BAH BAH

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#1 Edited by Little_Socrates (5844 posts) -

Okay, so maybe this belongs in Bombcast, but this is a serious game-related issue. Jeff took a stance in his war on "Bah, Bah!" in the New Super Mario Brothers games on this most recent podcast, and I never really understood what the problem was. In fact, I couldn't really remember them from anything other than the Overworld Theme.

You know, listening to that, it happens every once in a while, but I couldn't imagine it could get that annoying. It's an occasional bit of punctuation, and while it was memorable, I didn't think it was really a problem.

Then I decided to look up the soundtrack to NSMB 2. And, uh, this is the "new" Overworld theme:

Yes. You are correct. That is the exact same song, only using EXCLUSIVELY "BAHs." With the old "BAHs" used for emphasis! THIS IS THE SOUND OF MADNESS!

But, surely, this is some reference to the previous song. It can't continue like this, right? The whole game can't be filled with this stuff any more than the original game was!

Oh...oh god.

oh come on that's the same exact song as the first two but with "lahs" AND "bahs"

OH COME ON EVEN THE CASTLE MUSIC? I FIGURED THAT WAS SAFE! OH MY GOD.

Guys, this is not just bad, this is awful. This is some of the most misunderstanding about what made a musical cue effective I've ever heard in my life. Holy shit.

The Mario series has a long-standing tradition of great soundtracks. Like, not even just the platformers; I can remember vividly songs from Mario Kart, Paper Mario, and Mario Golf. And let's not even get started on Super Mario RPG. In the modern era, we can point to the Super Mario Galaxy games and Super Mario Sunshine as having some truly wonderful music. For example, listen to this version of the Gusty Garden Galaxy theme from OC ReMix.

Like, this isn't just lazy for me. It's downright sad. I loveKoji Kondo's work. Whenever there's been a Zelda or Mario game I haven't liked, I've always been able to point to his work as one of the pillars that honestly makes the game worth knowing. His music on these stupid games often cuts me right to the bone, and it doesn't have to be associated with a character dying or a really dramatic victory in order to completely overwhelm me. Whenever it doesn't excite me in an over-the-top thrilled way, it is hauntingly gorgeous. I can't put into words how important Nintendo's music, even outside of Kondo, has been to me. Play me this dumb little theme that plays when Professor Oak introduces the world of Pokemon (by Junichi Masuda), and I fall in love instantly:

Even on these dumb little handheld games, these games matter. Their ugly graphics, their dumb musical cues that are twenty-four seconds long, they can absolutely define a person's childhood. Especially when you consider the idea that it might be a kid's first ever Mario game.

And this bullshit is what they are greeted to. The most homogenous, annoying soundtrack in the history of Nintendo. And I'd totally hear arguments for other Mario games and Zelda games having weaker soundtracks, but whatever. They should be getting better and more experimental with time (see: Gusty Garden Galaxy, the entire soundtrack to Super Mario Sunshine) instead of regressing into total bullshit.

And this kind of emphasizes the entire design philosophy behind NSMB2. I haven't played it; maybe the coin rush stuff nobody else digs is totally up my alley. I don't mean to call the developers (or even Kenta Nagata, the lead sound director on NSMB2) generally lazy. They worked hard to program a very competent game that is at least remotely engaging, and I totally give them credit for that. But I don't feel like a single Mario platformer before NSMB2 could be called "simply competent." Maybe the Super Mario Land games qualify, I'm too young to have played those at the time of release. But to let Mario "settle" isn't good enough. There has to be something really novel in there, even if it's just playing with four people in a goofy-ass Wii game.

Mario settling is really sad for me. Even if I haven't always liked the franchise's games (I specifically never dug Yoshi's Island or the control schemes on the Galaxy games) I've been able to recognize the heart and soul present, and it's always made me happy before now. That's not always true with Nintendo, but even Kid Icarus: Uprising, a game I kind of hate, is probably a great game if you're a crazy person that can tolerate the control of the ground sections. With NSMB2, I'm not finding that spark.

It's not me, either. I still adore Mario. Him and his brother are actually sitting on my windowsill next to Super Meat Boy right now in the form of plushes I really care about.

