Wednesday, July 24, 2013

World 10: Classic Mega Man Stage Music (Part 1)

I've been on a bit of a classic Mega Man kick ever since the announcement of his inclusion in the new Super Smash Bros. game at this year's E3. There's no better third party character that they could've added to the roster than the Blue Bomber, and it is of my opinion that he should have been in Brawl rather than Sonic the Hedgehog. I could be biased however, because I just really don't like Sonic all that much, and I suppose a lot of people have always wanted to see Mario and the Blue Blur to duke it out.

Anyway, as Peter Parker's uncle's sister's former gynecologist once said, "With great Mega Man, comes great music." You can't make up a glorious quote like that, so just trust me on this one. The Mega Man series is renowned not only for its razor-sharp gameplay and intense difficulty curve, but also for its vast array of pulsing, catchy musical compositions that accompany the stages throughout the games. Although the quality of an entire soundtrack tends to vary from game to game, overall the Mega Man series is responsible for some of the best video game music you could ever treat your ears to.

Rather than just choose my favourite 10 tracks from the entirety of the series, which would be extremely easy to do and biased towards perhaps 3 or 4 titles, I've decided that I'll choose ONE (1) track from EACH (EACH!) of the 10 (TEN!!!) titles belonging to the classic Mega Man series: Mega Man to Mega Man 10. I'm not going to include Mega Man & Bass, since it's pretty much a spinoff title rather than a main entry. If you don't like that logic then blow it out your ass, because that's the way it's going to be. I'll break this World 10 into 5 parts, with each containing two tracks representing a game.

Enough stalling! Let's kick this fucker off!


Mega Man (NES, 1987) - Cut Man

Ah, Mega Man. Despite the absolutely atrocious box art which has become a horrendous joke over the years (even to Capcom themselves, as evidenced by the inclusion of Bad Box Art Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken), underneath that strange, unnerving exterior was a gem that began a legend. The game was straightforward, polished, tough, and satisfying, which is pretty much the recipe for an awesome video game experience, and although later entries in the classic Mega Man series refined the controls and formula to practical perfection, the very first experience is still an outstanding one.

At the start of Mega Man, you're given six robot masters to choose from; later entries each had 8 of them to pick, and even Mega Man Powered Up!, a contemporary remake of the original Mega Man for the PlayStation Portable, added Oil Man and Time Man to the mix for some unknown and completely unnecessary reason. Each boss is weak to a weapon you acquire from another boss, so you sort of end up playing an elaborate game of Rock Paper Scissors to discover which robot masters are weak to which weapon; this was, and still is, one of the coolest signatures of the Mega Man series. Cut Man is a pretty solid choice for your very first stage, and also fits into the RPS theme pretty damn well! His stage theme also tends to kick fucking ass, earning it a well-justified place on this list as the audio representative of the Mega Man game that started it all.

Mega Man 2 (NES, 1988) - Dr. Wily's Fortress (Stage 1 and 2)

Capcom had a gigantic hit with Mega Man, so of course they had to follow up with a sequel...perhaps one of the best sequels of all time, in fact! Mega Man 2 is widely regarded by many fans as the best game in the classic Mega Man series. The controls and overall gameplay were refined, there were 8 robot masters rather than 6 (making for an experience that was a tad longer, but not too lengthy), and the soundtrack was fucking bonkers. If I had chosen 10 of my favourite tracks from the series as a whole...a good number of them would have been from Mega Man 2, and that's just not very fair to the other games.

My choice this time around isn't a composition from the stage of a robot master, but rather from the first and second stage of Dr. Wily's iconic Skull Fortress. In particular, the very first Dr. Wily stage stands out in my mind as fitting the best with this track. You've clobbered all 8 robot masters and acquired every weapon and item in the game thus far, resulting in you feeling like a total badass. Storming the front gates of the Skull Castle and decimating everything in your path with your arsenal wouldn't feel the same without a pounding, rocking piece of 8-bit ear ambrosia to go along with it, so it's a damn good thing the folks at Capcom delivered. Blasting through the stage, you eventually come to a giant pit where you battle the stage's boss, a massive mechanical dragon, atop a perilous set of tiny platforms. Even if you're careful, one stray, unfortunate hit could send you down the cliff and end your robotic life. You don't have to worry about that too much though, because you're still amped up by the stage's thrashing music!


That's it for today, but part 2 of this Mega Man music marathon will be coming up very shortly!

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant! So very clever, now lets see what else I might catch in my web of silk spirals. Thank you Will!

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