It’s a damn shame what Capcom has done to Mega Man.
Once upon a time, Keiji Inafune’s Blue Bomber was the coolest kid in town. The series provided dependable action-platforming gameplay and a tried-and-true formula — beat eight robot masters (or six in the original), steal powers along the way, battle your way to an epic final boss fight. Simple, yet effective.
Sure, Capcom may have delivered so many titles that the formula got a little stale. After 10 games in the main series, eight more in X’s story and a plethora of other spinoffs, maybe the side-scrolling action was a little too familiar. To me, the series was iconic enough to overlook those slight annoyances and focus on a crisp, well-honed gameplay experience. And I’m clearly not alone, as evidenced by the excitement when Mega Man was revealed as a character in the new Smash Bros. game.
Unfortunately, with few exceptions in the last five years, Mega Man essentially disappeared. Sure, Mega Man 9 and 10 were released as homages to the early games in the series, and fans eagerly gobbled them up. But other titles like Mega Man Universe died horrible deaths, and the Blue Bomber continued to be passed over in popular franchises like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (and the grotesque Fat Mega Man from Street Fighter x Tekken was more trollish than funny).
Still, the series really exploded with the release of Mega Man 2. A lot of series staples made their first appearance in 2, like energy tanks and the password system. 2 was also the best-selling game in the entire MM anthology.
Takashi Tateishi worked on MM2, and despite being credited with creating one of the best soundtracks of all-time, Tateishi really hasn’t done much else in his career. We’d probably call him a one-hit wonder in other forms of media. The almost-as-awesome soundtrack for Mega Man 3 (and every game that followed) was done by someone else.
Here are my picks for the five best stage themes from Mega Man 2. Yes, some of the quick-hit songs on this OST are also great, like the title theme and the stage intro theme and the song between levels in Wily’s Castle and the now-iconic stage clear theme. But let’s focus on five stages, although I can honestly say I like each and every theme in this game:
Wood Man Theme
Because that intro gets you excited from the very beginning.
Bubble Man Theme
Because it sounds appropriate for a water stage while still managing to rock out.
Quick Man Theme
Because the quickest part of the song is the best.
Flash Man Theme
Because everything works together so well.
Dr. Wily Stage 1/2
Because it’s one of the best songs ever made. I’m serious about this. Dr. Wily’s theme makes my top 10 without hesitation. I’ve even converted Shaun over to the cause — we listened to this about 14 times before Dave’s wedding. So layered, so good.
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games on a recurring basis, which is basically whenever Chris gets around to writing it. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.