Famicom Music

  • "Not always pleasing to the ear, but passable nostalgia for Nintendo junkies."
  • "Nostalgia is a good thing."
Reader reviews

Featured Artists

Tracks (36 minutes)

  1. Super Mario Bros.
  2. Balloon Fight
  3. Balloon Trip (Arrange Version)
  4. Donkey Kong
  5. Baseball - Socceer - Golf - Tennis
  6. Wrecking Crew
  7. Super Mario Bros. (Arrange Version)
  8. Donkey Kong, Jr.
  9. ExciteBike
  10. Mario Bros.
  11. The Legend Of Zelda

Release Notes

  • Released Jan 9, 2002 by Scitron Discs (catalog no. SCDC-00145, retail 2310 yen).

Reviews

Not always pleasing to the ear, but passable nostalgia for Nintendo junkies.

Reader review by Jon Turner (2002-04-04)

In the early 1980's, only one videogame system dominated the markets in both Japan and the United States, and that, of course, was Nintendo's prized Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, in the US). Videogames had little reputation at that time, as did the sounds accompanying each of the games. Just like the NES games themselves had graphics that were impressive for its time, the NES soundtracks broke new ground: for the first time, all videogames had musical scores accompanying the player. The music to the games, for the most part, were nothing more than simple compositions, with lots of reputation and sounding nothing more like mechanical beeps. The sound effects were hardly any better (probably equal to those of the videogames of the past, such as Pong, and Nintendo's own Donkey Kong), yet the low-quality soundtracks somehow were the defining characteristic of the videogame market of the 1980's, and to this day, gamers hold a fondness for these old fashioned game soundtracks.

This CD takes us back down that nostalgic path when catchy little melodies bounced through the PCM speakers while gamers sat pounding at the controls, playing rather simplistic videogames. As you can expect, the content of the music on the album is simply as the title suggests - the music from the old generation Famicom/NES games.

Does this CD bring back happy memories of playing the games? Yes. Is it an excellent listening experience? That really depends upon how much of a Nintendo junkie you are and how *badly* you want to re-experience playing Super Mario Bros., ExciteBike, Donkey Kong, and several of the other games that are featured on the album. Although the music is nostalgic which legendary tunes galore (the unforgettable Super Mario Bros. music and The Legend Of Zelda Overworld Theme for example), the album suffers from a fatally serious flaw that threatens to dampen the experience. Much of the tracks sound almost as if someone hooked their A/V cables into the stereo system and started recording *while* they were playing the games. The first track, "Super Mario Bros." sneaks in sound effects over the musical beats which are completely distracting to those who want to hear the music pure and untainted. (One more reason to buy the Super Mario World album - the music is clean and faultless on that album, plus it is in stereo, too.) This problem continues throughout the entire album, even the less-than-sophisticated games such as Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, and ExciteBike, all of which contain cacophonies of music clashing against high-pitched sound effects which will be grating to many, yet pleasant for those who played the games with fondness. Only on The Legend Of Zelda do we get to hear the music without the sound effects, with the exception of a running waterfall during the Title music, and a very harsh sound effect announcing Ganon's appearance on the transition from the "Death Mountain" music to the "Ganon Fanfare". But even then, The Legend Of Zelda: Sound And Drama offered a much better opportunity to hear the music.

Of particular note on the Zelda track is a brief little fanfare that was not in the US version, as well as two different instruments in the Title theme. The reason? The Legend Of Zelda was the first game to sell the add-on accessory, Famicom Disk System, which allowed programmers to read and write in data, although it did create a problem for the soundtracks - the sound chip of the accessory was not as advanced as the Famicom's was.

As if this wasn't discouraging enough, how about this for a drawback: all of the tracks are compilation tracks. In other words, they feature different pieces of music happening one after another with little pauses for breaks. This is a shortcoming that I find *incredibly* annoying on any album release, unless it is done effectively (such examples that come to mind are Dracula Best, and Gradius III, which combine the tracks onto one track successfully with pauses inbetween). The presentation, along with its woefully short running time of 36 and a half minutes, is disappointing, but gamers probably won't mind.

