Game That Tune


More Than Meets The Eye

Why is the theme from RoboCop so quixotically lovely?

By Derrick Sanskrit • December 6, 2012

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

Song: “Title Theme”
Composer: Jonathan Dunn
Game: RoboCop (Game Boy, 1989; similar version on ZX Spectrum)

RoboCop may best be remembered for being a remorseless crime-stopping machine, but he had a heart too. (Didn’t he?) Somewhere deep beneath the circuitry and the motherboards, RoboCop was still Officer Alex J. Murphy, and even the cartoonishly corrupt streets of Detroit couldn’t erode all of his humanity away. Perhaps that’s why 1989’s RoboCop video game eschewed the tradition of using the stereotypical action film arrangements in favor of something a bit more… forward thinking.

This song is just so pleasant! The chiptune equivalent of driving a car slowly through a botanical garden, stopping to pet a friendly 8-bit peacock, and sipping an ice cold mimosa with your feet up on the dashboard. What does this have to do with RoboCop? Nothing. And the jam is all the better for it. The RoboCop film theme sounded like a mix between Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. It’s generic. This bit of electronica, on the other hand, with its warm triangle waves like french horns at a holiday ball and bitcrushed snares like pixies dancing inside an aluminum can, is positively romantic! It’s a shame the game that accompanied this theme was so unplayable. Peter Weller deserved better.

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1,636 Responses to “More Than Meets The Eye”

  1. Citric says:

    The best Robocop theme was the one used in the Tandy CoCo version of the game which I had as a boy, and still gets stuck in my head. This may be some misguided nostalgia since I haven’t heard that version for about 20 years.

  2. PaganPoet says:

    This sounds pretty good, actually, considering it’s a Gameboy chiptune. I had never considered how much better Gameboy music would be playing on a decent pair of speakers. 

    This is begging to be mashed up with…I dunno, La Roux or something. I can hear her screeching over it.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

       It’s not profound, but I do like the Robocop score.  That initial horn hook succeeds in getting me all “Yeah, Robocop!”  When I hear it.

       But on the topic of near-future dystopian city scapes, I was cleaning the kitchen the other night while listening to Lou Reed’s Transformer and it was strongly evoking Deus Ex in my head.   Deus Ex’s art direction -perpetual night with arc-sodium lighting diffused through a damp mist- feels very identical to the climate Reed is creating for his nocturnal, transgressive New York.
       And when you listen to “Goodnight Ladies” you can sync up the Tuba blomps with the slow plodding of the armor-clad mini-gun soldiers.   

    • PaganPoet says:

      Blomp is a heartwarmingly apt way of spelling a tuba’s timbre.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

       Yeah, since when was the robocop theme not epic as fuck? You say “cross between Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones” like that’s a bad thing.

  4. And there’s a link to the MP3 at the youtube video? Day, made.

  5. Girard says:

    Evidence once again that the British have a more refined pop cultural sensibility than us Yanks: they use amazing, obscure Gameboy chiptunes in their home appliance commercials.

    • Captain Internet says:

      Oh, bullshit. We generate nearly as much stupid as you do, it’s just that we- correctly- pay more tax on it. 

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        We like to make our stupid on a more localized state by state level, without the mandate of a federal nanny state.

        • Captain Internet says:

          There is a base level of stupid that everyone at some point needs, and our model provides better access to it for more people. Your model uses the illusion of choice to withhold stupid from the people who need it most.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          That’s fair.  I’ve always thought, if there’s truly one problem with my great nation, it’s that there are just too many smart people walking around.

        • Captain Internet says:

          Well, you do have more Nobel laureates than any other country in the world. Documentaries such as Glee show the people of the United States to be hugely talented and intelligent.

        • Sleverin says:

           RE: Captain Internet

          Enjoy the snarkiness, hate Glee.  Also, you chose the wrong show, Jersey Shore is obviously the choice to go with.  I’ve only run into the show once when it was playing at the laundromat….I have NO IDEA how that show even works or how it’s so big.  I didn’t think watching rats scurry around was allowed to be called entertainment.