But this game just makes me sad. Again, I haven't played it myself, but general hearsay is so dismal that I can't help but feel any other way, and that's exactly how I felt when it got announced at E3. Like, what is a throwaway Mario platformer like? Do I ever really want to find out?

I wrote this thing intending to just kind of make fun of NSMB2 when I found that first song, and I dug deeper to make sure I could really get away with saying that the soundtrack overuses the "Bah Bah" more than we ever thought possible.

Instead, I bummed myself out way deep in the process. Step up, Kenta Nagata, and everyone involved at Nintendo. Somehow, your stupid "Bah, Bah!" really is a representation of what's wrong with New Super Mario Brothers, and that's wicked sad.

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#2 Posted by Tebbit (4590 posts) -

You took the words right out of my mouth. Meat Loaf style.

Fuck all the bahs.

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#3 Posted by Aegon (7241 posts) -

I didn't know it was this bad. I actually liked the BAH sound when I heard it a few times..probably in some review or gameplay videos.

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#4 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7812 posts) -

That is blasphemy, we all know the correct sound is "Wah Wah". No "B" whatsoever!

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#5 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (1607 posts) -

OK, I had to stop at "Athletic"-theme. If there is a song that will cause me to involuntarily stab people in their faces, this is it.

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#6 Posted by BisonHero (10645 posts) -

Wow, yeah, that Athletic theme is COMPLETELY out of control. SYNTHESIZERS HAVE OTHER SAMPLES ON THEM THAN VOCAL WAHS. Damn you, NSMB2 composers!

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#7 Posted by impartialgecko (1868 posts) -

The Paper Mario music is pretty good though, maybe that studio escaped the "WAH" directive from the top brass.

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#8 Posted by WasabiCurry (442 posts) -

It needs more Bahness!

The joking aside, it is really amazing to hear how much they added into each song. After a while, it excursively contains nothing but that freaking sound. Hopefully they will change out that stupid sound or at least dampen its' use.

I might predict a dupstep verison of "Bah." Imagine that in your head...

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#9 Edited by Sooty (8193 posts) -

Nintendo re-using stuff and doing nothing new. More at 11.

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#10 Posted by Little_Socrates (5844 posts) -

@NekuSakuraba: No, 'cause "Wah Wah" either references a guitar effect or George Harrison's best song without The Beatles. Also, the majority of NSMB folks referred to it as "bah" while I dug up this soundtrack, going with them.

@charlie_victor_bravo: @BisonHero: I actually didn't make it through Athletic because it was so bad. Finishing it out, man, it gets even worse!

@Sooty: I mean, but this is different. Maybe not different from, say, Pokemon, but can we honestly name a Mario game that does quite as nothing new as NSMB2? At least the Wii game added co-op. When even the Mario team is being unoriginal, something deep-seated and wrong must be happening at Nintendo.

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#11 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -
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#12 Posted by august (4055 posts) -

I just wish they'd do a new 2d Mario with music and art direction that wasn't generic and boring as fuck.

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#13 Posted by mpgeist (664 posts) -

The wah music is terrible and damages the legacyof great Mario music. Nintendo should be ashamed. SMWs fortress music is among my favorite songs, video game or not.

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#14 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2953 posts) -

And here I was thinking Jeff was over exaggerating. That is just terrible.

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#15 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -
@Little_Socrates There is no "Mario" team. Different teams made Mario 3D Land, NSMB2 and NSMBU.
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#16 Posted by ArbitraryWater (14792 posts) -

@august said:

I just wish they'd do a new 2d Mario with music and art direction that wasn't generic and boring as fuck.

This has been my position since NSMB Wii.

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#17 Posted by ShaggE (8455 posts) -

I loved it the first time I saw a Koopa dance to the bahs, as it was pure Nintendo silliness in the best way. I still love seeing it. But I agree, that many bahs is super-overkill. It's especially bad since the music beneath it is still great, but now scarred by more BAH BAHs than a sheep orgy.

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#18 Posted by MikkaQ (10296 posts) -

It's a stupid remnant of the N64 MIDI days and I wish it would die.

Anyway for me Koji Kondo hasn't done anything interesting in years and I think he's tapped out creatively. He is a massively overrated composer at the very least.

