Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mega Man Music -- Mega Man 8

AAAARRGGGH!!!! I wrote so much and the push of one button it all disappeared!  I've been writing for the past hour!!!!  Stupid auto save function!!!!

Okay, calm down, get it together...write it all out again..


Hey, y'all.  I'm really frustrated right now because I worked really hard and was more than halfway complete with this post when it all went blank.  It's okay though, because I think I can write this out in a more coherent manner now.  You know how it is with first drafts and such.

Okay, so Mega Man 8.  While it was a good game, it had its problems.  The main deal with it was that it came out on the PS1 and the Sega Saturn, meaning that even right after MM7, it's first non-8 bit game, it had to go right back and figure itself out on completely different consoles.  That meant unnecessary changes from what MM7 established.

You know, I'm suspicious that the fan backlash against MM7 is what did this to MM8.  Honestly, MM7 got a lot of unfair accusations back in the day.  These were essentially unavoidable in one sense, because MM7 had a lot of expectations for the first 16 bit Mega Man game.  Except for in music and too much cheese, I feel that MM7 really rose to the challenge and created a new formula by which other higher resolution Mega Man Classic games could go by and adjust as they went along.

MM8, however, scrapped it.  They decided to go back to square one and make everything like a huge Mega Man party.  To me, the game feels like a Japanese stereotype.  Mostly in two areas: plot and graphics.  Now because I'm American, a stereotype from Japan is more interesting than one from over here, but still, come on Capcom.

First of all, you have this alien Duo from outer space who seeks to destroy all of this evil energy stuff, which is a moderately common concept.  It's even in the Japanese version of the Power Puff Girls, PPGZ.  It's not too bad a plot item, though.  Naturally Wily finds this evil energy and starts using it to enhance his forces.

Thing is, Mega Man 8 is an easy game.  RoahmMythril, a perfect runner on youtube, did perfect runs of the robot masters for all MM games.  Using his ratings, I determined that out of all the games 1-10 and Mega Man and Bass, MM8 ranks only at number nine.  If this evil energy translated into harder bosses, or maybe you encounter a good guy that goes bad, or maybe you fight Bass without it and then next time he uses it, then this game would be better and more dramatic.  I mean, if you're going to break the normal formula of a Mega Man game, then why not?

There are other things that make it a Japanese stereotype.  You have the robot masters saying little catchphrases as they enter, shoot attacks, and die.  I wouldn't mind the first and third so much if the voice acting wasn't terrible.  I mean, the bad voice acting is hilarious in the anime cutscenes, but it's sort of hard to understand the robot masters when they're doing it.  Admittedly, some are really funny and hilariously creepy, but still.

Also, having them name their attacks when they do them really makes this game unnecessarily easy when you fight them.  That alone probably makes this game less hard.  The key to any Mega Man game is learning how exactly to fight the robot masters, and it's just cheap if they call it out.  Sheesh, why can't they make a dang Famicom version of this game?  This is the one that deserves it more.

Another stereotype is the color scheming of this game.  It's so crazy...every little bit of every little robot or machine or platform in most levels is colored these brilliant neon tones so that you're going through this crazy world of color and eye burning brightness.  They also have birds flying in the intro level, shrapnel going everywhere when you shoot a bad guy, toys falling from nowhere in Clown Man's level, and even a techno club color pattern going on in the stage select screen.  I honestly don't think I could play this game for too long at a time, and I really like shiny stuff.  Search Man's color scheme in his level makes me feel nauseous for some reason.

Bah, enough bashing.  This game really is fun.  It's sillier than it needs to be, but the gameplay adds interesting elements, like getting rid of E tanks in favor of party balls.  I like the E tanks better, but it's still interesting for party balls to be there.  They float in the air, and if you don't shoot them they hurt you if you run into them.  If you shoot them, they drop an item for you.  It's different, and that's cool.

Honestly, they really could have figured out how to make the games work on a non-8 bit format if they kept trying.  I believe it.  So anyway, let's get to the music.

