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Doujin, Game Music

super-fighting-robots-mega-man-the-robot-museum-review

Super Fighting Robots: Mega Man – The Robot Museum (Review)

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Another Mega Man fan album. Cynical people like myself will likely look at this release and think ‘’Do remixers only play the same games?’’  Still, it’s Mega Man music so let’s all open our minds as well as our ears!

Frequent OCR contributor Joshua Morse (Castlevania: Symphony of the Damned, Heroes vs. Villains, Bound Together) has taken one song from each original Mega Man game and has the unenviable task of turning them into themes for a ‘Robot Museum.’  Points for originality at least.

Read the review after the jump!

Before moving on to the music, the design of the mini-site deserves praise. It genuinely contributes to the music if you browse through the wonderful mesh of retro images presented in a modern way (like a museum!). It’s an easily overlooked aspect of the project, given that the link to the site is on the same page as the Torrent link, and deserves credit as being one of the better OCR mini-sites.

The first game gives us “Thunder Beam (Elec Man).” One of my personal favourite Mega Man songs, Morse arranges the song in a lounge style that strangely fits the track. The laid-back, slow tempo is the recurrent theme for the rest of the album which makes sense for a Robot Museum.  The first three minutes of “Air Shooter (Air Man)” continues this same style, but with far too many extra instruments thrown in. Whereas “Thunder Beam” sticks with a lounge style, “Air Shooter” picks every instrument and runs to the bank with them. While I am not a fan of this practice (I personally think there are too many remixers who simply play the original tune with more noises over the top), I don’t have a vendetta against people who do it, as long as the song sounds good. Sadly, the bass in particular sounds far too ‘cheap’ and detracts from the song.

“Spark Shock (Spark Man)” gets back on track as it sticks with mostly the ‘extra’ instruments. When the album goes for a more minimal and ‘clean’ sound, the tracks sound their best. When the opposite occurs it just sounds like two songs playing at once. The piano breakdown is a nice touch here.  “Dust Crusher (Dust Man)” is agreeable in this sense in that it’s much more minimal than the earlier tracks. The vocoder noises cheapen the effect, but the choice of instruments (the Japanese chime things from Akira, for example) make up for it.

Sounding like a long lost Streets of Rage track, “Power Stone (Stone Man)” starts with a shed-load of bass and is considerably more upbeat than the rest, to the point where I couldn’t hear the original much in the song (which is a good thing).  It’s my personal favorite until it sort of fizzles out near the end and the song refuses to admit it finished thirty seconds ago.  Next, “Yamato Spear (Yamato Man)” is probably Mega Man 6’s best song. Here, it’s the best example of the album trying to do too much at once.  It gives you the feeling that Morse has loads of ideas and he’s trying to fit all of them into this trick.  I also caught what is seemingly a reference to Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker” at 2:53, although it doesn’t last long.

“Slash Claw (Slash Man)” takes on a samba style, making for a nice twist to an already mellow track, but the song does admittedly sound like one long intro after some of the more active tracks that appeared before.  Morse’s “Astro Crush (Astro Man)” works in a tub-thumping moon base way, and is almost a remix of a remix given that the original sounds like something off of OCR to begin with.

The album finishes with “Data Base Accessed (Data Base).” The original is from Mega Man & Bass, so I had to re-listen to remember it.  It’s even slower than the original and is similar to Morse’s previous Sonic 3 “Marble Garden Mix.” There’s actually very little tune to mix here, but it still manages to work.

To conclude… one of the reasons why I like Mega Man music so much is the beauty of the NES sound chip. It’s a nice sound and it’s just the sound. No trumpets, no bagpipes, just 8-bit noise. The majority of this album was like trying to eat a sandwich with too many ingredients. This is a shame, as the songs here that stick to just one simple idea sound really great, including “Data Base Accessed,” “Power Stone” and “Thunder Beam.”  The rest? ‘MOAR NOISES’ is like the OCR equivalent to auto-tune.

Robot Museum? Sounds like ‘Robot Elevator’ to me.

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