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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Another look at the sounds of RockMan X7

My friend and I got into a conversation about X7’s music recently, and it made me want to sit down with the soundtrack again, to give it a really good listen. As a kid, I did think the soundtrack was pretty cool, but with a few years and some experience, I had found the soundtrack to be “eh”, especially in comparison to the soundtracks heard throughout the classic and X franchises. But my friend made me think that maybe I’d been a bit too hard on it. So, I popped in the soundtrack and decided to really study it:

Let’s start with the Axl half of the intro stage: The first stage of the game is accompanied by a mix of techno and rock. It is a perfect match for the X series, and a great start to the game. It’s a pretty good track.

Zero’s half of the intro stage is another decent piece. It’s also great as a Zero-dedicated piece, as they typically tend to be very guitar-centric, and very dramatic. I personally prefer the faster ones as heard in X2 and 4, but like the X3 Zero theme, this is still a very solid track.

Okay, Warfly's theme: The arrange sounds like it belongs to another series. There's a heavy emphasis on strings. It actually feels more at home for Metal Gear Compositionally, it doesn't sound like a MegaMan song. Not bad, but does feel out of place.

Onto Gungaroo's: This is more in line with the intro stages. Bassline is definitely MegaMan X. This is another one of the better tracks. It's got a lot of catchy riffs.

Tonion's next: This is more in line with the rhythm they used for X6. The electronic keyboard segment is uh... Uh. That’s really all there is to say. I don't know why they stopped using the guitar. The electronic keyboard was the wrong instrument to use. It would sound much better in the back... Compositionally, it's sound. A bit simple, but it works. But good lord, whoever arranged this can't pick instruments for squat...

Okay, here comes the battleship theme? Um... is this the second half of Warfly's? I'm beginning to think this is the X6 sound staff. This is a little more closer to the X6 sound than the previous Warfly segment... It's arranged better than Tonion's, that's for sure. This track screams X6. It also works with the nautical vibe of the stage it's featured on. Personally, I think there are too many long holds used. It does give it a dramatic feel, but it's not tense enough for the situation that envelops the stage: a battleship that’s undergoing excessive amounts of stress, causing it to submerge and force the player to jump from ship to ship.

Let’s check out Stonekong’s theme: Surprisingly enough, this does feel like a MegaMan song. It’s a lot more upbeat compared to the rest of the songs heard so far. Honestly, this track is composed and arranged a lot better than the other ones heard so far. This would work with X 4 or 5. Needless to say, it fits the stage it’s featured on quite well.

Next, Crowrang’s stage: I kinda get the high flying vibe from the track, so I guess it works with its stage, but this doesn’t feel like a MegaMan track at all, let alone an X one. It actually feels more at home with Capcom’s fighters. Actually, it feels like some of the stuff by Arika, like Street Fighter EX, or Network Transmission.

Oh, here’s a fun one. Next we have Anteator’s theme, a personal favorite: It’s a very electronic piece, making it a great fit for the stage. It’s actually a rather simple track, one of the more basic ones on the soundtrack, but compositionally one of the best. I find it’s structured a lot like a Classic MegaMan track too. Not too many drawn out holds, and it’s chock full of catchy riffs. My only real gripe is that it’s way too short.

Next on the list is Boarski’s track: It’s got a very lively bassline, the kind you’d expect from a classic MegaMan, early X track. It’s a very busy sounding track, perfect for a busy stage like this. It’s a solid track, much like Stonekong’s.

With the maverick’s out of the way, we can move onto the fortress themes, starting with the Palace Road theme: Oh man, something about this track just screams “Soichi Terada from Ape Escape”. Not bad, especially considering how great the music for Ape Escape 1 and Pumped and Primed is, but really drives the point home that this soundtrack is a bit eclectic in terms of styles. It does serve as a great start to the fortress stages, nothing to get you amped for a long set of stages like a good song. A steamroller though? Not so much.

And now we have the Crimson Palace theme: I think the arrange for this sounds kinda funny. Compositionally, it sounds a lot like something you would hear in X1, but some instruments are either too loud or not prominent enough. It’s a potentially great track, I like it, but there’s something a bit off with this one. As for whether it works for its stage, I’d say sure.

The next track on the soundtrack is the Soul Asylum stage: I liked the idea of the stage, and the track really sells it. It’s not exactly stage music, but then again, the Maverick Rematch isn’t really its own stage.

And with that, we move onto the Boss music, starting with the theme that plays against the Mega Scorpio: It’s a solid track. It meshes with the majority of the soundtrack, and fits the dramatic situation that this track plays during. No complaints here.

And now, the actual boss theme: The synth guitar is too damn quiet. Unfortunately, this is another track that’s hampered by an odd arrangement. Otherwise, this is a great track, perfect for bashing bosses.

Next is the vs. Red theme: The track starts out fine, and then sort of dissolves into a bit of a mess. Who arranged this? It’s yucky. The song lacks the intensity that would be expected of a boss battle theme, especially an important one like this. It’s practically a stage theme. The actual composition isn’t so bad, but the instrumental choice is off for the later half of the composition, and the percussion section needs much more of a kick.

What comes up next more than makes up for it though (both in terms of music and gameplay). Next we have the 1st Sigma battle theme: This track just screams early MegaMan X, and even carries a hint of the sound that would be featured in X8. This is a fantastic track. Nothing else really needs to be said.

The second Sigma track is pretty good too. A bit too orchestral for an X game, but it still sounds fantastic. I could live without the xylophone though…

The rest of the soundtrack contains the stage select, various fanfares, and the music played during the cutscenes, so I won’t go into too much depth. Bottom line, nothing sounds out of place on the rest of the soundtrack, which is a good thing.

All in all, the X7 soundtrack isn’t bad, but it is a bit eclectic at times; there are quite a few really good tracks that are hindered by odd arranges. But, I still think the majority of the soundtrack lacks the flare that the other ones throughout the Classic and X series possess. It also doesn’t help that the music is associated with what is typically thought to be a pretty yucky game, which only drags the experience down.

Side-note: No amount of replays however will change my stance on how yucky X7 is as a game though, in english nor japanese.

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