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Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes- :: Review by GoldfishX

Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes- Album Title: Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes-
Record Label: Inti Creates
Catalog No.: INTIR-008/9
Release Date: October 27, 2006
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


The in-game music for Mega Man ZX was good. Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes- is better. A lot better. As well it should be, as it's an arranged upgrade of the original music. Hearing the music from ZX was like a throwback to the lively and upbeat scores of the original Mega Man scores, as opposed to the Zero games, which felt more like a throwback to the rock and futuristic sound of the X games. Unfortunately, the sound quality of the ZX DS soundtrack was holding back the potential in the actual music and we just can't have that. No more! With Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes-, the arrangers step in, put their feet down, and let you know that this music is simply too good to be overlooked due to poor synth and muddy bass sounds. III has done a strong job upgrading the Rockman Zero scores, but working with the upbeat and driving score to ZX, they have truly unlocked its full potential in this album like few arranged albums have done.


I feel like I did listening to the Ys IV Perfect Collections or Phantasy Star Collection 1 for the first time... Really, this album is much like them, except replacing "dark fantasy RPG" with "futuristic action Metrovania". I always said the Ys series sounded like Megaman music done right, but in an RPG... ZX Tunes is just Mega Man done right, period. I've always heard flashes of brilliance in the Remastered series (namely, the rock tracks and some of the funky stuff like "Ice Brain"), but they've absolutely nailed the drum programming for this one and nearly everything is perfectly arranged. It's the perfect offspring of the rich melodic 80s synth-pop/rock of classic Mega Man and modern electronic sounds. With a combination of drum samples and strong techno in the background and much synth and electric guitar to handle the already excellent lead melodies, ZX Tunes isn't going to surprise the listener in anything but its consistency.

I'm glad ZX's core compositions were largely more happy and upbeat than the prior Zero games from Inti Creates because, musically, there weren't able to put together anything serious or emotional that even approached being effective. Right off the bat, this eliminates needless filler from the score. More than once, it reminded me of Perfect Collection Ys IV Vol. 1 and tracks like "Puromarock". This is demonstrated by my favorite track and arguable the standout track on the album, "Brilliant Show Window", with its' strong synth leads, driving percussion and well-placed guitar solo. It's an anthemic throwback to the glory of old-school Megaman music and is straight-up blissful to listen to. It's not alone either, as "Sky High -Grand Nuage-" pulls off the same thing just as effectively.

ZX Tunes doesn't quite rock the speakers like Physis does (constantly), but it offers plenty of that quality rock too. To name a few, "Pallida Mors", "Ogre Claw", and "Rockin' On" (with a name like that, it BETTER be good... and it is). "Gauntlet" is a blistering guitar melody built overtop a strong, established underlying riff. Tracks like "En-Trance" and "Green Grass Gradation" show off the arranger's ability to lay down smooth techno beats, but have enough sense to allow the melodies room to breath. The result is absolute heaven in a sea of so much emotionless electronica found in today's VGM.

There are four tracks from guest arrangers in their trademark styles. Akari Kaida offers a jazz-pop interpretation of "Ultramarine Meditation - Blessed Pop -", which features some of Breath of Fire III's trademark xylophone use. As for electronica, Tekken composer Satoru Kosaki offers the downbeat vocorder-led "Black Burn - Electpital Dance -" while DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou's Manabu Namiki creates the energetic "Brilliant Show Window - Shooter Trance -". Finally, Koji Hayama offers the quirky Cho Aniki style remix "High-Press Energy - Super Aniki Edition -" complete with ridiculous vocals and sound effects. Overall, they're a nice bonus to the main arranges on the soundtrack and a good individual showing from the seperate arrangers.


Rockman ZX Soundtrack -ZX Tunes- is an album that doesn't surprise the listener, but pulls itself off with so much character, it quickly establishes itself as a quality and consistent listen. It has a couple of dull tracks nestled amount the strong line-up (mostly found towards the second part of Disc One), but nothing that offends and is more overshadowed by the surrounding pieces. It's "gamey", but some of the best quality "gamey" I've heard and the modern flair is very apparent, but not overused. It's melodic synthpop of the old-days first, modern electronica second, and that's the way the pecking order should always go (hear that, Phantasy Star Online?). I think III has finally nailed their arrangement formula to perfection... Now if they can just apply it to some "classic" Mega Man music, we're definitely in business. But for now, we'll just have to look forward to Rockman ZX Advent Soundtrack -ZXA Tunes- down the road.

Overall Score: 8/10