Mega Man 9 (Wii/XBox 360/PS3, 2008) - Concrete Man
After Mega Man 8, the classic series took a bit of a back seat while Capcom focused on the other Mega Man storylines such as Mega Man X, Zero, and Battle Network. For the most part, the games retained their side-scrolling nature, but gradually increased their art quality or became polygonal and 3D, as with Mega Man X7 and X8 (which was a big fucking mistake, to be honest). By the time 2008 came around and Capcom mentioned that they were working on a new classic Mega Man title, and that it was going to be in the style of the 8-bit NES games, I think a lot of people flipped their lids! I know I did! What a bold move, to take a step back and return to the series' graphical roots...but it was also a fucking smart and respectable one. After all, the best entries in the series were from the 8-bit era. So, it was decided that Mega Man 9 would be a downloadable, retro-styled game, even going so far as to remove Mega Man's abilities to slide and charge his buster to keep things very similar to Mega Man 2. After all this time though, was Capcom still able to make an amazing retro Mega Man experience?
The answer to that question is a resounding 'yes!' Mega Man 9 is absolutely fucking awesome, and definitely gives the classic games such as Mega Man 2 and 3 a run for their money! It plays like Mega Man, feels like Mega Man, and damn well sounds like Mega Man. The soundtrack for Mega Man 9 is unbelievable: it retains the general sounds and noises used to create the music for the original games, but definitely amps things up a little more by having more tracks for instruments and a refinement that could only stem from the creation of kick-ass tunes for years. The overall soundtrack is very straightforward and upbeat, with rocking tunes and less of a focus on atmosphere. Hey, it worked for Mega Man 2, and it definitely worked for 9 as well! To illustrate, here's the theme from Concrete Man's stage, which I personally find to be the most catchy piece of music in the game.
Mega Man 10 (Wii/XBox 360/PS3, 2010) - Solar Man
Shortly after Mega Man 9 was released to great reviews and general success, Capcom announced the follow up, Mega Man 10. This is currently the final entry in the classic series, and it's just about as good as its predecessor, in my opinion. MM10 feels a lot like Mega Man 3, whereas 9 feels a lot like 2. I like 2 more than 3, but its not because 3 is bad...it's just a matter of preference, I suppose. I follow the same pattern for 9 and 10. In fact, I wrote up a blog post a good while ago which directly compares 2 and 3 to 9 and 10! Enough of all these damn numbers though, let's talk about the game! Again, Mega Man 10 was created with a retro style akin to the NES games. Additionally, you could play as Protoman from the get-go (in 9 he was downloadable), who can slide and charge his buster but also takes twice as much damage and knockback as the Blue Bomber. Easy and hard modes were also available, for those seeking less of a challenge or looking for an especially tricky experience.
Mega Man 10 is awesome, and the enemy placement is devious and smart, meaning you'd be wise to make use of the powers you unlock by taking down the bosses. The bosses themselves can be pretty tricky...probably trickier than those in Mega Man 9, in that it's tougher to take them down with just the Mega Buster (usually a good way to gauge things.) The soundtrack in 10 has a much more atmospheric tone to it as well, with tracks that really feel like they belong in the stage they accompany. This results in a few tunes falling short of greatness, but still having a uniqueness and charm to them. My favourite stage theme has to be that of Solar Man, whose stage is full of heat, light, fire, and fatass laser beams. The music for the stage fits that theme very well, with a pulsing, heavy sound to it that not only drives you forward and has you bashing your head around, but also stresses you out as you try to survive fairly tough stage!
That does it with my list highlighting stage themes from every classic Mega Man entry! I've had a lot of fun doing this...not only trying to choose my favourites, but also writing up little blurbs about the tracks and games as I've gone through! I hope you've enjoyed the read, and maybe I've helped shed some light on tracks that you hadn't previously thought to really listen to!
Which Mega Man games/soundtracks/music pieces are your absolute favourites? Don't hesitate to leave a comment!!