Album Cover
The Advantage
The Advantage
5 Rue Christine
April 06, 2004


At first glance, this is the most necessary album of all time. On the cover, a small nondescript grey box orbits Earth trailing a rainbow of music, while coming in on a direct intercept course is an electric guitar; yes, The Advantage is a Nintendo cover band. Simple, sure; but come on, Nintendo had like some of the best music ever piped through tiny TV speakers in eight-bit bleeps. The Bubble Bobble theme, the Bomberman theme, and the more renowned classics like Zelda and Super Mario; here, from this box of unfeeling circuits and wires, the art of nonoffensive novelty background music transcended its limitations, reached out and touched the face of God. And then there's that the Advantage shares a band member with Hella, guitarist Spencer Seim, here on drums, and that they're released on 5RC, and how goddamn awesome will this be?

But then we stop, and we think. However good these songs were, the fact is, they just aren't meant to be standalone songs, and this fact, as we are slapped with it for forty minutes, is pretty detrimental to the album's awesomeness. In the games, phrases would loop indefinitely until you passed the stage, with no distinguishable beginning or end; shorten that to twenty-six two-minute tracks and what you have is you have an album chock full of middle. Phrase one, phrase two, repeat phrase one, repeat phrase two - next. The songs just sort of stop. Which is fine for a few songs, but twenty-six and the songs start to just stop mattering.

But what, really, can I fault? The idea? Certainly not. The performances? Why, they're completely without error, since they're transcribed more or less verbatim, and even the guitars seem to be trying their hardest to sound like they're beeping from tiny mono speakers. You just don't mess with the classics - but on the other hand, you can do a lot more with guitars than you can with a 1985 mini-computer; while they almost certainly shouldn't have, it's kind of a shame that they didn't. The songwriting? Is, we know, straight-up boss, however often it's labeled as a novelty. And their hearts, we can tell, are firmly in the right place, god bless 'em.

It's a collection of songs, is all it is. As this, it succeeds wildly; otherwise we're stuck with the fact that the most necessary album we've ever heard, however perfectly carried out, just downright doesn't work. And this sucks. But then we can just go back to playing the actual games and hear this stuff as it was meant to be heard: in the background.

Marble Madness had the best theme ever.

Noah Jackson

Track List

  1. Megaman 2 - Flashman
  2. Double Dragon 2 - Stage 2
  3. Goonies 2
  4. Bubble Bobble
  5. Bubble Bobble - Shark Skeleton
  6. Wizards and Warriors - Intro
  7. Bomberman 2
  8. Bionic Commando - POW Camp
  9. Super Mario Bros. 2 - Underworld
  10. Super Mario Bros. 2 - Overworld
  11. Contra - Snow Fields
  12. Zelda - Fortress
  13. Batman 2
  14. Megaman 3 - Dr. Wiley Stage
  15. Double Dragon 2 - Story and Boss Music
  16. Castlevania 3 - Epitaph
  17. Ninja Gaiden - Mine Shaft
  18. Mario 3 - Underworld
  19. Blaster Master - Stage 2
  20. Ghosts 'n Goblins - Intro
  21. Ghosts 'n Goblins
  22. Castlevania - Stage 3
  23. Marble Madness
  24. Metal Gear - Jungle
  25. Contra - Boss Music
  26. Castlevania 3 - Evergreen