When getting to know people, I tend to ask what their favorite X is. X in this case being a band, a movie, a television show, a book or a video game. My inner hipster tends to stir whenever this question is answered with a Flavor of the Month. Telling me that your favorite band is The Kings of Leon and that your favorite Kings of Leon song is “the one that’s on the radio,” my inner Hipster immediately form its own conclusions about you as a person. Now, there’s nothing wrong with liking Kings of Leon (in theory; in practice that’s a whole different story), but if they’re your favorite band, wouldn’t you like another song of theirs that isn’t “the one that’s on the radio?” And even if that was your favorite song, wouldn’t you at least know the title of the song?
The reason I mention this is because this is a review of The Greatest Bits’ Mega Man 2 remixes. For those Kings of Leon fans out there who aren’t aware, Mega Man 2 is a very, very popular video game. Ask any fan of the series what their favorite Mega Man game is and the answer is almost unanimously the second one. There’s somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion trillion Mega Man titles, yet number two is still the Reigning King. It is the video game equivalent of, “the one that’s on the radio.” However, it’s the opposite end of the Popularity Spectrum; it’s the best Mega Man game for a reason. Among that big, ambiguous reason is the music. It’s the kind of sticky, immediately catchy electronic music that’s synonymous with the Nintendo Entertainment System. As such, many young hopeful musicians with a love for Mega Man and a passion for electronic music have done their best to remix that wonderful music. One need only visit Over Clocked Remix way back during its heyday and see and hear how many remixes there were (there are only fifty-six now, but in the early aughts, that number was significantly higher). To be honest, most (and that’s being generous) of those remixes were absolute garbage. It was to Mega Man what P Diddy was to pop hits of the seventies and eighties. After a certain breaking point, I actually quit playing the games for a time because I was so sick of hearing those same songs over and over again. Taking a game like Mega Man 2 and basing an entire remix album around it feels like picking an easy target; like shooting fish in a barrel. It would take an awful lot of effort to take a soundtrack so beloved and make it sound good. I’m happy to say that it does, in fact, sound good. Even if it is by default, it is definitely one of the better remix albums I’ve heard in some time. As backhanded as that sounds, it is a quality album that you should check out. It would be a disservice to yourself to not do so.
The Greatest Bits album is quite a bit different than OC Remixes of days gone by. Rather than wonder how to take a Mega Man 2 track and make it sound the most like Juno Reactor, he has instead used actual instrumentation along with the original Chiptune score. It’s something in the spirit of other acts like Anamanaguchi, The Depreciation Guild or Starship Amazing, whilst keeping its own sense of flavor and still respecting the “Mega Man Sound” of catchy electronic pop. As some crusty old curmudgeon who swore off Chiptunes for dumb reasons, it’s nice to finally begin hearing some albums that pull me back into the genre. And I’m glad that this album is one that simultaneously pulls me back into the genre and back into fan-made remixes (well, maybe not so much the latter).
For the record: my favorite Mega Man game is not actually Mega Man 2. It’s actually a toss-up between Mega Man Legends on the Playstation and Mega Man Powered Up on the PSP.