Fans are remastering the soundtrack to Super Mario World, creating uncompressed versions of the original tracks that were never possible on the Super Nintendo hardware. The Super Mario World Restored project is ongoing, but you can already listen to nine tracks from the original game over on The Brickster’s YouTube channel.
As The Brickster explains on Twitter, this isn’t simply a case of taking the tracks from the original game and cleaning them up. Instead, creators like Moola, michael02022, and unknown are tracking down the original samples used to produce the tracks and rebuilding the songs, without having to compress them to fit into the SNES console’s piddly 64kb of audio RAM.
For anyone curious as to how these findings were done, its actually rather simple. Know how the Gigaleak had source code for Super Mario Advanced? That game reuses samples from Super Mario World. Those samples had names we didn't have, which is how we were able to find them. pic.twitter.com/qWFTG1YdYW— The Brickster (@lebrickster) February 3, 2021
Actually tracking down these samples was helped by last year’s Nintendo gigaleak, which contained the original source code to Super Mario Advance, The Brickster explains. Since that Game Boy game reused samples from Super Mario World, the team was able to use it to track down the uncompressed samples used in the original SNES title.
Listen to the new tracks side by side with the originals, and the difference in quality is stark. The new tracks sound brighter and more lively, and although the music is still obviously synthesized, it almost feels like real instruments are playing each sound, rather than a computer. But there’s also something about them that feels distinctly weird. This music was originally composed with very specific hardware in mind, and there’s something odd about hearing them in this high quality. It’s like playing an SNES game on a modern TV without scan lines.
Regardless of whether you prefer these tracks or the originals, it’s still an excellent project. The Brickster says the team is still working on putting out more tracks, meaning this is unlikely to be the last we’ll hear from the Super Mario World Restored project. In the meantime, Nerdwriter1’s video from 2018 offers a nice overview of how the Super Nintendo’s music worked.