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95. Mars (Mega Man V)
The weirdest thing about Mars is that it's not weird. In a soundtrack that is replete with really odd, funky rhythm and musical choices, Mars is much more standard - a steady, slow pace with little in the way of real experimentation. That's not to say it's bad - I have a soft spot for this piece, possibly BECAUSE it's the most normal song in the soundtrack. It has that standard "cool" sound that you expect from a Mega Man song and when you've played MMII enough as a kid, this stands in stark contrast as a GB song that doesn't sound like a bootleg or some weird s***. I think the 'solo' section at :38 is pretty inspired, but I think the song would really benefit from more adventurous percussion - the 'galloping' hi-hats makes this sound more plodding than it really is.
94. Dr. Wily 3 (Mega Man 3)
A Mega Man 3 track, out this early? Sacrilege! But eh, it had to go out somewhere. I actually don't consider this one to be too forgettable or anything, despite the fact that it only plays in basically two hallways before bosses - I always found this theme particularly creepy as a child (I mean I was like, literally 5 years old) so it's always kinda stuck out in my head - it makes the coming battles sound a lot more dire than they actually are, since they're pretty damn easy. So I guess it does its job! Other than that, it's got all that nice MM3 sound to it so it couldn't fall out of the top 100 really. "MM3 sound" is hard to beat - everything just sounds so well mixed and like it has such a nice sense of space which is remarkable for an NES chip.
93. Pump Man (Mega Man 10)
This was one of the two tracks I got wrong when guessing the composers - I guessed MM1's Manami Matsumae for this one, figuring that the simple, relatively unadorned melody and the literalness of the theme-matching here had a very MM1 style to it, and that Nitro Man had that Yuko Takehara style harmonization and vibrato to it all over, but it was the other way around so go figure. Anyway, like I said, this one is very on the nose for a theme about dredging around in a sewer - it works! Appropriately dark and moody, and that little bass hook in the beginning I find immediately infectious. Hearing arpeggios in a Mega Man theme is really weird, even when only used for effect - I can't think of another theme that has them, since that's typically a hallmark of western composers and not japanese ones. Anyway, the outro's a little lacking but I like this one otherwise.
92. Dr. Cossack 2 (Mega Man 4)
Rrk. People are gonna give me flack for this one, aren't they? Probably one of the most popular tracks from not-MM2 and I don't know what to say about it other than that I like it! I don't even really think it's spectacularly overrated or anything, I just have other favorites - 91 of them to be exact. It's a pleasant theme with a very 'smooth' sound to it, which is almost a little bit of a breath of fresh air given all the weird, jarring edges in the rest of this soundtrack (not even a bad thing, but it's not easy listening), and maybe the only reason I find it on the less exciting side is because the stage it belongs to is a notoriously dull autoscroller (the first of its kind in the series, fun fact), but yeah, it's just fine. I'd like it to change a little bit more throughout - the outro doesn't really feel like much of a destination.
91. Tengu Man (Mega Man & Bass)
Okay, here's where I can talk about something that I've wanted to talk about for a while with regards to Mega Man & Bass, which is the SNES vs the GBA versions of the soundtrack. I'm actually going to start listing both of them for comparison purposes because I think it's appropriate - each version of the game offers a very different take. (I'm not going to include the Wonderswan version, because come on, no.) So, on paper, the SNES (well, SFC, but who's counting) version should be the superior version. It's rather high quality for an SNES game (I would hope so, since it came out in 1998), it's got a pretty nice patchset and it sounds a lot cleaner than the GBA version, which is very messily compressed (by necessity) and mostly falls back on these 'preset' kind of GBA synths. But... I vastly prefer the GBA version, for two reasons. One, the GBA version of nearly every track has this beefy snare that just REALLY drives the rhythm of each theme - the percussion makes every GBA track sound a lot more exciting, while the percussion in the SNES tracks is very passive and laid back. And two, I actually like the GBA synths! I think they give it kind of a cohesive, faux-NES sound that I find appealing and pretty unique to this game, whereas the SNES version of the game doesn't particularly have a distinct sound to it. The bass is a LOT crisper, too - it's very in the background of the SNES track but in the GBA, it's right there in your face. This track is probably the starkest example of all of these factors - the SNES track wouldn't have ranked above like #150 on account of sounding like the video game version of ambien, but the GBA track just brings a completely new level of energy to the whole thing and makes me rediscover a love for this song that I didn't really know I had.
...Okay, but like, you want to hear the Wonderswan version of it now, right? I know I do. Let's listen to it together.
HAHA IT SUCKS. It sounds like a bootleg game, right? Can you believe that it's actually NOT a bootleg game? It's an official game. It's CANON.
HAHA IT SUCKS. It sounds like a bootleg game, right? Can you believe that it's actually NOT a bootleg game? It's an official game. It's CANON.I mean, I've heard MMII GB from this topic.
I'd Rather Be A Savage Little Elephant, than be a big Bald Bull
"I claim one line in your sig" = TheKnightOfNee
(edited 3 weeks ago)
The funniest part about it is that Rockman & Forte: Challenger From the Future is a direct sequel to specifically the plot of Mega Man II. I'm not even s***ting you, that's true
a fun fact about the SNES version of MM&B that a friend found and confirmed with me:
apparently it actually has programmed in randomness in the engine, in the drums specifically. so there are /slight/ differences every time certain songs or parts of songs are played back in the drum parts; intentionally 'off' timings, presumably to get it to sound more akin to being liveplayed. It's definitely intentional and not just a faulty quirk, since everything is precise except for layers or sections that make sense to sound imprecise and humanized.
the differences between any two times the tracks get played are barely noticeable (and it doesn't apply to every track in the game, and a lot of yt uploads probably come from the same sources so it wouldn't be noticeable there either) but it's a thing that's fascinating to know was chosen to be done. it does make sense with the jazzy influences anyways
maybe at some point during the topic i'll upload a comparison that points out the tiny differences in the hits on the drums in the waveforms between playthroughs of tunes in the game
(all this said i'm also probably in the minority that prefers the gba versions, but i don't have a strong preference---I'm just a weirdo and really love GBA as a sound format in general. I think PSG beeps layered on top of super crunchy gritty samples just happens to be a really cool sound~!
