Mega Man X - The DOS Release's Botched Soundtrack

Jake Spencer
03 April 2012


The PC release of Mega Man X was a mostly-faithful port of the Super Nintendo masterpiece, but it wasn't perfect. Some changes, like replacing the original's outdated password system with the ability to save and load games, were definitely for the better. Conversely, the giant mech suit found in the Chill Penguin and Sting Chameleon stages is mysteriously absent in the PC version.

Without a doubt, though, the worst change affects one of the Mega Man X's best features: the music. The sound chip Sony developed for the Super Nintendo is a legendary piece of hardware, and the quality lost in converting the sound track to Sound Blaster-compatibility must be heard to be believed.


Below are the themes to each of the eight main stages, as heard both in the original SNES form and the DOS counterpart, going clockwise from Launch Octopus at the top left.

Launch Octopus

SNES:

PC:

This one isn't too bad, but listen to both versions side-by-side, and you can't miss the relatively flat sound of the DOS version.

Chill Penguin

SNES:

PC:

Again, the PC music is actually quite nice, but the SNES instrumentation is far more organic. Notice the way each note on the SNES subtly echoes and fades.

Flame Mammoth

SNES:

PC:

There's a power and bombast to this one that the PC soundtrack can't match. Listen to the guitar solo at around 0:40-0:50.

Boomer Kuwanger

SNES:

PC:

There's a sharpness to every note in the Super Nintendo music. BAM! BAM BAM! The toothless PC version, with its warbling fart-bass, is unmemorable.

Sting Chameleon

SNES:

PC:

This is the rare exception where I like the PC track better. It's a little more muted and calm, which I think works on this stage. That said, it's a narrow victory.

Spark Mandrill

SNES:

PC:

Now we're getting into it. The PC version's melody constantly cuts in and out, but even if the most important part of the song didn't fade away every few notes, the instrumentation would still be generic and lifeless.

Storm Eagle

SNES:

PC:

Storm Eagle's theme is one of the songs that really got me into game music. I would start this stage and just let the track play over and over again. To be clear, I did this with the PC game. Oblivious to how good Super Nintendo owners had it, I would listen to that piercing, chirpy mess, and I loved it. I guess that's a testament to the power of strong composition.

Armored Armadillo

SNES:

PC:

Here's another case of vanishing melody, though it's not as bad as Spark Mandrill's. Worse are the completely neutered drums.


To be fair, the PC Mega Man X soundtrack is still better than 90% of the competition. The arrangements are poor, but not so poor that they ruin some of the best compositions in all of video games. Really, we should be more surprised by the unbelievable quality of the Super Nintendo's aound chip than we are by the relatively unimpressive Sound Blaster remix.
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