MM8 had the opposite problem as MM7 when it came to music.  While I personally don't enjoy MM7's track as much as other games, I do feel that its music was more in the feel of Mega Man: weird and good times.  Now, in a pure sense of general music, MM8's had some better and more unique tracks.  On the downside, it lost its Mega Man feel.  It became less of a Mega Man game and more of just a generic video game.  Now, it's not as bad as how generic the JJ Abrams Star Trek was compared to real Star Trek, but all the same it lost some of its uniqueness.  It lost that slight darkness that makes Mega Man what it is.

However, like I said about MM7, it's actually fun for one game.  I want to criticize this game, but I watched a playthrough again, and you know what?  I forgive this game's flaws.  I really like it.  It's not as good as games 1-5, but it's fun, so play it.

I think most of this game's cheesiness (as well as MM7's) comes from an overly dark Mega Man X series.  They wanted the original series to balance it out.  I really don't like this, but for one game it's good to just have fun and even be a little silly.  Honestly, they really should have given Bass more plot, but whatever.

So anyway, indeed, whether or not you like MM7 music or 8 music better, one for its more Mega Man feel and the other for its better quality, they do have similar flaws.  I talked about this during my MM6 review, but honestly, these two games have it worse.  In their cases, Capcom seemed to be trying too hard to make the robot master themes sound thematically alike, rather than giving each robot master a more unique sound.  MM8 isn't quite as indistinct as MM7's music between masters, but still, its songs don't really reflect the characteristics of the masters they try to portray.  I mean, you could start playing random songs from Mega Mans 1-5 (and possibly 6) and about ninety-five percent of the time I can guess what robot master they're from.  These?  Not so much.

But as cheesy 80s pop as MM8 sounds, it's still pretty enjoyable.  It's too cheese to really compare to other games that well, but it's good that the music didn't suck.  It's not as unique and weird as I prefer my Mega Man, but whatever.  Speaking of which, on to it!

So this game has two different intros, depending on the country the game was released.  The western theme is a very nice piece that's sort of mellow rock, both dramatic and relaxing at the same time.  Meditative, even.  It makes me feel nostalgic even though I never played this game as a child.  Really though, the Japanese song does fit better with the anime intro scene, which shows Mega Man fighting baddies from all the previous games.  It's cheesier than cheese, but dang is it fun!  It makes me want to learn Japanese.

Next up is the title screen song, a nice song that accomplishes its purpose I suppose.  It feels like a track you'd play at a fashion boutique or exercise video, but I like it.   Now the intro stage is where it's at.  I love this song!  Very hyper and appropriate.  The music they play underground during the intro stage, while kinda cool, reminds me of a fashion show, one of those really wonky ones that are unnecessarily gimmicky.  Like making all the models walk through a spray of glow in the dark paint.

The mid boss song is okay.  Very hyperactive and pulsing.  It kind of annoys me though, because it's a bit too repetitive for having to fight an enemy for a significant period of time.  The stage select screen song, however, is very good.  I quite like it.  It's what a stage select screen should be, except a bit more noticable than most of the stage select screens tend to be.  Fitting with the disco shiny panels on screen.

Okay, just a warning, there are nine robot master themes this time.  For some reason Tengu Man has a completely different theme on the Saturn version, so I'll be rating both songs like I would normally.  Naturally, I won't be playing favorites, but rating each song on its own merit and how it represents the robot master.  Let's go!

#9 Does everything about Search Man's level have to make me sick?  What is up with this song?  The squealing, squelching tones are like getting stabbed in the ear.  Like listening to modern crap pop.  Like listening to Nathan Fillion pretend he's from out west (you are officially disallowed from every saying "ain't" or "y'all" ever again, Mr. Fillion).  This doesn't relate to being a sniper military attack robot at all.  What were they thinking?  This is my nominee for the worst Mega Man song ever.

#8 ....Are you kidding me?  I know Clown Man is a clown, but how about not making his theme sound like any clown's song?  You could literally play this song while clowns are performing at a circus and it wouldn't make a difference.  Perfect for like one of those toys where you crank the handle and a clown pops out.  Well, at least it's cute.

