Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mega Man Music --- MM7

Hey y'all.  Let's move on to the next game in the Mega Man series, MM7.  This is the first one to be on the Super Nintendo, and honestly the SNES was good for Mega Man.  The formula was getting tired, and Capcom was having trouble being more creative with Mega Man on the original Nintendo.  It was time for a facelift, and SNES is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The graphics were a bit cheesy, but who cares?  They were great graphics, and with new graphic abilities you can do cool things like burn back trees and freeze lava to discover hidden paths.  Enemies could do new things, and with the L and R buttons on the SNES controller you could switch powers without hitting the pause menu.

Just like the graphics the gameplay is awesome, and they create great new enemies that are interesting to fight.  You'd be surprised how interesting fighting robot cockroaches is.  Also, they add an intro stage and a mid-stage.  I have a problem with how easy the both of these are, but they are very useful for the plot.

Honestly, I think MM7 has the best plot out of any Mega Man Classic game.  It's good, doesn't interfere with the gameplay, and is a good level of complex.  You have Dr. Wily breaking out of jail to fight the world again, and then Bass, my second favorite character ever (under Crystal Man), appears.  He appears to be Mega Man's friend, and in the first plot twist worthy of a spoiler alert, he's not.  He wants nothing more than to beat Mega Man, and he ends up almost destroying Dr. Light's lab.  But of course Mega Man saves the day, and everything is happy, other than Dr. Wily escaping to terrorize the world again.  Throughout all this you get to see a good dose of Roll, Light's new robot Auto, and Dr. Light himself, who tells you about how the weapons you gain work when you get them.

They make the game to where you can't play all eight levels in whatever order.  Only four of the robots show up, and after you beat them you get the next four.  This is fine, and actually it helps the plot.  The gameplay too makes the limited options still interesting enough for you to not have a too similar game every time.  You have Rush plates, Beat, and Proto Man to find, making this a very interesting game.  You get to go to Auto's shop and buy things in this game, and there's an item you can find to make everything half-price and access different new items.  However, most of these items can be found for free during the game.  I like this, because if you can't find it you can just buy it.

The Rush adaptor is there, but it works more like a double jump than as broken as MM6's adaptor.  Still very useful, just balanced.

So the plot, gameplay, and graphics are all excellent.  This game was a step in the right direction for the series on the SNES, and it's quality.  However, some people threw a hissy fit because it wasn't 8bit, and that's honestly cold.  Mega Man can't just stay the same all the time.  That they would talk crap about such a good and well made game is just frustrating to me.  Sure, it was weird for me at first, but crap, MM7 did so many things right that you can't hate it just for being 16 bit.  Those people that made an 8 bit Famicom version of it really need to apologize to Capcom.

You will now note that I didn't mention music as one of the game's good points.  Because honestly, it's not.  There are a lot of people who like it, and that's cool.  It's not like the music sucks, other than the remix of the Proto Man whistle (guh).  The trouble with it is that it's just so tinny and dated.  It's ridiculously corny, and it depends on how willing a person you are for corny music as to whether or not you'll like it.  When you compare it to the music of the games before, it comes off as too silly.

Now, you might complain that me, an 8 bit fan, shouldn't call this soundtrack dated when 8-bit is too.  That's a somewhat fair accusation.   Thing is, MM7's music is cheesy through and through, because it's a type of style.  The MIDI formatting that makes 8 bit music is more like an instrument: one item that can make a variety of sounds and styles.  Like a violin, MIDI can be dramatic, serious, frolicking, happy, hyper, slow, or whatever else it wants to be.

MM7's music can't really be anything but silly, happy, and fun.  And that's the plus side of the music.  There's really nothing wrong with silly, happy, and fun, so for this one game it works.  Still, I could take any of the games MM1-5 (I don't know about 6) and just listen to them alone on my ipod.  Especially MM5, which is a really great roadtrip soundtrack.  MM7, however, has music you can really only listen to when you play the game.  It's not that enjoyable on its own.

Oh, and by the way, daddies are the coolest ever.  My dad told me to say that, so I thought I'd listen for once.  Yeah, Dad's pretty cheesy himself.

Speaking of cheesy, let me talk about something I mentioned in the MM6 review.  Now, MM games 1-5 all had a more or less serious tone, without going more cheesy than the 8 bit format required them to.  Capcom obviously made efforts to make this a more serious series at that half of Mega Man's life, but it seems that once the Mega Man X series arrived and became the melodramatic stuff that it was, they for some reason made deliberate efforts to make the series cheesy.  Thus, Mega Man 6 had a plot with an obvious plot by Dr. Wily and an extra boss castle to go through for essentially no reason. 

In this sense, MM7 is far worse.  The dialogue between several characters is hilariously corny, the password screen is so dorky I can't stand it, and the graphics are generally chirpy and silly.  I can forgive the graphics, because they only real problem with them is that Mega Man looks sort of mean.  I despise the password screen (goofy screenshots of people's faces? Come on...), and I actually don't mind the dialogue.  The trouble is the precedent this creates.

