Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mega Man Music -- Mega Man 9

Hey y'all.  Ain't it about time I got back to rating this music?

So yeah, I'm all about the Mega Man.  I was a kid back in the days of original Nintendo, and I can still remember the Christmas when my brother got and first started playing it: Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.  Dang awesome!  You can't buy that goodness nowadays.  Stupid freaking Halo with your two dang joystick thingies...newfangled mumbo jumbo...grumble grouse bicker....

Anyway, Mega Man 9 came out in 2009, naturally, and in many ways is the spiritual successor of MM2.  Many of the smaller tracks like the Wily intro and password song are taken directly from the second game.  It's been so long since a Mega Man 8 bit, or heck, just a Mega Man Classic game, came out, that it's retro and not ghetto.  I don't mind at all.

What I do mind, a little, is the plot.  In a way, it's kinda funny that Wily frames Dr. Light for the robots running rampant in this game.  I'm not spoiling anything.  Even the characters realize early on that it's got to be Wily.  In fact it is, and he's taken eight of Dr. Light's robots and reprogrammed them to be evil.  Mega Man saves the day, but loses Wily again because Wily pretends a robot look-alike is Dr. Light, and Mega Man is hurt as he attempts to save "his creator".  But no, the real Light is in jail because he was arrested early on, to be released now that Wily is really the one responsible.

My problem with this is how they portray it in the game.  It's dang cheesy and silly, following the precedent set by MM6 and firmly established in MM7.  I don't like this.  Keiji Inafune, creator of Mega Man, visioned a darker universe.  If it's not unhappy, then it's at least dangerous.  All the games up to MM5 were serious in tone, only cheesy due to old graphics (which aren't that cheesy to me at all), and even MM6 only had a slight touch of cheese.  I don't like the direction it went after that.  I mean, look at the MMX series and how melodramatic that is.  MMX came from MM Classic, after all.

I've ranted about that before.  Anyway, MM9 as a game isn't hurt much by it.  The plot just strikes a weird tone in me as a long term Mega Man fan and oversensitive thematic writer.  If you're a normal person going into this just to enjoy an old-school game, you'll love it as a treat, and possibly not really notice what I'm talking about here.

So the graphics are 8 bit again, and the music is awesome again.  I really hate that the awesomeness of the music only seems to correlate with older graphics.  MM7 and MM8 could have been so much better, only they were too cheesy, and were so busy trying to be distinctly tinny and eighties drama respectively, that they forgot they were supposed to be making a Mega Man sort of sound.  I do believe a great non-8-bit soundtrack is possible, we just haven't seen it yet.

Apologies to fans of the MM7 and MM8 soundtracks.  These are generally good (not you, Search Man, guh....), but they really missed out on being as awesome as the other games.

Anyway, let's get to this game's music.  The intro is directly taken from MM2's beginning (and MM1's ending), but quickly goes into a new beat.  I find this beat a bit meh at first.  It's a bit slow, then hits a faster pace of the same beat.  I don't care for it.  This sound is the first of MM9's cohesive sound, but thankfully MM9 doesn't suffer from the syndrome of having all of the themes sound too thematically alike.

I love the start screen music.  It basically screams, "Yo, I'm Mega Man, and I'm back, y'all!"  That's exactly what it should do.  And of course the save screen music is the same as the password music from MM2, but I'm so busy humming along that I neither notice nor care.  La, la, la, la-la, la-la la-la-la, la!

The stage select screen music is good.  It sounds more like a robot master theme intro, and it reminds me a bit too much of the battle theme of this game.  It's a good song, but it's not as good as most stage select screens. To me, the music should make you feel excited to choose a master to fight, so much so that you sort of forget about the music until you think about playing the game, and then you notice that it's awesome.  This is not a bad tune, but it's a bit too wonky for a stage select.

And now to rate the robot masters!  Remember, I'm rating these according to the skill of the song and how it fits with the robot master, not my favorite or even necessarily most people's favorites.

#8 People think that the intro of Concrete Man's theme sounds like Wood Man's, and I guess it does.  The rest of the song sounds nothing alike, so it doesn't bother me that much.  It's a good song, but it's not particularly great.  Very fun, very hyper, but it sounds like an intro theme to a game more than a robot master theme.  It doesn't really evoke images of concrete or anything.  I won't hate on it though.  It's a fun theme that's very Mega Man sounding.  Good times.

