Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Midweek Music Box: Mega Man 8 Soundtrack

Image result for mega man 8

Let me start by saying how weird it was (and still is quite frankly) to see a Mega Man game on a non-Nintendo system. Growing up I had it firmly ingrained in my mind that certain systems got certain games. Nintendo would always have Mario, and Sega would always have Sonic. Nintendo would always have Mega Man, and Sega would always have Toe Jam and Earl. But wait! Nintendo didn't always have Mega Man! My beloved Blue Bomber eventually made his way to the PlayStation! (Yes I know there were PC translations of the early games, but let us never speak of them again.)

When I got my hands on Mega Man 8, I wasn't sure how much I'd like it. I was fresh off the X series, and those were peak Mega Man in my mind. How could the PlayStation get the 8th installment of the original Mega Man? How could it possibly compare to the other Mega Man games? Well, I soon found out that when it came to music and sound design, they had nearly recaptured the spirit of Mega Man. 

I say nearly, because there are aspects of the sound design that just don't work and I find it a little jarring. I can't do this particular Midweek Music Box without mentioning the sound design of the game alongside the music as it plays such a huge factor to me in how the game goes, and the enjoyment of the in game music.  So without further adieu, let's get into the music and how awesome the music for Mega Man 8 really is.

For your listening enjoyment, here is the soundtrack in it's entirety, and I'll highlight some of the more noteworthy ones (IMHO of course):


Mega Man 8 OST

Boss Intro:

Such an awesome, quick track that gets you pumped, I devoted an entire Midweek Music Box to this track. The updated version works well to bring that pumped feeling back and it hits just the right nostalgia notes. It's one of the briefest tunes you'll hear, but it belongs up there with the basic Super Mario beat.
I can't find an individual track on YouTube of this one, but its within the OST linked above and is well worth a quick listen if for no other reason than to smile at the updated sound.

Grenade Man

Upbeat and determined sounding with a flare of those 16-bit sounds that we all have come to know and love, I like the Grenade Man soundtrack because it feels the most like what an upgraded version of the original Mega Man soundtracks would be like. I know on the Saturn they had a reprise of the Cutman and Woodman stages with their music, but I only experienced the PlayStation version when I first played this, and this stage is the one that still gets me feeling like I'm truly playing a Mega Man game, albeit an upgraded one.

Dr. Wiley Stage 1

Such dark and mysterious music, and yet still the fast-paced feel that we've come to expect from Mega Man. The low beats and robotic sounds not only make it really feel like you're a robot on the run with a mission, but make any task feel that much more important and pressing. There's something almost fast-jazz-esque about the pace of this track. I included a link to a 30 minute loop here as I feel that you could easily have this in the background as music to help you keep moving along with whatever task you might have before you.

Sound design:

And now for the bad. The very, very, oh-my-gosh-did-he-just-say-that very bad. It's so incongruous that it bears mentioning if only for the fact that it distracts so much from what otherwise is one of the better Mega Man soundtracks.

Voice Acting:

I think the following clip pretty much sums up the whole of the Mega Man 8 experience when it comes to the acting in the video clips:

Dr. Wowee is on the attack agwain!

From Dr. Light sounding like the offspring of Barbra Walters meets Vizzini from Princess Bride to Mega Man's annoying litte girl voice--there's so much to just hate about the voice acting in Mega Man 8. I like that they tried to include some of the cartoon and you get a nice montage of what happened in Mega Man's past... and that's where the clips should have ended. After that you get "treated" to various clips as the game progresses, and believe me, at times these feel like dog treats. Getting animated clips for any system, regardless of era, usually was and still feels like the reward it was meant to be. Not so in Mega Man 8's case. These clips were terribly acted and were some of the cringiest things you'll ever watch when it comes to games turned into cartoons. At least Legend of Zelda left us with the now meme-worthy, "Well excuuuuse me princess!"

Voice Dubbing:

Originally I was going to include this in within voice acting, but I thought it was worth mentioning in its own section because of how bad it was. I don't need Mega Man loudly exclaiming "Power Shot" every time he fires a powered shot. It gets so annoying so quickly that you almost don't want to bother firing your starter weapon just so you can spare yourself from hearing that. If only this was the only problem. When it comes to boss battles, they loudly exclaim something as you enter their lair and after you defeat them. However, more than half the time, I couldn't understand what the heck they were saying. I understand there were limitations at the time, but when the sound effects and music are fantastic and then...then you get a muffled mess for the big battle you just fought so hard to get to. It just kills the mood. Until I was able to search this out years later, I was convinced that either something was wrong with my hearing or that my TV's audio was going off. It seems though that most of the internet agrees that the audio clips here were just terrible.

Final Thoughts

Now, the flaws I pointed out here don't necessarily detract from my ability to enjoy the soundtrack or the game in their own rights, but it does make me hesitant to keep the volume up when playing the actual game. It's a shame really because the music and sound effects in the Mega Man games are some of the best out there in gamer-dom. Sometimes though, it's hard to separate the good and the bad. But that doesn't mean the soundtrack itself isn't worth a listen to, or maybe even a rip on to your iPod.

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