#7 What?  What is this mess?  Okay, so in Japan tengus are these bird-demon mountain monster things, and so Capcom calls a robot master after one.  Where in the mess do you get such a chirpy theme for a dang kami from?  It's a dang kami.  Fail, Playstation version.  Well, it's at least a happy song, very windy sounding.  Honestly though, it's a lot like the color scheming of this game: too much, too hyper, too sugar.  Especially at the part where they dump a bunch of mets on you in the level.  I really don't want to listen to annoying music at that part.

#6 As silly and annoying as Aqua Man the robot master is, his theme is pretty peaceful.  Do, do, do.  Not that unique or special, but nice in its own way.  Perfect for an elevator or an insane asylum.

#5 Honestly, everything in this game soundtrack reminds me of either exercise videos or fashion shows.  It's definitely the former when it comes to Astro Man's level.  Truth be told, I kinda like this song.  It just makes absolutely no sense for Astro Man's level.  Neither does the level itself.  Endless mazes are really gimmicky, especially, when you expect that robot master lairs are either civilian made or Wily made.  Oh wait, we're talking about music now.  Um...yeah.  Okay song.  Not great.

#4 Grenade Man's theme is decent.  Pretty fun, actually.  I like it's sense of drama and tension.  As much as I really like this song, I don't really feel it's very grenade-ish.  Way too peaceful.  Actually, this song is quickly becoming a favorite of mine as I just listen to it some more.  I think I could listen to this just on my ipod without playing the game. *hums happily along*

#3 Sword Man's theme is actually kind of fun.  While it still reminds me of overly melodramatic runway shows, it actually makes the attempt to be like Sword Man's level, which entails going through ancient relics.  While I feel the level's gameplay was gimmicky and just generic video game, this song certainly isn't. I dig it!

#2 I really love Tengu Man's song on the Saturn version.  It's a great rollicking song that's fun, passionate, and actually sounds like a Mega Man song from what the series should be.  It inspires you to keep going in the level, and it's really cool.  Shoot the dang kami-bot, Mega Man!

#1 Much like Shade Man's theme from the previous game, the song from Frost Man's stage was instantly recognisable and even stuck in my head after only one watching of RoahmMythril's Frost Man perfect run.  It's a more mellow song, which is definitely necessary when you're following a crazy voice around going "JUMP, JUMP! SLIDE, SLIDE!"  Easily a memorable and well written song, best of the bunch.

There's a lot of extra songs to go over in this one.  First of all, you can go to Dr. Light's lab to buy some stuff for the game to make it easier on ya.  Mellow, repetitive, not that great, but you don't want to stab your own ears when you listen to it.  Duo has his own theme, and this plays during the midstage after four of the robot masters.  It's a great theme.  I really like it.  Very passionate and driving, really pumping you up.  Pity the midstage is so lame gameplaywise.  A song like this deserves a hard level.

Cut Man returns in the midstage if you're playing the Sega Saturn version, and they remix his song all special like.  Thing is, have you ever heard those professional DJs that really aren't as good as they think they are?  That's what this song sounds reminds me of.  I really don't think the MM8 sound really works for Cut Man.  Either that or they were just trying too hard.

Wood Man returns in Search Man's stage in the Saturn game, and his mix is a lot better than Cut Man's, mostly because it was a far less wonky song to have to remix in the first place (some songs are just easier to mix than others).  Honestly, this song is a dang lot of fun.

Okay, so the boss battle song.  About time I actually got to this.  In MM8, there's a short intro to this song.  It's unnecessary, but it's cool.  The boss battle song itself is dang awesome.  Good layering and excitement.  Maybe too intense for such an easy game, but whatevs.  The get weapon song is okay.  Not really anything that interesting or special.  It's trying too hard to be exciting, really.

I don't usually comment on the Wily stage intro for the games, but this one's was so unnecessarily pompous that I just have to wonder what Capcom was thinking.

