Famicom Music Vol. 2
Famicom Music Vol. 2
Alfa (1st Edition); Scitron Digital Contents (2nd Edition)
November 28, 1987; February 6, 2002
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Like its predecessor, Famicom Music Vol. 2 is filled with hits and misses. It features NES music as its main content, as well as one arranged track, and thankfully doesn’t suffer from the “sound effects syndrome” that Famicom Music had. The music on this disc is livelier and more catchy than on the previous disc, with some unforgettable melodies. But even still, it does leave some things to be desired.
A word of note about the album: the focus is on the Famicom Disk System, an accessory that was released only in Japan where the games were presented on floppy disks instead of cartridges. This was because disks were cheaper than the much much more costly cartridge format, and gamers in Japan had to pay lots of hard-earned money for even a bad game. As a result, the Disk System offered a chance for inexpensive games, as well as an opportunity to read and write anything you wished.
Of particular notice is the quality of the soundtracks for the Disk Drive games. While it still features the same tinny, synthy, mechanical synthesis that dominated most videogames at the time, some of the instruments sound slightly different and of slightly inferior quality. Some of the composition tracks also are quite different from their American predecessors. For example, the Metroid music (recorded in much clearer quality in comparison to the distorted treatment on Super Metroid Sound In Action) features a bass and a voice that was altered somewhat when the game was transferred to cartridge. Also, on track 12, The Adventure Of Link (yes, the infamous sequel to The Legend Of Zelda), the title theme is in an alternate octave, unlike the American version, and some of the instruments in that song are not like those on the NES cartridge. Those who have played the American-released games featured on this album, which includes Metroid, The Adventure Of Link, and the underrated, long-forgotten Kid Icarus, will pick out the differences in hearing the tracks.
The music on the familiar tracks are great and nostalgic, of course, but I also found myself liking some of the tracks from some of the games that were released only in Japan, particularly those of Shin Onigashima. They have a distinctively Japanese feel and are quite catchy. Another remarkable track in this category is the unreleased Nazo no Murasame Jo, which features more Asian action music, as well as a humorous sample from the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Even better yet, the music is crystal clear and absolutely free of sound effects (with the exception of at least three tracks), allowing the listener to hear the music without any discomfort. Some might gain such feelings, though, from listening to how badly dated the music is in comparison to the high-quality soundtracks that exist today.
But alas, Famicom Music Vol. 2 has its share of disappointments as well. As with the first Famicom Music album, a lot of the tracks contain more than one piece of music which transition into each other without a break or pause to inform us of a “song break”. This problem is especially evident on the Kid Icarus and The Adventure of Link tracks.
But an even greater drawback is in Metroid and The Adventure of Link tracks: they do not have all the tracks from the games! The Metroid track features the title theme, appearance fanfare, and the ending theme, but that’s all you get. The Adventure of Link features the title theme, overworld theme, town theme, palace themes, and the ending theme, but the worst part is that some bridges from the mentioned pieces are cut in favor of transitioning into each other! This will come across as a double drawback for fans searching for a legitimate release of this soundtrack, even though I personally think it is the weakest in the Zelda franchise. I have not played the other games mentioned on this album, so I cannot tell which pieces are missing and which aren’t, but the presentation of the album could have been much better. In addition, the album packaging has its share of faults; there’s no information on the individual pieces of music on each track and there’s no sheet music, unlike the last volume. I recognize you can’t always have everything you want, but I was expecting such a treatment with this one.
For those who can’t stand the drawbacks and dated synthesis, the arranged track of “Doki Doki Panic” will be a refreshing break. The most interesting aspect about this game is that it was released (transformed?) as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America, yet the catchy music is still the same as it was in the game! Performed on a high-quality synthesizer (with occasional low-quality NES sound effects jumping in here and there, which somehow works better on this track than did the “Balloon Dive” on the original Famicom Music), this track is a treat for fans of this underrated game.
All in all, Famicom Music Vol. 2 is an improvement over the first volume in terms of music and listening experience, yet it has its shortcomings as well. I wouldn’t recommend this soundtrack to the average customer who cannot stand the age of the music, but the intended core audience — Nintendo junkies, of course — will find it to be a pleasing, if not satisfying purchase.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jon Turner. Last modified on August 1, 2012.