Retro Weekends – Super Mario 64

Memorable Music

The music of Super Mario 64 is just as memorable as the gameplay. I’ll never forget the music of this game as it echoed throughout my cousins house. One of the unique things about Super Mario 64‘s music is that pretty much all of the level songs is a variation of Princess Peach’s Castle theme. This was a technique Kondo picked up when composing Super Mario World. So the question becomes which of these variations is the most memorable.

Super Mario 64 – Bob-Omb Battlefield
Composed by Koji Kondo

The stage theme heard around the world in this new stage of Mario. You just gotta love the bouncy, jazzy feel this song has. I remember mentioning during one of my Night-Time Listenings segments how cool it would be to hear a jazz band play this song live. Well, I almost got that wish with Super Mario Galaxy 2. But I digress. The instrumentation was also a sign of things to come for the N64 as music would move further into using real instruments. Everything here is still synthesized, but at a much higher quality. I know lots of people are going to love that groovin’ base in the background. And I know a lot of you (including me) hum that chorus from time to time.

Super Mario 64 – Bowser’s Road
Composed by Koji Kondo

This theme was something unlike I heard in the Mario series up to this point, especially considering that the Bowser stages up ’til now took place in castles, and the music for those emphasized the atmosphere of the castle more than the looming threat of Bowser. Here, it was just one big obstacle course, and music emphasized how surreal these locations were. Just the silence in the beginning of the song was enough to send chills down one’s spine (especially when they’re staring down moving platforms and numerous death pits).

Super Mario 64 – Princess Peach’s Castle
Composed by Koji Kondo

Since we’re talking about Super Mario 64, we might as well come full circle with this theme. In my Retro Weekend article on Donkey Kong Country 3, I made special mention about Peach’s Castle theme being in that game. I wasn’t playing DKC3 much around the time I played Super Mario 64. So when I heard this theme, I started having this streange feeling of deja vu, as if I’ve heard this theme before. I wracked my brain for a while, practically a whole year. When I finally got back into seriously playing DKC3, it finally hit me that it was Peach’s Castle Theme. Dear lord did I feel stupid after this.

Since the release of Super Mario 64, many more platformers would follow in its footsteps whether to cash-in on success or prove that they could make a better game than Mario. The graphics, controls, and camera was only the first step in a brand new way to play videogames. For the Mario series itself, the next 3D platformer was released on the Gamecube in the form of Super Mario Sunshine and would be the only one for the system. Super Mario Galaxy would follow on the Wii and go in a nearly abstract route, with almost all stages structured like the Bowser’s stages in SM64. Super Mario Galaxy 2 would be the first 3D Mario sequel and up the challenge considerably. Who knows what the next 3D Mario will be like next on the Wii U. So here’s a big ‘ol Happy Birthday to Shigeru Miyamoto who turned 60 yesterday.

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