Fans have used the great Nintendo "gigaleak" to restore Super Mario World's soundtrack.
Nintendo's 2020 gigaleak, which revealed eye-opening prototypes for Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Kart, Star Fox 2 and more, also contained the source code for Super Mario Advance - a game that reuses samples from 1990 SNES classic Super Mario World.
Twitter user The Brickster found proper names for many instruments in Super Mario World, which helped other tinkerers find the source for those samples.
With the source samples discovered, work on restoring Koji Kondo's iconic 30-year-old music began. The Brickster's friends recreated the tracks that were compressed to work on the SNES using the original, lossless synths.
For anyone curious as to how these findings were done, its actually rather simple. Know how the Gigaleak had source code for Super Mario Advanced? That game reuses samples from Super Mario World. Those samples had names we didn't have, which is how we were able to find them. pic.twitter.com/qWFTG1YdYW— The Brickster (@lebrickster) February 3, 2021
The restored Super Mario World OST is up on The Brickster's YouTube channel. Here's a snippet:
The restored music provides an indication, perhaps, of what Kondo's music might have sounded like if it hadn't been constrained by the SNES hardware. However, some have said the restored music sounds worse than the original lo-fi music upon which they are based, with too much reverb.
The Brickster addressed this criticism on Twitter, saying the restoration is a what if? exercise done for fun.
"... I see where you are coming from," The Brickster said. "Truthfully, these tracks were likely not designed with the full patches in mind. These are simply things we are doing for fun, as a 'what if' kinda thing."
What if Kondo wasnt limited to the small sound ram size, and he could use sounds to their fullest? We may never know if he did, of course, since no demo versions of tracks for Super Mario World were ever officially released, but these I think would be similar to such tracks. 2/2— The Brickster (@lebrickster) February 5, 2021
Work is ongoing. Who knows what the Nintendo gigaleak will lead to next?