Mega Man Xover -Capcom Special Selection-
Mega Man Xover -Capcom Special Selection- (Capcom Special Selection: Rockman Xover)
September 25, 2014
Buy Used Copy
Capcom practically abandoned the Mega Man series following the departure of series’ creator Keiji Inafune back in 2010. Just one new game has been released in the last six years, Rockman Xover, a Japan-only free-to-play smartphone title that brought the various Mega Man universes together. Thankfully, Capcom has been much kinder to the series on the musical front and, between releasing multiple arranged albums and box sets, they also commercially released Rockman Xover’s complete soundtrack together with a special artbook back in 2014.
Capcom found the perfect composer to handle Rockman Xover’s music: Masahiro Aoki. As a long-term fanatic of the series and its music, he was able to stay faithful to the character of the series while still taking it in exciting new directions. His acclaimed main theme for the game, for example, recalls memories of the Mega Man X series with its heroic melodies and rock spirit. He gets straight to business by introducing the ultra-catchy, magnificently-shaped melody. The briskly-paced composition also packs in a bittersweet interlude, a heroic bridge section, and a superb recapitulation topped-off with some ad-lib guitar solos all within its two-minute playtime. With this work, Aoki manages to simultaneously pay tribute to the retro-flavoured synth rock elements of the X series while offering modern production values and fantastic performances.
Aoki maintains his dense, energetic approach to rock scoring with subsequent additions to the album. “Battle Arena” is a straight-up rock battle theme that blends Aoki’s electric guitar performances with sequenced drum kit and bass guitar backing. While the track adheres to a tried-and-tested formula, it still proves a highlight thanks to the fantastic melodies and commanding performance. “Arcade Man” follows suit, boasting perhaps the strong melody of the entire soundtrack. The boss theme “Master Boss”, on the other hand, blends these elements with jagged rhythm parts and epic choral chants. It certainly impresses with its sheer relentless sonic energy. Aoki’s self-confessed electric guitar obsession also extends to “Attack!”, “Battle Tower”, and “New World”. All tracks are sufficiently individualised in melody and style to still make strong impressions both in and out of the game. However, a little more timbral variety (e.g. a keyboard here and there) would have certainly made the album experience a richer one.
The various worlds featured in Rockman Xover crossover with other titles from across the Mega Man universe. As a result, the soundtrack features prominent remixes of compositions from the series, including the Mega Man X storyline (X’s “Stage Select”, X3’s “Opening Stage”) and the Mega Man Battle Network universe (1’s “Net Battle”, 5’s “Vs. Nebula Grey”). With these remixes, Aoki continues the approach of his original themes with fast-paced, guitar-led instrumental rock renditions. Though predictable, the tracks breathe new life into the original melodies and will be highly nostalgic for long-term series’ followers. The biggest surprise is that he skipped the original NES games in favour of commemorating the lesser-known Game Boy soundtracks with Mega Man II’s “Title” and Mega Man V’s “Sun God”. It’s yet further testament to the fact that Aoki is a true fan of the entire Mega Man series and wants to preserve its musical legacy.
Thankfully, there are few tracks that break up the guitar focus. There’s an excellent chiptune rendition of “Arcade Man” that, in addition to being ultra-catchy, impresses for its authentic 8-bit writing and synthesis. For the game’s soundtrack release, Aoki also penned a contemplative arrangement of Rockman Xover’s main theme. This tastefully-done remix brings some much-needed timbral variety and emotional depth to the stand-alone experience. As with all his tracks, there’s a guitar here but (shock, horror!) it’s an acoustic one this time round. The last few tracks on the soundtrack ramp up the intensity, culminating in “Big Four” and “Duel of the Fates”, both of which mix hard rock stylings with choral parts. The latter track (its title a clear nod to John Williams) also features a reprise of Rockman Xover’s surprisingly flexible main theme and brings the soundtrack to a fitting close.
Overall, Masahiro Aoki’s soundtrack for Rockman Xover is an impressive one. The artist captures the sound of the series’ music through original compositions and hand-selected remixes alike, while emphasising his own contemporary electric guitar sound. While this special selection is well worth its 2000 JPY pricetag, it may be a challenging to track down. An alternative is to download a condensed eight-track soundtrack for free through Capcom’s official website. It features most of the highlights from this release, but omits the classic remixes and climactic tracks, and at the very least serves as a great sampler for this release.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on July 23, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on July 23, 2016.