The original Mario Bros. had a classic soundtrack, with distinct themes, ideas and sounds to be both instantly satisfying and yet interesting for unlimited repetition.
This music has changed quite a bit since the original NES platformer in 1985, with additions such as different map themes:
Even with a large number of ‘core’ 2D Mario titles the music has both stayed the same and evolved, with Nintendo retaining iconic themes and ideas throughout. The aesthetic of the signature 32 bit soundworld has also refrained from straying overtly into realistic, orchestral sound samples, maintaining the upbeat, relaxing atmosphere that is synonymous with Mario and Nintendo in general. As you can see below, the most recent Mario, Super Mario Bros U, gives a similar vibe to the originals through its upbeat, jazzy style and use of guitar, electric piano and voice. A slight anomaly to some of the aforementioned continuity, Super Mario Galaxy, albeit in 3D, progressed the series into a full orchestral score and thus focusing on different instruments and creating a sort-of animated movie style soundtrack , somewhat akin to Chicken Run or How To Train Your Dragon. Some of the series’ hallmarks are still there, with a positive theme, focus on melody and driving rhythm, the latter provided by percussion and pizzicato strings.
Mario Maker, releasing later this year, is in many ways a very different time of 2D Mario, with a focus on creation making it more like a spiritual successor to the Super Nintendo game Mario Paint. The ability to form individual Mario levels, using the style, creatures and objects from selected past titles enables a whole host of possibilities. One of the most intriguing of this is how the soundtrack will all connect and change between the different eras and how the sound effects will behave. The developers have clearly had similar discussions; with interesting results such as a “seamless transition of music” between playing and creating, in addition to “sound effects [that] change to fit with the music that’s playing”. Furthermore, although there is no music creation editor, there are “some robust sound editing functions involved”, which if taken up by the community as part of the whole package could pave the way to a Mario Paint sequel…. here’s hoping!
Read more about the music in Mario Maker below:
The Music in Mario Maker (IGN)