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Prepare to Get Rocked (Or Stoned?): Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack Review

October 22, 2008 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Prepare to Get Rocked (Or Stoned?): Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack Reviewon Twitter

I can’t believe we’re finally to this point! It seemed like just yesterday that we were looking forward to getting our hands on Mega Man 9, and now that we’ve heard the original soundtrack, the Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack is a last frontier of sorts. I’ve been anticipating the album, and I know a lot of you have as well, so how is it?

Well, you’re in for a mixed bag in several ways. Some tracks take an out-of-the-box approach, while others adhere closely to the source material. Some feel like they were arranged just for the sake of being arranged, but I guess that’s the nature of having to arrange every single song from a game. Is it everything we had hoped, or a disappointment?

Find out in our review after the jump!

Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack features arrangements by Inti Create’s in-house sound team, III (who composed the original tunes), as well as guest arrangers including the lovely Akari Kaida and Yasuaki Fujita (BUN BUN) to name a few. I’ll say that the original compositions from Rockman 9 are pretty solid, so it’s kind of hard to screw them up, but… well, just read below to see what I’m getting at.

The opening tracks on Rockman 9 Arrange are actually some of the best. The dynamic piano arrangement of “Prologue” was unexpected, and the upbeat, fully energized melody at the end makes a perfect transition into the hardcore rock ‘n’ roll version of “Title For Rockman 9” that everyone was hoping for. Unfortunately the track comes in at only 27 seconds. Come on! Give us a full-length arrangement, guys!

As one of my favorite tracks from the original soundtrack, “Hornet Dance (Hornet Man Stage)” is another pleaser with jazzy organs, defiant brass, and a solid rock foundation. It’s definitely good stuff. Akari Kaida Groves comes next with “Jewel Temptation (Jewel Man Stage),” which features a kind of smooth bossa nova sound with electric pianos and female vocal elements. I know that some people will complain that the remix doesn’t feature enough of the original theme, and I’ll agree with them on that point, but I really enjoy the creative approach to the piece.  I’ll admit I have a bias since completely adore Akari Kaida.

“Magma Burning (Magma Man Stage)” features a lively violin and guitar arrangement reminiscent of Wild ARMs, which is actually pretty cool despite the straightforward arrangement. Getting back to the rock style that everyone was looking forward to, both “Boss – Born Again –“ and “Wily Machine” deliver doses of heavy metal that really hit the spot, although the use a of twangy lead guitar in “Wily Machine” is questionable. “Flash in the Dark” follows suit with a more contemplative approach, featuring guitars with lots of reverb that lend heaviness to the piece. “Splash Blue (Splash Woman Stage)” wasn’t the most popular track from the original soundtrack, but I think the arrangement here is one of my favorites. It adopts a topical rainforest feel with belltones, flutes, and a rhythmic bongo percussion line that fits the melody perfectly.

From here onward I found myself less impressed. “Galaxy Fantasy (Galaxy Man’s Stage)” makes use of some interesting spacey synths, but the upbeat arrangement sounds note-for-note like the original track with an instrument upgrade. I did appreciate the robotic voices and “spooky” space synths that came in later, but I was hoping for something more lively. Although it starts with a lot of promise, “Thunder Tornado (Tornado Man Stage)” takes a turn into free style electronic music that is too loose to enjoy properly. I did like the techno elements during the intro, and wish they had stuck with this style throughout. “Maze of Death” is another squandered opportunity, as the original track was so powerful and unexpected. This arrangement plays it safe, upgrading the synths a bit to the point where it sounds like an electronic track with retro leanings in terms of the synths that were used. I would have preferred a full-blown electronic arrangement with modern production values.

“Strange World” has a great jazzy rock backing, but the melody, played on violin and jazz organ, sounds so confined and uninspired, it kind of ruins the whole experience. Similarly, “Concrete Jungle (Concrete Man Stage),” which happens to be my favorite piece from the game, also features a solid rock background, but the jazz organ and marimba combo that they use to voice the epic melody are mixed in at such a low volumes that they’re hard to even hear most of the time, making it sound like a karaoke version of the song. The arrangement of “What Do You Select?” sounds like an interesting ska track, complete with guitar strums on the upbeats, but I found the brass synths to be unconvincing and somewhat cheesy. Perhaps that was the intent, as the piece sports a fun game show-like atmosphere that I thought was cool.

The final track on the album is probably my favorite, titled “To a Shining Tomorrow.” It’s a light rock track with female vocals, sounding like an anime theme song. Miki Tsuchiya handles vocals and chorus, masterfully recorded over an arrangement by Chicken Mob. Sticky sweet stuff for sure, but I love it, and the guitar solos aren’t bad either!

So there you have it. A mixed bag for sure, but after writing this review, I realize there is a lot more to like on here than I had initially thought. I guess that’s the problem with arranging every track on the album; people get stuck arranging music they’re not particularly inspired by! One of the coolest things about this album is that the booklet credits the individual composers of III for their pieces on the original score, so we can all praise Yu Shimoda’s amazing work on MM9. I really dig the album art, drawn by artist Hitoshi Ariga, who also illustrated the short manga featured in the album booklet. Certain retailers are also distributing a nifty red and black sticker of the cover art (above), so I recommend heading over to VGM World if this album sounds like your kinda thing and picking it up while supplies last. Just be warned that not everything is going to be as impressive as perhaps the original soundtrack was.

Were you looking forward to the Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack? Do you have any thoughts to share about the eclectic approach that III took with the album?

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