8-Bit Mondays: Super Mario Bros 2 – “Overworld” (Koji Kondo)February 16, 2010
Here’s another NES classic for 8-Bit Mondays: the “Overworld” theme from Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988) by Koji Kondo. This is a fun fast-paced ragtime tune with some fun drum chips and piano that gives a lazy, floating and dreamy nature to the game world. You can’t help but smile after listening to this song. There is certainly a much greater mastery here over the NES sound system too. I personally feel because this song is so happy, it should be blasted at full volume down a quiet neighborhood street (even better if you’re going really fast). But maybe that’s just me.
The Super Mario All-Stars version of this song has a more diverse instrument set, and is played on a guitar or banjo with some nice bell-like instruments and woodblock percussion for a quaint, folksy feel. There are a few fan mixes of this song on OCR, but Estradasphere’s “Super Buck Jazz” is the best rendition by far, in some hip super-swinging jazz. The whole thing comes together for a fantastic finale at 2:00. Definitely my fav and probably the best remix out there (though I haven’t heard ’em all). I’ve also got a brooding metal version with lyrics (!) by Ryan8Bit from VGMix that’s pretty ridiculous, but I couldn’t listen through the whole thing.
The soundtrack was actually put on album once as part of the Nintendo Game Sound Museum series (2004) along with the Mario Bros. soundtrack. I don’t have a copy of that, so this is an NES game rip. Oddly enough, Super Mario Bros 2 was not put on the Famicom 20th Anniversary Original Soundtracks collections.
A lot of people love Super Mario Bros. 2 because it was so different from the other Mario games – in fact, it was not even originally a Mario game but a completely independent title called Yume Koji: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heartpounding Panic) (‘doki doki’ is the sound effect of a heart pounding) which was basically an Arabian-themed game about rescuing children from a giant toad (Wart). (As an aside, the Japanese sequel to Super Mario Bros., known in the US as The Lost Levels (1986), was basically a new collection of Super Mario Bros. levels – same graphics, new mechanics). Anyway, the Mario version of the game takes place in Mario’s dream and has some neat elements such as ‘sub-space’, a mirror world, and pots you can jump in to steal items from evil masks. I think a big reason why the game is so memorable is for the opening level (where Mario falls through a door down this giant mountain) and for the charming “Overworld” theme.