As jazz bands have standards, the types of songs many musicians rearrange and make their own, the video game inspired music world also has their standard video games which everyone covers. It seems one of the most often rearranged, remixed and recreated soundtrack is the NES classic Mega Man 2. That is surely not to say that the game is overdone. There is one band though, who has not only taken Mega Man and created something new, but just as much, have given something back to the game. Musically they have infused the game with a new background, depth, and mentality that should have never existed in the minimalist colors and dimensions of a humble platformer from 1989.
The Megas (themegas.com) are that band. A combination of rock aesthetics mixed with nerdery, storytelling, and a sometimes tongue in cheek attitude create a stand out band in and out of video game music circles. Forming in 200X (or 2004 for non robotic readers) things started slow as a side project, but things have heated up significantly since the release of their debut album Get Equipped.
The debut album focuses on the story of Mega Man II in both song and lyrics. The concept doesn’t stop there though. On closer inspection you learn that each robot master’s theme is accompanied by lyrics from that robot masters perspective. So each song has a distinct mindset and feeling, from the loneliness turned anger of Airman in his song The Annihilation of Monsteropolis (which is also available at OCReMix) to the earnest struggle within Bubbleman in Promise of Redemption.
There are also the requisite epic battle songs like the searing Man on Fire, which looks at Heatman’s perspective of his showdown with Megaman, and the western style duel between Megaman and Quickman in the song The Quick and the Blue, which sees Quickman’s final demise at Megaman’s hands (or hand and cannon, if you want to be literal about it). There are even some unexpected twists to the supposed villians in Megaman II like anti-hero Crashman in his song Programmed to Fight. In which we see his struggle between what he is programmed to do, and what he knows is right, even if it means his own death. We also get a glimpse into the disturbingly obsessed Flashman in the track Blue Like You.
Metal Dance is of course the track for Metalman (which was also used as a remix by Mega Man influenced rapper, Random). This song gives Metalman a pompous and fight obsessed nature. How the fight turns out though, the music never seems to let on. This leads right into the near opposite of Metalman. Megaman is up against the all natural Woodman. In Carved from Mighty Oak we learn about why Woodman will defeat Megaman and “avenge the death of his robot brothers.” These are all bookended with the songs from Megaman himself. The opening track I Want to be The One introduces us to who Megaman is, and why he is fighting. The final track, Lamentations of a War Machine, is a reprise. Megaman is now reflecting on the war he fought and the decisions he has made. After fighting first hand, it seems like Megaman’s determination has begun to waver.
Will this new side of Megaman be explored in the upcoming Mega Man 3 project which is supposedly in the works from The Megas? I am as in the dark about you as that one I am afraid. For MM2 completionists, The Megas also released another single from the game after the release of their debut album, and from an unheard perspective. This is The Message From Dr. Light and in it we hear from Megaman’s very creator in an epic preamble to everything before the robot war. The song appeared on the Game Music 4 All album Welcome to World 2.
After all this hubbub about the classic Megaman 2, The Megas started to hear shouts of “But what the heck about the first Megaman!?” Those shouting loudest were East coast VG rockers, Entertainment System (myspace.com/entertainmentsystem), whom The Megas had toured with briefly around 32 Bit Genocide. Unlike most shouting on the internet though, this actually helped something. Specifically the Megatainment EP. This was a four track EP wherein Entertainment System brings in their own brand of hard rocking to team up with The Megas vocal proficiency to create a prequel to the acclaimed Get Equipped. That album, which is just as amazing, and with it’s own rougher but just as catchy style will be the focus of another article though.
The debut album from The Megas also create a great introductory album to VG Rock, as well as Mega Man in general, with it’s catchy, genre fusing style and pop sensibilities. That isn’t to say that the songs do not rock though, as anyone who has been to a Megas show can attest to. Be sure to check out their music at themegas.com. Any fan of rock music will not be disappointed with the musical abilities they bring to the table. And with a brand new acoustic album on the horizon, as well as the previously mentioned Megaman 3 project, it is certainly a good time to be a Megas fan.
Quickman and Dr Light Artwork by Rocco D. Commisso