The soundtracks of the Mario series are full of themes and variations. Longtime series composer Koji Kondo would often compose a main theme for a particular game and use several variations of this melody to create a full and impressive soundtrack. The soundtrack to Super Mario World is a great example of this method, where themes established in the Overworld and Castle are used in variation for the Underwater and Ghost House respectively.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that other composers who work on Mario games have used a similar technique.
The soundtrack for Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins was composed by Kazumi Totaka. Best known as the inspiration for K.K. Slider in Animal Crossing, this composer has an impressive body of work that includes games like Wii Sports, Luigi’s Mansion, and of course, Animal Crossing. For Super Mario Land 2, Totaka establishes a very catchy Athletic theme that is used in early stages. This theme has a rolling beat and a solid melody that urges players to speed through the wide open levels.
Over the course of the game, this theme reappears in several different variations, including a particularly foreboding track featured in the aptly spooky Pumpkin Zone.
For this song, Totaka slows down the Athletic theme to a dreadful crawl. The added sound effects in between each measure of the melody bring to mind spiders creeping along and the bones of a skeleton rattling in the background. It is impressive to see how a single theme can inspire such different emotions through well-executed variation.