Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mega Man Music - MM1

Hey y'all.  I felt like doing something a little different as far as music goes.  I haven't really established what I'm going to do with this blog, therefore...I'll write what I want!  Buahaahaha! 

Anyway, so for the next few posts, other than whatever interruptions I feel like, I'll be reviewing music from the classic Mega Man game series.  I'm not really into the other series that the Mega Man universe spawned, but I'm sure they have some good music too.  It's just that I'm from the old school as far as video game music goes, and I'm Classic Mega Man all the way.

I love Nintendo and Super Nintendo, as for me nothing really gets better than that.  I don't mind rock music in a game or whatever, it's just that I love video game music essentially being able to be its own legitimate musical genre.  Trouble is, VGM comes from old consoles that weren't capable of playing modern musical tones or things that sound natural.  Now that games are getting better and are on the computer, there's no need for the plinky plonky sounds that so characterized the games and times that I loved. 

So, in tribute to that and my love for Mega Man, I'm going to be reviewing the music for all ten Mega Man classic games.  For now, just the first one. 

Mega Man is a little blue robot that has to go fight the six robot masters that Dr. Wily stole from Dr. Light.  Those six robots are destroying the world, getting revenge for Dr. Wily's sake because nobody gave him the recognition he felt he deserved.

Ah, Mega Man 1.  This is one of the contenders for the best music in MM Classic, at least in my opinion.  It's just so wonky and out there.  You've never really heard anything like it.  The tones are even weirder than the rest of the MMC series.  This is mostly due to the fact that the makers of the game had to establish this as a futuristic universe, and the limitations of the Nintendo forced them to express this in limited ways.   Also, rumor is that this game was supposed to be an Astro Man game, but something legal went awry and it didn't work out.  So much the better for the gaming universe. 

Everything about this game was weird.  The graphics (which weren't really settled until the next game), the point system (which was eliminated immediately after this game), and other gameplay aspects.  I think the lack of establishment in this game was what caused a lot of people to like MM2 better.  MM2 really had it together as a complete package.

But onto the music!

Okay, so I'm going to be ranking the robot master music in order of which I feel is the best for this game, but I won't be ranking other music, like stage select or boss battle themes.  Oh hey, you can listen to all the songs from it on this youtube video.  Yeah, it's only one video long.  That should tell you something.


This game doesn't actually have a title screen song.  Another wonkiness about it, but oh well.  It starts off with a very classic sounding stage select screen.  It's simple, urges you to pick, and does the job.   I like it, but as a song it's not particularly awesome.  The real gem of the soundtrack to this game is the music that plays as you select a boss.  This song, and slight variations thereof, will remain in the Classic series until the end.  It pumps you up and gets you ready for the level you're about to play.  And that's awesome.

Okay, let's get to the robot masters.  There are six in this game, and I'll rank the themes in order from least impressive to the most.  I'm trying to get these in order of not so much my favorites, but which songs I feel where actually better in skill and entertainment value.  Which means at some point I'll have to admit that I like wonky songs.  But not now.

#6 is Ice Man's theme.  It's nice, and it actually does a really good job of implying ice and cold for a song that has to use archaic MIDI formatting as music.  However, it doesn't really do too well compared to the others.  MM1 did this weird thing where it used very short loops of music, and certain songs suffer because of this.  Ice Man's being one of them.  Oh well.  This is still good stuff.

#5 goes to Guts Man.  Like Ice Man, Guts Man's theme suffers from short looping.  The difference is that Guts Man's theme has lots of power and drive, making it stand out a lot more.  However, it's still not the best because of its repetitiveness.  You don't notice this as much when you're playing the game (especially not when it comes to those noisy platforms) but you will notice when you listen to the song by itself.

#4 is Bomb Man.  He has a nice, fun theme.  It doesn't really remind you of bombs (I dunno, maybe it does), but it's just a fun song that's perfect to cruise to.  It feels adventurous, but not unhumorous.  Like you're fighting a really fun villain.

#3 of the bunch is one that a lot of people actually like the best.  It's Elec Man's theme, and while I feel that this is a great song, it's sort of dull to me.  I put it this high because it really does sound classic, and it has skill.  This right here is the point where I admit that just because I don't care for a song as much doesn't mean it isn't one of the better pieces.  Let me state right now that I love all the songs in this game.  Elec Man's just isn't as remarkable to me.  It is, however, a very relaxing, fun piece, and even a little sarcastic considering that this level is probably the toughest as far as gameplay.  I can't hear this theme without imagining little "zzznt, zzznt" noises from the electrical spikes.

#2 is Cut Man's.  Now this song is classic.  This theme right here shouts "Mega Man" like no other.  For some reason this just feels so wonderful.  It represents everything a Mega Man game song should be: fun, quirky, mildly serious, and memorable. 

#1....What could possible beat Cut Man's theme?  Why, Fire Man's!  I love this song so much.  When I used to play it at my grandparents', the first part would be so weird and scrambled that it sounded awesome!  Apparently the Game Genie (a thing that allowed you to input cheat codes of various kinds) was responsible for this.  This song is just what you would expect a fire-wielding maniac to play as he tries to burn you to death.  Somewhere floating out there has to be a metal remix.  Honestly, this song just goes out of its way to be awesome.

Mega Man as a series has always had very good boss battle music.  I absolutely love this one, though it also suffers from short looping.  It has a very hyperactive pace that really drives you on.  Though, I have to admit that I always got annoyed when my brother got to the bosses and I couldn't listen to the robot master themes anymore.  After that is a short victory theme, which I think inspired other Mega Man victory themes.  It wasn't as influencial as the robot master introduction theme, for sure.

Huh....that's odd.  The game over music sounds awful cheerful.  I mean, you've got these robots blowing up the earth, and failing there means certain doom, but...okay....

Wily stages 1 and 2 have a great theme, and it's fun.  It's very serious, dramatic and desperate, despite the fact that it's not the fastest song.  Stages 3 and 4 have another good theme, which is along the same line, but even more serious.

Now, the Wily boss battle is one of my favorite boss battles ever.  It's digital, awesome, and very weird.  It's absolutely perfect for fighting a mad scientist.  It needs a remix so deserves one!  Few of the Mega Man games actually have a boss battle victory song, but this one has a short, happy little bit. 

The ending of this game really is wonderful.  It starts off a bit slower, then picks it up a bit, really getting into swing.  It's perfect, as if the oppressed world is waking up and realizing that everything is okay again.  It's one of the happiest Mega Man endings ever, especially later on as Keiji Inafune takes his series down a more melodramatic route.  My favorite part is how this song ends with a crisp teleportation sound, as if Mega Man is going home now that his job is complete.  This song is excellent.

Okay, so, overall Mega Man one has a great soundtrack.  It's fun, wonky, and sets up the Mega Man universe on a happier note.  MM2 might have defined the series in many ways, but MM1 was where everything gets put together, creating one of the best gaming franchises of all time (of all time!!). 

I think in the end I'll rank all of the classic games' soundtracks in order of which I think is best, and this one is sure to rank higher.  It does suffer from the shortness of the tracks, as the creators of the songs never really give any of them, other than the ending theme, enough time to really develop into even more awesome songs.  Elec, Cut, and Fire Man's themes do well despite this, but the other robot master songs really suffer.

Alright, so stay tuned for the next, and let me know if you disagree. 

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