I started writing this one yesterday, but got distracted and forgot to finish.
Like my last entry, this is also a tough one. However, this one is tough for the the complete opposite reason; video games have some pretty kick-ass soundtracks. Even in the NES days we got some pretty cool music out of them.
Without ignoring my 8-bit roots, my pick for best video game soundtrack is Mega Man 2.
I visited Japan three years ago and met my friend Hitomi’s cousin, Masahiko, who knew very little English. To make things worse, I didn’t know much Japanese either, so communication should have been difficult. Luckily, we were both nerds; otaku, as they’d call us there. We were able to communicate through video games.
We started talking about the different video games we loved. I brought up Mega Man, and to my surprise and disappointment, he had no idea what I was talking about. Eventually, I realized (or he realized) the name was changed from Rock Man to Mega Man in America.
This is something I knew, but had slipped my mind. Mega Man just seemed like a more accurate description given the other names in the game.
Characters in Mega Man are named after their abilities. Heat Man shoots flames, Bubble Man shoots bubbles, Hard Man shoots fists (wait, what?), etc.
Rock Man does not shoot rocks. Okay, he does in Mega Man 5 after defeating Stone Man and absorbing his power, but still. You get my point.
Why would you call this little blue guy, “Rock Man”?
Well, his sister is named “Roll.”
As in, rock and roll.
Now we’re getting somewhere!
Rock and roll is a perfect way to describe the soundtrack of most Mega Man games, especially Mega Man 2.
Often hailed as the best of the series, Mega Man 2 is accompanied by a rock and roll inspired soundtrack composed by Takashi Tateishi.
While the bleeps and bloops of the NES’s sound chip are a bit primitive, is still inspiring music. Many popular songs will straight-up sample or mimic sounds produced by the NES. Even with the limitations, some amazing music was made for it.
The Super Mario Bros. theme is certainly the most popular song to come off the platform, but Mega Man 2 really showed what the NES could do.
Here’s an example, and one of the most beloved tracks from the game:
Sure, my opinion might just be from childhood nostalgia, but this song just gets me pumped. When it plays in the game, you’ve just defeated the eight bosses and have begun your assault on Dr. Wily’s compound. It’s on like Donkey Kong, and the music illustrates it.
While I’d love to keep posting different songs from the game, I leave you with a Mega Man 2 medley, performed by the NES-inspired indie rock group, Minibosses. Enjoy.