Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Gaming Audio History: Mega Man II (1989)

Mega Man II is another game I was obsessed with in the third grade.  I used to talk with my friends about the best order to beat the bosses.  I also used to be able to beat Quickman's stage FIRST without the flash power!  Not possible now!  What happened?  Love this game!  It's so hard, but somehow I stuck with it and finally beat it one day.  I actually didn't own the first Mega Man but after I got MM 2, I rented the original from the video rental store and played it.  This one was a big improvement from the original.

Even though this game series changes composers for new games (Castlevania does the same), a couple tracks of the original music are reused.  The opening music is actually the ending music from the first game, the same key, even.  It's almost as if you're picking right back up where you left off!  The boss name screen music is also a remake of the original music.  Numerous sound effects are reused from the first game too.

Silence is rarely used in a game, but in the cave on the way down to the final battle with the Wily projection, there's silence except for the acid dripping.  It really creates an eerie atmosphere since the rest of the game has been wall to wall sound.  Builds expectation.  I love the sound effect of the hologram projector winding down and breaking!

Composer: Takashi Tateishi.  Also reuses some music (Opening music and Boss Name music) from the original Mega Man, and those tracks, though slightly reworked were written by Manami Matsumae.

This game has a lot of music!  Even though sections repeat quite a bit (saving memory), in terms of musical form, there's about 13 minutes of music here!  That's a ton for a NES game!  Wow!  Several of these tracks make use of the theme and variations form.  The Wily Stage 1 and 2 track is a good example of that.  When the main theme repeats (A) it has variations to it and a different voice plays the melody.  A-A-B-A'-A''-B-C.  Several other themes use that form as well.  Maybe that helped to save space to allow for so much music as well.  The Wily Stage 3 and 4 track is a good example of modulating music to save space.  It's a 6 second loop that moves up chromatically.

Here's my normal breakdown by track with notes:

-Opening: 40 secs.  Begins in Gb major-- changes key, speeds up; when panning up the building (@ 25 sec), modulation begins with deceptive cadence- D-E-F-G (V) of C.  This is the same music (even in the same key) as the ending of the first Mega Man game.  It's as if we're picking up where we left off.
-Title screen: C major.  43 sec.  Superb piece of music.  Don't know if I ever heard it all the way through as a kid... too excited to press start!  A-A'-B-A''
-Password screen: Db major.  6 sec.  Short loop that I heard incessantly!
-Boss select: Bb minor.  6 sec.  1 sec percussion intro and then a 5 second repeating loop.
-Boss name: C minor to G major.  7 sec.  i- V aural feel so that the start of a level feels like an arrival.  This music is a remake of the original game music, different key.
-Airman: Bb minor. 45 sec A (10)-B-B-C.  Does the percussion seem to not line up with the melody at times to you?  I hear it that way...
-Crashman: G major.  1:16. Variations over bass.  Intro-A-B-A-C-C'  Intro doesn't repeat.  Only B section moves to IV, otherwise, the bass repeats and the melody in C and C' changes over the bass.
-Metalman: Bb minor.  38 sec.  A-A'-B.  Really like the interaction between the melody and countermelody.
-Heatman: D minor.  25 sec.  A-A'  Never leaves tonic (D drone in bass).  Driving rhythm.
-Bubbleman: C minor.  43 sec.  Intro- A-A'-B.  Sounds very electronica.  Love the countermelody!
-Woodman: F# minor.  40 sec.  Intro(6) A-A-B.  8 sec intro doesn't repeat.  Pretty straight forward.
-Flashman: E minor.  51 sec.  Intro A-B.  Intro (25 sec) doesn't repeat in loop but happens twice right away.
-Quickman: C minor.  38 sec.  A-A'-B
-Boss: C minor.  19 sec.  6 sec intro doesn't loop.  Music almost syncs up with the start of the boss battle, it takes just a little less time to fill the meter than the music does to play.
-Boss victory: E major.  5 sec.  A 2.5 sec percussion beat loops when you get power-ups after battles.
-Game over: Db major.  3 sec.
-Wily's Castle: Ab minor.  7 sec.  Very chromatic.
-Wily Level 1 and 2: C# minor.  1:15.  Love the countermelodies in other voices while a less prominent voice plays the main theme.  I disliked how hard this level was, but this music is genius!   A in the form is a repeating bass and variations in melody happen above it.  A-A-B-A'-A''-B- C.
-Wily Level 2 and 3: Eb minor.  1:16 sec.  This is the same 6 seconds of music looping and rising in pitch.  Makes for a crazy buildup of anxiety in the player!
-Beat Wily: C major.  8 sec.
-Ending: 66 sec.  Between F# minor and A major.  Ends in A, though.
-Credits:  65 sec.  Plays the Title Screen music and then goes into new material that uses motivic material from other tracks in the game.  Uses Power up screen drum beat.

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