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LONG BLOG

One Song...Many Remixes, Vol. 1: Mega Man X: Intro Stage

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For this new whenever-I-have-time feature, I'll be looking at how a single song from a video game has been remixed/reused/recycled in different games, or by amateur musicians online. I'll try to provide as much analysis as my non-musically trained mind can think of, but what I'm hoping this feature will do is compile in one place a good sample of the variety of remixes that are available out there. If I'm missing any good ones, or if you have suggestions for a song you'd like me to "research", let me know (I've mostly been looking through YouTube and OCRemix, since it's easiest to just embed videos).

As some of you might have noticed from my "Music Mind Teasers" feature, my favorite video game music has been from the Mega Man series. So, it's only fitting that I would start with the song from the very beginning of the first SNES title in the series, Mega Man X (it also happens to be the first Mega Man game I remember playing). The "Intro Stage", also know as "Highway" or "Central Highway", was a new feature for the series. Before, Mega Man games started you off right from the stage select screen, but now there would be a relatively easy introduction level where the basic game mechanics could be shown to the novice player, and the narrative could be introduced directly through gameplay, rather than pre-title screen cutscenes.

What I think is most important about the song is how it sets up the new musical style of the X series. Compared to the Classic series on the NES, which was really its own unique "chiptune" genre, the X series' style has more obvious ties to traditional rock and techno (though the latter would come to the forefront more in the PS1 titles). As well, although the general "breadth" of the soundtracks (i.e., how long until the music would repeat, and the variety of melodies within each song) wasn't much better than some of the later NES games (like Mega Man 5 and 6), there was a lot of improvement in "depth" (i.e., the variety of instrumentation and effects) that came from the SNES sound chip. Now, lest I go on too much about music theory and design that I have no expertise in, let's move on.

Original Song



I love the energy and tempo that this song (as well as most of the music in the X series) has. There is only a brief 2 second lead-in at the start before it delves right into the main melody. It really conveys a sense of urgency, which coincides nicely with the level itself (a city under attack). As I mentioned above, the breadth of the song is quite short (only 45 seconds until it repeats), but even within that it has 4 or 5 distinct sections, showing Capcom's excellent ability to create condensed songs that still contained a variety of melodies.

Here's a video of the actual stage, to see how the music matches the level.

Official Remixes

Capcom is known for rereleasing their older games with new graphics, features, and music. Megaman X is no exception, having been "remixed" as Mega Man Xtreme on the Gameboy Color in 2001, and the enhanced remake Mega Man Maverick Hunter X on the PSP in 2006. Both of them offered new versions of the Intro Stage music:



Mega Man Xtreme, being on the GBC, obviously had a more limited sound chip than the SNES to work with. It's almost NES-style 8-bit, but it still keeps most of the basic energy and rhythm of the original piece. Actually, because of the limited instrumentation, it's much easier to hear the main melody for this version.



With Maverick Hunter X, the limitations of a sound chip were no longer an issue, so this version has more realistic instrumentation (though still with that hint of artificiality). It definitely follows the techno-rock style of the original piece and, like most good remixes, it doesn't add anything (new sections, altered melodies) that hide the original melody.

8-bit Versions

One of my favorite forms of remixes is the "retro remix": where game music is altered to make it sound like it was on an older system. Naturally, there's a couple of these that I found:



The first remix comes from Maverick Hunter Iris, who has done 8-bit versions of the entire Mega Man X and X2 soundtracks. Compared to the Xtreme 8-bit version, this piece has a lot more depth (a stronger background melody, more varied instrumentation, etc.), though one must always consider whether this is only a rough facsimile of what the NES could actually put out. Still, as long as it feels 8-bit, it's good enough for me!



Another 8-bit remix, from SSBros Productions, is slightly more deviant from the original piece than previous remixes. It has some interesting effects, some altered tones, and what seems to be a slightly faster tempo. Not as good in my opinion as the previous version, but still worth listening.

Regular Remixes:



To start with, here's one of my favorites, from the album ROCKMAN X ALPH-LYLA, released in Japan in 1994, and as far as I can tell was licensed by Capcom (details here). It throws out much of the original techno-rock style, and replaces it with jazz influences, with strong saxophone and piano sections. The tempo is a bit slower, and it takes a few more liberties with the melody, but the way they did it keeps you interested in seeing what they'll do next with the piece. I especially love the section at 2:53-3:04, which you really don't see coming. I recommend checking out the rest of their album.