I also have interest in how the GBA also doesn't actually have hard limits in the way other chip/sequence formats do. It's all software-mixed ["whatever the engine/memory/etc can handle" number of samples able to be played at once] (which is different between games, or even different between situations within the same game, not a specific number like the nes or snes) layered on top of the entire gameboy color soundchip.
and all sorts of custom programming was done to make weird functions that could be done to samples (in some games things like filter sweeps as actual functions, not just baked into samples). This results in some pretty unique stuff. Engines tailored to specific games that all have vastly differing limitations from each other, or work around memory limitations in really creative ways, all things that i'm pretty fascinated by
I never figured out the exact limits mm&b holds itself to are, but it feels pretty standard, only a small number of channels for samples and just heavily focusing on the gameboy psg layers. It works to its advantage though! for that really crisp bass you mentioned particularly. whole gba mm&b ost just has a fun punchy crisp sound)
a fun fact about the SNES version of MM&B that a friend found and confirmed with me:That's really interesting! I've always kind of felt like something was 'odd' about the quantization in R&F but it wasn't something I really pointed out because I assumed it was just some kind of quirk of emulation, recording, whatever - it's a really interesting decision to actually randomize the quantization in a way that most people will never really notice or appreciate.
One thing I forgot to mention is that I've really wondered who did the GBA conversion of the soundtrack. I wasn't really able to get confirmation on whether or not it's Akari Kaida but I sort of assume it was probably someone else who ported it since they seem to have a distinct style.
Also, I just realized there's a stage select theme I forgot to rank from MM11, lol. There's a special stage select theme that plays once you reach Wily:
It's cool, I like the Wily motif used in this game. It's not as good as the regular one though. It would rank somewhere in the middle of the stage select themes.
Yay! Cossack 1 did better than 2. I am of that opinion as well! 2 is just kinda boring to me.
1 is a big banger tho <3
wow Mr. X was ROBBD
I guess mentally I often think of it as just a less good Dark Man but there's not much shame in that
A hero cannot be defeated simply by making him die.
Doing this writeups it's really becoming apparent how quickly we're getting into the tracks that I LOVE. Anything making the top 90 is just not an indictment at all, everything here is a treasure to me at this point. (It's also really driving home that there's nothing I regret ranking too low earlier, there was never gonna be room)
90. Ground Man (Mega Man & Bass)
This was the first robot master I chose in Mega Man & Bass and I took a shine to this song right away - cool little jazzy tune with some percussion that's going super hard. Both versions of this track are really good! The synthy brass and organ leads of the SFC version are well chosen (although I think the organ is perhaps a bit too loud), although as usual I do prefer the GBA version here. It sounds a little more lo-fi, but it's just so punchy! That snare drum in the GBA track is a beauty. Honestly, I have to level with you - it's f***ing wild that I have to rank this track 90th, but I'm surveying the list and everything from here on out is just a jam that I adore or at least am fascinated by.
89. Jupiter (Mega Man V)
It's another Mega Man V song, so you know what you're getting - weird, but surprisingly inspired, melodies. This one's no different - I really like the 'call and response' melodic stylings here, those little melodic fills at the end of each phrase are really sharp, and I like how that one sharp note in the main hook implies a particular sort of 'spacey' vibe. Cool track that's very indicative of MMV's style on the whole.
88. Knight Man (Mega Man 6)
Out of the robot master themes in Mega Man 6, this is probably the least standout, but it's still really solid. I can't really think of a lot to say about it except to say that even 6's weakest is still top half material. What puts this one in the top 100 is that outro - this is one of the few NES Mega Man tracks I can think of that has a 3/4 section, and that gives it a really unique twist compared to its contemporaries - it really grooves. Other than that, tons of solid content here, it's got all those creative harmonizations that I associate with 6, but it's a touch less memorable to me than its brethren.
87. Splash Woman (Mega Man 9)
Most MM9 tracks have that soundfont problem I was talking about before where the instruments are too 'nasally' for my tastes and don't really have the same richness that the other NES-style games have, but that's fortunately not a problem here, this one's smooth as butter. That high flute-like lead threatens to become a little bit screechy, but it's beautifully shaped to avoid grating on the ears too much. Love how the basslines here just really *sound* like they're underwater - this song in general borrows from Bubble Man's vocabulary a lot and hey, if you're gonna take some cues, take 'em from 2.
86. Dr. Wily 4 (Mega Man 10)
It thoroughly pains me to rank this one here but I can't rank it higher. This might seem like a really odd pick but I REALLY like this one. The gradually rising tension ending in that dramatic slide back down to the start is immediately reminiscent of MM2 Wily 3+4, a theme you'll noticed I *haven't* ranked yet. And that bass hook! It's just an instant earworm, something about it just really bops. I think this really nicely suits Mega Man 10's capsule room as an ominous harbinger of the final battle to come and the stage isn't long enough for this theme to wear out its welcome.
from what i can gather (tho technically not 100% confirmable), MM&B's music was ported by Chihiro Arisaka (T.Arisaka).
they're the sole credit for "sound" under the "new staff" section; and more importantly for this theory: looking into their other gba port music, it sounds exactly the same instrumentation-wise pretty much; same exact choice in using the gameboy psg beep layer of the soundchip for a punchy bass, etc