Category Archives: Reviews

Contra Original Video Soundtrack – Bleeps On Wax

Mondo released the soundtrack on 12 inch vinyl for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Arcade classic Contra just a few weeks ago with an exclusive San Diego Comic Con variant and a player one blue & player two red color split available on their online store over at www.mondotees.com. Not having the opportunity to attend SDCC or wanting to drop big bucks for the cool looking variant, I decided to pick up the regular edition. For whatever reason, this release took some time to get to me; but it arrived none the less and I’m quite impressed with the overall package. The record jacket contains some fantastic artwork from Eric Powell that completely captures the essence of Contra, something Mondo occasionally misses with their home-grown artwork for their VGM soundtrack releases.  The same can be said for the record cover artwork itself as its equally top notch. The color split of the actual record is decent, but doesn’t quite stack up to the SDDC version that Mondo was offering.

Let’s start backwards and talk about Side B of the record which features the arcade version of the soundtrack. If you’re like me, chances are you experienced Contra first on the NES and in the arcade second. In most cases the common response to your first arcade experience with the game is “Man, the NES version plays better.” Along with “Man, this music just doesn’t have the same feel as the NES version.” For me, these statements follow through with this record as well. I do appreciate the fact that the music from the arcade version is included and the audio recording is engineered wonderfully; but it’s just not my thing with its somewhat plodded instrumentations.

Side A of the record itself contains all the excellent music you remember from the game and features tracks straight from the superior Famicom version of the game with all the extra tracks that the Japanese release had on it. James Plotkin, the audio engineer on the project did an excellent job of mastering the music to vinyl and captured the crispness of Konami’s punchy drums and melodic synths that everyone starts humming as soon as you mention the name “Contra” to them. Its great hearing the intricacies of the music separate from the game itself.

Playing this record not only takes me back to playing this classic side scrolling shooter, but reminds me of all the times I took my little boom box and strategically placed it next to my TV so I could record music from my NES. Music from Contra was featured predominantly on those old video game mix tapes I made as a kid and now it’s nice to have an official copy of the soundtrack without hearing the occasional sound of my little brother banging toys around or my mom suddenly calling from upstairs to let me know that lunch was ready.

If the Contra music has touched any one of your 30 lives, I highly suggest you pick this up.

Video Game Summit 2017 – Villa Park, IL

The Video Game Summit is a retro video game convention that I’ve been trying to attend for the last several years, but for whatever reason I always happen to have something big going on that weekend and I’m forced to miss it. This year, I almost missed it again; but thanks to my wife reminding me about it I was finally able to attend the Video Game Summit 2017. I checked with a few friends to see if they were interested in going and as luck would have it, fellow Gamer Logic admin Emmie was wanting to check it out as well; so off we went.

The VGS took place this year at the Odeum Sports & Expo Center in Villa Park, IL and admission at the door was $10.00. For those of you who attend video game conventions like the Midwest Gaming Classic, the small size of the event may surprise you at first; but the event still packs a lot punch. Housed in the Odeum Upper Convention Hall, one can walk through the entire convention in minutes; but doing so would make you miss what over 40 vendors had to offer. If you’ve been in the hobby long enough, you know you must look at a vendor table at least 5 times to really see everything. Just exploring the vendor tables alone; Emmie and I spent about two hours searching for things and we both ended up with an excellent number of pickups. Many of the vendors were very friendly and the first thing you heard most of them say was that they were flexible with their prices. Bundle deals were being made left and right and there was plenty of variety to found at the seller tables.

The Summit attendees were also very friendly and I had several pleasant conversations with them at random moments during the event. That’s something I don’t think you can really experience with many of the larger gaming conventions these days. Perhaps that’s due to people just wanting to get to point A to point B and get out of there, but that wasn’t the case at VGS.

“Hey guys, Emmie here to interrupt this program to give a lil’ bit of my side of what happened at the summit! At one point, Mike & myself came across a table with TONS of Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing and Yo-kai Watch medals (both of which I collect!) While looking, I said hello to the vendor, and he ended up being Paul Zimmerman; one of the Berserk world champs! He was extremely kind, and even gave me a deal on the cards and medals! I even looped back around to his table after browsing the other tables and spent the rest of my cash there, not just because of what he had to sell, but because he was so nice to me as well! He helped me sift through his card decks to look for a specific neighbor to add to my collection as well! I definitely look forward to going back next year, and I hope Mike & I will be able to help out at the event, instead of just being attendees! Alright, back to you Boss! Emmie OUT!”

I’ll be attending the VGS again next year! Even though the event is small, I walked out of it with a pretty positive experience. Perhaps Gamer Logic will even have a presence there next year. We shall see.

Check out the official VGS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VideoGameSummit/

Radia Senki – Famicom

I love RPGs and I love my NES. I always wished there was RPG that played like a Zelda game, have multiple characters that I could give orders too, and have Ninja Gaiden like cut-scenes. My wish came true in the form of Radia Senki:Reimmeihen or Chronicles of the Radia War made by Tecmo.


The characters you’ll meet are Darus, a mage that will shoot projectiles and accompanies you through the whole game. Baru, the leader of a band of thieves and uses a boomerang. Haman, is pretty much the Tank and can take out obstacles that block the road and is loyal to the princess. Saria, another mage but uses stronger magic. Leorina, who was imprisoned in her town of Guandia. And last is Medea, Darus’s sister and another mage, she’s the final 5th member of your party.


