Various Artists: MM25 – Mega Man Rocks

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Various Artists: MM25 – Mega Man Rocks
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Various Artists: MM25 - Mega Man Rocks
Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal, Indie Rock, Power Metal, Rap
Capcom, Sumthing Else Music Works
October 29th, 2013
Release length: 01:09:07
Sumthing Else Music Works and Capcom have put together a twenty-fifth anniversary compilation of various Mega Man tracks performed by a couple video game themed groups that take inspiration, as well as their names from the franchise. MM25: Mega Man Rocks is one of two “soundtracks” to be released for this celebration, which is really surprising since Capcom has canned pretty much all the announced anniversary and follow-up games, such as Mega Man Online, Mega Man Universe, and Mega Man Legends 3 among many others that probably were never announced. But, a compilation of cover songs is better than nothing, right?

MM25: Mega Man Rock relies heavily on your musical taste more than the quality of the bands or songs, though that doesn’t mean every track is golden. “Hi, I’m Mark Spandrill” by Armcannon is a pretty good Power Metal cover of the themes for the two Spark Man robots from Mega Man 3, as well as Mega Man X. This is the more impressive of the band’s three contributions, as “Borrow Mega Nuke” is just a decent performance that mixes some Electronica with Progressive Rock. It’s definitely better, but the first thirty seconds are a bit a test due to the high pitched beeping that is drowned out when the music actually picks up. “Mangnet Mang,” however, is more of a Symphonic piece that hit you hard with an angelic anthem towards the end that fans of Manowar would greatly appreciate.

Then there’s Bit Brigade, who take more of a rougher eighties Rock approach to the source material. “Full Outro” mixes that style with the speed of the source material in Mega Man 2 to make it more like an extended opening to an eighties Saturday morning cartoon show. Then there’s X-Hunters, who do a superb job at capturing some of the Metal glory in the Mega Man X series with “X vs. Zero,” one of the more atmospheric performances on the compilation that you’ll get wrapped up in.

While these instrumental tracks are the backbone of the soundtrack, there’s a good deal of original performances that stand out, though not always for the better. The Ramones inspired “The Will of One (2013 Edit)” by The Protomen isn’t a bad song, finding some good melody in the riffs that is backed by solid drumming. The vocals, however, are often painful to sit through, sometimes straining to hit certain notes and causing them to go off pitch. There’s also the new song “Built to Last,” more of an eighties Rock song with additional Industrial elements you’d find on any Rock station back in the day. This performance is a lot better in comparison, but it isn’t until around the three minute mark where the music takes on a much grander approach, picking up speed and really utilizing the keyboards for a good minute-and-a-half.

There’s only a few truly astounding songs though. “The Quick and The Blue” by The Megas carries a really dark futuristic tone in the deeper riffs and clean singing. The additional lead hooks and eight-bit effects in some spots help push that mechanical aspect a little further to the benefit of the Folk style lyrics that tell a tale about the blue bomber in a memorial manner that fits the play on The Quick and The Dead, making this one of the most memorable tracks the release has to offer. Then there’s “Wily” by Mega Ran, a Rap song that shares a similar atmosphere with audio samples from the evil doctor’s stages in Mega Man 2 and a vocal performance that suits the slower pace perfectly. Then there’s the Meatloaf styles “Breaking Out (2012 Edit),” which is just very well done, but a bit restricted due to the thin audio quality, as well as guitar presence.

Sadly, there are a few more downfalls worth addressing. While Mega Ran has one of the most impressive songs here, the other two they contribute are not as impressive. “20XX” doesn’t quite have the same impact. This isn’t so much that it sounds more like a typical modern rap song than a true homage to the franchise, but more that the vocals come through louder thanks to the music being pushed back a bit in the background, causing them to sound rather thin, even bland, leaving the overall performance rather boring. Even “Splash Woman” suffers for similar reasons. Other than “X vs. Zero,” the material from X-Hunters isn’t that great, coming off decent performances of the more mature titles in the series, but not doing much to really give them the same bite the source material had.

On top of that, for an anniversary album, it’s pretty restricted. The majority of songs come off of Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, and the first two Mega Man X games, though predominantly the second of the two. This is mostly thanks to X-Hunters, who also throw in a medley of Mega Man 9 stages and boss music. Yes, the second and third games in the original NES series of the franchise were easily the series best, but there’s so little variety to the vast twenty-five years that it comes off as an insult that this compilation was regulated worse than Roadrunner Record’s The Best Of collections from 2004, or even one of the many tribute albums to band with one or two albums in their discography.

MM25: Mega Man Rocks is an interesting take on a game soundtrack that pays homage to the blue bomber, but not well enough. There’s a good deal of music genres included that makes this something that is clearly meant for a wider audience than the niche game music audience. Sadly, there’s a good number of songs that are rather boring, or just don’t capture the bite the source material had in the cover presented. The lack of variety in the titles presented is also a big let down. But, if you’re a Mega Man fan and enjoy the music these titles had, chances are you’ll find something to cherish and come back to on this offering.

01. Hi, I’m Mark Spandrill (Armcannon) – 4:20
02. Man On Fire (The Megas) – 3:13
03. Wily (Mega Ran) – 3:35
04. X-Hunters Stage (X-Hunters) – 2:25
05. The Will of One (2013 Edit) (The Protomen) – 4:15
06. Borrow Mega Nuke (Armcannon) – 2:31
07. Full Outro (Bit Brigade) – 1:50
08. Built to Last (The Protomen) – 5:28
09. The Quick and The Blue (The Megas) – 3:44
10. X vs Zero (X-Hunters) – 4:13
11. 20XX (Mega Ran) – 3:52
12. MM9 Medley (X-Hunters) – 3:38
13. Can’t Stop the Top (The Megas) – 4:31
14. Air Man Stage (Bit Brigade) – 1:44
15. Dr. Wily Stage 1 (Bit Brigade) – 2:31
16. Splash Woman (Mega Ran) – 5:16
17. Mangnet Mang (Armcannon) – 4:47
18. Breaking Out (2012 Edit) (The Protomen) – 7:15
Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Sumthing Else Music Works via Capcom.