Super Mario 3D World released in North America last Friday, and in Japan the day before. Our friends across the pond will have their chance to pick up the game at the end of the week. Conveniently, that's when we plan on having our full review of the game. Anyway, one of the most important and continuing features of Super Mario games is their terrific soundtracks. It was difficult, but the crew at SuperPhillip Central have put our heads together and ears to our computer speakers to come up with our top ten favorite Super Mario series soundtracks. While we don't imagine you'll agree with our order or even picks (if that is the case, please leave us a comment below), we hope you enjoy this journey through the musical side of the Mushroom Kingdom.
10) Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
We start our list of favorite Super Mario soundtracks with the game that the latest Mario release is a sequel to-- or at least shares a common level structure. Super Mario 3D Land has a really nice and jazzy main theme, which is played in various outside levels throughout the game. There's multiple variations played during the game as well. Then you have standbys like the requisite underground theme and even Super Mario Bros. 3's athletic theme to enjoy.
9) Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Let's go back in time a long while with the NES' Super Mario Bros. 2. No doubt anyone who frequents this site, in addition to other gaming sites, already knows that the North American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was a game in Japan called Doki Doki Panic, just with Mario characters attached to it. Regardless, this soundtrack really outdoes its predecessor in nearly every facet. We feel Super Mario Bros. 2's track list eclipses the original Super Mario Bros. due to its catchier themes and increased amount of themes.
8) Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)
Seeing as it's near freezing outside the windows of SuperPhillip Central HQ, we wouldn't mind returning to the sun-baked shores of Isle Delfino, drenched in the warm rays of the sun. Since we can't do that, at least we can have warm memories while listening to Super Mario Sunshine's soundtrack, made up of a multitude of tropical tunes and a jaunty hub world theme in Delfino Plaza. Mario soundtracks always have a bit of pep to them for the majority of songs, and Super Mario Sunshine is no different.
7) Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins might be on a system with poor sound quality, but Kazumi Totaka (Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion) created some truly amazing and ultra-catchy tunes that linger in our minds to this day. Super Mario Land 2 has one of our favorite athletic themes in any Mario game, an out-of-this-world space tune in Star Maze, and a finale level song that will get the pulses pounding.
6) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 3 has always had a wide variety of classic 8-bit tunes that have gone on to be included in every Mario game under the sun. That's for good reason, too. Many of the themes are absolutely amazing, but there's also some nostalgia in there for older gamers like ourselves, too. Super Mario Bros. 3 has the type of soundtrack that delights to this day. It's peppy one level, then dramatic and bold the next. It's a brilliant work by Koji Kondo.
5) Super Mario 64 (N64)
Mario's debut into 3D was revolutionary. To go along with the epic new worlds of Super Mario 64, the premier launch title for the Nintendo 64, Koji Kondo composed a soundtrack fitting for such a game. Super Mario 64's soundtrack features many themes that would go on to be used in numerous future Mario games, such as Slider, Inside the Castle Walls, and Koopa Road. It contains one of the greatest water level themes in industry history, and it's just all-around a fantastic score that still invokes happy memories and fun times.
4) Super Mario World (SNES)
Super Mario World is our favorite 2D Mario. There. We said it. However, it's not our favorite Super Mario soundtrack. That said, World offers much in the way of pleasurable sounds to go along with Mario and Luigi's journey through Dinosaur Land. We would have put this game higher up on the list, but so many of the tunes in Super Mario World reuse the same melody, only changing the key, rhythm, tempo, and/or instrumentation to fit the mood of each type of level. Still, it's a lovely main melody, and that's why it's number four on our list!
3) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
Our favorite classic Super Mario soundtrack comes from Yoshi's Island, a game on the fringe of being called a true Mario game, but we'll allow it on the list regardless. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island comes with a whole healthy heaping of wondrous musical delights. The Athletic theme is charming, the Castle & Fortress theme has a pleasant waltz feel to it, and the underground theme has a certain mysterious quality to it. To hear such a sharp decline in composition quality from the SNES Yoshi's Island to the DS sequel... it just rips at the heart to this day.
2) Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
While Mario may not be the video game mascot you think of when you have an orchestra in the mix, when you have Mario in space, it certainly does in this larger than life game. Super Mario Galaxy 2's presentation alone is superb, and what makes this truly great (near perfect) game even greater is the music, composed with a team led by Mahito Yakota and the invaluable Koji Kondo, and performed by the Mario Galaxy Orchestra. Super Mario Galaxy 2's soundtrack features plenty of symphonic versions of classic Mario tunes, such as Super Mario 64's Main Theme, as well as Koopa Road and the Ghost House theme from Super Mario World. Then there's the final boss theme... hold us down!
1) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
The most sensational Super Mario soundtrack-- at least in our crew's opinion-- comes from the original Super Mario Galaxy. Nothing was quite like it at the time for a Mario game. Real instruments, a full orchestra, and so many sublime melodies and themes... Nothing can touch Wind Garden, Space Junk Galaxy, Waltz of the Boos, in addition to Battlerock Galaxy, The Galaxy Reactor and Bowser's battle theme. There are few soundtracks that meet the majesty and magical heights of Super Mario Galaxy's, making Mario's first space odyssey an easy choice for best Super Mario soundtrack.