Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mega Man 2 by The Greatest Bits: A Boozical Review

Like a beautiful tree, The Art of Playing Video Games and Booze must sometimes branch out in new and wonderful directions. A while back The Greatest Bits, a self-described "Dutch dj/producer inspired by video games from the 80's and 90's" sent me a copy of his latest album "Mega Man 2." The Greatest Bits describes his Mega Man 2 album as "'chiptune crossover' style, combining 8-bit retro-style sounds with real instruments of the 21st century." It consists of remixes of the 13 songs found in the various levels (and intro and credits) of Mega Man 2. The original versions found in the game are awesome. It is clear that composer Takashi Tateishi set out to create excellent music, as opposed to excellent 8-bit video game music. The quality of music found in NES games varies wildly, and Tateishi's makes the bulk of it look pathetic compared to his work.

In his Mega Man 2 album, The Greatest Bits fleshes out and the game's score. Drums and guitar enhance the already-rocking music that has driven me to the defeat of Dr. Wiley so very many times. Multitudes of effects are employed and songs are re-sequenced to accentuate their grooves and elevate their dramatic dynamics. But let's get down to the details about some individual tracks. Tiana, who you all know from Smoking Zora and my own ultimate Super Metroid live-blog experience, stopped by to weigh in on Mega Man 2. I had previously asked The Greatest Bits what kind of booze I should drink while listening to his album. He recommended beers from Leffe, Westmalle, Grimbergen, and La Chouffe, along with any good hefeweizen. I wanted to pick up some Ommegang Gnomegang, a collaboration between Brasserie D'Achouffe and Ommegang, but I did my shopping at the last minute. The closest I could get was Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale, which I felt was reasonably similar in style to some of the beers suggested by TGB.

I gotta say, sipping on a delicious beer and listening to this album was substantially more relaxing than playing through a video game as quickly as possible (although I did do this at one point in my research in this post. I'll explain later). Tiana and I cranked up the stereo, and scribbled out some notes on individual tracks. "Airman" was her "#1 choice of soundtrack for drag-racing down a Florida highway" and made her feel like she WAS Mega Man. TGB's "Metalman" remix increased the song's intensity, and gave it a catchier beat. "Woodman" sounded more ominous and anxious than ever before, giving me the feeling that I really was plunging head-first through a forest filled with robotic spiders and bunny rabbits armed with only my trusty Mega Buster, Metal Blade, Atomic Fire, Crash Bombs, Bubble Lead, Quick Boomerang, Air Shooter, and Flash Stopper.
"Bubbleman" may have been my favorite track of all. TGB's version sounded rich and waterier than ever. I mean that sincerely, in case you doubted me. Tiana thought that listening to "Flashman" was like robo-tripping (she would know), and that she could probably "kill some @#$*&@#*$&^" while listening to "Quickman." I agreed. "Dr. Wiley Stage 1-2" was rocking off the charts (I love flangers), as was "Ending Theme."
As part of my review of this album, I played through MM2 in the order that The Greatest Bits has arranged his tracks. The game lets you play through stages in whichever order you like, and depending on how you do it, different weapons that are collected throughout the game can or cannot be used against certain enemies. I did not enjoy trying to play through Crashman's stage before defeating Metalman and obtaining Metal Blade. Stupid birds kept knocking me down ladders. Other than that, there were no glaring problems with the order of levels that the album presents, although it is not how I would have done it. I was at least very glad that Airman came first.
The Greatest Bits "Mega Man 2" is fun to listen to. I believe that it gives the game's music a richness and intensity that shows what it might have been like if it had been composed in the Playstation 3 era. It also makes for one hell of a rave. Everybody get your 'tussin!

Next up: I got Pinot Grigio and Skateboaring, Faxanadu and mead, and maybe one last crack at Mafia II (but probably not). But all I really wanna do is play Tiger Woods 2011. I think I'll do that right now.

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