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.