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Okay, this one is a bit more old and obscure in the realm of all things Mega Man, but after some light encouragement on Twitter, we're going ahead and posting it. So please bear with us. A little while back, we-- by way of Destructoid's Tony Ponce-- told you about one rather bizarre, officially-licensed item to be found in the annals of Mega Man merchandise: The soundtrack to the Ruby-Spears animated series from the early 90s, which was actually a compilation of the odd arrangement of songs used in the credits for the show's second season, rather than tunes from from the show itself (not even the "Super Fighting Robot" theme was included).
Fast forward to last night, and we're watching the latest episode of Todd in the Shadows' "One Hit Wonderland" over on That Guy with the Glasses, a fun show which looks back at the acts of yesteryear who were only known for just one song. This episode focuses on the group Mr. Big and their hit "To Be With You."
At 9:55 into the video is where everything clicks, as he briefly examines one of the group's follow-ups, "Take Cover." After a moment of listening, we cracked up-- Despite knowing "To Be With You" but not really recognizing the group name, we immediately recognized the song and name together as one of the contributors for that Mega Man album. To this point, we had no idea that the two songs were by the same guys, or even related at all.
Again, this is all kind of vague and obscure, but there it is. If you're interested in learning more about the group and how they went from one successful song to having a blue cartoon robot shill for one of their latest works after most kids have probably stopped watching, then check out the full episode of "One Hit Wonderland" below.
As an aside: Even if you're not a fan of That Guy with the Glasses, aka The Nostalgia Critic, aka Doug Walker, Todd's work is an entirely separate thing from Walker's, so if you haven't before, give it a chance. It's clean and informative, with just a light touch of humor added, and as far as I can tell, should be safe for work.
Now here's a bit of an oddity. When TMMN reader "shinichi" mailed us with the tip, it teased us with Ruby-Spears Mega Man merchandise that we "never knew existed," but this one is actually quite familiar to us. Back in the heyday of the early 90s, you weren't likely to find a lot of Mega Man merchandise on this side of the Pacific (not including imports), and what did exist was largely based on the Ruby-Spears animated series of the time. Many are familiar with the moderately successful action figure line by Bandai, and even the peculiar cartoon soundtracks. But rarer were items such as those you see at right (click to enlarge).
To be frank, we're not sure if there is still a market for this kind of thing any more, but years ago, you could find all sorts of cheap merchandise like this in gas stations and grocery stores. Odd little items which were branded with popular or even semi-popular licenses, yet didn't really make a whole lot of sense at the time.
Items like a Mega Man-themed bow and arrow set. Granted, you can make the argument of the Super Arrow from the still-recent Mega Man 5, but that's more of a justification than any likely influence.
Other such items included things like small, handheld flashlight guns, which one might approximate as a Mega Buster of sorts (or just "blaster," as they were known on the show), or a kid-sized light-up sword. Sure, the go-to argument for that might be Zero, but a) he was never in the show, and b) the Z-Saber's debut was probably too recent to be included in the cartoon show.
Though cheap, the items seem to be rather hard to come by these days, likely due to even fans passing over them due to their nonsensical nature, this writer included. Which is unfortunate, as they now have a more interesting appeal not only due to their strangeness, but also as a mark of some of the branding used back then, including the promotional images from the show and the "Superhero of the 21st Century!" tagline.
If you have or have found any other strange Mega Man items such as this you'd like us to show off, feel free to send whatever links or pictures you have our way!
Edit: Title changed to a much better one suggested by reader Jon.
In the Ruby-Spears Mega Man animated series (as we like to call it, as it sounds more professional and sophisticated that way), one of the best moments in each episode was usually when our hero would suddenly swipe the powers of his enemies and use them to turn the tide. Part of that was due to the cool weapon diagrams, part of it was due to the instrumental version of the theme song kicking in, and part of it was just seeing how creatively they interpreted/how badly they screwed up some weapons. A couple of years ago (as it turns out), YouTube user JadePharaoh put together a compilation of these moments and set it to some nice remixed Mega Man music. Check it out:
Of course, there are three moments which stand out among these. One, of course, is in "Electric Nightmare," when Mega Man steals Pharaoh Man's weapon (kind of surprised they didn't end on that), another is from "The Beginning" when Proto Man joins in, and the last is from "Mega X", when X gets in on the action-- in triplicate! Too bad that last one didn't make the cut, though.
