Ever hear a tune in a Mario game and think to yourself "That sounds familiar?" Well, maybe it is! The Mario series is hiding lots of fun little secrets in its music. Here are our favorite 5.
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#5 Bowser’s entrance in Super Mario World
Super Mario World is simply one of the best video games ever made, and it was a worthy followup to the absolutely masterful Super Mario bros. 3. Moments where World actually references Mario 3 were super cool too, like when you go to the sunken airship and get one of those cool question mark tokens to finish the level. But one musical reference to Mario’s final NES outing could be pretty easy to miss.
When Bowser finally appears before the final boss battle, the music that plays is a subtle nod to the music that plays on the map screen of World in Super Mario bros. 3.
Now these two bits here are just different enough where it might maybe just be a coincidence, but seeing as Koji Kondo composed the music for both of these games, I feel pretty confident that this was an intentional reference, and a super cool one at that.
#4 The ending of Super Mario bros. 2
Everybody knows the story of how Super Mario Bros. 2 in the US was actually a reskinned version of Doki Doki Panic for Famicom Disk System, but it was a little more than just a simple reskin job. There were several awesome refinements made for the Mario version of this game, including some great additions to the music itself. Some of the beloved music established in this game was actually quite shorter in its original incarnation. But what we’re looking at today is the iconic ending theme.
This ending was pretty darn memorable to say the least, but the music played here is actually a reference to the title theme from Doki Doki Panic.
You might assume that this song was also the ending music in Doki Doki Panic, but no. That game’s ending features a completely different musical theme that’s nowhere to be found in Super Mario Bros. 2. Pretty wacky, right?
#3 The Spinner platforms in Yoshi’s Island
Here’s another of those “blink and you’ll miss it” musical tidbits, but the spinner platforms in Yoshi’s Island for Super NES are actually holding a secret reference to one of Mario’s earliest adventures.
When you jump on these platforms, they make a very specific tune when they move. If you were a fan of the NES port of the original Mario Bros., it might sound familiar to you.
Yup, that’s almost the exact same tune that plays when Mario walks in Mario Bros. It isn’t a 100% match, but It’s so close, there’s no way that wasn’t intentional.
#2 Jump Up Superstar DK connection
Super Mario Odyssey wasn’t just a fantastic Mario game, it was also a celebration of Mario’s roots, specifically New Donk City. The whole city is a series of references to the original Donkey Kong from the pink girders, Pauline being the mayor, and even the street signs. But the song Jump Up, Superstar that appears in the game is also hiding some fun Donkey Kong references.
In this part of the song, the bass line is a reprisal of the background music from the first stage in the original arcade Donkey Kong.
And this little flourish at the end of this part is the sound the game makes when you successfully jump over a barrel. How cool is that?
#1 Special World special theme
This is probably the most well known musical easter egg on this list, but it’s also by far the coolest. When you get to the Special World in Super Mario world, let the game sit on the map screen for a little while. Eventually, the music will change to a super fun version of the original Super Mario Bros. theme.
What’s especially cool about this is that this version of the song is sort of referenced again in Soyo Oka’s new version of the classic theme in Super Mario All-Stars. Listen to these instrument choices.
That can’t be a coincidence, right?