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#19 Posted by Jack268 (3370 posts) -

Also notice that the desert music in NSMB2 is a sped up version of the Lanayru Desert theme in Skyward Sword.

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#20 Posted by SuperWristBands (2281 posts) -

I like these songs. Quite a bit :S

I probably wouldn't go out of my way to listen to them outside of the game but they are still enjoyable to listen to.

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#21 Posted by uhtaree (791 posts) -

I love those crazy 'Bahs'! These songs are really catchy, I gotta watch my humming the the rest of the afternoon.

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#22 Posted by Little_Socrates (5844 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@Little_Socrates There is no "Mario" team. Different teams made Mario 3D Land, NSMB2 and NSMBU.

Right, but there's shared creative lead collaboration between the teams. Nagata will probably be responsible for the sound direction of NSMBU, and Kondo was involved in the sound of NSMB2 even though he's primarily working on whatever the Galaxy/Zelda teams are working on next. Maybe it's just the sound department that operates that way, but I'd presume there are other departments with that kind of collaboration happening, too.

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#23 Edited by Commisar123 (1955 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: I think that's giving them far too much credit

As for the bah bah's, I actually really like it in the original song, it's nice and cheery but it seems very overused in the second game

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#24 Posted by ExplodeMode (851 posts) -

I thought it was just the one song... wow, even the castle.

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#25 Posted by Ben_H (3967 posts) -

And let's not even get started on Super Mario RPG .

Actually, we totally should get started on it because all the music is amazing! I haven't even finished the game yet and there are like 5 good songs from it I can think of. Here are a small sample that comes to mind: 
 
  
    
    
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#26 Posted by clstirens (854 posts) -

I think Jeff was also talking about how the musical cues are over used, and that the enemies having to dance in each damn "New" game... It's getting overused, and it's not cute anymore.

Also, 3dland had some great music, even if it got repetitive:

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#27 Posted by Ravenlight (8057 posts) -

So, bahs are the Comic Sans of musical cues now?

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#28 Posted by laserbolts (5506 posts) -

Maybe the Bah is big in Japan or something.

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#29 Posted by Chaser324 (8130 posts) -

@Ben_H said:

And let's not even get started on Super Mario RPG .

Actually, we totally should get started on it because all the music is amazing! I haven't even finished the game yet and there are like 5 good songs from it I can think of. Here are a small sample that comes to mind:

Wow! I haven't touched Super Mario RPG in at least a decade, and yet as soon as I pressed play on each of those songs, they were instantly recognizable to me. That's the sign of a truly great piece of music.

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#30 Posted by NyxFe (252 posts) -

I really feel like mario music has gotten pretty weak since 64. None of the games since then have stuck out in my memory as having memorable music at all.  
 
  

      
    And the classic 
  
  They are all upbeat and memorable (not to say m64 didn't have some slower, yet still quality songs). The music in NSMB/2 all just sounds kind of homogeneous and is a lot more passive than the older music. I have to wonder if it is to avoid feeling too "video gamey" and putting off less hardcore players.  
 
Mario RPG also has Culex Theme which is basically the FFIV Boss theme and therefore amazing. 
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#31 Posted by hockeymask27 (3696 posts) -

bah

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#32 Posted by Cloudenvy (5893 posts) -

Wow, that athletic theme. I didn't really like the bahs the first time, but I had no idea that it was this bad in the second game.

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#33 Posted by altairre (1492 posts) -

That athletic theme is terrible. I'd mute it after the first minute.

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#34 Posted by casper_ (915 posts) -

the thing is it was obviously done with the female choir sound on some 80 dollar keyboard with 50 presets

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#35 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -
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#36 Posted by Ducksworth (671 posts) -

I've only played the first New Super Mario Bros. game so I thought most people were just exaggerating but man that's pretty bad. I don't hate it yet since I haven't had much exposure to the series yet but I can imagine that it gets annoying especially if it's been increasing in every entry.

@Video_Game_King said:

@Cloudenvy:

It could be worse.

Dear God, that makes New Super Mario sound like an orchestra.

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#37 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -

@Ducksworth:

The sad thing is that there are a billion songs like that across a million franchises. I didn't even search for Sonic; I was originally searching for Final Fantasy, saw Sonic in the related videos, and ignored a Castlevania one and a Doraemon one. There's also a Mega Man one that carries things to their logical conclusion.