Recently, a Brazilian member of the Mega Man fan community dropped us a line to let us know that he was keeping the Blue Bomber (or at least some of his associates) in the public eye by placing in a recent cosplay contest at the Super ConQuest convention. Below, you can see Lucas Veríssimo performing for the judges to an interesting piece of music, which is part of what led us to want to share. How many of you have heard the classic Ruby Spears cartoon theme song... in Brazilian Portuguese? Have a listen to that, as well as some dialogue from their version of the show:
It would seem that Lucas got a pretty good reaction from the crowd, too-- good enough for him to earn second place in the competition. Congratulations, Lucas!
Read on for a transcript of the dialogue, as well as some more pics of Lucas suited up.
Note: the dialogue used was a mix of lines from "The Beginning" and "Electric Nightmare."
Wily: I will blast Mega Man into pieces! Proto Man: NO! I must destroy Mega Man! He is my brother! Wily: You remmember i build you Proto Man and you will obey me! Proto Man: You're right Dr Wily! I will obey you when i want to! Proto Man: Not so fast little brother! Mega Man: If you are really my brother Proto Man you do the right thing and let me stop Dr Wily's crazy plan! Proto Man: It wouldn't be so crazy if you join us bro. Mega Man: Not a chance! Proto Man: You decided... (punch*) Mega Man: Wow! This really cracked my circuits... Proto Man: Lets see how faint your power are against me Mega Junk! Mega Man: I'm as good or better than you Proto Man! Proto Man: We will see about that! (Fifhgt*) END
And here are the additional pics:
Ah, soundtracks. A good idea in theory, to gather up all of the music heard within a movie, television show, or other production, and release it in a format which people can listen to at their leisure, all without the hassle of having to watch said production to hear certain songs, and typically without background noise running over it. A good idea... in theory.
Unfortunately, there are some who miss the point entirely. Sometimes you get soundtracks where lines from a movie or TV show are played over parts of some songs; other times, the music you want to hear is discarded in favor of something you didn't even realize was there in the first place. And, almost as an extension of that, there are those soundtracks which are basically just songs taken from the ending credits and padded out with some other stuff you didn't care about in the first place.
And that brings us to Mega Man, one of the few genuine American soundtracks to bear the Blue Bomber's name. Rather than a collection of the video game series' iconic tunes, this is a soundtrack for the then-popular animated series from Ruby-Spears. Hey, it had that awesome-- albeit repetitive-- theme song, so that should make it a winner right there, right?
Not so fast.
Over at Destructoid, our friend Tony Ponce has managed to pry open an ancient vault and dust off this interesting piece of franchise history by taking a look back at the songs which comprise the soundtrack. As it turns out, though, those songs-- while technically used in the show-- are not what one would expect.
Instead of the cool background themes which ran throughout each episode of the show, these are the songs which played during the end credits of season 2. And while Ponce is kind enough to at least credit them as being "inspired by" the show, we cannot even muster that sort of faith-- even if being sarcastic about it. With the exception of one song, "Mega Man Theme" (which isn't at all what you think), none of these songs seem to even remotely have anything to do with Mega Man at all. If anything, it seems more like a strange cross-promotion by the record label for other albums by the artists involved.
I'm super grateful that I picked this album up as an adult, because I can only imagine how heartbroken 10-year-old me would have been had I received it when it first came out. At least now I can laugh at its absurdity and novelty, but I feel bad for kids who were duped into thinking a Mega Man CD would actually have anything to do with Mega Man.
Er, yes... pity the poor suckers who got roped into this back when it was released... *sobs*
But really, though some of the songs aren't necessarily bad, "misdirection at its finest" is indeed the best way to sum up this release.
However, that's not all-- Ponce has actually found a second soundtrack called Mega Man Dance, which features the nifty German techno version of the cartoon's theme song, which you might have heard around at some point. Plus, there's music from... Sonic the Hedgehog?
The article is full of YouTube embeds from both albums, so if you have any curiosity for an obscure piece of Mega Man history such as this, we strongly encourage you to check it out.
Thanks for the tip, Tony!
Heat Man may have temporarily left us to go adventuring in Japan, but that won't stop the MegaCast! We still have what's left of our rag tag crew including myself (Jesse "Main Finger" Gregory), resident conspiracy theorist Andrew "AWD !" Dickman, and Tabby "I don't like music" Ramsey. We also talk to Brian Austrin of Protodude's Rockman Corner about all manner of strange Rockman memorabilia. After the interview portion, we talk about the greatest Mega Man game ever (don't question it!) the original Mega Man X. We then ponder over the many masterfully crafted intricacies of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon. To top it all off, we have a discussion on how Mega Man could get more attention from the mainstream again partially inspired by Heat's recent editorial of paradigms and how they might need some shifting.
