A group of data miners found the original names for all the sound files in the Super Mario World soundtrack and used the information to re-create the entire score using the original instruments. Thanks to their work, you can listen to the entire pre-compressed soundtrack online on YouTube.
A video game music researcher who goes by The Brickster told Polygon over Discord that he first found the names of the original sound samples in the Nintendo gigaleak. After that, he and a team of friends figured out which instruments were used to create the soundtrack, using the file names as well as research about which instruments the composer, Koji Kondo, used at the time.
“For example, one sound was called ‘fantasy’ in the source files,” The Brickster said. “Knowing what I knew of Kondo’s setup during the time of Mario World, I deduced this must mean the ‘Fantasia’ patch from the Roland D-550, a synth he owned at the time.”
Once The Brickster and friends figured out which instruments Kondo used to make the samples, his friends re-created the entire soundtrack and posted it online. The entire process took less than a week, according to The Brickster.
The remade soundtrack sounds markedly different from the original. The instruments are cleaner and some of them have a different timbre; the whole thing just feels fuller. But this wasn’t the result of a typical remastering process, in which audio engineers use modern technology to clean up existing vocals and instrument stems. The original samples were always there — it’s just that Super Mario World’s developers had to compress them heavily to fit within the Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s 64 KB of audio RAM. That’s why The Brickster refers to these updates as “restored” versions.
Here is the re-created version of the Overworld theme:
And here is the original version:
While it’s fun to hear about what these songs would have sounded like to Kondo, the music still shines in the compressed version we’ve known for three decades. If you’d like to listen to the full, restored soundtrack, you can check out The Brickster’s playlist on YouTube here.