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That video was cool but... - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Apr. 15th, 2008

01:14 am - That video was cool but...

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Why's it always the friggin' Mario theme? How about a REAL song for a change? Hey videogame geeks, there's other songs out there, ya know!

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From:timmowarner
Date:April 15th, 2008 06:29 am (UTC)
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Da roont da doo! Da da da da roont da doo!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 15th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
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Never heard it.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 15th, 2008 09:12 am (UTC)

Smart-alecky answer

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You mean "Beautiful Zelda" by the Bonzo Dog Band? Yeah, I like that song!
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From:darksasami
Date:April 15th, 2008 09:17 am (UTC)

Re: Smart-alecky answer

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No, no, "My Zelda" by Allan Sherman.

I was about to search for a link, and then I smacked myself in the head and said "You don't have to tell KT about Allan Sherman..."
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From:rogerirrelevant
Date:April 15th, 2008 10:26 am (UTC)
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I'll second that. Blew me away the first time I heard it. Often loaded up the game just to watch the opening. Done very well as a faux-japanese game :)
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From:darksasami
Date:April 15th, 2008 08:57 am (UTC)
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Because the Mario theme is the single most deeply ingrained and positively reinforced piece of music in the collective unconscious of a generation.

If you weren't between the ages of about 7 and 14 in 1985, it may be difficult to explain. Video games on the Nintendo were different from all other video games, which were, for the most part, nasty, brutish, and short. Nintendo games -- at least, the ones that had the most impact on this generation's psyche -- were huge, immersive, and gave you a range of freedom that had never been seen in a game before. And at a time when the anticipation of playing two minutes of Galaga for a quarter was a stimulant on par with cocaine, being thrown into an entire video game world was ... no, I don't have the words to describe this. You've heard of experiments where they jam a probe into the pleasure center of the human brain and the subject sits there pressing the button every 15 seconds? This was leaning on it.

And every single Nintendo Entertainment System sold before 1987, and most of the ones sold after that, came with Super Mario Bros. Some came with Duck Hunt, some came with Gyromite, one or two came with some track meet game or other, but they all had Super Mario Bros. And everyone knew about Super Mario Bros, and everybody got it out and tried it and was blown away. If you didn't have a Nintendo, chances were that you had a friend who did. Wikipedia says they sold 40 million copies of Super Mario Bros. That's a lot of friends.

So not only was this one of the more common experiences that a generation shared, it was one of the most universally positive. What other shared cultural experience could have given such pleasure to so many people? The moon landing, perhaps; but it didn't have a theme tune, just Neil stepping bravely but tripping over his words. We weren't around for that, anyway. We did have Michael Jackson's moonwalk in '83, but all popular music is divisive -- anyone popular gains detractors in its own target demographic. You didn't see that with the Nintendo.

No, it's difficult to find anyone who grew up with the Mario theme and dislikes the memory. And it's difficult to find any other memory shared so widely and enjoyed by so much of the generation that dominates the internet. Younger gamers know the theme from remixes and from its inclusion in later games. Older players know it from kibbutzing and saying, "Here, let me show you how to play that." (Or maybe that was just my dad.)

Somewhere there's a video tape from the time I figured out that if you plug the sound cable from the video camera and the video cable from the Nintendo into the VCR, you could dub over yourself playing a game. The tape has me, my brother, and my mom all singing the Mario theme together and providing sound effects and commentary. ("A mushroom! Look, I'm on steroids!" *crunch* "See, that's what happens if you take steriods.") It's one of very few records of my family just being silly and happy together. Could it have been another tune? Sure, maybe. But it wasn't. It was the Mario theme. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 15th, 2008 09:08 am (UTC)
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'Younger gamers know the theme from remixes and from its inclusion in later games. Older players know it from kibbutzing and saying, "Here, let me show you how to play that."'

And I know it from the rest of the internet playing endless variations of it at me and going "Eh? Doesn't that just take you back? Eh? Eh?" and me saying "To what?!" :}

I've lived through the entire videogame era; I even had Pong when I was a kid. But I quickly lost interest in it and never got into any other videogames (except Parappa).
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From:darksasami
Date:April 15th, 2008 09:14 am (UTC)
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Well, you did ask. I can't help it if you don't like the answer.
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From:darksasami
Date:April 15th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I had one of those things too, but the games on it were generally arcadelike and simplistic. My uncle had done a tour of Europe in high school and came back with a huge pile of cracked games. Probably the best games were Doriath, which had "In the Hall of the Mountain King" for background music, Trolls and Tribulations, which featured Bach and Mozart, and Krakout, a Breakout clone with very creative original music. The system was sorely limited by its controls (digital joystick, one button), though. As much as I loved the C64, and I did, those games were among the games I referred to when I wrote about there never having been anything like what was on the Nintendo.

And don't be deluded into thinking that the C64 chip is the only one still alive in the chiptunes genre. In fact, my favorite chiptune group, YMCK, plays the Ricoh 2A03, which is the Nintendo sound chip, and they're far from alone.
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From:nefaria
Date:April 15th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
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Squaresoft is tops in my mind for video game music (well, there's Still Alive too, heh).

ChronoTrigger is one of my favorites, check out the ones on this site, especially ctend.mid (the game's closing song). http://www.fortunecity.com/tattooine/mothership/36/index.html

Edited at 2008-04-15 12:03 pm (UTC)
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From:yakko
Date:April 15th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
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The Super Mario Bros. music is rather simple to incorporate into a clever hack. It's also got massive brand recognition. Personally, I'd be more impressed if they used music from something like Phoenix Wright.

In short, clever hacks would be better with music that was just a tad more sophisticated.

As for the RC car video that started this, in my opinion, they should've used music from Frogger. Now that would've been cool. They'd have to line bottles up on both sides the whole way down, but it'd be... mega! And it'd be about as complicated as the SMB theme to get right.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:April 17th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
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Heh, was just thinking about such things recently, was getting together my mix CD of "computer songs", almost all of them are themes and incidental music from PC Games that I played in my teens (thank you Sierra), but none are from video game systems because I don't know a way to get music from them into a computer well. (Recording the music from the computer games was easy, hooked a tape deck up to the computer to record at the beginning, then converted the tape to a CD. (The rest of the CD is MIDI songs, even easier to convert to MP3 and then burn).

I have a Super Nintendo (which works most, but not all, of the time) and a Turbo Grafix 16, but haven't played them in years (gotta sell them or something I guess). You *really* want to get nostalgia from 1984 for me, get an authentic Pac Man game up. :)

And, while I'm on the topic of computer music, I was blown away by this YouTube video, music made entirely of Windows 98 system sounds.
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