VGM Entry 30: Mega Man 2
(Thanks to Tish at FFShrine for the banner)
I’ve never actually played a main series Mega Man game in my life. I know, it’s embarrassing. We just somehow never crossed paths. I played Mega Man X and Mega Man X2 when they came out, but not the classics. Ah well. I suppose Mega Man 2 (Capcom, 1988) was most people’s first encounter with the series, but it picks up exactly where the first installment left off, both in plot and in music.
The introduction is pretty epic really, for all its simplicity. You start out hearing the end credits music to the original Mega Man while gazing out over a futuristic 8-bit cityscape. As you learn that Dr. Willy has returned with new robots, the pace quickens, the camera begins to zoom up, and bam, there’s Mega Man standing in the breeze with a hero’s anthem pounding out behind him. It’s the ultimate super hero introduction, better than any of that glossy Hollywood stuff you see today. And from this point forward, the music never really stops kicking ass.
If I had to fight a guy with a giant blade saw on his head I’d be sweating it. The music to Metalman is packed with a real sense of danger that I don’t think any previous game–and few since–have so effectively captured. The effect is huge, and that might be the best way to describe the rest of the music in this game too. With nothing but two main tracks and drums and bass, Takashi Tateishi manages to craft music that cements you to your chair and locks you into the action like never before.
And he does it so consistently. He also does so without ever letting on that he did not actually composed the first Mega Man game. The style is completely in keeping with Manami Matsumae’s work in the original, acknowledging every good thing she had going and improving upon it rather than making an independent statement. The two did work together somewhat, I would imagine. Manami Matsumae is not completely absent in this game. She composed the introduction, which quite effectively set the stage for everything to follow, as well as the music for Airman. (She wrote the stage start tune too, though this is the same as in the first game.)
The clock isn’t always ticking, but when Tateishi isn’t chugging out Iron Maiden bass lines he’s still presenting a heroic vibe. The music to Crashman makes you feel like you’re winning, but that’s just another part of the action. Its bluesy rock grooves keep on moving and carry the player along.
Because like any good rock star, Tateishi saved his best works for the end of the album. Or close enough. The first Dr. Wily level’s music is so epic it makes all of the previous bosses look like wimps. Total Iron Maiden worship? Perhaps, and so what if it is?
Takashi Tateishi stated in an interview conducted by Chris Greening that he “aimed to create melodies that people could hum along with, or play in their bands”. I wonder if he had any idea just how successful he was. The Mega Man series in general, but most especially Mega Man 2, has been the subject of countless covers and live renditions over the ages. With a real explosion of interest in vgm over the past couple years, some exceptionally successful efforts are coming to the surface.
I’ll leave you with a live speed run of Mega Man 2 performed by Bit Brigade at MAGFest X in January 2012. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the most awesome thing in the history of mankind. Sorry vikings and skydiving. You lose.