The story isn’t too much to go on, It’s as basic as you must find the mysterious princess and stop the Big Bad Evil from taking over the world. You play as an amnesiac person who you name, who journeys out to find answers. A person named Darus, a mage, finds and befriends you after your plane crashed. The two venture out and find Princess Lefis. She reveals that her stepbrother Gadiss is looking for the keys to the sacred Radia Tower. Meanwhile Nova, a lackey of Gadiss, as begun destroying forests in search of the princess. Along your journey you’ll run into Baru, Haman, and Saria. The leader of Zenobia, Duke Necrude, was the one ordered to kidnap Lefis. After rescuing Lefis, the heroes find out that Gadiss has finished his airship, the Fitzcarraido. The party finds Lefis but Nova appears tells the party that Saria she’s his daughter and a spy. He suggests that the Hero is the key to opening the Tower, but the Hero won’t help them. To open the Tower, eight magical items are needed, some which the party already have. They collect the rest but Nova and Saria steal them and open the Tower. Nova explains that opening the Tower is only half of it, the real Radia is revealed when both the Tower of the Moon and Gate of the Sun are opened. Nova nearly kills the party but Saria steps in and stops him and send the party to Elfas, where you began your journey. The heroes make their way to the Gate and defeat Gadiss and open Radia Tower. Lefis gets kidnapped again by someone claiming to be the Master of Dreams. The heroes confront him and it’s revealed that he created the world they live on called, Lemuria. After that, The heroes make their way to the Nightmare Monster and destroy it. The Hero saves the day and remembers that he’s from the real world and this is only a dream. Lefis begs him to stay but teleported out.


The gameplay is like a combination of Zelda and Final Fantasy. You have a party maximum of five and characters will join and leave your party, similar to Final Fantasy 4. Though the game seems open ended, it’s very linear. There aren’t any “random” encounters but enemy encounters are on predetermined locations. The battle system is one of my favorites, at the start of each battle, you can tell everyone to fight and they’ll act on their own accord, you can tell them to regroup to move to a single spot, or you can Trick the enemy, which is like running from a fight, but it’s funny because everyone will look like they dropped dead. When engaged in battle, you attack with the B Button and the A Button brings up the Menu. You can tell an single character to Rush, making them fight an enemy of your choice, Move, which is like the Regroup command, Defend, where they’ll avoid combat, and Fight, self explanatory. You don’t get money after each fight but you get “Prizes” which can be Meat, Bones, or Tusks. Meat is a weak healing item, Bones which can make enemies run, and Tusks that can poison an enemy, all of these can be sold. There many towns where you can buy weapons and armor. Each character has four slots to hang onto weapons and armor like Final Fantasy 1. You’ll want to check every pot and bookshelf in every town to find items as well, more importantly for Scrolls which can teach a character a spell, provided they have a charge ready, yup just like FF1 again, Spells have charges. The game doesn’t really tell you what the spells do, some can heal, some do massive damage to enemies. The only way to find out is to look at a guide. Save points are plentiful as any bed you get into will recover your health and magic charges.

This is one of my top favorite RPGs for the Famicom, next to Final Fantasy III (I really need to do a write up on that). One complaint is being on the NES/Famicom, depending on how many characters are on screen, the game can lag.

-Marcus

Unholy Night Unboxing and Review

Unholy Night brings back memories of renting a video game solely based on how cool the box cover looked and then being disappointed with it 15 minutes after popping it in. The game showed some promise when it was being developed, but ultimately falls short with its finished product. Find out why in this video review:

 

Mother/Earthbound Origins 2X LP Soundtrack Review

Do yourself a favor and play the below video I produced that contains the entire soundtrack of this record while you read this review, it will certainly add to the flavor.

If you would have told me that the vinyl release of the Mother Soundtrack would be my favorite out of my collection back when I started picking up game music on vinyl, I would have told you that you were crazy; but after multiple listens of this incredible record, that seems to be the case.

I had always known that fully studio produced tracks for the release of Mother/Earthbound Origins existed, but I had only heard small bits and pieces of some of the tracks. When I picked up this record, I expected just a high-quality recording of the music from the Famicom classic; but instead I got so much more. Let me be honest, these lyrical, fully produced music tracks are pretty damn cheesy; but somehow hit me right in the heart with almost every track. For a game that was made to capture the essence of the mid to late 80’s in the United States, these arranged tracks do the same thing. I could have easily heard music like this when I turned my radio on in the 80’s and not thought it was out of place. The arranged tracks range from genre to genre; sometimes you get a little pop music and other times you get something that seems straight out of a Peter Gabriel album, but it’s all very well done and sounds fantastic on the format. Side D on the second record gives you the original music from the Famicom game and its sounds excellent in its constant mix presentation.

This two record LP set from Ship to Shore Phono Company is beautifully produced and comes on two gorgeous red vinyl discs, along with a great gatefold cover. The version I was given included a booklet which gives a nice history of the production of the music from this album and a thank you page devoted to the fans who backed the Kickstarter set up for this project.

Regrettably, the double LP version of this soundtrack is out of print, but you can still pick up the CD version of this directly from Ship to Shore as of the publishing time of this article. If you are a fan of Mother or Earthbound and don’t have some version of this music in your library yet, I suggest you pick it up! Just listen to the video I put up if you don’t believe me!

Mother Soundtrack CD: https://www.shiptoshoremedia.com/store/albums/mother