a picture in my head of stomping on charging chuck… The jock-jerk of the Mario world.
I even loved how some of the music changed depending on if Yoshi was there or not. The underground music changed quite a bit here from past underground themes. But the underwater music continues to be painfully cheery as you die to freaking squids for the one millionth time.
I always thought that the star road music was one of the few times Nintendo missed the mark… You’re on a giant star and you get elevator music. But like I said, Nintendo for the most part gets it right. While the randomness of the bonus games frustrated me, the music I feel was a fun reprise from the other music to make it feel upbeat and fun.
Mario is missing (1993)
We don’t talk about Mario is missing… it wasn’t a very fun game. most of the music was just slightly different versions of existing music. Sorry Luigi… you got better games as time went on.. but this wasn’t your finest.
Dr. Mario (1994)
Mario was a working man. On top of saving the princess and his plumbing career, at some point became a pill-slinging doctor as well. Dr. Mario was not Nintendo’s first go at the puzzle genre, but perhaps one of the most well know. As a questionably licensed medical professional, you dropped pills on the corresponding viruses to save the day once again. I have no idea, but this is probably the Mario theme that seems to pop into my head the most randomly. The game also had “Chill” which I didn’t like as much.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)
Another one of my favorite’s, This Mario game, features Baby Mario rather than our full grown, mustached hero. He’s dropped by a stork and raised by a clan of Yoshi’s.
I love the intro. My brother and I would try to play this on piano. Neither of us had training, so it didn’t sound nearly this good. If you didn’t sit and listen to the title screen long enough, you might have though it was just waves. But if you give it a sec you get a truly “island’ feeling theme song. You get into the funky bass and weird horn/harmonica sounding theme for the Flower Garden theme.
The post level fan fare during the score screen always felt so rewarding after hearing Mario cry the whole time. Of course you are met with another underground score, very different than previous iterations. The spooky castle music feels completely original as well. Kamek the silly witch always had pretty funny dialogue and a light theme to back it up. More overatures. Hearing this while spitting watermelon seeds at the Ukikis. Was always sorta sad, the monkeys looked depressing when you knocked them out. The world map music was my favorite by far here.
Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)
The last game from the NES/SNES eras I will mention is Super Mario RPG. With the help of RPG pros Square Enix (Final Fantasy). It was amazing to see Mario taken to another genre. SM-RPG was an amazing turn based combat game. There are a TON of amazing themes so I will just link to a playlist here. If you’ve never played this before, I highly recommend it. It gave Nintendo enough insight and experience to develop future RPGs like the Paper Mario series.
Mario has been around forever.
That concludes all the music before the Nintendo 64 dominated living rooms world wide. Next time I will talk about the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube era games. And after I am finished with Mario I plan to tackle other franchises such as Donkey Kong, Sonic, and many more. Let me know what your favorite mario game music is in the comments down below. Follow us on Twitter/Facebook/Twitch to find all the latest on streams, giveaways, and more awesome content.
Cody “Kingblunkers” Allison