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Monday, January 28, 2013

Mega Man 25th Anniversary: Classic Rock: The Best Classic Series Music

You cannot discuss Mega Man without bring up the music. From the very beginning, Mega Man has always been a series that is heavily focused and driven by the music that you hear during gameplay. This doesn't just end with the Classic series either. Even the spin-off titles have out of this world music and tons of musical references. But this article will be sticking to the Classic series for the sake of simplicity. This is what I personally believe is the best of Classic Mega Man music. Not every single piece of classic Mega Man music made the cut and I won't be speaking on every single track since I have a lot of ground to cover. I did my best to make sure much of the Classic series was covered and even dedicated some sections to the side games. This is the first time I've ever done such an extensive music feature on this blog so forgive me if it doesn't follow the traditional format for these kinds of lists (whatever that may be). With that, strap on those headphones and let the music play.

Best Opening Themes

4. Opening 1-Opening 2 - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

The first opening theme plays during the opening cut scene, showing Mega Man's climactic battle with Dr. Wily in Mega Man 6. Usually he gets away but this time, Rock was too fast for him, slapping some cuffs on him and finally arresting him. Opening 2 shows the six month peace period that the world has enjoyed being shattered by four robots and a mini boss tearing up the town. He's nowhere near as tough as he seems.

3. Opening 2 - Mega Man 4 (NES)

We witness the Rock being turned into Mega Man and riding off on a train to face a new threat as his blue hair (yes, in the games, the Blue Bomber's hair is blue) blows in the wind. All the while a repetitive, yet heroic theme plays. This is how you start a game.

2. Usual Day-Future World - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
All is well and good until Roll passes out from Roboenza. It seems like just a virus that sends robots to bed, but the symptoms don't end there. Prolonged exposure can turn robots hostile and since most of the world is heavily dependent on robots in 20XX, that's anything but good.

1. Mega Man 8 Opening - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)

And here is where a encourage the wrath of a throng of Mega Man fans. I like Electrical Communications. I do. I just think the electric guitar theme that Mega Man 8 was given for it's American debut is better. I still look on in awe as that cut scene plays and Mega Man battles it out with numerous foes from his rogue's gallery.

Best Title Themes

The first of the Game Boy games to have an opening cut scene. Earth is one again under attack by Dr. Wily, sending some of Mega Man's old foes to wreak all sorts of havoc across the land. The opening has no dialog and it really doesn't need it. You get everything you need to know in those first 30 seconds while the title theme paints a bleak picture for the future of Earth if Mega Man doesn't stop Wily.

Though brief, Mega Man 10's title music does a good job of making it feel like Earth of 20XX is in a very dire situation.

04. Title - Mega Man 5 (NES)
While most title themes in the series have a triumphant feeling to them, this one feels quite sad. Perhaps the tune wanted to drive home the point that Mega Man would have to go up against Proto Man. Of course by now, we all know that isn't the case. 

The two playable starts shoot at the logo and this short, cheerful theme plays. Oh, yeah! Fun times are ahead! The sound crew probably wanted to lift the player's spirits right from the get go since this game is so hard.

The opening tells an abridged version of the events in the first Mega Man game, tells you what Wily is up to for this one and then has an epic upward pan to show Mega Man standing atop a building , hair blowing. Cue title drop and a fan-freaking-tastic title theme. 

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that plays Mega Man. While Mega Man 3 does not have a fancy intro like Mega Man 2, it far and away has the superior title music. It isn't uncommon to find gamers that praise Mega Man 2 as the best Mega Man say that Mega Man 3 has the best title theme. Fact is, it's just that darn good. Composed by Bun Bun, Mega Man 3's title theme is an excellent reason why you shouldn't just immediately press start and jump into the game. This piece takes it's time before getting to the main course, demonstrating just how powerful a build up can be done on 8-bit hardware. The main course is every bit as delicious as the start up.

Best Intro Level Themes

03. Opening Stage - Mega Man Powered Up (PSP)

02. Opening Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
Wily is out of prison, meaning the world is once again in grave danger. I once read someone accuse Mega Man 7 of having music that sounds too happy. While Turbo Man and Spring Man's themes are certainly on the bright and sunny side, Mega Man 7's Opening Stage theme is dead serious.

01. Museum - Rockman & Forte (SNES)
The Robot Museum sure has gotten bigger since Mega Man's last visit in Mega Man 7. It was also given a brand new theme that goes on for more than 2 minutes before it loops. 

Best Password/Game Over Themes

This underrated Mega Man game had some fine music and this catchy password theme was used again in the obscure SNES game Mega Man Soccer.

