Video Game Soundtrack: Super Mario Bros

A guy turns on the console.

Hello, people, I’m Slicer. I’m a gamer from a long time ago, ever since I was born – it’s genetic, there are lots of guys who won’t let me lie. I was invited by JotaKa to make some posts here at his studio. But I don’t know a shit about music – my world is the gaming world. And then, like a flash, I got an idea: I could write about video game songs! It’s about music, like everything here at the Studio, but it’s about games too, my main knowledge area. I would, then, start with some good pearl from the classic era (the Era of the 8 Bits, an era that lots of the today gamers never played), something less famous… But then I looked at my calendar and remembered that last week was one of the most important holydays for the gamers.

Yes, Sep. 13 was Super Mario’s Birthday, and he is now 25 years old. I didn’t want to start with something more famous than Mickey Mouse, but hey, it’s for his birthday!

The year is 1985. Tancredo Neves is elected as Brazil’s president by the congress, putting an end to the 21-year military rule. Nelson Mandela rejects an offer of freedom from the South African government. The USSR performs a nuclear test at Eastern Kazakhstan. Back to the Future opens in American theatre.

I won’t talk about the game itself, but about the music. This is a work of a genius; the composer is none than master Koji Kondo (he composed the songs for The Legend of Zelda too, by the way).

The songs are, by themselves, pure fun. Koji Kondo made some awesome work with these six songs, and nine in ten people know at least a little of one of the tunes. It’s of common knowledge that Shigeru Miyamoto (the great boss at the Big N, but just the game director at that time) gave some tips of songs and rhythms he likes, but Kondo had complete freedom to do what he wanted. Okay, no more stories. Let’s go for the songs!

1st – “Overworld BGM”

One of the most (if not the most) known video game music of the history, the Overworld Theme, often called Super Mario Theme, is something that instigates you to play or, in some cases, just drop the joystick and let the feel flow through you. It has a little of Latin music in it, and Kondo said he was slightly inspired by Van Halen’s “Jump”. This song is the trademark of our beloved fatty Italian plumber. This theme is so famous that there are countless remixes of it all over the internet, made with a gigantic variety of styles – from rock to trance, from blues to traditional Japanese. If you ask for an video game music for the people, the most of the answers will be this song. My personal grade for this one is a big “SSS”.

2nd – “Underground BGM”
This song wasn’t very appreciated by the gamers. Maybe it’s because the tune made them feel a little uneasy, maybe it’s because it’s so repetitive. This song could be a little longer, it would be less boring. At least it isn’t a complete piece of crap. Nuff said. The grade for this is just a “B”.

3rd – “Underwater BMG”
These stages were the torment of many players from my time. Really, isn’t it enough to force you to cross an ocean or two to rescue a princess? Why they must force us to dodge evil fishes and squids and all the sorts of baddies while trying to not be sucked to the darkness of a giant hole in the ocean floor? Well, at least the music can make us a little less stressed, and maybe it could even help to concentrate in your mission – save the princess, save the world (wait, wrong series – just save the princess). This song has something that makes me imagine a big ballet show or something… Calm, swift and beautiful. I give this song a “S” for all of this.

4th – “Castle BMG”
Argh, I hate this music. Its pace is so fast it makes you feel like you must hurry or the princess will die. You can’t go slowly and carefully to dodge those damn lava-balls, you can’t go swift to evade the Dry Bones or the fireballs Bowser shoots at you, all because of the freaking music, saying “Hurry up, lazy bum” or something like that. And it just gets WORSE when the time left goes down 100 seconds, because the song get’s FASTER now. Kondo, you made a great work with the series, but seriously, this one needs a revision. My grade for this is a weak “D”.

5th – “Invincible BGM”
Yeah, the song has that “I’m unstoppable” feeling – but it’s because, now, YOU ARE unstoppable. Go through the enemies, hit them with your belly or just run straight to the end of the stage. You are invincible, all you need to do is avoid the holes, and you will be a hero in seconds! It has some of that Latin feeling inside the notes, just like the Overworld BGM, but a little less than it. For the “I am THE MAN” feeling, I give this song a good “A” grade.

6th – “Ending BGM”
Ah, the sweet taste of victory. You overcame all kinds of dangers, crushed all kinds of enemies, crossed half-world and thrown Bowser into a lava pit by cutting the edge of the bridge with an axe – wich Bowser himself placed there, just for information. Now it’s time for your reward – a kiss in the cheek – and the journey back home. This song gives me a feeling of a job well done, a happy ending, and it’s true! I rescued the princess! For this, the song receives a “S” grade.

Master Koji Kondo made an awesome work with this game. I can’t say anything but this. And I’m happy to have had played Super Mario Bros. when I was a kid. The songs are incredible (except the Castle BGM) and it brings tears to my eyes just to remember these songs to make the post. I give a nice and sweet “S” as the Super Mario Bros Soundtrack grade.

Okay, people. This is it. Did you like it? I hope so, because there is absolutely no way to hear that soundtrack and say “I don’t like it”. These songs are the symbol of the Golden Era, the Era of the 8 Bits, a good era that will never be back… Oh, here I am going nostalgic again… Heh.

This is Slicer saying “C’ya”!

Slicer turns off the console.

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1 Response to Video Game Soundtrack: Super Mario Bros

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