Game Music, Reviews

It’sa Me, Mario! Super Mario History 1985-2010 Soundtrack CD (Review)

December 15, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook It’sa Me, Mario! Super Mario History 1985-2010 Soundtrack CD (Review)on Twitter

I can’t believe it’s really been 25 years since Mario Mario and Luigi Mario set out on their adventure to rescue Princess Toadstool in the Mushroom Kingdom. We’ve seen all sorts of celebration coming from Nintendo this year, including special Iwata Asks interviews (including a lengthy talk with Koji Kondo himself about the music featured in this collection), as well as a red anniversary Wii console and this Super Mario All Stars Limited Edition release on the Wii.

You saw the packaging yesterday, and already know that the box contains not only a port of the Super Mario All Stars game from the SNES with Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, and “Lost Levels,” but also a commemorative book detailing the history of the series and a soundtrack CD. The soundtrack CD is what we’re here to talk about today, so find out if it’s worth checking out in our review after the jump.

First off, as mentioned yesterday, there is one track each from each of the core games in the Super Mario franchise along with sound effects from the first Super Mario Bros. at the end of the disc. This is meant to be more of a sampling of the progression of the Super Mario franchise rather than an collection of the “best” music from each game, although some of the most memorable themes are included.

The album opens with the iconic “Ground Theme” from the original Super Mario Bros., one of the most popular tracks from a game of all time. It’s still as great as ever, stirring nostalgia in the listener and giving you something to bop your head to. Interestingly, it’s also one of the longest tracks on the album at 3:11 in length.

Next up is “Ground Theme” from Super Mario Bros. 2, one of my personal favorites with its rich jazzy flavor, and “Athletic Theme” from Super Mario Bros. 3. This track is brimming with joy, and I recall playing world 1-2 in Super Mario Bros. 3 where this song first appears and being left completely in awe at the fact that Mario could slide down hills on his butt to kill enemies.

“Ground Theme” from Super Mario World starts off in its original form, enjoying the upgraded sound that the SNES offered, and about midway through, rhythmic percussion is added to simulate the in-game sound when players jumped on Yoshi. Unfortunately Super Mario World 2 is not included in this collection, so it’s right on to Super Mario 64 with “Slider.” I have to admit that I’ve never liked this song with its wacky bluegrass sound, complete with banjo and what sounds to be a synthesized harmonica in the lead. I guess people like this track, which is why it’s included, but there are countless other tracks that are more defining of Super Mario 64 than this one. “Delfino Plaza” from Super Mario Sunshine is a fun track, and will again make you appreciate Kondo’s sense of rhythm with the underlying guitar work. Good game or not, the music was great.

There are then the complementary “Main Theme” and “Title Theme” from New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, respectively. “Main Theme,” written by Kondo, has a laid back bossa nova vibe, while Ryo Nagamatsu’s “Title Theme” is a decisively playful listening experience with a wonderful melody. I’ve always loved this track, as you may recall from our in-game audio impressions, and am happy to see it here on CD.

Last but not least is live music from the Mario Galaxy Orchestra, starting with “Main Theme” from the original Super Mario Galaxy. This is actually the ending theme from the game, so it’s appropriate that the epic strings and regal brass carry a triumphant melody. The greatest thing about this track is that it’s a medley of sorts, reintroducing players to many themes that are often overshadowed by the also-included “Wind Garden.” The final track before the series of sound effects is “Main Theme (Trailer Arrangement),” which I couldn’t actually discern from “Theme of SMG2” from the original Super Mario Galaxy 2 soundtrack. It’s again a powerful piece, demonstrating just how far the Mario franchise has come in 25 years, although the muddy recording quality prevents it from really jumping out at you.

Well, that’s it in terms of music. There are sound effects aplenty that you can use for your cellphones or whatever else. You already know how great the packaging is, and the fact that the booklet contains blurbs from Koji Kondo on each game in the series. Again, by no means is this a complete collection (Super Mario World 2 is missing, for example), and in my opinion, the best pieces from each game aren’t even featured, but it’s still a nice gesture, and truly does show the musical progression of the series over the past 25 years. The album, booklet, and Super Mario All Stars game are available at retailers for $29.99.

What do you think of the collection of music found on the Super Mario History 1985-2010 Soundtrack CD? Are there tracks that you would have preferred to have heard on the album, and are you still holding out for a Super Mario Bros. Complete Soundtrack Box?

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