After a long wait (thanks to the wonderful Danish postal service…) I can finally present the next entry in my Now Playing-series where I describe my thoughts on recent vinyl releases of video game music. This time it’s the long-awaited “Mega Pack Edition” of Spacelab9’s Mega Man compilation – “Mega Man: Best Of Mega Man 1-10”.
This was originally released back in the Summer of 2015 as a Hot Topic-exclusive picture disc, which did leave a lot of vgm vinyl and Mega Man fans with a sour taste in their mouths (partly due to the generaly sound quality of picture discs and partly due to the exclusivity). Fortunately, Spacelab9 were quick to disclose that they would release a non-picture disc version later the same year.
After some delays it was finally announced that they would release on January 28, 2016. And not only that – orders placed via Spacelab9’s own site would be for the exclusive Mega Pack edition (packaging details will follow in the next section). There were three different color variants available (all which sold out within the first week, I believe), but it’s been hinted that other retailer-exclusive variants might be coming.
It’s becoming sort of a bad habit for me to put in these disclaimers, but I only have very little personal experience with the Mega Man games and no real nostalgic connection to them. I have, however, listened to most of their soundtracks and see why these are held in high regard.
As stated above I’ll be looking at the Mega Pack edition and I have to admit that Spacelab9 did a really nice job with the packaging for this.
What you’ll immediately see is the NES-themed slipcover that houses the release itself. This is a pretty cool touch to a soundtrack release where several of the series in the game were released for the NES. If Spacelab9 decides to do more releases like this it would be cool to have this as a recurring feature.
Spacelab9 put three different color variants up for sale in the Mega Pack edition. A Mega Man (this one) blue/white splatter, a Cut Man red/white splatter, and a Metal Man orange/black splatter. They decided on which bosses to pick from based on a poll they hosted on their Tumblr-page. Supposedly future pressings will have boss-themed colors as well.
A lot have been said about the choice of front cover art for this release, but I personally think that it has a certain kitsch charm about it and it’s nice with the original character depictions as they appear in-game. The back cover and inner sleeve also features several screenshots and art from the game series.
It is an odd choice that they decided to use the kanji “メガマン” on the front cover, though. This translates to “Megaman”, but in Japan Mega Man is actually known as Rockman (ロックマン).
In addition to the picture sleeves and the slipcase, this release also comes with a Mega Man poster and a sticker. The sticker included features an image of the character the specific versions is colored after.
Everything included can be seen in the image below (except the polysleeve – that is something I put all my records in myself).
First of all it should be said that this is a pretty good pressing and I’m not getting any noise, pops or crackles whatsoever. Additionally, I find that the sound quality is pretty good as well – considering what this is of course. I think they did a good job of getting these classic tracks on vinyl, but at the same time you shouldn’t expect a new and intense sound from this release. From a music and sound quality point of view you’re not getting anything extra here compared to the heaps of digital and CD versions that are available.
This shouldn’t take away anything from what is well-made pressing and most vgm vinyl fans as well as Mega Mans will most likely be very pleased with this release.
For anyone wondering what it is they’ll be getting – this is primarily boss theme tracks. And it is the original chiptune tunes and not arranged versions. So if you’re not into chiptune on vinyl (or in general) this might not be for you. You’ll be missing out on some classics, though – that Flame Man Stage theme is tight!
Something I should mention, but due to my lack of knowledge about the games can’t go into greater detail with, is the tracklist. It features music from Mega Man 1 to 10, with the exception of Mega Man 3, which have left some fans confused and also sparked some rumors regarding a possible Mega Man 3 release (although this is all speculation at this point). If you’re curious about the tracklist you can find the full tracklist and composer credits over on Discogs.
To sum up – it’s a solid release and especially the packaging is very well made. It’s a good pressing as well, although it arguably suffers from the limitations of its source material sound quality-wise. It’s not bad, not at all – but don’t expect something extraordinary either. I think videogame music, chiptune, and Mega Man fans will be very pleased with this – but don’t be surprised to find people complaining that their favorite boss theme is missing. It would probably have taken a box set with all themes to satisfy everyone, though.
Normally I’d put a link to where you can get this here at the end. But… it’s completely sold out and at the moment you’ll have to turn to auction and marketplace sites to find a copy. As mentioned earlier there have been hints that other versions will be made available later and Spacelab9 have generally been known to repress releases after they’re sold out, so I’d be patient and wait for an announcement.