Let me explain with the game series Space Quest, which follows the adventures of a janitor, Roger Wilco, that has to save the universe repeatedly.  The reason why the first game was so awesome was because the threat was real.  The game itself had very goofy and funny moments, but the bad guys were actually serious and the plot was based on serious intergalatic politics.  The only goofy thing about it was the fact that a lazy janitor had to be the hero in the end.  That was what made the game.

Now, SQ2 was more or less in the same vein, though the plot wasn't to use a star generator to destroy planets, it was now subjecting all of the universe to insurance salesmen.  Yeah.  The third game was silly too, with the villain having servants with jello-shooting guns and you have to fight the boss in a giant robot based on a toy.  Those games were still good, as the elements of the game make them fun.

SQ4 is better, because the villain Sludge Vohaul took over time, ended up conquering Roger's planet, and even kidnapped his son.  Now that's a serious threat.  Even with the cheesy voiceovers, it was a great game and very awesome.  You could feel the threat of the bad guy. 

Space Quest 5 was the beginning of the end.  While it was a very fun game in its own right, it did a lot of things wrong.  It threw in too many parodies, made Roger fart every time he sat down (once is enough!  We got it!  Thank you!), and the whole universe was essentially a rip off of Star Trek.  This game is worth playing, but the end was near.

That was SQ6.  Nothing about this game was original.  The structure of the game was awesome, with lots of options and a different feel to the gameplay.  That was the only good part.  The plot was stupid (it didn't match up with the ending of SQ5), nothing that happened wasn't a parody of something, Roger turns whiny, an old villain from 3 is recycled, and the ending actually preaches about eating right.  Nothing new or distinctly Space Quest even happened in the game.

Now, why did I got on that big rant?  Because I want to make the point that when you take a game in a series and make it too cheesy from what it was meant to be, you hurt the quality of the series as a whole.  Honestly, I love Mega Man 7, and if I had to compare it to a Space Quest game, it would be 3: cheesy, but fun and great the way it is.  I just don't want this to be a sign that Mega Man as a whole is forgetting its more serious origins.

I'm pretty sure that this is the point Keiji Inafune started having less influence and his crew having more.  Then again, it might be a good thing in some cases.  Inafune always seemed to want to go darker than those around him, and it helped the Zero series not be as melodramatic when the crew essentially forced him to not make Mega Man X the villain of that series.

In any case, I just don't want the Mega Man series to be complete cheese.  Being funny is cool, but hey, even little Rockman has to save the world.  You can't forget how intense that is.

Bah!  I"ve been ranting too long!  Music time!

Okay, so the cheese begins with the intro track.   It's a silly intro, but it conveys what it needs to convey: Mega Man finally arrested Dr. Wily.  Then it gets dark to let you know that Wily built robots to let himself out.  People seem to like the title screen song, and it is really peppy and fun for being so short.  To me it's not that great, but it's good.

Ah, the intro stage music is awesome!  It's fun, intense music that would sound really great on an electric guitar (I'm pretty sure you could find that on youtube somewhere).  I just wish that the intro stage were harder or longer so that it matched the awesomeness of the song.

The stage select tune is pretty good.  It does what a stage select track should, namely to get you to choose a robot master.  The best stage select tunes are like that.

Now for the robot masters.  Notedly, this is the part where I think the composer really messed up.  None of the robot master tracks are horrible, but I have a problem with how non-unique most of them are.  In the earlier games, it's easy to hear a track and be like "oh, that's Wood Man" or "that must be Magnet Man".  Honestly, you have to pay more attention to keep track of these themes in this game.  MM6 had trouble with that, but nowhere near this bad.  Lots of the tracks are just peppy and don't relate as well as they could to the robot master of the level.  They sound too much like each other.

Well, I better rate 'em.  Remember, I'm putting these in order of quality of song, not my personal favorite or even fan favorites, though I have to regard fan favorites somewhat if I'm going to be completely fair.  My aim is for which song is of the best quality, not so much which is favorite.

#8 Spring Man.  You are a questionable robot master.  Seriously, a slinky-bot?  Dr. Wily really is a mad scientist.  I kinda don't blame them for really not having a matching theme with this guy.  His music is fun and cute, and that's about all you can say.

#7 Cloud Man's stage theme is just weird.  It's happy, and it does convey a sense of the sky, but it's like somebody turned the cheesy dial way up.  It reminds me of old kid's show tunes.  Heck, that's probably why some people like it so much.

#6 Turbo Man's theme does make me think of roads and racing.  They did do a good job there.  Trouble is, the theme kind of annoys me.  The tinny sound is forgivable on other tracks, but it really hurts Turbo Man's.

#5 Freeze Man's theme is so videogame.  It reminds me of every ice level theme I've ever heard.  It's got great layering, and it feels sort of carnival-ish.  Freeze Man is captain of the cheese cruise.

#4 Okay, so Burst Man's theme is pretty good.  The song doesn't remind me of bombs or bubbles, but it's a fun theme that's happy, and it makes me happy.  Doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo.....

#3 Junk Man's theme is like Burst Man's.  Not very distinct, but very happy.  Does this seriously remind anyone of a junkyard?  Hardly.  I don't think anyone really cares, because it makes them happy.  Me too.

