Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Exhaustive Analysis of 8-bit Mega Man Music

Of the current generation of consoles, I only own a 360. I've also been highly anticipating Mega Man 9, but it comes to the 360 on October 1st, about a week after the other two consoles. To console myself and tide myself over I've gone to the Tubes to listen to some of the soundtracks and give a listen to some of the older ones.

This is the funny thing: appreciation of Mega Man music is a microcosm for the kind of snobbery you see in indie-music-loving white people. It's also a microcosm for the popularity of the series as a whole.

Below is an extremely typical favorites list. Warning: there are a lot more links farther down below. You might OD.

The first point of evidence I'll point to are the broad, commonly accepted rules. These rules are useful so that you can serve the purpose of having a standard for people to adhere to while still letting them think that they're thinking independently! This way, everyone can have great taste, except for a few people.

Second, opinions are fierce, no one really thinks the same thing, and the love is very sincere. And serious. Bashing Mega Man music is like saying the Beatles suck. Looking at the many countdown lists and top tens, you'll see some common themes.

This is what I've learned about each of the first 6 titles. Remember, it's a microcosm: the opinion about the music is the opinion about the game itself.

Mega Man 1: No one played this game. People who like the music for this game like it because they're bragging about how old they are or how young they were.
Mega Man 2 and 3: considered the best of the series. The argument about which one is better doesn't ever fully come to bear because a. there are 6 freaking Mega Man titles for the NES, and picking one is hard, b. an argument about whether 2 or 3 is better may reach physical violence, and c. some realize this is an extremely stupid thing to argue about.
Mega Man 4: universally agreed that it is good. If you think it is better than 2 or 3, you're in the minority, and if you think it's better than both you have weird taste.
Mega Man 5: it's considered okay to like this title, but no one played it. The SNES was out at this point.
Mega Man 6: why this was released is a puzzle. It's pretty weird. Also, everyone had a Super Nintendo by this time and didn't bother to get this one. If no one got 5, why would anyone get 6? Seriously, find me someone who's played Mega Man 6 and you'll have found who is still playing this. (Better quality found at 2:20 here. Note: the music from this game is better J-Pop than any Mega Man ever had.)
Mega Man 9: the arguments have already erupted over this one. Agreed: hardest one evar. Most agree: comparing it to all the previous ones is pointless. "Favorite song" can be read in favor of all 8 of robots. It's obvious that Tornado's is smokingly the best: it's the longest and was made for the trailer.

Now for my own stupid opinions on what's overrated, underappreciated, and correct, at least as far as the music goes.

Overrated: All of Mega Man 1. Seriously, 1986 compared to the 1990s. Just...yeah.

Wily's Fortress in Mega Man 2. Man, just because it was your first time getting to the end of the game doesn't mean anything. 3, 4, and 5 have better sounds in the castle department.

Universal acclaim for all of 2. 2 was good. But Crash Man has one of the worst tracks ever. Heat Man wasn't great either. Bubble, Wood, and Air Man are good, but not stellar.

Snake Man does not have the best track in 3. Top Man is overrated; good, but not stellar. Skull Man has universal acclaim because he sounds like he's from 2. But he's not 4's best.

Water levels are good and yeah, okay, making music that corresponds well with the elements is a great feat, but water music has never been seen as superior at any level, anywhere. Bubble, Dive, and Wave Man plus Splash Woman are decent, but not at the top.

Deserved acclaim: 2 and 3 were the best, I concede. Magnet, Spark, Flash, and Metal Man are constant favorites and for good reasons. These are truly awesome tracks; nary a squabble here.

3: Needle Man and Shadow Man are never mentioned. I have no idea why; probably because they start slowly. These track aren't 38 seconds long, but a minute, unlike the other tracks from 3. This allows them to be more complex.
4: Ring, Drill and Dust Man. All of these start off slowly, but progress somewhat unpredictably.
5: All of 5 is severely underrated. No one knows 5, but it really belongs with the pack. And 5 has longer tracks than its predecessors. Gravity, Napalm, and Charge Man stand out.
6: Okay, yeah, it was weird. Still, like 5, they had longer, more complex tracks. Check out Knight Man and Tomahawk Man (the latter is best between :30-1:00).

In conclusion, very few people played all the games, some of the best tracks were in 5 and in castle stages other than 2, Guardian Heroes goes for about 100 dollars on Ebay, and I hope you're not sick of the music.


Blogger Thirdmango said...

My favorite is actually the title screen to Mega Man 3. I didn't realize Shadow was under-appreciated as it's my favorite of the main bosses on that one. If you want a site with all of the music available for download, just let me know.

6:33 PM  
Blogger feitclub said...

The release of Mega Man 9 has brought about a lot of MM retrospectives, and I have been shocked to hear the majority state as fact that "no one played Mega Man 1." I couldn't have been the only one who spent hours trying to kill that Yellow Devil (before the Select Trick hit) because when MM2 finally came about it was an extremely hyped release. Sequels to games no one played do not receive that kind of attention.

Thanks for mentioning Guardian Heroes BTW. I was just recently trying to remember the name of that one.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Etelmik said...

TM: totally, forward 'em on.

Feitclub: yeah, I partially jest with that one; in my personal experience, I know many who have started with 2 or later and never played 1. I was born in 1981 and I'd never even seen a copy of the first. Or even known someone who owned it. Maybe I'm just an anomaly.

As far as hyping sequels is concerned, especially Capcom ones: Street Fighter vs. Street Fighter II. How many played the first?

8:50 AM  
Blogger JohnH said...

Bomb Man, Cut Man and Elec Man from 1 were good, and Crash Man had the BEST theme from MM2.


10:05 PM  
Blogger Eduardo del Corral said...

Select trick?

Man had I known; I beat 2-5 back in the day, but 1 was tough to crack and if memory serves that yellow guy appears twice.

As for 6, that I did find out about later because something had to come before 7

Regarding 2 being good from start to finish - it's hard to beat nostalgia

Dunno why 4 never got that much love since the megabuster is synonymous with MegaMan now

To me they kept getting more polish. I remember MM 1 had 1 Mbit, two doubled ... Etc

Anyway cool post!

5:31 PM  

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