Chip Tuned Rockman: A Review, Samples and... Pontification

ctrWhen Chip Tuned Rockman was first announced by Inti Creates, I was pretty amazed. It's by far the most unique Rockman album that Inti Creates has come up with yet, and being a lover of 80s and early 90s video game music, I was excited about the style it was going for. Having been able to sample the album now myself, I must say it lives up to the excitement I held. But it might put off those who aren't as interested in the old NES music sound. Chip Tuned Rockman, if you need reminding, is a collection of 20 tracks by 20 artists from various classic Mega Man titles past and present; original Mega Man to Mega Man 9, and a lot in between, which are arranged using the same chip sets used to originally produce music on the NES. It even gets to some of the less appreciated Mega Man music on the series' Game Boy, Sega Genesis and PlayStation Portable outings. While I'm sure a lot of peoples' favorite tracks don't show up amongst what's available, the album has a very strong feeling of completeness.

What's most impressive is how much variety there is in each of the songs. No one song keeps doing the same thing throughout - it's always mixing things up, going into different styles and beats, and building up the embellishments and other stylistic nuances. A lot of songs use actual Mega Man sound effects in the melodies or beat, and it works out quite well. In the samples I present below, I try to capture a portion of the song's main melody, but it really doesn't capture just how much the artists lovingly play around with the songs.

If there's one thing I can fault the album for, it's that a few songs seem to focus more on being technically impressive. When you consider how the artists are using vintage sound equipment with only so many channels and wave forms to work with, you can appreciate how much detail and effort each song has. But this might go above the average game music fan, who just wants to hear the main melody and not so much of the embellishments. Also, I know Mega Man's demise sound effect is one of the most well known sounds from the series, but maybe the artists should have worked on an agreement of who gets to use it. I feel like it's in at least a third of the songs.

All in all though it's a fantastic soundtrack, especially if you love vintage sounding game music. Having been able to sample the CD myself I will definitely be picking up a copy when it goes on sale October 15th, and if you're interested in it I encourage you to do the same. Hopefully Play-Asia or the like will pick it up. In the meantime, please enjoy these samples.

02. Tornadoman Stage (Integer Spin mix) from Rockman 9 - by Virt 06. Groundman Stage (Unlimited Overdub mix) from Rockman & Forte - by Hiroki Isogai 08. Slashman Stage (Dot Matrix Dinosaur mix) from Rockman 7 - by K-> 13. Brightman Stage (Portable mix) from Rockman 4 - by Saskrotch 15. Shadowman Stage (Big Boot mix) from Rockman 3 - by Shioda Nobuyuki 18. Woodman Stage, Wily Stage 1 (Respect2dabeat Mix) from Rockman 2 - by USK

Now, while you're enjoying these samples, maybe you'd help me consider a related issue. As you know, we at The Mega Man Network enjoy serving your musical needs, among other content, and wish to continue to do so. However, I also can't help but recognize the continued effort and uniqueness Inti Creates has been putting into their Rockman albums. Some people have likened downloading music from these albums without buying them to stealing. However, these albums typically do not go on sale outside of Japan, and I feel like people downloading outside of Japan can't be considered lost profits when there was no effort made to market the product to them. But as we are not affiliated with Capcom officially, we are on an honor system with our music hosting, and we will willingly remove any material they don't want us to provide.

Because of this, and because of the guilt I'm starting to feel about it, we will probably not be providing a direct download of Chip Tuned Rockman in the near future. We may consider other routes, such as YouTube, but no sooner than the album has officially released on October 15th. And honestly, it's a good likelihood someone else will have it up by then. I still want to provide you all with the content you desire, that's why I do this everyday. But I also want to be respectful to Capcom's rights, as well as the rights to all the artists who work on these albums. For the first time, I've made some efforts to contact people connected to the album to see how they feel about it. But I realize that the feelings of you, the viewers, are important as well. That's why I bring this up to you.

Ultimately I'd love to create some kind of infrastructure where new Mega Man music can be delivered to a fans via means that Capcom can feel comfortable with, even if it's not a part of The Mega Man Network. Maybe iTunes or a similar service, I'm not sure what all the options are at this point. But I think there is a strong market for Mega Man and other game music worldwide, and I'd like to help serve this market by any means possible. So please share your thoughts with us. Maybe we can get something done.