Friday, May 17, 2013

My Gaming Audio History: Mario Bros (1986)

It seems crazy for me to talk about playing Mario Bros after playing Super Mario Bros, but the reality of it is that I definitely played the VS Super Mario Bros arcade as well as the NES version before I played Mario Bros.  Technically, Mario Bros had an earlier release in Japan, but I'm chronicling these games as they were released in the US.

Who created the audio experience?  Yukio Kaneoka.  Kaneoka was an early game audio designer.  He also made the music for several other games, including Donkey Kong and Punch Out.

What is the audio experience?  With this game, we're back to that earlier stage of game audio-- which really, we've barely left-- where there's music at the beginning of the game, music that marks the start of each new stage, and otherwise, a lot of sound effects on a game that has no ending: fireball on screen, jumping and hitting an enemy, hitting the final enemy, the sound of Mario/Luigi's footsteps, changing directions with Mario or Luigi, monsters and coins coming out of the pipes, the countdown clock on bonus rounds, the POW block, the sound of the fly monsters, collecting coins, the sound of a one-up, and the sound of Mario dying.  Did I miss any effects?

How does the audio experience draw the player more deeply into the game?  I'd say this fits into the standard arcade platform audio experience.  Sounds separate levels of gameplay and 

I'd say one of the most interesting things for me about the Mario Bros games is that the music has a definitely overarching key relationship for the music.  This is definitely the same with Super Mario Bros as well.  Both games have a key center of C major.  In this game, while there is no background music, Mario and Luigi's footsteps arpeggiate up and down a C major chord, which gives a feeling of C as home base for the game audio.  

Title Screen: F
Game Start: Mozart, Eine kleine Nachtmusik (opening of Allegro, transposed) C major
Completing Bonus Round: G7 arpeggio
Death music: C

Old games like this had/have so many ports.  The pitches on other systems can vary, but in general the music and effects stay somewhat similar.  Some ports add new music/audio.  For instance, the new Advance remake has classic Super Mario Bros background music added to the stages as well as Mario exclaiming "Mama mia!" when he dies.  


  1. I just found this blog after searching for information on Yukio Kaneoka on Google. Very interesting!

  2. Very glad you found it, Matt! Welcome! Hope to hear more from you!