#2 I like Slash Man's theme because it actually conveys a sense of the robot master and his level.  It conveys jungle, adventure, dinosaurs...everything about the stage.  It fits really well.  I'm not going to be rating the Famicom music, but I have to say that this song even sounds awesome in 8 bit.

#1 Now this is it!  Shade Man is what they should have done for every robot master theme: convey the actual robot master!  It's so evident that the creators of this game liked Shade Man the best.  You have to replay his level twice to get all the items, there's a secret way to get Ghosts and Goblins music for his level, and the theme is so kickin'!  The first time I heard this song I was watching Roahmmythril's perfect runs, and even though his commentary sort of blocks out the music, I found Shade Man's theme running around in my head later on.  I wasn't even thinking about Mega Man.  I can't say that about any other robot master theme from this game.

I'm not including it on the ratings list, but yes, the Ghost and Goblins song is on there if you hold A when you're selecting Shade Man (and you haven't defeated him yet).  It's a cute song, and it sounds pretty good as an MM7 tune.

Now, in the middle of the robot master themes, they have a time where you go to the robot master museum and you hear a remix of the Snake Man, Guts Man, and Heat Man themes.  I really like this song, up until the point where you get to Heat Man.  It's actually kinda frightening at that point.  They really should have gone with a different robot master there.  It's wonky, but you might like it.  The Snake and Guts Man parts are awesome.

Normally Capcom always did very good on the boss battle songs, but I don't know what the crap happened with this one.  I'll admit that some people really do like it, but I'm puzzled at why: this is just too darn squeaky, and listening to it for long gives me a headache.  If they just cut out those darn high notes it wouldn't be so bad, but crap is it headache inducing.  Normally I post a link to this guy who put up a youtube video with all the songs from the game, but he forgot to put the boss battle theme in his soundtrack.  I'll go ahead and post the link here.

Boss battle theme:

I'm not really a fan of the password theme song. It's okay, but it's so dang cheesy and silly.  Kind of lame.  It's harmless, though.  Actually, I really hate how the password screen uses corny shots of characters' faces as password combinations, but that's not music so we'll move on.

Now THIS is where MM7 music gets good.  The Wily stage themes are pwnsome.  In the earlier games, I never considered Mega Man as a series to be cheesy, but Wily himself?  Sure.  He's a demented creepo bent on conquering/destroying the world.  He built Spring Man.  How is that not cheesy?  Also, this is the first game in the series to bring us a new theme for each and every Wily level.  Pwn!

Wily level one is very good, very sneaky sounding.  It's like Mega Man is finding the way inside Wily's fortress and has to be very careful.  Level 2 sounds extra dorky, but dorky in a really good way.  It's very fun, like a really cheesy horror flick.  Level 3's music is also fun, almost inspirational in a way.  Not unlike a cartoon opening theme.  4 sounds almost like a continuation of 3's, just in a different pitch.  The best of these is the first, but all of them are a good time.

For some reason, Bass' theme really stands out to me.  Unlike the other MM7 songs, it has no cheese.  It doesn't sound overly tinny or like just another generic theme.  This is really good, distinctive stuff.  It's like your reaction to Bass himself.  You're not really sure what to think about him at first, you just know he's awesome.

The Wily fight music has parts, one for each stage.  The first is okay.  It's exciting, dramatic, and electro fun.  The second one is the one that's completely crazy.  I love it so much I made lyrics for it.

Pew, pew-pew, pew, pew..
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns

Pew, pew-pew, pew, pew..
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns
Fighting with laser guns

You think you'll beat me
You will not beat me
You think you'll shoot me
But then I will go-

Pew, pew-pew, pew, pew....

And so on and so forth.  Hey, it's a cheesy song, what to you expect?  So anyway, there's other music I didn't mention.  Auto has a shop in this game, and his repetitive and annoying.  It's like carnival clown hell or something.  So not the way to go, Capcom.   The get weapon music is okay.  Nothing great, but not horrible.  A second weapon tune plays when Dr. Light is telling you what the weapon does, and this theme is pretty good.  Kind of refreshing sounding and cute.

The ending theme is alright, but it feels a little weird.  It's too dramatic for an end theme...the excited kind of dramatic.  It would work a lot better for a robot master stage or something.  All in all, I do like the song.  Out of all the songs, I think I like this one and Shade Man's best out of the game.  It's really fun and exciting, just not really ending-like.  Whatever, you're not going to hate it.

Heck, listen for yourself:

Summary: Mega Man 7 is a great game, but the music wasn't as good as the rest of it.  The cheese was too much.  Honestly though, as long as no one ever makes another tinny sounding soundtrack for Mega Man, MM7 will remain unique and different.  The music here is second place to the game, and not really that great to listen to if you're not actually playing. 

So if this were the soundtrack to a movie, it would be to a cheesy horror film with weird special effects and goofy protagonists.  Probably involving a haunted house.   It'd be the kind of movie that's like a Halloween classic.  More funny than scary, but still scary in a way.  The kind of film where you mention it around Halloween and your friends are all like, "Yeah, let's watch it again!"

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