When Mario Met Mozart in the War of 1812

Not long ago I was attempting to apply for a blogger position and the hiring company had made a joke that if the applicant could combine Super Mario Brothers, the War of 1812 and Mozart in a post they would be the ideal candidate. Regardless of whether of not I applied I was curious to know if it could be done. Donning my imaginative fedora I dived into the obscure pages of the internet (page two of Google). It became a plethora of browser tabs and articles linking this way and that way, burying me beneath information when finally I struck gold! This is the polished gem:

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What does an 18th century composer, a 19th century war and 20th century video game have in common? Besides their neatly arranged consecutive order, plenty! The video game industry is filled with nuances of history but do you always recognize them? Maybe, maybe not and that’s the beauty of it. Developers fill their games with hidden gems of history that bring video games to life, whether it’s a historical tie in to keep the story line accurate or a timeless classical music score to spellbind the player.1 In fact video game sound tracks rank right alongside the famous classical composers such as Beethoven and Mozart suggesting gamers really are a classic group of people!2

So where does Mozart, the War of 1812 and Super Mario Bros fit in?

The Super Mario Bros franchise is a perfect example of how classic pieces merge their way into games. Mozart’s piece “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” is featured in the first Mario Bros game for the NES, for a brief moment you can hear the first movement of the serenade.3 Listen here: . As well the song has been used in the Mario Mix for Dance Dance Revolution, known as “Underground Mozart”. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiCYVXDZOmw

So, what about the War of 1812 you ask? The War of 1812 wasn’t the only war happening that year in fact across the pond, Napoleon was attempting to invade Russian during the Battle of Borodino. The Russian’s won and to commemorate the battle, Tchaikovsky composed his 1812 Overture. This overture is incredibly well known and has shown up in movies and games, and according to Gamefaqs it’s one of the top ten classical scored used in video games, first appearing in Atari’s Battlezone during the high score.4 You’ll probably recognize the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fEtKlUC1S8. Gamerfaqs also lists other well-known classical pieces that made their way into video games.

That’s not the War of 1812 you argue? And that has nothing to do with Super Mario Bros! Well, musical scores aside. You can find an obscure reference to the War of 1812 in Super Mario Bros. The Parody Series by Scottybyrd and Corn0720, which parody’s the cartoons.5 See the parody reference here: https://youtu.be/aKdHL9-2OBE?t=5m22s. The character Ludwig von Koopa makes the reference; Ludwig is named after Ludwig van Beethoven and shows up in Super Mario Bros .3 in 1988.6 Beethoven preceded Mozart in the classical world in the 19th century, the same era as the War of 1812 and so we’ve come full circle blending 18th, 19th, and 20th century into a collection of history, music, and games.

So whether it’s classical soundtracks or bizarre references to historical things videos games are ripe with tidbits to make any gamer a well-rounded being.

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Ludwig von Koopa


Sources:

  1. “Top 10 Lists: The Top 10 Classical Scores Used In Video Games.” The Top 10 Classical Scores Used In Video Games. September 9, 2009. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/top10/1960-the-top-10-classical-scores-used-in-video-games.
  2. Crawley, Dan. “Video Game Soundtracks Rank alongside Classics from Beethoven and Mozart, According to Radio poll.” VentureBeat. April 8, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://venturebeat.com/2015/04/08/video-game-soundtracks-rank-alongside-classics-from-beethoven-and-mozart-according-to-radio-poll/.
  3. “Mario Bros.” Nintendo. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Mario_Bros.
  4. “Top 10 Lists: The Top 10 Classical Scores Used In Video Games.” The Top 10 Classical Scores Used In Video Games. September 9, 2009. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/top10/1960-the-top-10-classical-scores-used-in-video-games.
  5. “Super Mario Bros The Parody Series – TV Tropes.” Super Mario Bros The Parody Series – TV Tropes. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SuperMarioBrosTheParodySeries.
  6. “Ludwig Von Koopa.” – Super Mario Wiki, the Mario Encyclopedia. Accessed April 21, 2015. http://www.mariowiki.com/Ludwig_von_Koopa.

 

 

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