Mega Man 7 is one of the darker games in the Classic Series. Bass drops a D-bomb and Mega Man comes very close to killing Dr. Wily (though he had it coming at that last fight). There's a good amount of upbeat music in the game and while some may accuse it of being too happy (they must have had serious wax build up if they didn't hear some of those 8-bit tunes), I'm very fond of it.

Wow. You weren't looking so hot in that last run. Snake Man's level handed your your butt. Hey, it's alright. Here's some super happy fun time music to take your mind off how much you suck. Mega Man 3's game over music is either telling you to try again or mocking you. Take your pick.

Best Stage Select Themes

08. Wily Tower - Mega Man: The Wily Wars (GEN)
The Genesis versions of Mega Man 1-3's music didn't do a whole lot for me, but the Wily Tower original tracks were out of this world.

Some of the best music in Mega Man IV was the original material. Mega Man IV has two sinister-sounding Stage Select themes that both use the same tunes but in different keys. The first one plays lower while the second boosts things up. This was one of the very times the Classic series changed up the Stage Select music. The Stage Select screen itself was quite different as well, taking place on a rotating grid.

01. Stage Select - Mega Man 3 (NES)

Mega Man 3 is far more difficult than Mega Man 2 and it's stage select theme reflects this. Rock-Men put out the best arrangement of this theme on their first album.

Best Get a Weapon Theme

04. Get a Weapon - Mega Man V (GB)

03. Get a Weapon - Mega Man 5 (NES)

02. Get a Weapon - Mega Man III (GB)

01. Get a Weapon - Mega Man 3 (NES)

Many will agree that Mega Man 3's Get a Weapon theme has yet to be topped. The Mega Man 2: Power Battles remix is also quite good.

Best Electric-Based Robot Master Themes

03. Elec Man Stage - Mega Man (NES)
A track that sounds like Journey's Faithfully or a song to help calm your nerves as you go through this long and sometimes torturous stage? You decided. 

02. Bright Man Stage - Mega Man 4 (NES)
Bright Man is one cheap dude, but dang if his level theme isn't awesome. The Complete Works remix is fantastic. 

01. Spark Man Stage - Mega Man 3 (NES)

Flashing lights, lots of bottomless pits, garbage blocks and tricky jumps make for one brutal level. Good thing you've got this theme to keep your spirits energized. 

Best Cold-Based Robot Master Themes 

One of the sillier-looking Robot Masters was given a serious ice theme. Gotta love contrast.

If Freeze Man's theme doesn't cheer you up, you're dead inside.

Not even the infamous "Jump! Jump! Slide! Slide!" could take away from the magnificence of this tune.

02. Cold Man Stage - Rockman & Forte (SNES)
One of the few cold stage in the series that doesn't have slippery terrain. This jazzy beat is so cool. Sorry.

That Shusaku Uchiyama really knows his ice themes. Having worked his way to legendary ice theme level status with Mega Man 8, he returned to do it all over again in Mega Man 10. Man, this theme is so beautiful. 

Best Heat-Based Robot Master Themes

Flame Man's theme is better than Heat Man's. There, I said it.

Mega Man 10 brought back a composer that worked on a Mega Man game in the past and each was given one of the Robot Master themes to compose. Bun Bun wrote Solar Man's theme, a tune so hot that extended listening will melt your ears off.

Yes, ladies and gents. Great as Solar Man and my love for Bun Bun is, Fire Man has what I think is the best heat-based Robot Master theme. Increasing the intensity of the main course with each successive repeat is quite effective. 

Best Water-Based Robot Master Themes

05. Pump Man Stage - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

04. Aqua Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)

He may appear fruity, his stage theme is oh-so relaxing. And no, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Mega Man can indeed swimming in Mega Man 8. 

03. Dive Man Stage - Mega Man 4 (NES)
Those robotic killer whales are named Moby. That's cute. 

02. Wave Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)
One of the few water-based Robot Master levels that does not place Mega Man underwater.

01. Bubble Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)

I think a lot of other music from the series is superior to Mega Man 2's awesome soundtrack, but Bubble Man has one of the greatest water level themes in the history of video games. 

Best Sky-Based Robot Master Themes

05. Air Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)
Seriously, if you can't beat this dude, quite playing video games. Or kill Wood Man first then come back to his level.

04. Gyro Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)

03. Cloud Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
All these fat Robot Masters have such great themes. Bomb Man, Wood Man, Hard Man, Bright Man, Wind Man and now Cloud Man.

02. Tornado Man Stage - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

Capcom could have shown just footage for Mega Man 9 to get us stocked for the Blue Bomber's comeback, but they threw in Tornado Man's theme and got as foaming at the mouth.

