Archive for May 25th, 2010


Super Mario World – “Athletic BGM” (Koji Kondo)

May 25, 2010

Anyone who has played a lot of Super Mario World (1991) will recognize the music to it – particularly since the main theme was arranged for nearly every song in the game. That’s right, with Super Mario World, Koji Kondo did something that hadn’t quite been done in previous games: create a main theme and create a large variety of variations depending on the atmosphere of each level. Thus, the main theme plays in the regular overworld levels, it has a rocky, lava feel for the caves, intense action for the athletic, etc. All told, there are six variations on this theme. This technique would later be used for Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and the above ground/underwater/high above/etc variations of level themes in Super Mario Sunshine and Banjo Kazooie. It was really quite influential – as well as memorable. Koji Kondo feels this creates a “multi-colored production” through the transformation of themes that also surprises the player and increases the enjoyment of the game.

Super Mario World – “Athletic BGM” (Koji Kondo)

“Athletic” happens to be my favorite rendition, but it’s a tough pick – each one has a great sound, but “Athletic” seems the happiest of them all. It’s a kind of ragtime piece with very quick action befitting of a complex platforming level. The midi pianos have a unique sound to them as well, not sounding quite like the pianos of later SNES games, and so having a Mario touch to them as a result.

The second half of this song is the ‘Yoshi’ variation, which adds a layer of bongo drums for Yoshi’s active movement. This not only gives the player an indication that he has gained a power-up but also emphasizes the movement of Yoshi – where movement and handling of the controls is something Kondo finds very important to Mario soundtracks. (This might be why Kondo has stayed away from orchestral music until lately, as he seems to feel that the rhythm of the music becomes that of the conductor rather than that of the game).

The “Athletic BGM” recently received an update in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Check out a recording of the song here! Read the rest of this entry ?