The Music of Super Mario

Music is an art that most people around the world can appreciate and love for many generations. With the styles of music available to the composer, differences among compositions are nearly endless. It’s no different with the music which brought many joy and happiness, but also terror and annoyance. The Super Mario series gives its thanks to the great Japanese composers which have been following the Mario road for over 2 decades. The people included in this group are composers such as Koji Kondo, Shinobu Takana, Mahito Yokota, and many others from 3rd parties who have contributed to the tunes of Mario. Throughout the years, many new compositions have been brought up. At the same time, re-iterated remixes of past compositions are re-sprouted due to their impact in the previous games which have used them.

Koji Kondo (近藤 浩治), a master composer

The Super Mario Bros. Overworld theme is un-doubtfully one of the most known compositions Koji Kondo has created. Just listening to the tune of that song brings upon joy and happy thoughts to one’s mind. Of course, it can also broadcast terrible memories of levels from past games which used that theme. One in particular, World 8-3 of the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES. Through the years, I have learned to completely shun any previous thoughts of that particular level (since now it’s not so hard), but passing through it with those pesky Hammer Bros. without any form of power up (like a fire flower) in the past was just a nightmare. That friendly joyous tune soon became a dreaded nightmare.

It doesn’t matter if it looks nicer in Super Mario All-Stars, it’s still an annoying stage.

Similarly, the underwater theme of Super Mario Bros. has gained its set of fame and popularity with its relaxing tone, along with hate and disgust due to those annoying squids (Bloopers). The Super Mario World Underwater theme is just as memorable in the similar fashion: It is both soothing to ones ear, but also filled with anticipation in both a positive and negative manner. I can recall numerous times when I watched either a family member or a friend start to enter a water-themed level which then state “Aww, not a water level”. It’s those fish, all of that aquatic-based marine life that makes these levels difficult, because otherwise swimming to the end while avoiding several obstacles isn’t very challenging at all.

Aquatic life at its best.

Castle and fortress themes gained their forms of popularity due to their usual dark and dangerous moods. One could simply enter a castle themed stage just to listen in on the epic that is castle-themed music. Though the Super Mario Bros. Castle theme was probably the least impressive, the Super Mario World castle theme really brings out the true nature of the castles.

Castle themes, amazing.

Similarly, the Bowser Road music in Super Mario 64 retains such a tone which many can listen to for hours. Bowser himself isn’t very difficult to defeat, nor is his battle music anything special, because that isn’t even be the best part of these levels. It could very well be the music of Bowser road that attracts players to these particular stages even after completing them at an earlier time.

The music is amazing here.

From a variety of midi formats, to a live recording of orchestral instruments, the music of the Mario series has grown to different heights in its lifetime. Super Mario Galaxy marked the first time a true orchestral soundtrack was produced for a Mario game, and since then, the music has been revolutionary. The grand sound that comes from an Orchestra takes music to the next level, especially for video game music. Though midi-like compositions are still made in a profound fashion, orchestral video game compositions are beginning to spawn out from different corners of genre. Who ever imagined hearing such amazing styles of music arise from Mario games?
From all of this, I would love to see more Mario games take advantage of the beautiful sounds that come from an orchestra, or rather, from live instruments. Whether it’s big and robust for fast paced scenes, or calm and sincere for gentle occasions, orchestral music can fit in with any genre of video games. Both Super Mario Galaxy and its successor proved that this musical style can accompany franchises such as Mario, so why not continue that path towards the future? Create another epic Nintendo, another epic Mario title which would take advantage of the beauty of orchestral music. Like the Main Theme of Super Mario Galaxy 2, it takes themes to the next level:

The music of Mario is great; the geniuses stationed in Japan know how to get most out of their instrument libraries. Hopefully they continue the same road for the future and continue evolving their ideas along with the ever-changing musical compositions of Mario titles. What do you have to say about the music of Mario? About its future?

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