Wily stage one is so weird.  It's sort of deep and weird sounding, like an older, intense computer movie where  somebody's trying to figure out what's going on. Or like a really melodramatic fashion show.  Jokes aside, it's a really fun and well layered song.  I really like it.  Not sure how Wily it is, but eh.

Wily 2 doesn't really compare.  It's just okay.  Like the first, it sort of reminds me of Frost Man's level, except this one part where it gets all whistle-ish.  Not the greatest ever.  You're bound to forget this track.  If only the song was more like the ending of the track and less like the beginning, and given to Search Man instead of his annoying theme.

I don't mind Wily 3.  Sounds almost like a haunted house.  Not that unique.  Could be for basically any game.

Wily stage four is a remix of the battle theme introduction, and since you're replaying the robot master themes, it makes sense.  I just wish that the Wily level themes didn't all sound so....icy.

Unlike in MM7, Bass' theme actually sort of matches the rest of the game.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  In any case, his theme is still awesome, and Bass is still radical.  Or he would be if the evil energy actually made him difficult to fight.

After a short introduction where Duo stops you from dying (okay theme at this point) it goes into the Wily battle.  I have very high expectations for the music during Wily fights, and honestly...I'm not sure about this one.  It's okay.  It's just trying too hard.  I mean, if your game is full of cheese, then your big boss theme should reflect the tone of your game, like in MM7.

After you defeat his first form, Wily switches over to the skull capsule, and I must say, it's a dang creepy intro as he does this.  Creepy awesome.  The final Wily fight theme is also creepy, very computerish and intense.  I like.  Really weird and awesome.

So yay!  You beat the game!  Duo saves Mega Man again and then disappears off into space, leaving the defense of earth to the blue bomber and company.  And again, there are two different endings.  Maybe the Japanese one is more fitting, but my heart belongs to the western one.  I suppose Japan's version is more like a reprise of the intro, very cheesy and fun.  I just wish I understood it.  Fun and happy, and it makes you happy you won.

Honestly, I still love the western one more.  It makes me feel really reminiscent of all of the Mega Man games.  Just listening to it almost makes me want to cry.  I don't know what it is with this song, but something about it reminds me of being a kid and the more innocent music theory we had going on in the nineties (did I mention modern pop is crap?).  This along with the ending picture just makes me feel fondly about Mega Man and happy about life in general, reminding me about all things good in life.  Especially since it was the last Mega Man classic game for a long time.

Well, overall MM8's music was not up to standard.  I'm going to tell you not to skip this game because it was good, but at the end of the day, I have to call it right here.  While I'm willing to let your opinion decide the best  soundtrack of the series, I'm calling this one as the worst.  It had its good songs, but after some bad or just plain not unique robot master tunes and mediocre Wily level songs, it just can't muster up the great times that all the other games of the series can.

So if these songs were the soundtrack to a movie, it'd be one of those cheesy old movies that's not as cool as it thinks it is (and you love the movie for it).  Not unlike the first Mortal Kombat movie, except not quite as good.  The hero has to deal with computer hackers, and his girlfriend is a fitness instructor.  He makes her pretend to be a model so that he can sneak into the really melodramatic runway show.  The villain is overly dark and the ending is dang happy.  Yeah.  I seriously need to write that movie.

Couple of questions might pop into your head.  First of all, am I going to review the Mega Man and Bass soundtrack?  The answer is probably not.  I mean, I kind of like the game and how it sort of fixed everything that was wrong with MM8's burn your eye out graphics (it was based on the same sprite models), but the music also was in line with MM8.  The sound type of the game just wasn't good for Mega Man as a whole, and I don't really enjoy it.  That being said, MM&B does sound more like a Mega Man game.  I might reconsider, but for now I'm not sure.

Heck, I'm actually not that mad I had to rewrite this.  I think this version is more coherent than what I put before accidentally deleting my first draft.

As for reviewing MM9, I'm going to listen to its soundtrack and MM10 more before I continue with these reviews.  I feel like I want to get more of a sense of these soundtracks before I go on about them.  See you then!

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