Liner Notes I: Bionic Commando Rearmed

(Editor’s note: From Super Mario Bros. to Metal Gear Solid, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. With hours spent exploring Hyrule or shooting fools in Moscow, it’s no surprise there’s a massive fanbase of the music in games. Enter Liner Notes: a new Pixelitis feature in which our writers (starting with Editor Patrick Kulikowski) discuss their favorite videogame soundtracks.)

"When Capcom unveiled the reveal trailer for the GRIN-developed Bionic Commando: Rearmed back in 2008, I went nuts. One of my favorite NES action platformers, retaining its 2D gameplay but with the added benefit of high-definition visuals!? Yes, please!

As I ogled at a revamped Nathan Spencer swinging about just like he had in 8-bit form, my ears picked up on the trance-esque version of the classic, triumphant Bionic Commando theme pumping out from my speakers. It was a very interesting new take on the original chiptune, one that I had not seen coming.

Original composer Junko Tamiya (credited as “Gondamin” in the game) had made a very melodic and militaristic-sounding soundtrack for the NES version. With Rearmed, composer Simon Viklund eschewed that militaristic, orchestral feel (leaving that for the 3D Bionic Commando), instead remixing it in an electronic style that’s reminiscent of modern breakbeat and house music.

Viklund essentially worked the game’s classic music into something both unique and familiar, and in the end, it wins out. Incredibly."

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