These days, a game like Cyberpunk 2077 can just dump a 16 GB update on your lap out of nowhere and it’s treated like no big deal. But the idea of video games that can just balloon to any size they desire is actually a new phenomenon. For decades, the size of games was confined to however much data you could fit on a cartridge or disc, making efficient data compression even more important than it is now. As such, audio compression was the norm on SNES, despite the amazing richness and depth of sounds the console still produced across its library of games. Now, a YouTube channel called The Brickster has uploaded Super Mario World music rebuilt with the original, uncompressed sounds, and the results are kind of mind-blowing.
(Is this what the songs were "supposed to sound like"? Hmmmmmaybe, but consider that Nintendo was probably picking which samples to use based on which ones sounded best after the SNES compressed them down to hell.)
— Chris Kohler (@kobunheat) February 5, 2021
As Digital Eclipse Editorial Director Chris Kohler notes, it’s not likely that this uncompressed version of Super Mario World music is what composer Koji Kondo and Nintendo had in mind as the “true” soundtrack. Rather, Nintendo likely selected whatever it knew would come out sounding the best following SNES audio compression. In any case, listening to this Super Mario World music uncompressed sounds somewhat reminiscent of the quality you would expect from a PlayStation 1 game. So far, I literally haven’t been able to listen to this stuff without exclaiming, “Wow!”
There are more examples of uncompressed Super Mario World music than what we’ve shared above, so check out that YouTube channel for more amazing sounds that you will never hear from a SNES. (Then keep fishing around YouTube for more restorations, like this one for Donkey Kong Country 2.)