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BGM Mode: In the year 20XX

Mega Man

With this week’s Lore in a Minute retelling the history of Mega Man, I’ve had the Blue Bomber on my mind lately. So, what better time to showcase some music from one of the biggest game series–in fact, the biggest–of all time? I’ve already extolled the virtues of Magnet Man’s theme in VGH Episode 8, so I’ll spare you this time. (Although really, you should go listen to it anyway.) But, I’ll still kick things off with some Mega Man III.

“Top Man Stage” – Mega Man III


While the debate over whether Mega Man II or Mega Man III is the superior game will probably rage until the Internet shuts down (it’s III, by the way), fans on both sides will probably agree that Mega Man III had a breakthrough soundtrack, especially for the time. While Mega Man I and II were no slouches in the music department, III’s themes possessed incredible energy and personality. Many of the songs even have a jazz or funk sound to them and it’s easy to imagine some sections being played out on a piano or bass.

“Dr. Cossack Stage 2” – Mega Man IV


The opening sets an appropriately dramatic tone for what appears to be one of the game’s final stages, but the section near the end that has sort of a call-and-response dynamic that always takes me by surprise.

“Boss” – Mega Man IV


Definitely not as memorable as Mega Man II or III’s boss themes, but what an intro! The beat keeps up throughout, which is one of the series’s tensest boss tracks.

“Opening Stage” – Mega Man X


Mega Man X was a huge deal. It was Mega Man’s first appearance on the Super NES, which meant evolved gameplay, a brand new (and dare I say–badass) character design, and of course, a next-generation soundtrack. Although the 8-bit Mega Man games showed that Capcom’s sound team could work magic with the NES’s primitive sound chip, Mega Man X’s soundtrack was a bit of a revelation. In the opening stage–the player’s introduction to this new incarnation of Mega Man–the music immediately puts front and center the wailing electric guitar which, along with a driving bass and furious drumlines, became the defining sound of Mega Man’s SNES adventures.

“Spark Mandrill Stage” – Mega Man X


More high-energy guitars and percussion, plus plenty of drama. Love the brief drum solo at the end.

“Opening Stage X” – Mega Man X4


Another generational leap for Mega Man meant another chance for the soundtrack to leave a deep impression in the opening stage. Although the familiar guitars are present, they’re mostly backing for a sawtooth synth, which was used heavily throughout the PlayStation’s Mega Man trilogy.

“Split Mushroom Stage” – Mega Man X4


The synth is joined by some wah-wah guitar for a track that suitably unusual for a stage that ends with you fighting a renegade robot mushroom.

“Mecha Dragon” – Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters


An old favorite gets remixed for an obscure Mega Man fighting game! This is based on the music from Dr. Wily’s castle in Mega Man II, although here it gets the full Q-Sound treatment, and it sounds fantastic. If you can track down a copy of the Mega Man X Collection, it includes Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters as an unlockable game and you can listen to the entire soundtrack, which features other amazing remixes of classic Mega Man themes.

Mega Man has an extensive history–he’s a record-holder, after all–so it’s hard to feature all the tracks I want to! I’ll save the rest for a future post. Until then, are there any Mega Man songs that you’ve gotten stuck in your head? Which game do you think had the best soundtrack? Let us know in the comments!

Composer Credits:
Mega Man III – Yasuaki Fujita, Harumi Fujita
Mega Man IV – Minae Fujii
Mega Man X – Setsuo Yamamoto, Makoto Tomozawa, Yuki Iwai, Yuko Takehara, Toshihiko Horiyama
Mega Man X4 – Toshihiko Horiyama
Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters – Takashi Tateishi (arr. Yuki Iwai)

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