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TikTok shows surprising inspiration for some of Super Mario Bros' most iconic music

Mario
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Mario Bros. composer Koji Kondo has made it no secret that he took inspiration from other artists when he made the game's famous music, and a new TikTok video shows just how much they line up.

The video from 1980sgamer plays out three scenes from the NES version of the game with their music replaced by the songs that may have inspired them: there's Sister Marian (1984) by T-Square for the Overworld Theme, Summer Breeze (1983) by Piper for the Super Star theme, and Let's Not Talk About It (1979) by Friendship for the Underworld Theme.

@1980sgamer

These are early 80s songs that Koji Kondo was inspired by when he made the music for Super Mario Bros. ##kojikondo ##supermariobros ##mariomusic

♬ original sound - 80s/90s Gaming & Nostalgia

Naturally, each song consists of more than just the part that sounds a heck of a lot like the Super Mario soundtrack. However, Koji Kondo himself has previously cited at least one of those artists as a source of inspiration when he was writing Super Mario Bros. Here's a quote from a 2001 interview with Kondo in Game Maestro Vol. 3, as translated by Shmuplations, where the interviewer asks if Kondo took inspiration from Latin music in making Mario.

"I had always liked Latin music. There was more going on than just a Latin influence, but I do like those bright, happy Portuguese songs," Kondo answered. "[Japanese jazz and bossa nova musician] Sadao Watanabe’s music was also an influence, I think. The overworld theme in Mario might show some influence from the Japanese fusion band T-SQUARE, too. The rhythms in their music were easy for Japanese listeners to follow. Sadao Watanabe’s Nabesada was like that too."

I choose not to think about the fact that 2001 is a longer time ago now than the 1985 release date of Super Mario Bros. was at the time Kondo did this interview. Instead, I choose to focus on the fact that I have a bunch of new albums to listen to now, especially since I've been on a '70s/'80s Japanese jazz and city pop kick recently. It's all about framing, you know?

It's gratifying to look back, but it's even more fun to look forward: see what's on its way next for Nintendo with our guide to upcoming Switch games.

Connor Sheridan

I got my degree in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I got there was from working at CM Life, its student-run campus newspaper. I got my degree in video games from bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.