Mega Man 7 (SNES, 1995) - Dr. Wily's Castle (Stage 1)
Like Mega Man 4, this game is a bit of an underdog. Many people don't like Mega Man 7 due to its different feel from the NES entries. Mega Man's a bit larger on the screen, which makes it seem like he moves a tad slower; the Mega Buster is pretty underpowered when used against the Robot Masters; the game's structure is a little different, with 4 initial bosses to pick from and the other 4 appearing afterwards; and there is a bit more emphasis on story elements and dialogue. This all being said, however, I really like the fucking gameplay, the bosses and stages are really well-done, and the game overall is pretty damn challenging! Don't even get me started on the final boss, which is quite possibly the most difficult boss in any classic Mega Man game without proper preparation and execution. OH, and the music is fucking AWESOME! The extra oomph provided by the SNES' powerful sound chips really comes through in Mega Man 7.
Specifically, my favourite track is found in the first stage of Dr. Wily's Skull Fortress (how many of these fucking things does he have?) I'm going to gush a bit about this piece of music, because it may in fact be my favourite tune from the entire classic series. YEAH, I SAID IT! The SNES's soundboard is put to excellent use, with heavy bass lines and a somewhat creepy and daunting main riff, as well as an ass-kicking drum track. However, the atmosphere of this piece is just through the roof. The dark, menacing sound fits the tone and the background of the level perfectly. In addition, it also sounds pretty sinister and the slap bass almost seems mechanical in nature, which makes me feel like the track really encapsulates the essence of Dr. Wily himself nearly perfectly. It sounds like music that would fit well with a mad technological scientist, and if there were a stage theme that I'd choose to be Dr. Wily's theme song...it'd be this one for sure. Listen for yourself and decide!
Seriously though, Mega Man 7 is one of my favourite games in the series, for sure. It still feels good, if not different, and there's a lot of content in it as well. You still have a Rush Adapter to search out, amongst other things such as Protoman's Shield...there's just a lot to do and it's very well structured. It's also a great challenge! PLAY IT!
Mega Man 8 (PlayStation, 1997) - Dr. Wily's Castle (Stage 1)
Now that's weird...two entries in the same post with the first Dr. Wily stage as a highlight. Well, let me tell you something...this track might be the ONLY highlight Mega Man 8 has going for it. In the grand scheme of the classic Mega Man franchise, this game is just a piece of trash that I can't even stand to play. It's not a tough game at all and presents little to no challenge; the stages are full of strange gimmicks rather than just being solidly-built platforming levels (don't even get me started on Tengu Man's stage), and Dr. Light sounds like fucking Elmer Fudd. The gameplay feels really strange, to boot. I don't know, there's just something about it that feels wrong. A lot of things, actually. After Mega Man 7's difficult final boss, I expected MM8 to be really tough but it was just....meh.
And wouldn't you know it, the fucking soundtrack is meh, too! The only standout piece of music is this somewhat, sort-of-cool song from Dr. Wily's first stage which, by the way, is also a gimmicky stage in which you are rocket...snow boarding...down a mechanical chute or something. Doesn't sound very Mega Man-ish, does it?
That's because it fucking isn't.
Despite the crappiness that is Mega Man 8, next entry we're gonna finish off extremely strong with Mega Man 9 and 10...both of which bring back the 8-bit style and have amazing soundtracks, to boot. Keep an eye out for it!