#7 Magma Man's theme, to me, could stand a little work.  Parts of it are truly awesome and evoke hot imagery, but a lot of it is....silly.  Far too happy for a bulky guy that has three fires sticking out of his head.  However, I can still rock out to this theme.  It's good stuff, adventurous and fun.  *parties down*

#6 I'm sort of into Plug Man's song.  Again, it sounds more like an intro than a robot master song, but it's good.  Choayo.  It's just missing something.  Very solid piece, however.

#5 Hornet Man is liked a lot by people.  I do indeed like the fact that it describes Hornet Man well, and does evoke images of flowers.  It's not a song I listen to a lot, but the rollicking background and almost content melody makes this a very fun and brings a happier and a little more relaxed tone than other songs, as if you're being hypnotized by the buzzing of bees.

#4 The thing I love about Jewel Man's theme is that it describes him perfectly.  You can just sense his desire for jewels and possible conceit from the song itself.  You can hear his voice.  The song itself is pretty good, devoid of connotation.  It's not one of the powerhouse songs of this soundtrack, but it's good, and it doesn't sound like all the other songs.

#3 I love Galaxy Man.  He's so much dang fun.  I bet he's just silly and awesome.  His theme is so dang party and enjoyable.  Where mah techno remixes at?  If anybody has a link to one on youtube or something, let me know.

#2 Tornado Man!  He has one of the most get-stuck-in-your-head themes of all the Mega Man games.  I actually wrote lyrics to this song, which I'll post later.  Honestly, this song to me is MM9.  I love it even though it's gotten to the point where I've heard it too much.  Very dramatic and exciting.  Adventuresome as a MM game song should be.

#1 Splash Woman wins.  Her song is completely perfect.  It might not be the most exciting song of the bunch, but it does what it should: 1. describe the robot master, 2. tell a story, 3. sound awesome, and 4. sound like a Mega Man game.  This song has perfect layering and fits the robot master better than any other song describes theirs in this game.  It sounds desperate, a little sad, and yet determined, as if the hero of our movie (if this soundtrack was for a movie and not a game) were having to hunt someone down over the waters that used to be a friend or someone they pitied.

I'm going to take a moment to say perhaps a weird thing about robot masters: I don't like them being chicks.  I know that sounds weird coming from a girl, but it just doesn't seem to me that Wily would create girl robot masters.  He seems faintly sexist to me.  Not that he directly hates women, but more or less that he regards them in a sort of old-fashioned, "meh, I don't need women" sense.  MM9 is in the clear because these are Dr. Light's robots, but still, you see what I mean?

Also, I really hate some fans.  These guys draw perverted images of Splash Woman in sick poses.  It's even worse than what they do to Roll, because Roll is more of a cute little girl type than the woman type that Splash Woman comes across as.  They just get so disgusting and stupid that to me it's not worth it to make another girl robot.

So, all you nasty idiots out there, get a life. Not only is Splash Woman a robot, she's completely fictious.  She doesn't exist.  Maybe if you stopped thinking perverted things about fake robot mermaids, you might actually be decent enough to get a woman that does exist.

Back to the music!

I really like where MM9 went with the boss battle song.  It doesn't try to compete with the music of other games, but rather is its own thing with a more subdued tone that's no less exciting than in any other game.  I love this theme.

The get a weapon song sounds like it was from another game.   They also have a "Get a Rush" song that sounds like a combination of this and the shop music.  I love the shop music.  It just sounds so cute and sweet.  Since Dr. Light was arrested, Roll must have gotten hold of the lab's radio and switched it to stuff that she likes.

There's also this "suspense" tune that plays, but it's basically just a bit a music to say that Dr. Light has been arrested.  It's not a song or anything.  There's also the same Wily intro as Mega Man 2.

I love Wily 1.  It's such a great song.  It's called "Flash in the Dark".  Yep, they named the Wily songs this time.  Actually, other songs in the series have names (Top Man's is called "Spinning Greenhouse" or something like that) but I guess nobody really knew about them or something.  In any case, my favorite thing about this song is that it feels like someone could be singing to it

Now here you are Mega Man,
Like a flash in the dark,
Coming to sa-ave the day!

