Orchestrated Music for the 16 Bit Era; Five SNES Classics Made Amazing with the MSU-1 Chip!

As we likely all know, the SNES had an absolute ton of fantastic games, many of which had equally impressive soundtracks.  From Donkey Kong Country to Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past, the list of SNES classics with good music is insanely long.  But even then, they could potentially sound even better.  How?  Via a special custom chip called the MSU-1.

So what is the MSU-1 chip?

Well to put it simply, it’s a special hardware chip that allows the SNES to load up to 4GB of MP3 music and high quality video footage.  Developed by BSNES coder Byuu, it’s basically the SNES equivalent of the Sega CD and a realisation of Nintendo’s scrapped SNES-CD (the one which they were supposed to make alongside Sony).

In other words, it makes the soundtracks for games like Donkey Kong Country 2 and The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past even better than they already are, and opens up the potential for full motion video games on the SNES!  So here are five SNES classics whose soundtracks are made even better thanks to this wonderous technology!

5. Super Mario World

When it came to music, the original Super Mario World was a bit of a mixed bag.  Okay, the songs were catchy and fun to listen to, but to be honest… they were nowhere near as good as they could have been. I mean, no offence to the game’s athletic theme, but it doesn’t quite compare as well to the original SMB 1 overworld theme as it could have.  Nor the even better ones in Super Mario 64 and the Galaxy series.

But when it comes to the MSU-1 and Super Mario World, there are two things that can really be made more epic as a result. Number 1, the original game, which can now have the sound quality of Super Mario Galaxy 2 if necessary:

This boosts those somewhat tired old songs to the status of ‘absolutely amazing’.

But then you’ve got ROM hacks, which can now sound a whole lot more awesome than ever before!  Like Super Mario Oddysey, especially when modded with ‘different’ music:

Or this game, which seems to unfortunately be cancelled at the moment:

Either way, if Super Mario World’s soundtrack needed a bit of a spruce up (and to be honest, it probably did), MSU-1 can deliver it beautifully.  Same with the soundtracks in all those SMW ROM hacks out there.

4. Mega Man X

Another great game in its own right, Mega Man X had one hell of a brilliant soundtrack even back in its original form. But as per the rule, the MSU-1 can make it even better!

I am seriously just freaking out over the intro level music alone, that’s how incredible this redone version.

3. F-Zero

F-Zero already had a really fantastic soundtrack. With its fast paced, futuristic music offering a very different feel to the songs in other SNES games, F-Zero already sounded great in its original form.

But what happens when you put the already incredible music from tracks like Mute City and Big Blue… and make it all orchestrated and modern?  This happens:

Not sure what you were expecting, but this game is certainly incredible to listen to with this enhancement made!

2. Donkey Kong Country 2

Even without any console enhancement chips, Donkey Kong Country 2 was an amazing game.  With graphics so good that people didn’t originally believe they were possible on the SNES and a soundtrack that’s almost too epic for a game starring cartoon monkeys, the game was an absolute masterpiece even in its original form.

But what happens when the MSU-1 is used for the game?

More precisely, what happens when OC Remix’s ‘Serious Monkey Business’ remixes are used as the background music on the actual console?

This happens.  And my god is it fantastic:

If this had actually been released back in the 90s, Nintendo would beaten Sega in the console wars.  No doubt about it.

1. The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past

You knew this one was coming.  After all, A Link to the Past had an epic soundtrack even in SPC form.  How much better could it possibly get with the MSU-1 added?

Tons.  And what’s more, this mod below also shows how high quality video can be used on the system, with the game’s introduction replaced by a CD quality cartoon starring Link and his Uncle before the game’s events!  Have a look:

If Link to the Past was already a classic before this, adding orchestrated music and cartoon cutscenes just makes it just truly legendary.

So that’s some of the cool stuff the MSU-1 chip can do for the SNES’ classic games.  Want to see more?  If so, you’re in luck there, since everything from Super Metroid to Secret of Mana to Chrono Trigger has been modded to use it!  And what’s more, most of them are actually downloadable for you guys to play right now, if you want to!

Perhaps this might give you a reason to get that dusty old SNES out of the garage.  What could possibly be cooler than playing some of the best games of the 16 bit era with music straight out of the modern era and OC Remix?  What games do you think would sound even better with this technology?


Super Mario World MSU-1

Mega Man X MSU-1 Audio

F-Zero MSU-1

Donkey Kong Country 2 MSU-1 Patch

Enable MSU-1 Streaming Music for A Link to the Past


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4 years ago

It doesn’t use MP3s. It uses raw PCM.