MM25: Mega Man Rocks Features Tracks from Mega Ran, The Protomen

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If your knowledge of Capcom-sidescroller-influenced pop doesn't extend outside the Arizona borders--and why should it, given the presence of Mega Ran and the Minibosses?--you'll be forgiven for not knowing there are enough Mega-Man-fans-slash-musicians out there to put together a 25th-anniversary tribute album.

But there are, and the aforementioned Mega Ran is on last week's MM25: Mega Man Rocks with three tracks, including a new one called "20XX." (You can buy it here, or on iTunes, if you're into that.)

As someone who never quite got into the X series as much as he did the original 6 (and then 7 and 8 and 9 and 10), I can't vouch for the entire album until I actually play the rest of inspirations. But Mega Ran's contributions, particularly "Splash Woman," are excellent, and it also features a long-awaited new track from The Protomen, who drew a big crowd at Pub Rock Live over the summer.

Another standout, if you're not already the kind of person who knows where he'd start on a Mega Man-themed compilation album: Armcannon's "Mangnet Mang," which feels, for some reason, like a completely natural update of the rat's nest of beeps in the originals.

If you're the kind of person who doesn't even know why a dying videogame series has inspired such consistent musical devotion--this is not the first Mega Man compilation, and it won't be the last--it's pretty simple: The games are fun, the music is great, and their choose-your-own-level structure and difficulty ensured that you'd finish them with seven to 10 absurdly catchy songs stuck in your head.

For reference, here are the five songs I would have turned into prog-rock movements or hip hop narratives if I hadn't decided to play the trombone in grade school:

1. Bubble Man - Mega Man 2

Bubble Man is the Paul Goldschmidt of Mega Man songs--it's been underrated for so long that pretty soon it might become a little overrated, and all of us who knew it when will have to decide for ourselves whether it's worth becoming a Bubble Man hipster and insisting you rated it correctly way back when.

It is also my favorite.

2. Air Man - Mega Man 2

It's difficult to dissociate the songs from the stages in which they are played.

Which is to say that I'm wiling to accept that I might be sleeping on this one because it features two of the most infuriating enemies in the Mega Man universe: Flying enemies that spawn as you're jumping from one platform to the next, and tiny, swarming enemies that pop out of an egg that probably just landed on you. That sort of thing colors a song for you. It took me like 15 years to realize that the theme to Quick Man's stage wasn't really everyone I ever disappointed screaming at me for hours.

3. Toad Man - Mega Man 4

Your other friend who's played too much Mega Man might pull a face about this one, because Mega Man 4 is the first of many jumping-off points for people to say "I liked those games before _____." In this case, they liked those games before... well, before there was a guy named Toad Man, probably.

But something about it makes this the Mega Man song most likely to inspire a Billy Joel song about the working class.

4. Bomb Man - Mega Man

This might be both the poppiest and gamiest of all the early Mega Man songs. Where most of them--especially as the series progressed--had a propulsive, dancey thing going on that was completely lost on me and extremely influential to all the actual musicians who ended up producing compilation albums about it.

5. Dr. WIly's Castle - Mega Man 2

Like this one, which I would be flamed for not included.

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