All this and more on the latest Megatacular Podcastisode!
The Ruby-Spears production of the Mega Man animated series is a fondly remembered cartoon, differences, strange quirks and modern memes aside. Even when it premiered, I can recall being just a kid and thinking the show seemed peculiarly different than what I came to know as Mega Man. But that made it no less entertaining, and darned if I didn't watch it all. Sometime ago, M Sipher got a chance to ask some questions to Ruby-Spears co-founder Joe Ruby on many questions that have surrounded the series for a while. These include things like how the series got its start, what's the deal with season three, and was Bass ever intended to be in the show? You'll definitely want to check it out, especially for bits like this:
Had the series continued, would we have seen characters from more recent games, or even the Mega Man games that were exclusive to the Nintendo Game Boy?
JR: We were planning on integrating the new Mega X character and game materials into the new shows.
Mmm, what could have been.
To date, Mega Man's biggest excursion into the mainstream (mind, the video game industry wasn't quite the same then as it is today) came to be in 1994, thanks to the animation company Ruby-Spears Productions*. Together with Capcom Productions, they were able to create a highly-successful animated series which ran for three seasons**, and even had a line of action figures from Bandai America. Originally, plans were for the cartoon to be very faithful to the video games, and a short animated promotional reel even showed characters and action which looked like it came right out of the games (and did a better job of it than even the video game-themed Captain N). But then, somewhere along the way, something happened, and everything changed.
During development of the series, a decision was made to make the characters taller and more muscular, seemingly to appeal more to an American audience who had yet to fully-embrace the Japanese styles of anime and manga. New designs gave characters more muscles and definition, and more "realistic" designs than those seen in the art for the games. Plus, Mega Man and his sister, Roll, were aged up to be teenagers with attitudes who wouldn't hesitate for a moment to blast another robot (with a vacuum cleaner arm, in the case of the latter). Meanwhile, Rush became a transforming robotic Scooby-Doo.
Stories were your typical episodic affair, with the events of one episode rarely (if ever) having any effect on subsequent stories. As such, events from the games were never used or referenced, with most episodes' plots being of a fairly generic nature, and most Robot Masters appearing in a "Monster of the Week"-styled capacity, with no explanation.
Fortunately, fans of longer, serialized stories with potential long-lasting effects have something to look forward to in the coming weeks, when Archie's Mega Man #1 begins to arrive in mailboxes (you remembered to subscribe, right?), comic shops, and newsstands all across the continent. There, you will get to witness the story of how a simple tool-using robot makes a bold decision to stand against his own kind in defense of humanity.
But, how will this decision affect him as the battle wears on? Instead of just shooting everything around him with no remorse, how will the consequences of fighting the innocent victims of Dr. Wily's reprogramming weigh upon his robotic soul?
From the very first issue, you will get to see how the story behind the original Mega Man video game is adapted and expanded upon, and how this robotic world of the future will grow.
Oh, and no worries: these robots won't be musclebound bundles of 90's-styled teenage attitude, either.
Check back tomorrow for the final part of our retrospective, as the Blue Bomber ventures north for what might be best described as "a learning experience."
* Fun fact: Ruby-Spears also produced a cartoon based on the Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa, which longtime Archie readers may remember also had a comic book published by Archie Comics.
** Technically, the third season only lasted for one episode before Capcom pulled the plug on all of their animation projects at the time.
Once upon a time, Mega Man fans-- particularly those outside of Japan-- had it pretty rough. For a time, if a fan of the Blue Bomber wanted to reenact their favorite adventures through the childhood pastime of pitting plastic action figures against one-another, they were pretty much out of luck (save for the particularly creative sorts). But then, good fortune came: in 1994, Capcom teamed with animation company Ruby-Spears to create a new animated series based on the original video game series. In addition, the American branch of Bandai was brought into the mix to produce a line of action figures, vehicles, and other toys, all based on the cartoon.
During the line's short life, there were two scales of figures: larger figures which were around 5 inches tall (fairly standard for the time), each with some modest articulation and an action feature, and smaller two-inch unarticulated figures. And it is the latter which Video Game Memorabilia Museum curator Nightram56 has recently decided to take a look at on his YouTube channel:
Of course, we have come a long way since these were released. This is largely thanks to the advent of the internet, which has kept Mega Man fans not only more informed than ever about what merchandise is available out there, but also a number of ways to obtain them. But even though better versions of Mega Man, Proto Man, and Roll have come along, there are still some jewels to be found in the old Bandai cartoon line that would make fine additions to one's display. If there are better versions of Guts Man, Snake Man, or Drill Man out there, we've never seen them.