Retro game music isn’t too common in live action media. Usually it’s either diegetic or punctuating a joke, and even then, it’s more likely to be a generic soundalike than the real thing. It’s a rare surprise to hear retro game music in the background of a live action TV show – not a song inserted as a winking homage, but one unceremoniously recycled on a show that has nothing to do with video games whatsoever.
Mak Cun (pronounced “Mak Choon” with very little stress on the K) is a professionally-made Malaysian dramedy/musical about a cranky beauty product entrepreneur (the titular Mak Cun) living in a kampung (countryside village) with her rubber-faced daughter. Much of the show’s soundtrack consists of orchestral pieces that sound more at home in the background of Ren & Stimpy, so it’s that much more surprising to hear Mak Cun’s catty archnemesis Manisah park her motorbike to the song “Robo Gang Johnny” from Chrono Trigger. She rides a bike, Johnny is a bike…there may well be a wink here, but if so, it’s a subtle one. Mak Cun also features at least two instances of the theme from Shaft, and there’s more Chrono Trigger music in the show’s romantic, religion-heavy spinoff Ajaibnya Cinta (“How Magical Love Is”).
Though there doesn’t seem to be a reliable way to watch Ajaibnya Cinta in the US anymore (both it and season one of Mak Cun were removed from US Netflix), full episodes of Mak Cun are available on YouTube as of this writing (though largely untranslated from Bahasa Malaysia) – so if you want to see one of the strangest IP crossovers in video game history, check out the links below.
(Special credit to my wife for her help with Bahasa Malaysia.)
LISTEN TO JOHNNY’S THEME IN ACTION AND…DON’T CHICKEN OUT, BABE!