Zero Wing – “Invasion of the Gabber Robots” (The Laziest Men on Mars)May 1, 2010
This is the daddy of them all. All joke tracks somewhere along the line really owe something to Jeffrey Ray Roberts of The Laziest Men on Mars, who created “Invasion of the Gabber Robots” (1999) based off the “Introduction” and “Stage 1” themes to Zero Wing for the Sega Genesis. It took about a year for the meme to really hit off with the flash video (Wired has a nice report on its early history).
Here is the accompanying flash video:
“Invasion of the Gabber Robots” integrates the “Introduction (Part 1)” theme from the Sega Genesis version of Zero Wing as well as “Open Your Eyes”, the stage 1 theme by Tatsuya Uemura (Tiger Heli, Battle Bakraid), assisted by Masahiro Yuge (GigaWing, Shark! Shark! Shark!) and Toshiaki Tomizawa (Vimana/Teki Paki, FIXEIGHT). Uemura has his own website, but there’s not much on there. I’m not sure if someone else did the intro, as the Genesis version had no credits, but it integrates elements of “Open Your Eyes” for the second half of the song.
It’s actually a pretty cool techno theme (despite the obnoxious Gabber robot). It’s very intense, with the nice techno drums recalling all kinds of crap exploding before the ZIG fighter. When coupled with the quotes, it creates a wonderful disconnect – incredible drama and intensity, with absolutely meaningless statements. You can hear “Open Your Eyes” begin at around 2:10. It’s a pretty catchy theme, so I can see how it made “Gabber Robots” so successful (unlike some of The Laziest Men on Mars’ other work).
The Laziest Men on Mars are themselves kind of forgettable – outside of “Invasion of the Gabber Robots”, of course. I never found any of the other songs to be terribly interesting, though “The Terrible Secret of Space” was enough to distract me for a few minutes as a teen. “Invasion of the Gabber Robots” was taken off MP3.com for awhile because it contained audio taken directly from the game.
Zero Wing got its start in the arcades in 1989. It was a pretty generic shooter that would otherwise be doomed to obscurity. “Open Your Eyes” has a fun ‘get up and go’ feel, as well as some great flourishes for space combat. The composers should also be lauded for thinking deeply about their songs to create good titles for them. Makes me wonder if they composed pop music prior to this. The album has some incredibly awesome cover art, as seen below, which I think fits nicely with classic rock album covers.
The Sega Genesis version was released in 1991, and contains the infamous intro. This version has such drama! The “Introduction” section is particularly excellent, with the main section at 0:49 drawing on “Open Your Eyes” to go out and kick ass for great justice to. “Open Your Eyes” is a bit more subdued, with an underlying static sound, which I guess is supposed to be the engine.
Finally, in 1992, Zero Wing was released for the PCE CD-rom with an excellent synth soundtrack. This version has a really nice anime feel to it, and it really draws out the lyrical nature of the original – the song is just begging for some vocals! The PCE version fleshes out the original quite well, and is far more action-packed than the original. As this version is from the CD itself, there are four loops here and so the track goes a bit long…