Monday, February 7, 2011

Mega Man Music --- MM5

Hey y'all.

You know, after writing reviews for all those other Mega Man games, I was starting to feel a little depressed.  Mega Man 5 really was the downturning of the series in certain ways, and honestly, it's my favorite game.  I remember playing and enjoying this series as a kid, and it means a lot to me.  Charge Man was the first robot master I ever defeated without Game Genie (who remembers Game Genie?).

So I just posted on the fourth game, and then I started listening to five's soundtrack.  That brought me out of the funk I was in, because whatever you want to say about the game, the music was definitely not one of its faults.  It pwns, doing a great job being what MM music is supposed to be. 

Oh no, all 5's flaws are in gameplay.  The plot is great, making it look like Proto Man actually kidnapped Dr. Light and held him hostage.  Of course Wily's behind it all in the end, but it's still a great plot.  The graphics also rock, and it's a fun good time for all.

Trouble is, by MM4 the classic series was all figured out.  That became trouble for the game because it then had to concentrate on making more unique gaming features for the robot master stages.  This might have been easier if Capcom hadn't been in such a rush.  MM5 (and 6) came out in the latter days of the NES, when the Super Nintendo was rising and becoming the thing (and no console has ever truly beaten the SNES in awesomeness).  I guess maybe Capcom wanted to make money so that they could move on to SNES games and still have some cash flow coming in while they work.

They did try.  I'll give 'em that.  One of the things they did wrong was make the Mega Buster's charged shot more powerful, and also larger in size.  This makes it too easy to kill bad guys.  Even worse, the weapons from the robot masters weren't great.  Crystal Man's was too random, Stone Man's couldn't hardly hit anything, Gyro and Napalm Man's were unwieldly, Gravity Man's wasn't strong enough, Wave's couldn't hit very high, and using Charge Man's was more likely to get yourself hurt than a baddie.  Star Man's shield was okay.  You're better off just going on as your normal Mega Man self in the end though.

The real doom of this game was the Proto Man and Wily Castle stages.  If these alone had been improved, then the whole game would have been much better.  Trouble is, there were a lot of great stage gimmicks during the robot master parts, but none of these gimmicks (or anything particularly interesting) were used in the castle stages.  Actually, at one point they reused the gimmick from Dust Man's stage in MM4, but you about something new? 

The bosses in the Proto Man castle were extremely uncreative.  What happened to the big mammoth baddies in the other games?  Come on...

Bah, let's get on to some positive things.  First of all, they did try very interesting gimmicks for a lot of the stages.  Gravity Man's stage could have been developed more to be more challenging, but having gravity switched up and down was a great idea.  Everyone who played this game remembers the crystal drop segment of doom.  Then there's the Wave Man bubble ride that Splash Woman copied (in a better way), and Wave Man also had a fun jet ski segment.

So that's the problem with the gameplay.  They come up with good ideas, but they just didn't bring them out enough to be the right level of challenging (besides the crystal drop, which was fine as it was).  If they had just taken these same gimmicks and used them in the Proto Castle (Wily's castle should have its own gimmicks). It was a good game just done too fast.

However, gameplay is the one downside to the game, and this by no means ruins it.  The graphics are perfect 8-bit fare, the plot is good, and the music is definitely awesome.  Seriously, I love this soundtrack.  It's my favorite soundtrack.  I won't call it the best, but it's definitely the closest to my heart.  I was thinking about all the other games, and you know what?  You can talk all the crap you want to about MM5, but its music owns, and forget you if you don't agree!

Alright, so I'll tell you what I'm talking about. MM5's music is not out to be more epic, or more party, or darker than any other Mega Man soundtrack.  It's just out there being itself: relaxed, fun, and just good to sit and listen to.  Honestly, I don't even have to play the game.  I could just listen to this stuff on its own because it's so darn good.  It's actual music, not just vgm fare.  Not to talk down about other MM soundtracks, it's just that there's video games out there with music it's just weird to listen to if you're not playing the game.  You know what I'm saying?

So anyway, the introduction starts out a little dramatic, giving the apparent betrayal of Proto Man a proper and suprising sound.  The title theme is just awesome.  It's powerful and even a little sad.  It's like Mega Man's saying "Proto Man....why? I....I'll do what I have to!" 