01. Tengu Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (Saturn ver.)

Jerkface, I mean Tengu Man has two distinct console level themes. His PlayStation version is happy-go-lucky while his Saturn tune is all dark and serious. I like my happy Mega Man music but I like the edgy stuff as well and in this case, the later wins out.

Best Blade-Type Robot Master Themes

04. Cut Man Stage - Mega Man (NES)

03. Metal Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)

02. Shadow Man Stage - Mega Man 3 (NES)
The bass is quite strong in this track. There have been a few rock remixes of Shadow Man's theme, and they've been great, but I'd love to see a jazz rendition since I always get that sorta vibe from his theme.

01. Blade Man Stage - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

From here on out, all ancient castles need to have castle mini bosses inside of them.

Best Vehicle-Type Robot Master Themes

03. Ground Man Stage - Rockman & Forte (SNES)
I love the use of saxophone instruments in Rockman & Forte. Really, this game has a phenomenal soundtrack that doesn't get the credit it deserves.

02. Nitro Man Stage - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

01. Turbo Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

I can hear the hate now. "How DARE you pick Turbo Man over Nitro Man!" Look, Nitro Man's theme is awesome and all, but Turbo Man's super happy fun time theme is just way better in my opinion.

Best Space-Type Robot Master Themes

04. Star Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)
03. Venus Stage - Mega Man V (GB)
02. Galaxy Man Stage - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XLBA)

01. Astro Man Stage - Rockman & Forte (SNES)
The second time Astro Man was put to use, he was given a new theme and I prefer this one of his Mega Man 8 version. The level itself is also vastly different.

Best Bomb-Type Robot Master Themes

05. Napalm Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)
04. Drill Man Stage - Mega Man 4 (NES)

03. Burst Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

02. Grenade Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)

01. Bomb Man Stage - Mega Man (NES)

Bomb Man's humble tune is one of the most criminally underrated Mega Man tracks. His theme seldom sees remix love that Cut Man and Elec Man's themes get.

Best Forest-Type Robot Master Themes

04. Slash Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
03. Concrete Man Stage - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
02. Search Man Stage - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)

01. Wood Man Stage - Mega Man 2 (NES)

A Robot Master that's made out of wood has my overall favorite theme from Mega Man 2.

Best Animal-Based Robot Master Themes

03. Toad Man Stage - Mega Man 4 (NES)
How to beat Toad Man. Shoot, slide, repeat.

02. Sheep Man Stage - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
The first Robot Master revealed for Mega Man 10, Sheep Man is goofy and lovable at the same time.

01. Snake Man Stage - Mega Man 3 (NES)

Even if you hate Snakes, you'll love Snake Man's stage theme.

Best Special Number Robot Master Themes

03. Mega Man Killer #002: Punk - Mega Man III (GB)
02. Bass' Theme - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
01. Mega Man Killer #003: Ballade - Mega Man IV (GB)

Best Shop Themes

04. Dr. Light's Lab - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)
03. Shop - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
02. Dr. Light's Lab 2 - Mega Man IV (GB)
01. Shop (Proto Man) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

Best Dr. Wily Stage 1 Themes

13. Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man 4 (NES)
12. Wily Base - Mega Man Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)

11. Wily Station - Mega Man IV (GB)
This is actually the only Dr. Wily Stage theme from Mega Man IV. Still great, though.

10. Flash in the Dark (Dr. Wily Stage 1) - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
09. Abandon Memory (Dr. Wily Stage 1) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
08. Wily Tower Stage 1 - Mega Man: The Wily Wars (GEN)
07. Dark Man Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)
06. Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)
05. Wily Base Entrance - Mega Man III (GB)

04. Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man 3 (NES)
This excellent track is overshadowed by an even better Dr. Wily Stage 2 theme.

03. Dr. Wily Stage - Mega Man 5 (NES)
Mega Man 5 got a bit lazy with it's fortress themes, using the same theme for each level, but this one was so good that I really didn't mind.

02. Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man 2 (NES)
OK, this theme is so over remixed that it isn't even funny. That being said, it is a sweet theme.

01. Dr. Wily Stage 1 - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
That electric guitar, that bass, that lead up to the main course. It all adds up to one sick track. I always thought Mega Man was furious when he returned home to find out Bass trashed the lab and saw Dr. Light on the floor, dazed and confused. From that moment to the first Wily level along with this theme made it feel like, for the very first time, things had gotten personal for Rock in his battle against Wily.