      • Girard says:

         I have to admit I was disillusioned when I visited my dad in Aberdeen and was subjected to all too much unfiltered daytime British TV. It’s so much easier to convince myself that British TV is inherently better when all I see is the stuff that’s solid enough to make it to DVD across the pond!

        Also, the theme to “The One Show” is indelibly burned in my brain.

        • Captain Internet says:

          National stupidity can be considered a function of Rupert Murdoch. We have The Sun, you have Fox News. Very hard to say who’s in front on that basis.

    • Electric Dragon says:

      That’s exactly what I was going to post! I don’t remember that long version of it, though, with the Mondrian shirt wearing cyclist. (And I didn’t realise until this article where the music came from)

      As a bonus, have their previous campaign, set to Trio’s “Da Da Da”.

      Also the advert is very much “inspired” by “Tango”:

      • Girard says:

         But of course we ALL know Tango was just ripping off the Drew Carey Show.

        and Kate’s little role in that video has reached straight down between my eyes, right into my primeval lizard-brain and fanned the near-dead embers of my dorky teenage TV-crush on Christa Miller.

  6. ItsTheShadsy says:

    People are always tripping over themselves to talk about how great NES music is, but Game Boy music was just the best.

  7. Matt Kodner says:

    Anyone else come across “Title Theme” through the thoroughly NSFW Dilbert 3? 

    Personally I think Dilbert 2  is a lot funnier, and less crude. (also, still extremely inappropriate for work.) 

    Coincidentally, Cboyardee, the guy who made these, is also behind the insane Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden series that just got super-funded on kickstarter.

    • duwease says:

      Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden has a sequel on Kickstarter?!?  Why weren’t there billboards EVERYWHERE?!?!?

      • James Bunting says:

        For serious. I’m very surprised that gameological hasn’t covered it yet, unless no one on the staff is aware of the original. And if that’s the case, they probably need to flesh out their staff a bit. Barkley should not be flying under the radar of Gameological in favor of yet more three paragraph sawbuck gamer reviews (nothing against the latter, but B,SU&J:G was probably the best thing to ever come out of the RPGmaker community, and is easily the most hilarious JRPG parody ever created.)

    • Matt Koester says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only person with your initials who prefers Dilbert 2.

  8. Matthew McGrath says:

    Like this?  Check out Dunn’s soundtrack to Waterworld on the SNES:



    I have two theories about whoever made this song

    theory 1: they didn’t give a shit what game it was for and just wanted to make a nice tune

    theory 2: this was a piece of music unrelated to Robocop that nevertheless found it’s way into the game

    either way it’s hilarious how ill-fitting it is 

  10. Professor_Cuntburglar says:

    Can we suggest future songs for this piece? Cause this was my gameboy jam way back in elementary school (I could only find the NES version, but they’re basically the same):

    It’s like a awesome techno mashup of all the bad guy music from Star Wars, especially when it gets to the Emperor’s theme.

    • Yes! Despite the fact that I haven’t used any suggestions yet, I am totally taking note of them all. I just had a schedule lined up through the end of the year that I wanted to get through first.

  11. Knarf Black says:

    I like the Robocop theme and even came up with lyrics for when it swells up along with the title before the end credits. (For some reason I find it absolutely hilarious when movies end with the title card.)

    “This is the movie/
    You were just watching.

    We hope you liked it/
    There is a sequel.

    (repeat until punched in face)”

  12. duwease says:

    I hope that one day the ex-Ocean employee responsible for this tune, after decades writing off their talents as wasted on cheaply made movie knockoffs, stumbles on this thread while drunkenly googling his uncredited works and finally gets his long-coming affirmation.

    And I hope he responds to my comment directly!

  13. Damn_Skippy says:

    This would be right at home on the Hotline Miami soundtrack.