The password screen theme is a nice tune.  It's not annoying, and it does exactly what it needs to do by urging the player to go ahead and input the password.  I like it.  The screen select theme is also can't believe how much I love that song.

Robot Masters!  Whoohoo!  Remember that these are in order of quality, not my personal favorite.

#8 One of the robot masters with a fun level was Gyro Man, who had his elevators of doom with death spikes on them.  I wish they had more of them in the game.  But anyway, his music is good.  It's a little too mellow and dragging in my opinion.  It's a perfectly good song, but it's not as evocative as the others.  Chillin' in the clouds...

#7 Wave Man's music is nice and relaxing.  It's about just cruising along in the water, just going on and enjoying everything.  Honestly, it's really too happy to be a robot master theme, but you know what?  I dang well like it.  It would be awesome if the sun in the background set while you're on the jet ski segment.

#6 I really like Star Man's theme.  It's perfectly reminiscent of space, stars, science fiction, and machinery.  Like Crash Man's theme in MM2, it serves as the randomly wonky piece of the game.  I can just see the little jet mets now, cruising in space.  Honestly, I think this level in particular was perfect.  Hard, but well designed.  And the music was exactly what it needed to be.

#5 Charge Man's music is great.  I seriously need to write lyrics to it.  Words come to mind as if it's a song about a guy asking a girl to run off on a train with him to go have adventures or something.  It's be so great in a movie...

#4 Now, one of the robot masters, Stone Man, is in a long line of Guts Man rip offs (Hard Man, Concrete Man, etc), but his theme is awesome.  It's intense without forgetting how to be an MM song, and it keeps you going during his level, easily the longest in the game. 

#3 This is how you know I'm trying to go by quality and not play favorites.  Crystal Man isn't coming in at first, though he's my favorite robot master with my favorite theme of all time.  His theme has an intense beginning, with a very dramatic middle, and an ending that sounds as if it's mocking Mega Man.  Seriously, this is good stuff.  Weird and dramatic, just how I like.  I can still remember hearing this as a kid and trying my hardest to remember it over the years.  Praise God for youtube.

#2 Gravity Man's theme is just what you expect a robot with a unique power to have.  It's fun and just a little wonky, with a nice mechanical layer to it.  It represents the true spirit of what an MM song should be.  It makes me want to play a video game.

#1 Was number 1 really going to be any different?  It's all about Napalm Man.  Seriously.  This guy's music is just so dang Vietnam, just like the game designers intended.  Honestly, this makes me think of shopping in California (you also await lyrics, Napalm Man theme...), but it's such a happy and yet equally fierce tone that well, it's a true masterpiece.  So it wins.

This soundtrack also has a great boss battle theme.  It's one of the favorites, and it's really good.  It's a fun theme with perfect melodic layering.  The "get a weapon" bit is simple, but to me it sounds like a really great background for a rap. 

One of the things I will never forgive MM5 for is for having two castles (Proto Man's and Wily's) but each castle of four levels only gets one theme.  That's stupid.  Four levels of the same song?  The other games castles had two songs each.  What gives?  Luckly, the theme for Proto Man's castle is a great song and is probably the most well liked track from this entire game. 

Wily's castle theme is also really good, I think.  It's dramatic, enjoyable, and dang does it bring back those memories.  It's great, sending you off to Wily guns blazing.  If only you didn't have to hear it four darn levels in a row.

The game over theme wasn't really that much of a theme in this game.  Ah well, didn't need to be.

Y'know how I said MM4's Wily battle music was the best in series?  I take it back, this is.  Honestly, this is is such a powerful theme here.  I enjoy it so darn much.  The ending theme is so much dang fun too.  It's the perfect ending for a fun game where you find out your brother really didn't kidnap your dad after all and just might be a good guy.  I remember downloading the MM5 soundtrack once (before I freaked out about legality) and I would just listen to this song over and over because it's just so darn happy.

That's the thing about this whole set of music.  It's happy, good times.  It's not trying to go anywhere outside of itself, and I love the honesty.  This is definitely my favorite soundtrack ever, and if it were the soundtrack to a movie, it would be one of those movies where the protagonists are a group of friends roadtripping through California.  Some bad guy is doing something evil and the only people that can stop him are the not particularly smart but still well meaning roadtrippers.  It's like a group of friends just doing what they can to stop an evil they never really believed could exist.


Fun stuffs! 

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