Friday, October 7, 2011

Rom Cassette Disc In SUNSOFT CD Review

The title of this album is terrible. Rom Cassette Disc In SUNSOFT? What the hell does that mean? And what on earth is going on in that cover? But in the spirit of not judging a book by its cover, let's explain this album actually is - it's a two disc (plus bonus disc) compilation of all of the music for all of Sunsoft's Famicom cartridge releases. The "Rom Cassette" part distinguishes it their Famicom Disk System games, which is a separate album and none of which are worth mentioning.) The first CD's track list don't suggest anything anything particularly worthwhile - Super Arabian, Route-16 Turbo, Ikki, Atlantis no Nazo, Madoola no Tsubasa, Toukaidou Gojuusan-tsugi, Shanghai, Ripple Island and Maharaja. None of these were released in the US, and in spite of a few alright tracks, the music is not really all that great, although the extensive speech synthesis in Toukaidou Gojuusan-tsugi is impressive.

Near the end of the first CD, the list of amazing games starts up: Chou Wakusei Meta Fight (AKA Blaster Master), Batman, Raf World (Journey to Silus), Gremlins 2, Dynamite Batman (Batman: Return of the Joker), and Gimmick!. (The linked samples aren't directly from the CD, they're just whatever I found on Youtube at the moment.) Sunsoft isn't as widely discussed as Nintendo or Konami when it comes to amazing NES music, but they really should be, because their sound programming was absolutely incredible, resulting in some of the most standout soundtracks on the system. All of the games listed in this paragraph are essential to fans of NES music. Even the lesser soundtracks (relatively speaking), like Battle Hunter (Super Spy Hunter), Hebereke (Uforia) and Nantettatte!! Baseball (unreleased outside of Japan) utilize the same synth and sound pretty decent. It is missing Fester's Quest and Platoon, however, since neither was never released in Japan.

Although the back of the album implies that each game only has a single track medley for each game, each song does indeed have its own track. And there's a lot of music here - 99 tracks on the first disc, and 89 on the second. Of course, many are quite brief, and most don't loop. While there's no a huge advantage to listening to this over NSFs, it's cool that these tracks are in one convenient place, and those who are sticklers for authenticity will approve of the recordings as well. The tracks from Gimmick!, which used an extra sound chip in its cartridge, sound every so slightly better than the emulated versions.

First printings (or perhaps all, it's hard to tell) have a bonus third CD, whoch include two long arranged tracks from Madoola no Tsubasa and Dead Zone (the latter OST does not appear on this set since it's an FDS game.) They're recorded straight from a very old cassette tape, so not only is the quality somewhat iffy, but it's very late 80s. It's not great, but it's an interesting obscurity.

The album can be bought from seller champ_des_pins on eBay, or much cheaper from I went the latter route, and while the SAL shipping took a good three weeks, I can vouch for them being an excellent vendor. There is also a remix album scheduled to come out later in October, although based on the characters on the cover, it seems like they may focus on the "nostalgic" Famicom games rather the ones any of us are likely to care about.


  1. You're right about Sunsoft. I'm convinced that they, Tecmo, and Konami pretty much had some of the best music on the NES. Probably something to do with proper use of the noise channel.

  2. thanks for this. JOURNEY TO SILIUS has the best sloundtrack ever.

  3. This review is pushing a bit on its oldness, I realize, but I actually have a (FLAC) copy of that very third bonus CD, so I just wanna comment on that.

    Wing of Madoola is one of those games I feel could've had more potential if it was made a few years later by Sunsoft when their skill level increased, but as it stands it's just an awful/mediocre game with a very interesting premise (thanks in part to its female heroine) and some decent music composed by our very own Naoki Kodaka.

    With this music recorded from cassette, I was expecting some kind of hissy distorted mess, but I was actually surprised by how good the Wing of Madoola side sounded, sounding fairly undistorted and clear. Music-wise I find it to be in the same field as Konami's arranged music of their own stuff on CD, pretty great and a great chance to expand on the music beyond the limitations of the system it was made for. I'm not familiar with Dead Zone, so I can't comment on the game or its music, but unlike the Madoola side, it's more in line with what you think a cassette would sound like: a fair amount of hiss and with some distortion.

    Part of me wishes that they could've found the original source tape instead of using a cassette, or that Sunsoft themselves had released this on CD back in 1986 so we wouldn't be having this problem! The 80s production does hamper both sides a bit, but overall it's still a fun listen, and I'm ultimately glad City Connection took the time to include these two rarities on CD.

    VGMdb listing:
    Blogpost link (contains pics of said cassette):