Game Music Revue: The 30th Anniversary Super Mario Bros. Music

mario music0001

  • Credited Composer: Nintendo (Koji Kondo, Hirokazu Tanaka, Kazumi Totaka, Shinobu Tanaka, Mahito Yokota, Ryo Nagamatsu, Asuka Hayazaki)
  • Released September 13, 2015
  • Label: Columbia/Sony
  • VGMdb Information Page

Mario’s 30th Anniversary celebration continues. There was the festival, the Tower Records promotion, the video game, and now there’s the CD.

The 30th Anniversary Super Mario Bros. Music is a 2CD set collecting over two and a half hours of music from various Mario games.

Specifically, it includes music from the following:

  • Super Mario Bros.
    Super Mario Bros. 2/The Lost Levels
    Super Mario Bros. 3
    Super Mario Land
    Super Mario World
    Super Mario 2/USA
    Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
    Super Mario 64
    Super Mario Sunshine
    New Super Mario Bros.
    Super Mario Galaxy
    New Super Mario Bros. Wii
    Super Mario Galaxy 2
    Super Mario 3D Land
    New Super Mario Bros. 2
    New Super Mario Bros. U
    Super Mario 3D World

That’s seventeen games in all, which sounds like a lot. But a lot is also excluded from this collection. Yoshi’s Island didn’t make the cut, neither did any of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, any of the Mario RPGs, or any sports games that featured the Mario characters. I get that they couldn’t fit everything on a two disc, but I wish that they would have opted for a more diverse selection of games, even if it meant less music from some games.

The distribution of music, how many songs each game gets, seems odd as well. Super Mario 64 gets just five tracks, while Super Mario Sunshine gets a whopping nine. Also, nearly half of the second disc is dedicated to games in the “New” Super Mario series, and that’s just too much music from a series that is widely criticized for having absolutely lousy music (that “wah wah” sound is just the worst sound in history). And not only is the music from those games ungodly horrible, but it’s all endlessly derivative. The music from the DS version sounds like the music from the 3DS version. And the music from that version sounds like the music from the Wii version, and so on. One track, at most, from each game would have been more than sufficient. And it would have given us room for at least some “Rainbow Road” action from Super Mario Kart. Or maybe some Dr. Mario. The world needs more “Fever.”

I guess I am nitpicking a bit, and some of the inclusions are a pleasant surprise. Yeah, there’s a lot of Sunshine accounted for here, but that game actually never got a proper CD soundtrack release, so getting any of it is a bit of a treat. Ditto for the songs from Super Mario Land 2, which are also getting their first proper soundtrack release with this collection. And so much of this music is just utterly fantastic even still. The soundtrack to the original game is a timeless classic, and music from just about all of the original games up to the “New” series hold up remarkably well.

Great art on the discs!

Great art on the discs!

And there’s of course the music to the Galaxy series of games, which is some of the grandest and most ambitious music ever to grace a Nintendo title. Often fully orchestrated, it has the gravitas and an epic scope that the series has always deserved. Moreso, it does it while rarely overtly referencing the original themes. It feels as original and beautiful as the games from which it came. The songs from 3D World are also great, and manage to take the few good aspects of the “New” music (upbeat tempo and an overall sense of whimsy) and combine them well with the grandiose feel of the Galaxy compositions.

There is also one new tune here, a brief two minute song from the brand new Super Mario Maker. It’s great, with an interesting modern electronic sound that recalls the bleeps and bloops of the original music with a fidelity and clarity that was impossible in the 80s. I hope the music in future Mario games follows its lead, referencing the past while advancing and trying new things as the same time.

mario music0002

New Super Mario Bros. misgivings aside, this is a quality collection. If you’re a fan of the Mario series and don’t have many soundtracks from it, then I highly recommend it. That being said, it still leaves me wanting. And as someone with a disturbing amount of Mario music releases (on vinyl, CD and even one on cassette), I know that there’s so much more out there that it overlooked. This just makes me want a proper, massive Mario music box set all the more. A multidisc box that collects everything. And I mean everything. All the music from all the games. And not just the core series. I want the music from the sports games, the Wario titles, the Mario Karts, the RPGs, Paper Mario, that one Princess Peach game, you name it. Someone dig up the soundtrack to that Hudson PC port and stick that on disc. The Virtual Boy had some Mario stuff on it, didn’t it? Don’t let the music from those titles languish on that horrible system, bring them out as well.

The liner notes are intense and filled with information.

The liner notes are intense and filled with information.

And let’s not forget all the arranged versions. Dating back to the very first Mario Bros. soundtrack release (which was a seven inch record), nearly every game music release to include Mario music has featured some arranged or remixed version of the classic theme music. Some of these are just incredible, with most putting the music from the “New” series to complete shame. Many are also entirely out of print. It would be great if Nintendo would collect as many of these as possible and include them in some sort of box set release.

Yes, I realize that such a box set would probably be on the plus side of 20 discs and cost a damn fortune. But I also know we live in a world where Megaman, After Burner and even OutRun have gotten similar releases. If they can, then why not Mario?

The little guy deserves as much.

Leave a Reply