Best Dr. Wily Stage 2 Themes

10. Against the Pressure (Dr. Wily Stage 2) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

09. Dr. Wily Stage 2 - Mega Man 2 (NES)
You might see this course as repetitive since it uses the same melody over and over but it keeps going up a key higher as it plays on. Very few NES games had this type of track composition and this is the reason this theme has always amazed me. This theme hardly ever gets arranged because, well you know, that other Wily theme from Mega Man 2.

08. Wily Tower Stage 2 - Mega Man: The Wily Wars (GEN)
07. Dr. Wily Stage 2 - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
06. We're the Robots (Dr. Wily Stage 2) - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
05. Wily Marine Fortress - Mega Man III (GB)
04. Dr. Wily Stage 2 - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)

03. Dr. Wily Stage 2 - Mega Man 4 (NES)
If this doesn't get you pumped for the upcoming battles, nothing will.

02. Dr. Cossack Stage 2 - Mega Man 4 (NES)
One of the best things to happen to the classic series was that Russian vibe that Dr. Cossack brought with him. There are a few remixes of these theme, but not near enough.

01. Dr. Wily Stage 2 - Mega Man 3 (NES)
This game has a bevvy of sweet Dr. Wily music, but Stage 2 is easily the cream of the crop. It's like the Mega Man 3 equivalent of Mega Man 2's Dr. Wily Stage 1, except the remix community hasn't seemed fit to arrange it as much as that aforementioned theme.

Best Dr. Wily Stage 3 and Beyond Themes

05. Dr. Wily Stage 3 - Mega Man 3 (NES)
04. Dr. Wily Stage 3 - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
03. Wily Tower Stage 4 - Mega Man: The Wily Wars (GEN)
02. No Turning Back (Dr. Wily Stage 3) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
01. Deep in Space (Dr. Wily Stage 5) - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

Best Boss Battle Themes

07. Boss - Mega Man 2 (NES)
06. Boss - Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
05. Boss - Mega Man 3 (NES)
04. Boss - Mega Man 9 (WW, PSN, XBLA)
03. Boss - Mega Man 5 (NES)

02. Boss 1 - Mega Man IV (GB)
The standard Boss theme from Mega Man 4 sounds far more sinister when played on the Game Boy in a lower key. It's actually better than the original version.

01. Rockman & Forte (SNES)

Best Dr. Wily Stage Boss Themes

06. Dr. Wily Stage Boss - Mega Man (NES)
Two words: Yellow. Devil. Gamers spent countless times fighting this thing, deducing just the right evasive maneuvers to defeat it. Naturally, this made Mega Man's Dr. Wily Stage Boss tune get stuck in their heads.

05. Last Boss - Rockman & Forte (SNES)

So many of the bosses at the end of Rockman & Forte were an absolute nightmare. From the tank, King and Wily himself, Rockman & Forte's final stage bosses are sure to give even the most experienced Mega Man players nightmares. This track is called Last Boss but it's played for most King stage bosses and is the tune used for the final battle with Wily.

04. Dr. Wily Stage Boss - Mega Man 10 (WW, PSN, XBLA)

You actually get to hear Mega Man 10's Wily Stage Boss theme much earlier than you'd think. After making it past a few bots and getting out of the rain, you're introduced to the Wily Archive, drones that imitate the powers of Mega Man's past defeated foes, similar to the Doc Robots from Mega Man 3.

03. Dr. Wily Stage Boss - Mega Man 3 (NES)
Speaking of Mega Man 3, the Wily Stage Boss theme for this game was about as wild as the bosses. Yellow Devil Mk. II, the Mega Man clones and of course, Gamma. Bun Bun sure knows how to make a boss fight feel intense. Those drums are just sick.

02. Dr. Wily Stage Boss - Mega Man 7 (NES)
After Wily takes Guts Man from the Robot Museum, this theme starts up as Mash busts in and gets ready to thrown down with Mega Man. By far, the best battle theme in Mega Man 7, topping even Bass' Theme.

01. Wily Battle - Mega Man IV (GB)
Bet you weren't expecting a GB Mega Man title to walk away with the number one spot for best Wily Stage Boss theme. Dark, threatening and heavily rock inspired, some wonderfully talented composer (by Capcom's own admission, they have no idea who did the music for this game) pumped out not only one of the best battle themes in a Mega Man game, but one of the best boss themes ever. It really is that awesome. If you can't see why it's placed at number one, you probably haven't heard it.

Best Final Battle Themes

04. Last Boss - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
One of the hardest final bosses of the series is very much worthy of the theme it was given.

