PO 128 Mega Man Review Synth Sequencer With Transpose Function

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Capcom's Mega Man/Rockman video game franchise probably represents better than most the evolution of good versus evil. The protagonist of the game - Mega Man (a.k.a Blue Bomber) - is specifically designed to stop, in any way possible, the antagonist of the game "Dr. Wily", the evil genius out to conquer the world, using his robot army legion of specialized robots.
The Mega Man timeline spans over 30 years across four main series Mega Man Classic, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero/ZX and Mega Man Legends, which was due a trilogy ten years ago but Mega Man Legends 3 never came to fruition because it got cancelled! Sure, new Mega Man games have come up ever since but, it's fair to say that the Blue Bomber's former glory days are sadly behind and only kept alive via anniversary collections and collectibles such as the PO 128 Mega Man pocket operator.
The PO 128 is a great introduction to a new generation of the 8 bit era, faithfully reproducing the original Mega Man NES sound effects. There are a total of 16 soundtracks including Bomb Man and Dr. Wily's Castle.
The PO 128 is not an entirely new pocket operator though, since Teenage Engineering has based it on their original PO-28 Robot, which has single track recording, while the PO 128 has a additional track recording plus a drum sound from memory bank 16, which features all the drum/percussive sounds. When recording, you can only have one synth voice from the high octave memory banks (1 to 8) and one synth voice from the low octave memory banks (9 to 15), as well as a percussion sound from the drum bank (16).
Because you cannot record multiple synth voices from the high octave and low octave memory banks, the PO 128 Mega Man doesn't have the same functionality as the PO-33 and PO-133. That said, the PO 128 Mega Man does has a function for transposing an active pattern and chaining it to another pattern so, you can build a longer song pattern beyond the 16 steps (and without changing the melody). There is also a step multiplier/retrigger effect function for the drum track. This lets you evenly increase the amount of times a drum sounds beyond the 16 available steps so, you can repeat the sound of a drum sound multiple times on a single step. You can effectively repeat any drum sound 32 times by doing a retrigger on every step twice.
A few other neat functions you get with the PO 128 Mega Man pocket operator include metronome and "glide parameter" for extending a note until another note is introduced so, you can control the note length. The metronome feature is activated by holding the "glide" button, pressing the bpm button and toggling to sync 1.
The PO 128 Mega Man has the same dimensions as previous Teenage Engineering pocket operators, as well as an LCD screen and two knob potentiometers for changing sounds within 12 parameters. While some synthesizers use rotary encoders with infinite spinning, the potentiometers with endpoints work well on the PO 128 Mega Man because of the granular, real-time control you get for adjusting sound parameters like the "swing timing", which lets you lengthen and shorten the first and third notes of a beat closer to the last note.
As well as displaying BPM, Play/Write and Tempo, the PO 128 LCD screen displays permanently the sound parameters' bars, four main characters (Mega Man, Proto Man, Dr Thomas Light and Dr Wily), as well as Dr. Light's Computer and Dr Wily's (UFO) spaceship. You can buy the PO 128 Mega Man directly from Teenage Engineering. Check out the review of the PO-133 Street Fighter Edition

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