The two arranged tracks are not any more complex than the rest of the music is, but it will be a break for those who can't stand NES synthesis. One of them is from "Balloon Trip", which is performed on clear sounding synthesizers yet features distracting NES sound effects. The second is a rather interesting remix of the Super Mario Bros. music, which at least doesn't sneak in sound effects. I've heard far better arrangements of the Mario music than this, but this is at least a good remedy to an obnoxious listening experience.

Given that there are far better sounding and composed soundtracks out there in the videogame soundtracks market, I can imagine a lot of people spoiled by today's video game music skipping this one. However, the most loyal and tolerating of Nintendo junkies will find this album to be a respectable treasure. The inclusion of sheet music to the soundtracks is very nice, too, making it another reason to buy it. But its best to keep in mind, too, that this is not just music only.

2 starsFor Die-Hard Fans Only

Nostalgia is a good thing.

Reader review by Kenny Peeples (2002-04-04)

Famicom Music was basically a no-brainer for someone like me - a huge Nintendo fan who likes to relive past gaming experiences through their music. Needless to say, all of the music here is exactly as it was back in the 8-bit days (save for the inclusion of the sound effects and two arranged versions - more on both later), and I wouldn't have it any other way. Half of my favorite and most memorable game soundtracks are on the NES, most of them being from Nintendo, Konami, Tecmo and a few others. I love NES synth. The system has an unmistakable sound that is all its own; nothing else sounds like it. And for the NES to have been so restrictive to composers in those days, many of them surely created some very memorable melodies that will be the anthems of video gaming forever.

As I mentioned earlier, included in all the songs are the sound FX from each game. Now I know there'll be some abhorrent people due to this fact, but believe me, they don't detract from the music in any way, and actually conjure up memories of the game. Take "Excitebike" (track 9) for example, the track begins with the familiar title screen tune followed by the start race fanfare. Between that and the end of race fanfare, you hear about 1:10 of the game's sound FX as if someone was actually playing the game. In fact, all the songs sound as if someone is actually playing the game, but not with the usual low-quality game play recording that you're used to. The sound effects can actually be comical sometimes, as is the case with "Super Mario Bros." (track 1), where the Goomba stompin' brick bashin' fireball shootin' beanstalk sproutin' sound FX are on beat with the music (especially during the Underworld BGM). And also, don't be fooled by the tracklist and total playtime time, each track contains all the music from the game within the one track. As far as I can tell, the only songs that are missing are the "Game Over" ditties from both "Super Mario Bros." and "Zeruda No Densetsu".

Also included are arranged versions of Balloon Fight's "Balloon Trip" and "Super Mario Bros" Both are very, very good! And the best I can describe them is that they are kind of techno-ish, but not in the traditional sense. Just some cool electronic sounds going on! The Balloon Trip arrangement is, well, Balloon Trip! But the Mario Bros. arrangement is a medley. I like how the Koopa castle music (which has a nice chorus!) is blended with the underworld BGM, and the way the track fades out with the Ending BGM playing faintly in the background was also a really nice touch.

Now as far as sound-quality goes, we know this is NES music. However, the NES music here has never really sounded better. Its been studio mastered, so it is of the utmost quality and doesn't sound at all like its been recorded directly from the games (it sounds just as good as the NES music on disc two of Super Mario World, just not in stereo). And it sounds a lot better than, say, the Metroid BGM from Sound in Action and the Legend of Zelda music on disc two of Sound & Drama.

Also very noteworthy, is the fact that the album comes with not one, but two booklets. The first being your typical booklet with game artwork, a description of each game, and the credits. But the second booklet, however, contains sheet music!!! From Super Mario Bros.' "Overworld BGM" to Zeruda No Densetsu's "Zelda Ending Theme"... and everything else in between! If you hear it on the CD, then the sheet music is in the second booklet! This is a great bonus for all you piano fans out there.

You really can't go wrong with Famicom Music, especially if you grew up listening to these classics. Nostalgia alone makes it a great buy, but the inclusion of sheet music puts it over the top. I highly recommend this album.

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