Goon Review: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Rock on, Ho-rror Ho-mies! 😉 xo)

Even though Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest wasn’t a hit with the fans, Konami still made a sequel, but decided to bring it back to its original roots and becoming more of the simple side-scrolling game that the first Castlevania was. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse wasn’t just a retread. Not only was it a prequel to the first game, taking place centuries before those events, it also offered the player the ability to switch between playable characters and also take branching paths during certain points in the game. That’s Konami for you. Well, the old Konami. Always thinking outside the box.

The music this time around was different, but still in the same spirit, if that makes sense. In Dracula’s Curse, the tone seems to be much darker and it lacks that poppy punch (that’s the best way that I can describe it) that Simon’s Quest had. I guess the idea was to make it seem more gothic horror, having a much more metallic tinge and slower pace. It certainly fits the image that would pop into your head when you think of Dracula; a dark, blue evening with a full moon reflecting on a thick fog that masks danger. However coming off of Simon’s Quest that arguably has the best score in the entire series, Dracula’s Curse seems to lack that action-hearted punch. Not to say that it’s bad or anything, I just enjoy Simon’s Quest more thoroughly. The soundtrack, not the game.

Mondo’s presentation of Dracula’s Curse, however, is not lacking. The original artwork from Sachin Teng is hypnotically eye catching, making your brain try and piece it all together. Another thing you’ll notice right away is that this soundtrack is spread across two 12″ 180 Gram LPs, one Famicom and the other NES. Both versions have the same 28 tracks (which, by the way, is amazing amount of tracks for an NES game), but once again just as with Simon’s Quest, the Famicom version has a much more rustic sound than the NES version and for this soundtrack, I actually prefer the Famicom version. I feel like it has a much more gothic horror and atmospheric sound and it fits what I feel the game was trying to accomplish. Having said that, I do like the NES version of Stage 01, Beginning and Stage 06, Demon Seed better. Both have a higher energy that their Famicom counterparts don’t seem to have and those are some jazzy, energetic tracks. Konami Kukeiha Club once again did a fantastic job capturing a nightmarish batch of tunes perfectly fitting for a Castlevania game.

The records themselves are really beautiful too. The vinyls I received are orange with some black splatter all over them with tinges of white or silver here and there. There is a variant for you collectors out there, disc one is Trevor Bronze and Alucard Black and disc two is Grant Maroon and Sypha Blue. I haven’t seen those for myself, but I can imagine they are quite a sight to behold.

There’s no better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Castlevania series than with these Mondo soundtracks. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse goes for $30 and while the split colored version is sold out, the orange with black splatter is still available, so get it while it’s hot.

 

#TerrorTuesday: The “Horror Noir” Edition

(Submitted by Mr. Dr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for reminding us this lil’ slice o’weirdom eXXXists. I plan to re-open this investigation immediately! 🙂 xoxo)

It was another one of those hot L.A. days. I poured myself another shot of cheap whisky and said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been slapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like watching a made-for-TV monster movie.”

I humored myself and I found it: the, uh, stuff screams are made of…

Cast a Deadly Spell is nifty little number that attempts to fuse Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft into one bizarre creature. Set in alternative 1940s when magic is in vogue and the creatures of the night mingle with average folks, It has all the trappings of a classic film noir (hard-boiled detectives, sleazy clubs, stylized dialogue, femme fatales, etc.), but paints it all with a coat of Cosmic Horror. If that last part wasn’t clear, they drive the point home with their protagonist: Phillip Lovecraft.

This film does for lovers of the grotesque what Who Framed Roger Rabbit does for toon fans. Almost every scene has a zombie, werewolf, or fiend amidst the detective action. The story is decent, but it’s really about seeing noir and nightmare come together in a beautiful way. The monsters are fiendish and Fred Ward as Lovecraft is the perfect jaded gumshoe, bringing enough down-to-Earth wit to ground this peculiar picture.

For those wanting to crack the case, click on the box below:

Ho-stess’s Semi-Related Side Note: I just started playing Blues and Bullets (I was craving a good noir mystery), and so far so rad. I’m only in the first episode, but the first murder scene I investigated is creepy as all heck!! I’ll update you as I get further along, but since it’s been out for a while, maybe you fiends already have some thoughts on this one? Would love to hear what you think if you’ve playing it, too. 🙂 xoxo

UPDATE: I should’ve researched this game a lil’ more before I started playing it. I finished Episode 2 and immediately went to dive into the neXXXt installment, only to discover that IT DOESN’T ExxxIST!!!! 🙁

Chapter One was released in 2015, and apparently Chapter 2 didn’t come out until almost a year later. Although it hasn’t been officially announced as cancelled, it doesn’t look like we’re getting any more installments. Apparently the development company basically ran out of money, so there are currently no plans to finish his tit-le. Such a shame, too, because the story was super intriguing. Would’ve loved to see ho-w it all ended up. (And that little dog murdering piece of shit Bruno needs to feel my wrath!!! ;))

Oh well…It’s still a fun lil’ cocktease. Feel free to check this half-game out if self-torture is your thing. 😉 xoxo

 

Vinyl Review: Contra III: The Alien Wars

(Submited by Mr. Andrews Peters…Thank you, ho-rror ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

The first Contra game released on the NES in 1987 was a huge hit and defined what we now know as side-scrolling shooting. Other games came along and tried to copy what it did, but they never got right what Contra did. It seems they could never get the simple controls, great imagery giving nod to action films of the Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks, as well as HR Giger’s art and kick ass soundtrack that made the game so amazing. Sequels came and occasionally they would try something different, but always remained true to outstanding gameplay and soundtracks.

Mondo, who has been releasing some great video game soundtracks, like the Castlevania series and previous Contra titles, has just released Contra III: The Alien Wars to vinyl, moving up to the 16-bit era now and it is just as glorious as I remember it. And for some reason, 16-bit music sounds so fitting on vinyl to me. It must be that it brings me back to playing through this game during a summer when I was a young kid in Kansas. I remember it being around midnight and the aliens always creeped me out, but the music kept me going. It’s somewhat unlike the original game’s score, being a little more atmospheric, but at the same time it remains true to the fast drums, stinging synth military/action sound we’ve grown to love.

You can always count on Mondo to deliver some seriously talented art. Paul Mann depicts the classic red and blue clad Contra heroes, one looking concerned, the other with his war face is full on mad dog mode, in front of an explosion with a skull with beady eyes looming over it all. The bright and neon colors not only represent the ‘90s, but also how colorful the game is. When you open it to reveal the inside artwork, the war rages on with a full out action collage featuring aliens, robots, flying demons, helicopters, a city on fire… holy hell, this thing has a lot going on and with this single image, represents everything you love about this game.

The orchestrated score by Konami Kukeiha Club sounds magnificent on this 180 Gram Red & Blue Half & Half Camouflage, which I think is a nice tough as it represents the classic colors of Player 1 and Player 2. There is a blood splattered variant on white, so keep your eye out for that one. The tracks loop seamlessly, so it doesn’t feel like a short amount of notes being repeated tirelessly. If anything, the music is chaotic and full of energy that it’s sure to make your blood rush. The composers were taking full advantage of the Super Nintendo’s 16-bit capabilities and making it a much more dynamic score while remaining true to what the original started.

Aside from the first game, Contra III: The Alien Wars is my favorite soundtrack in the series and I’m so happy that Mondo has done it such great justice. Whether you’re a fan of the game or a fan of action/sci-fi soundtracks, I would highly recommend grabbing this one. It’s only $25 and can be picked up from Mondo’s store.