Mega Man Battle Network Arrange Best Track
Mega Man Battle Network Arrange Best Track (Rockman EXE 15th Arrange Best Track)
June 15, 2016
Buy at CDJapan
In 2016, Capcom’s internal record label commemorated the 15th anniversary of the Mega Man Battle Network series by simultaneously releasing a six-disc box set and the series’ first arranged album. For the arranged album, Capcom asked the series’ three composers and the members of the former band ROCK-MEN to arrange fan favourites from across the series’ seven Game Boy Advance titles. Unfortunately, the end result was a highly disappointing and inconsistent album…
The album fittingly begins with a rock rendition of the series’ main theme courtesy of original composer Akari Kaida. The arrangement seems to be a direct imitation of the cheesy arena rock arrangements of the 90s. Upbeat electric guitar renditions of the main melody? Check. Emotional piano interlude? Check. Semitone modulations just in time for the final chorus? You bet. Though a few will find the arrangement nostalgic, it proved utterly uninspiring to me, between its cheesy stylings, predictable progressions, and dated production values. The album continues to disappoint with Kaida’s subsequent takes on “Fire Field” and “Hometown”. While the stage theme arrangement falls short in terms of production quality, it does at least capture some of the melodic charisma and groovy rhythms. By contrast, “Hometown” is a highly superficial and underdeveloped funk rendition on a fan favourite.
Significantly better are the contemporary arrangements penned by ROCK-MEN’s Masahiro Aoki and Yasumasa Kitagawa. “You Can’t Go Back” is an example of a rock arrangement done right. In contrast to the opening arrangement, Aoki successfully balances capturing that retro Mega Man vibe with offering modern production values and stylish guitar performances. “Final Transmission” and “Vs. Nebula Grey” follow suit, placing the spotlight on the anthemic melodies of the originals while highlighting Aoki’s virtuosity as a guitarist. By contrast, Kitagawa focuses on electronic tones with his vibrant, stylish remix of “Virus Busting”. Yoshino Aoki’s “Surge of Power”, which hardly as flashy as those of her counterparts, proves an emotional rollercoaster with its anthemic rock sections, dark electro downturns, and intimate piano conclusion. It’s a great pity that the rest of the album didn’t retain this quality.
Sandwiched between these tracks are two ill-conceived remixes that will leave most listeners disorientated. At first glance, Toshihiko Horiyama’s “Theme of Rockman EXE4” is nothing remarkable. Following an excellent introduction, it transitions into a fairly bland and repetitive synthpop retread of the original. However, at the 1:39 mark, it inexplicably cuts off into a series of 5 second distorted sound snippets taken from the original soundtrack. In addition to being gimmicky, these snippets will be unwelcome interruptions for those looking for a balanced stand-alone musical experience. Similar problems plague the “Rockman EXE4.5 Battle Music Medley” penned by repeat offender Akari Kaida. This fast-paced medley goes some way to capturing the melodic charm of the spinoff title’s battle tracks. However, the enthusiastic DJ-style Japanese voiceovers that introduce each composition prove to be yet more annoying gimmicks.
The only other standout new arrangement on the disc is “farewell”. Awkwardly placed in the middle of the album, the track is a slow-paced tear jerker written for and performed by piano trio. Yoshino Aoki captures the emotional tones of the original melody with her nuanced romantically-styled arrangement. Just as with her genre-bending other contribution, Aoki ensures the track doesn’t veer into sappy territory by tastefully incorporating some jazzy piano tones. Kaida also attempted her own softer track in the form of “A Total War”, but the end result is a tacky remix brought down by its adherence to balladic clichés and reliance on 90s string samples. The album does close on a relative high note with Kitagawa’s electro remix of the main theme. However, Mega Man collectors should note that this track along with “VS Nebula Grey” are in fact snatched from two recently-released albums, and Capcom Special Selection: Rockman Xover and We Are ROCK-MEN! 2.
This arranged album is the most inconsistent one I have ever reviewed. Of the eleven new tracks penned for this album, five are excellent, five are awful, and “Fire Field” is passable. The end result is a hugely inconsistent, often unbearable stand-alone listening experience. While some hardcore collectors may wish to purchase the album for its highlights, the rest of you are better of sticking to the superior arranged albums released for the wider Mega Man series, particularly those by ROCK-MEN and Basiscape.
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Posted on July 21, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on July 21, 2016.