A solid, albeit standard, remix by Mario0Dante. It makes good use of synthetic instrumentation, and sounds pretty close to the Maverick Hunter X version.



This remix from 8-bit Instrumental is slightly more of a hard rock version. There is some interesting variety in the use of different guitars for the different sections. Make sure to check out the excellent covers of the Spark Mandrill and Storm Eagle stages later on.



This version has a bit more of a leisurely pace, and has a slightly simplified instrumentation focusing on synthetic piano and guitar. Fairly good, though part of me keeps on wanting it to have a bit more percussion.



Here's an OCRemix entry from Protricity that like many OCRemixes, takes some more liberties with the original melody. Thankfully though, it's not completely buried by the artist's own touches, which in this case complement the original nicely. He also adds some nice variety to the instrumentation. Like the 8-bit Instrumental version earlier, he's also included remixes of Spark Mandrill and Storm Eagle within the piece, which are similarly of good quality.

Instrumental Remixes:

This section is for versions of the song that use a single instrument (like a guitar or piano). There are a lot of these on YouTube, so I've only chose a couple of examples.



A lot of Mega Man music is fast paced, so it takes a fair amount of skill to play that game music on the piano. This artist, MarkKlett, has done a good job at keeping most of the original melody within the constraints of the piano (and having only two hands).



There are a lot of amateur guitarists who do covers of video game music, so it's hard to pick one. So, I picked this one for no apparent reason, Some solid playing on the electric guitar, good complementary background music, and not too many artistic flourishes. A pretty representative example of the excellent skills of these fan musicians.

WTF Remix:



A VOCALOID REMIX?!? DO NOT WANT!

That's it. Happy listening everyone!
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About Guncannonone of us since 2:54 AM on 01.31.2009

Previous posts:

Frontpaged:
May Community Monthly Musing Recap
My expertise: Memorization, obsession and Star Fox 64 (Monthly Musing)
I suck at games: Confessions of an Item Hoarder (Monthly Musing)

Regular Articles:
Why Kinect Will Fail: The Name.
My own Listblog, but with some interesting categories.
(Relatively) Short Blog: Environment in Red Dead Redemption
Dr. Samit, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love SPORTS! (Monthly Musing)
The Airport: Last Refuge of the Arcade?
Ranking the Zelda series from my own memories
An Essay/Review of a Canadian History video game
8-bit remixes of Gundam music!
Rental Recollections: 7-7-7
Maniac Mansion: The TV Show

One Song...Many Remixes:
Volume 1: Mega Man X, Intro Stage

Video Game Mind Teasers (on hiatus until site upgrade)
Volume 15: Missing Edition
Volume 14: Touch Fuzzy Edition
Volume 13: SONIC EDITION!!!
Volume 12: Continuing Edition
Volume 11: Back to the Beginning Edition
Volume 10: Prizes Edition!
9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

My videos:
Bit Transmission!
Guile's Theme + They Live!

Community Activities:
Destructoid: A YouTube Search Story
HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY DESTRUCTOID!

Podcasts:
History in Video Games: Roundtable Podcast

Personal Stuff:
Getting some classic SNES games!
Getting Mega Man Complete Works!

Deliberate Failtoid:
Why Battlefield 1943 is the worst game EVER!



Age: 23
Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada.

Profile: I'm a longtime gamer, and started playing video games during the transition from the NES to the SNES. Although I like retro games, I play mostly newer games on the 360. Still, my favourite gaming memories are from all-nighters filled with Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Smash Bros. in the late 90s.

I'm looking for a career in public service, politics or other fields where research and writing are critical. Though, the closer it's related to games, the better.

I make videos, animated gifs, podcasts and all kinds of random stuff in my spare time. I'm also trying to develop my own gaming website (details coming eventually).

Systems: NES, Super NES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo 64, Wii, Sega Genesis, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC, Colecovision (my dad's). Also, many other systems (including arcade) that I not emulate.

Some Favourite Games:
Retro (NES-SNES eta): Megaman 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, Sonic 3, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Robotrek, Illusion of Gaia, Megaman X, Lufia 1 and 2, Strider, Metal Slug, Twilight Zone pinball.

Retro Limbo (N64 era): Ogre Battle 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon, Goemon's Great Adventure, Descent: Freespace.

Modern: Halo: Reach, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2, Bayonetta, Tales of Vesperia, Fallout 3, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Prime 1-3, Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam, Hearts of Iron II, Europa Universalis III, Civilization IV.



Xbox LIVE:GuncannonD
Steam ID:Guncannon
Mii code:Guncannon


 

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