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#38 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

I don't by any stretch of the imagination like the "bah" sounds, but I do think they give the NSMB2 soundtrack a certain flair. I should add that NSMB2 is the first NSMB I've played, so maybe I just haven't hit the point of "bah" over-saturation.

My favourite music in the game thus far is the castle theme, which admittedly would be better sans "bah":

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#39 Posted by Cloudenvy (5893 posts) -

@Video_Game_King:

Well, of course things can be worse when we include people making music who...Should not.

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#40 Posted by TheHBK (5670 posts) -

I have been saying this shit since the first one, what the fuck is up with that sound? Fuck that shit, fuck this direction they are taking mario with his music. That is why I loved Galaxy and galaxy 2, that was the music I expected from a mario game and remixing old classics.

And when I heard that shit in the castle music, I wanted to cry.

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#41 Posted by Shortbreadtom (1009 posts) -

OH GOD THE BAHS

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#42 Posted by StarvingGamer (11401 posts) -

Hahahaha I appreciate you laying it out like that.

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#43 Posted by Commisar123 (1955 posts) -

@Little_Socrates said:

@Hailinel said:

@Little_Socrates There is no "Mario" team. Different teams made Mario 3D Land, NSMB2 and NSMBU.

Right, but there's shared creative lead collaboration between the teams. Nagata will probably be responsible for the sound direction of NSMBU, and Kondo was involved in the sound of NSMB2 even though he's primarily working on whatever the Galaxy/Zelda teams are working on next. Maybe it's just the sound department that operates that way, but I'd presume there are other departments with that kind of collaboration happening, too.

That and it still doesn't excuse the fact that the new music has some deep flaws

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#44 Posted by doublestack (20 posts) -

Great write up. It really lays out all the facts about how gross the sound in mario games have been. Personally I thought even the first new super mario bros. had music that wasn't standing time. I can verify this by the fact that my kids still play this game almost weekly and the music truly grates on me. However when mario galaxy gets thrown in the mix I think of what a masterpiece the sound design was.

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#45 Posted by murisan (1143 posts) -

I just wanted to say that you've done some hefty research on a very important subject for our time and I thank you for it.

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#46 Posted by Nightriff (7157 posts) -

It didn't bother me, it was kinda ridiculous but whatever, the thing I have a problem with is them appearing in the castle music, it just doesn't fit, down right fucking stupid.

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#47 Edited by egg (1667 posts) -

OP, how could you not notice it in-game in the original NSMB? Some of the level mechanics are actually timed to whenever the BAH BAHs occur. I didnt notice it at first but I think everyone would have to notice it eventually.

edit: This is the first time I listened to youtubes of the NSMB2 soundtrack, I think I might actually like it better than NSMB.

So I think either for me the problem was not the BAHs but the way they were used. AND/OR the fact the game has dancing koopas, level mechanics timed to it. So I dunno, maybe if I play the game I will change my mind and hate it like I did in the first.

And using BAHs only for emphasis like in NSMB doesn't automatically make it ok, it's like if you take a vg theme and have Kanye dub over with "uh"s and "yeah"s that may or may not make it better, and make enemies look at you when it happens like "hey did you notice there is music???"

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#48 Posted by Scrawnto (2554 posts) -

@Ben_H said:

And let's not even get started on Super Mario RPG .

Actually, we totally should get started on it because all the music is amazing! I haven't even finished the game yet and there are like 5 good songs from it I can think of. Here are a small sample that comes to mind:

God yes. When I first found out you could get the raw sound files from that game and emulate them in Win Amp, I exported them all. I've had the soundtrack on my iPod ever since. It's my all-time favorite game soundtrack.

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#49 Posted by clstirens (854 posts) -
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#50 Posted by living4theday258 (695 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@Ducksworth:

The sad thing is that there are a billion songs like that across a million franchises. I didn't even search for Sonic; I was originally searching for Final Fantasy, saw Sonic in the related videos, and ignored a Castlevania one and a Doraemon one. There's also a Mega Man one that carries things to their logical conclusion.

dammit how can anyone even think to make this music shit

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