Wow. It's been 20 years since the first release of Rockman or Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Who knew he'd still be alive and kicking at this day and age, even if the original Rockman has long been retired? Given that it is essentially his 20th birthday, he was given, as a present from Team Entertainment, techno and rock arranged albums. The techno arrangement album was done by Shinji Hosoe, known for his work with Super Sweep. Given his excellent electronica compositional skills and arranging abilities, how does Hosoe fare in commemorating the Blue Bomber's 20th birthday, the age of adulthood in Japan?
Unlike its rock counterpart, there isn't really anything bad I can say about this arrangement album. Ever since I first heard it, I make it a daily ritual to listen to it. That may sound obsessive, but trust me, it's that good. As with the rock arrangement, the track selection for this is just as strong, if not stronger. While there are a few surprises, they were all arranged beautifully. The entire arrangement seems to have a nice airy feel to it and it really shows Hosoe's skill at arranging for electronica. While I won't go through every track, I will mention my personal favorites.
Rockman 2 has its share of pretty awesome arrangements, including "Dr. Wily Stage 1," "Airman," "Heatman," and "Quickman." Out of these, "Airman" and "Quickman" are definitely the best of the original soundtrack. The "Airman mix" is definitely my favorite arrangement on the album. It starts off very mellow and has subtle hints of the original theme. From there, the pace is exceedingly quickened and the original melody is overlayed on top of some really interesting beats.
"Quickman mix" is quite interesting. It has a very tribal-like atmosphere to it. The beats are very rhythmic and there are the occasional chanting vocals. It's quite fun to listen to. Of course, what would this arranged album be without "Snakeman" from Rockman 3? This remix starts off with a screaming "Rock this!" and that's just what Hosoe does. Clearly influenced by Hosoe's Sampling Masters work, "Snakeman mix" is an energetic arrangement full of fun and quirkiness. Some people have even described it as Rockman meets Ridge Racer!
I'd say my second favorite is easily "Flameman mix." There's just some charming aspect to it, whether it is in the simplicity of the arrangement, or the awesome xylophonic samples, reminiscent of the Gust team. Either way, it's definitely the most fun arrangement on here in my opinion. Lastly, I'll mention "Magnetman mix". This is definitely a very rhythmic arrangement as well, featuring a very nice bass line, rising scales, and some electronic German counting down to the next portion of the main melody. There is just so much going on in this track, your ears are almost in a state of overload!
This arranged album easily topples its rock counterpart. Shinji Hosoe does an awesome job at arranging and composing electronica and it was only fitting that he was chosen to arrange for Rockman's birthday bash. His arrangements offer both respect to the original material as well as offer a hint of Hosoe's quirkiness in arrangement. If you are a fan of Rockman, or a fan of Hosoe, this surprisingly accessible album can not be missed.