Dr. Wily again,
He threatens the world
Save us today

Mega Man you're the one
And you're back to attack
That mad scientist
And you'll make him pay

Or, erm, something like that.  Every time I hear this song I make up different lyrics for it.  Mostly about Mega Man saving all our lives and stuff.  Ha, you should try it sometime.  This song is just begging for lyrics.  And guess what?  This is the first 8 bit Mega Man game to have a different song for every Wily level!

I freaking love Wily 2.  It has this determined tone of facing down difficult bad guys with complete fearlessness.  It's so dang pulsing and exciting.  I need to do something awesome to this song, like fight terrorists or ninjas or something.  Dang awesome!  Actually, this might have worked better as a robot master song, but it works here just fine.

Dang how I love Wily 3.  It's almost humorous in a way.  If this were the soundtrack to a movie, this would be the part where the bad guy does something ridiculously evil against our hero.  Techno remix, where art thou?!

Wily 4 isn't as exciting as the others.  It's more serious, and has lots of drive and buzzing tones.  It's so weird, as if our hero is lost in a maze of death.  It feels like you're running out of time as you listen to this.  So dang wonderful!

Lol, I love the intro to the Wily boss theme.  More than the song itself, actually.  I mean, it's a good song, but to me MM4, 5, and 6 had better Wily boss themes.  But whatever, this is perfectly enjoyable and good times as it is.  I especially love the alarms blaring at points in the song.  Go Mega Man!

There is a mellow ending to this game, and it reminds me of something.  I just can't remember what...anyway, it's a singing piece that doesn't last long, as it's the time Mega Man is taking to show Dr. Wily every single victory he's ever had against him.  It's hypnotic, especially for a shorter looped song.

The ending song is too cheesy for me.  It does too much to remind the audience that this is a remake of a very old game (in a technology sense) and not a new branching out of the Mega Man Classic series.  That being said, it's perfectly acceptable and sweet.  There are other endings that are better, but this one is good.  It's just on the dorky side.

Should I have included the Fake Man track in with the other robot masters?  Fake Man is a fake policeman robot that Dr. Wily used to trick Mega Man into thinking that Dr. Light wasn't arrested by real police.  You can download a special level to fight Fake Man, and I must say, out of all the tracks in the game, this one reminds me the most of the old music from the older games.  Hush your face, young'uns.  This is the one with the most arcaic feel, and I must say that I love it.  If I included it with the others, I'd put him in second or third place as far as music quality.

I really, really like the endless stage theme.  It's a great tune that feels very motivating and exciting, as well as being just weird enough to be a Mega Man song.  Trouble is, you have to consider each song's purpose when you talk about how good it is.  This song is of course used for the endless stage theme, and the problem with that is that this song has a very short loop.  You have to hear the same tune over and over again with not too much variation.  If you're trying to last as long as you can, this can be very frustrating and make you sick of the song.  It would be much better as a boss battle or something.

I'm sad.  Bass was written out of this particular game (getting upgrades or whatever) and so you don't get to hear the awesome Bass theme in 8 bit.  Tears...

Oh hey, you want to hear all of these, don't you?

Anyway, I'd have to say that overall this is a very satisfying soundtrack.  People like to say that it compares to the "glory days" of 2 or 3, but I have to say nah.  For one thing, such an attitude ignores MM1, 4, and 5's awesome soundtracks, and for two, MM9 isn't quite there with a lot of its tracks.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great game with great music, but it has such a high standard to meet.

I feel like a lot of the robot master songs could have been better and more creative.  Most of them were fine, but I only deeply enjoyed the top three on my list up there, and Hornet Man was good too.  The others were decent, but not really as great as they could have been.  I personally feel MM10 is better than MM9 on terms of music, but we'll get to that later.

If the soundtrack of Mega Man 9 was the soundtrack of a movie, it would be a movie about our adventure hero from Mega Man 2.  A sequel.  Our hero has been living peacefully since his victory in MM2, and as little as he wants to come out of hiding, the world is faced by a brand new threat that he simply can't ignore.  He has to fight friend and foe of greater power than before, along with some old foes whose influence is still around.  He wins, and the world celebrates his victory.  Our hero learns to appreciate the goodness of life, and enjoy rather than reject the appreciation of others.

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