With the sheer amount of unnecessary ’80s nostalgia going around these days, it’s easy to develop a cynical attitude towards the most beloved entertainment fixtures of our youth. One of the few pastimes I can revisit without feelings of modern day horror is my first generation Nintendo. What games like Bionic Commando, Contra and the Castlevania trilogy lacked in superior graphics and game play they made up for with unfiltered only-in-Japan plot insanity and timelessly catchy soundtracks. Be honest, name any game on any of the current gaming consoles that has a theme song remotely as hummable as Super Mario Bros.. This music is where video game nerds of the past/indie rock nerds of the present, The Advantage, comes in with a 26-song collection of NES tunes. Seriously, this is one of the most obvious albums ever, and it’s almost criminal that we got nearly four years into our ’80s reminiscing before getting hit with a project like this.
With a plethora of games to draw from, there had to be some heavy paring down for this disc. The result is a nearly impeccable roster of songs with numbers (sometimes multiple) from the previously mentioned classics alongside the stalwarts (Zelda, Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon) and the second-tiers (Bomberman 2, Goonies 2, Marble Madness). Most pleasing is “Castlevania – Stage 3,” a song which proves that the best ’80s dance-punk anthem ever – even when written for MIDI and played through an 8-bit gaming system – could handily top all of DFA’s relentless production tweaking.
If there is any fault with this disc, it would be that the fidelity could stand to be a little higher, a little less choppy and demo-ish. Yet, the souls of these songs are still captured perfectly at this lower sonic grade. It would be grand if the band managed to put together a second album as good as this, especially if they went a little lighter on the admittedly awesome Konami next time…