The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Reissue Theory: “Super Mario Bros.”

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On September 13, 1985, Japanese game manufacturer Nintendo released one of the most revolutionary products in history: the game Super Mario Bros. for the Family Computer System (or Famicom, for short). It’s nowhere near an exaggeration to call this release historical for popular culture. Sure, video games were known entities since the early 1970s, when Nolan Bushnell’s Atari manufactured some of the first coin-operated arcade machines. And even home consoles were nothing new (the Atari Video Computer System had been out for a decade).

But when Super Mario Bros. made its debut, the home video game market in America was a shambles. Too much product and not enough quality control led to an unprecedented crash in 1983, and Nintendo was met with hostility when it tried to break the Famicom in America. They met this problem by doing everything to not refer to their product as a video game, retitling it the Nintendo Entertainment System and marketing the product to retailers as more of a toy (a distribution deal with Worlds of Wonder, the company behind Teddy Ruxpin and Laser Tag, helped sell that angle).

The NES was a massive success, thanks in no small part to quality games like Super Mario Bros. Considered to be the first major “platform game” – a genre of game that expanded upon the action by including massive, side-scrolling levels and tons of hidden secretsSMB was given a tremendous boost by being packed in with almost every configuration of NES product. Guinness World Records has listed Super Mario Bros. as the highest-selling video game of all time, having moved more than 40 million units in 25 years. (Recently, according to The Guardian, the game has slipped to second place, behind another addictive packed-in game from Nintendo: Wii Sports. But Mario still leads the pack in terms of franchise sales, what with all the sequels he’s been a part of.)

One of the secrets to Mario’s success, other than the innovative and addictive gameplay, is the innovative and addictive musical score by Koji Kondo. A classically-trained pianist with an interest in jazz-fusion and synthesizers, Kondo was hired by Nintendo in the early 1980s to compose small bits of music for various projects. While most games would just require fanfares, Kondo created whole songs for SMB – tunes that could repeat through entire levels without sounding repetitive. The tunes he created for the game – particularly the “Ground Theme” which played over most levels, is as instantly an iconic piece of music as anything the American rock scene has spawned. Thanks to Kondo’s work, the video game industry earned the musical care that film scores could provide; to this day, video game score enthusiasts are everywhere, providing remixes and arrangements with all the fervor of the major labels.

Given the presence of almost any vintage sound on CD, it’s odd that the notion of video game music seems to be a well-hidden niche. The Super Mario Bros. series has had plenty of attention on CD, mostly in Japan (in fact, another such compilation is forthcoming) – but it couldn’t hurt to get just a few compilations out in the States. The brief nature of the music means lots of music could fit on such a CD, so the track list could probably extend beyond what you’ll see after the jump. (For now, it makes sense to keep it to the 8-bit NES era, the time closest to the game which earns our plaudits on this day.)

Warp to the track list after the jump.

Koji Kondo, Super Mario Bros.: The 25th Anniversary Collection (Nintendo, 2010)

  1. “Mario Bros.” Title Screen
  2. Game A/Miss/Clear
  3. Game B/Restart/Extend
  4. Bonus Stage/Perfect/Game Over
  5. Ground Theme
  6. Underground Theme
  7. Underwater Theme
  8. Castle Theme
  9. Bonus/Invincible Theme
  10. Course Clear
  11. Hurry Up/Miss/Game Over
  12. Koopa Defeated/Finale
  13. Name Entry Screen
  14. Finale
  15. “Super Mario Bros. 2” Title Screen
  16. Player Select
  17. Above Ground Theme
  18. Underground Theme
  19. Invincible
  20. Sub-Space/Bonus Game/Win/Miss
  21. Boss Music
  22. Final Battle with Wart
  23. Stage Clear/Finale
  24. Grass Land
  25. Overworld Theme
  26. Koopahari Desert
  27. Athletic Theme
  28. Sea Side
  29. Underwater Theme
  30. Giant Island
  31. Invincible Theme
  32. The Sky (Part I)
  33. Toad House
  34. The Warp Whistle/The Sky (Part II)
  35. Hammer Bros. Challenge
  36. Ice Land
  37. Bonus Game
  38. Pipe Maze
  39. The Music Box
  40. The King’s Room
  41. Fanfare/A Letter from the Princess
  42. Koopa World
  43. Fortress
  44. Doom Ship
  45. Final Duel with Bowser
  46. Course Clear/World Clear/Super World Clear
  47. Hurry Up/Miss/Game Over
  48. Finale

Tracks 1-4 from the game Mario Bros. (Arcade, 1983/NES, 1986)
Tracks 5-12 from the game Super Mario Bros. (Famicom/NES, 1985)
Tracks 13-14 from the game Super Mario Bros. 2 (Famicom, 1986)
Tracks 15-23 from the game Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES, 1988)
Tracks 24-48 from the game Super Mario Bros. 3 (Famicom, 1988/NES, 1990)

Written by Mike Duquette

September 13, 2010 at 13:32

One Response

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  1. In Japan at least, they are having a special release of Super Mario All Stars for Wii, and it includes an cd soundtrack with music from every Mario game from Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Galaxy 2.


    September 13, 2010 at 20:03

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