03. Last Boss - Mega Man 6 (NES)
02. Sunstar - Mega Man V (GB)

01. Last Boss - Mega Man 4 (NES)
Repetition has rarely sounded this good.

Best Ending Themes

04. Ending - Mega Man (NES)
Fun fact: Mega Man 2's intro song originated partially from this theme.

03. Ending - Mega Man 2 (NES)
02. Justice March - Mega Man III (GB)

01. Ending - Mega Man 3 (NES)
Proto Man already had one of the most memorable whistles ever. If you paused before he teleported in, you could hear an extended version of it. Better still, Mega Man 3's Ending theme is an even further extended version of it. Pity you can never hear the full theme during the ending because it cuts to the Staff Roll theme.

Best Staff Roll Themes

05. Staff Roll - Mega Man 2 (NES)

04. Staff Roll - Mega Man 3 (NES)
As a kid, I would keep staring back at "Presented by Capcom" as Mega Man was in jumping animation next to those words. Bun Bun was one of the few staff member names I could actually read. Go figure.

03. Staff Roll - Mega Man 7 (SNES)
I always thought Mega Man was walking home with a lot on his mind. I mean, he did almost kill Wily. That slow walk, even by today's standards is pretty awesome.

02. Staff Roll - Mega Man 8 (PS, SAT)
Finishing Mega Man 8 was no easy task for me. At the age of 16, I heavily questioned why they dropped Energy Tanks, making a few boss fights tougher for me, especially Wily Capsule #8. But after numerous tries, I'd won. For all the cheesy voice acting, I enjoyed the ending and this staff roll theme has since been my number one favorite for years. At least until recently.

01. Staff Roll - Rockman 5 The Complete Works (PS)
Had I not heard this beautiful piece of music, Mega Man 8 would remain my all-time Mega Man Staff Roll theme. Of all six Complete Works Staff Roll themes, this is hands down, the best of the lot.

Top 5 Mega Man Robot Master Themes

05. Cut Man Stage
04. Elec Man Stage
03. Guts Man Stage
02. Bomb Man Stage
01. Fire Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 2 Robot Master Themes

05. Crash Man Stage
04. Metal Man Stage
03. Bubble Man Stage
02. Quick Man Stage
01. Wood Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 3 Robot Master Themes

05. Top Man Stage
04. Shadow Man Stage
03. Snake Man Stage
02. Spark Man Stage
01. Magnet Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 4 Robot Master Themes

05. Drill Man Stage
04. Dive Man Stage
03. Skull Man Stage
02. Pharaoh Man Stage
01. Bright Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 5 Robot Master Themes

05. Charge Man Stage
04. Gyro Man Stage
03. Gravity Man Stage
02. Napalm Man Stage
01. Wave Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 6 Robot Master Themes

05. Tomahawk Man Stage
04. Wind Man Stage
03. Yamato Man Stage
02. Flame Man Stage
01. Blizzard Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man V Robot Master Themes

05. Saturn Stage
04. Mars Stage
03. Mercury Stage
02. Venus Stage
01. Pluto Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 7 Robot Master Themes

05. Slash Man Stage
04. Burst Man Stage
03. Junk Man Stage
02. Turbo Man Stage
01. Freeze Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 8 Robot Master Themes

05. Aqua Man Stage
04. Tengu Man Stage (Sat ver.)
03. Search Man Stage
02. Grenade Man Stage
01. Frost Man Stage

Top 5 Rokcman & Forte Robot Master Themes

05. Dynamo Man Stage
04. Pirate Man stage
03. Ground Man Stage
02. Astro Man Stage
01. Cold Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 9 Robot Master Themes

05. Splash Woman Stage
04. Galaxy Man Stage
03. Hornet Man Stage
02. Tornado Man Stage
01. Concrete Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man 10 Robot Master Themes

05. Pump Man Stage
04. Nitro Man Stage
03. Blade Man Stage
02. Sheep Man Stage
01. Chill Man Stage

Top 5 Mega Man: Battle & Chase Character Themes

04. snow - rainbow ~Theme of ICE MAN~
03. Go for it! ~Theme of BASS~
02. Over the Top ~Theme of MEGA MAN~
01. Through the AIR ~Theme of QUICK MAN~

Top 3 Mega Man: Battle & Chase Ending Themes

03. KICK ABOUT (Jazz Version) ~PROTO MAN Ending~
02. moon light ~SHADOW MAN Ending~
01. Wind, Carry My Words (Game Version) ~ROLL Special Ending~

Top 3 Mega Man: Battle & Chase Course Themes

03. standing over there ~Ordnance Factory Course~
02. dimension shift ~Sky Course~
01. ESCAPE ~Cavern Course~

Top 5 Mega Man Soccer Field Themes

05. Elec Field
04. Wily Field
03. Enker Field
02. Cut Field
01. Wood Field 

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