Super Mario Bros. Wonder is out in the wild, and it’s quickly emerged as a dark horse candidate for Game of the Year. Yes, I know: Uttering “dark horse” and “Mario” in the same breath seems blasphemous. But when you consider the competition (namely, Tears of the Kingdom and Baldur’s Gate 3), it starts to make sense.
But that’s a post for another day. Today, we’re highlighting one of the (many) things SMB Wonder does so well—and that’s the music. From the peppy “Title Screen” theme to the acapella-inspired “Overworld Theme,” Wonder is filled with tracks that enhance the game’s moments of, well, wonder. Heck, even the game’s joke tracks are great. (If you’ve played the game for more than 15 minutes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
The soundtrack does have its duds. Some tracks grate after a while (I’m looking at you, “Wonder Flower: Course Mania!“), while others (like the “Forest Theme” or “Snow Theme“) lack the magic of Wonder’s best works. And yet, there’s one track that cements Wonder’s musical legacy in my eyes (and ears). It’s the “Fungi Mines Theme” from World 5, and it’s a banger.
Let’s Get (WarioWare) Weird
Every great Nintendo soundtrack has that track. In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it was “Bamboo Island.” In Super Mario Odyssey, it was “Forgotten Isle.” These songs are meant to tantalize—to create mystery and provoke curiosity. They challenge our notions of what music is or can be, often by switching up the time signature or breaking out an unconventional instrument.
At the same time, they never do too much. We’re not talking about the Tears of the Kingdom theme, here (goated as it is). The special songs I’m referring to have a certain restrained air to them. They’re not going to make the stage at The Game Awards, nor do they want to. These songs are content being funky little oddballs—and solid earworms.
“Fungi Mines Theme” is cut from the same cloth. It’s a bizarro track that includes a true smorgasbord of instruments, from strings to trombones, tubas to oboe, synth to xylophone. The synth opens the affair, providing a trance-like cadence to draw listeners in. The xylophone establishes an eery sense of dread, backed by the pluck of strings. The horns soon follow, laying down a groovy bass line.
All the while, the central melody passes from one instrument to the next: first from the mallets, then to the strings, then—as the track hits the halfway points—to a lone trumpet. The track culminates at 1:54 with everyone joining back in on the fun. It’s like a symphony of spooky spirits, all taking turns being maestro.
Why the Fungi Mines Theme Slaps
“Fungi Mines Theme” isn’t your typical Mario track. There are plenty of bigger, better themes out there—many of which are in this very game! But the track stands out nonetheless. Why? If nothing else, because it continues Nintendo’s legacy of experimentation.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder didn’t need to go as hard as it did. The Big N could’ve simply phoned it in by developing another New Super Mario Bros. game. Instead, the publisher went deep into the vault, channeled some of that Super Mario Galaxy 2 energy, and made one of the best 2D-Mario games of all time.
“Fungi Mines Theme” is much more than a track. It’s an ideal: a promise to never settle and always stay weird as hell. Wario would be proud.
For more on Mario’s latest adventure, check out our Super Mario Bros. Wonder review.