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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #7


As indicated by the Best MAN article lovingly tucked away on this blog, it should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the Mega-est of Mega Men; Mega Man.

With the exception of some of the more obscure games in the franchise, namely that of Wily and Light’s Rock Board: That’s Paradise and the EXE and Star Force series; I’ve played and enjoyed the vast majority of Mega Man’s games.

Pictured: Monopoly, Mega Man-style.

A funny thing about Mega Man, is the fact that many of the spin-offs to the linear series are actually some of the better games in the entire franchise.

In example, the Mega Man X series is probably my favorite in the entire Mega Man continuity.

In terms of both art design and gameplay mechanics, I’ve always felt that the X series was a logical and welcome progression to the Mega Man games of old; such that I’ve actually found it somewhat difficult to go back to the basic “run and jump” style of the older games.

I like my dash, thank you...

On that note, today our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs takes us to a Mega Man series that represents a rare instance in videogames, that of the spin-off of a spin-off.

Said series is of course the uber-difficult but oh so rewarding Mega Man Zero series:

#7. Mega Man Zero 2 – Clover

Mega Man Zero 2 is probably my favorite entry in the Zero series, largely on the grounds that it’s gameplay, story, and features seemed the most cohesive and streamlined out of all of the games.

Taking place far in the future beyond the one depicted in the X series, Zero casts the player as the titular character of the same name that was introduced in the prior series.

The core gameplay between these 2 series wasn’t all that different, however Zero went the extra step of granting the player a number of new weapons and abilities, as well as a complex and customizable upgrade system.

As mentioned previously, the Zero series also went out of it’s way to significantly up the difficulty level, occasionally to obscene levels; but largely for the better.

The real star of the show of the Zero series, at least in my book; was the artistic design:

TALENT.

In terms of outstanding art design, there are few game series that can measure up to the Zero series in terms of creativity and colorfulness, as well as outright beauty.

I bought the Mega Man Zero art collection pretty much as soon as it became available, and to date it’s probably the most flipped through art book on my shelf.

While the visuals of Mega Man Zero were indeed a key selling point for me, I was surprised to find that, upon first picking up the series; the music was also quite good despite being played through a Gameboy Advance speaker.

On that note, “Clover” is kind of unique on this list, as it represents a song that actually is only featured in-game in an instrumental form, yet is included on the Mega Man Zero 2 soundtrack as an actual song.

While some would argue that this should disqualify the song for inclusion on this list, I stand by my decision on the grounds that it’s a awesome fucking song, and probably shouldn’t have been in the game given that it was featured in a Gameboy Advance game and likely would have sounded like shit being played through it’s tinny-ass speakers.

That being said, as was the case with “God Hand,” part of the overall appeal of “Clover” spawns not just from it’s quality as a song; but from the fact that it took some serious time and effort to gain access to.

The instrumental version of “Clover,” titled “Awakening Will,” serves as the ending theme of Mega Man Zero 2, and for my money; I think it was worth the effort:

As I made my way through the Mega Man Zero series, I made it a point to sit down and listen to the official soundtracks of each game in sequence, and I’ll never forget the time when I first had “Clover” play through my headphones.

Sure, there’s better pop songs out there, but much like “God Hand,” part of the appeal of “Clover” to me is the fact that I actually remember most of the lyrics.

As someone who still slips up on lyrics from “Eye of the Tiger,” despite having heard it 6 BILLION TIMES, I think it goes without saying that learning songs is not one of my strong suits.

I haven’t heard “Clover” all that many times, and yet for some reason the lyrics come quite naturally to me… Despite being sung in Japanese.

If that’s not an indication of a well written/catchy song, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, that was #7 on our list of the Top 10 Videogame Songs, check back tomorrow for more!

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The Best MAN!!! #8

Click me, I took hours to make...

Well folks, after a week straight of nothing but Mega Man related blogging, we’ve made it to the big finale.

That’s right, today we’re gonna’ be taking a look at the 10th anniversary game of the Mega Man series, Mega Man 8 on the Sony Playstation!

As previously explained Mega Man 8 will be the final installment in The Best MAN series, as I haven’t played Mega Man 9 or 10, and thusly don’t feel qualified to elect a Best MAN for those games.

That being said, let’s dive into Mega Man 8!

8’s story was, much like 7, somewhat more involved than previous entries in the series, largely due to the unprecedented inclusion of hand-drawn anime cutscenes.

At the time of it’s release, Full Motion Video (FMV) was already old hat, however after the release of the Amiga 32CD, Sega CD, 3DO, and other such CD based consoles, many game developers saw fit to include FMV in their games, resulting in the technology being en vogue for much of the 90’s.

Mega Man 8’s FMV sequences were fairly entertaining, and decently well-animated, however the English voice acting was absolutely atrocious.

For real man, Dr. Light sounds like fuckin’ Elmer Fudd after a stroke, no joke.

He also stutters.

Like a fattie.

The end result was a series of fairly entertaining, but often times, all too tempting to skip, cutscenes.

There was 1 scene in particular though that I remember keeping an extra save file (it was a Playstation game, of course you could save!) for just so I could watch it over and over again:

It seems kind of lame now, but when I was 10, that was the coolest thing ever.  Even though my Playstation would freeze during it just about 90% of the time…

Anyway, the story of Mega Man 8 is based around a capsule of “evil energy” that falls to Earth.

EVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

This energy grants it’s wielder great power, and multiplies by feeding off of it’s host’s evil intent.

Think the Venom symbiote from Spider-Man.

And now, gentleman, for your viewing pleasure: A T-Rex wearing the Venom symbiote.

Dr. Wily of course gets his hands on this evil energy and uses it to power his latest creations to tangle with Mega Man.

In the meantime however, an intrinsically “good” robot from outer space named Duo (the big dude in Dr. Light’s lab during the video) crash lands on Earth, only to awaken halfway through the game to serve as an ally to Mega Man.

That is, not before trying to kill him, of course.

On the side there’s also a very Dragonball Z-esque “Goku and Vejita” dynamic that plays out between Mega Man and Bass.

Basically, Vejita, I mean Bass; has an inferiority complex, which results in him attempting to use the evil energy to grant him the power to defeat Mega Man.

Oh Bass, we do this dance again and again, and yet you just don't seem to learn the steps, do you?

I like Bass, really, I do; but he’s a total pussy in Mega Man 8.

Haha, get it!? "Bass!"

Mega Man 8 was vastly different from any Mega Man that came before it.

From a presentation standpoint, it was easily the most graphically intense iteration of the series, well, pretty much, ever.

The animations were silky smooth, and the music was excellent all-around, with most of the tracks being quite memorable.

Although from a cosmetic standpoint Mega Man 8 was a drastic departure from the norm, and undeniably, an improvement, the gameplay was merely different, and not necessarily for the better.

One of the comments I received on my Mega Man 7 post from yesterday made note of the fact that the game was slower than the NES games in the series.

I failed to address this in my post, and for that I apologize, however it is an incontrovertible fact.

Mega Man 7 was a much slower-paced game than it’s predecessors, and Mega Man 8 followed suit by being even slower.

THIS FUCKING SLOOOOOWWWW.

The sprites in Mega Man 7 were very large, excessively so, and thankfully 8 addressed this by increasing the screen resolution, while at once one-upping their level of detail.

Despite being a sidescroller like every other Mega Man game, 8 was a much more vertically oriented game.

The screen orientation was “taller,” and Mega Man’s jump controls were changed so that he jumped higher than normal, however, due to his much slower walking speed, his horizontal jumping distance was toned down a bit.

While definitely a much slower-paced, and in-fact, much easier game than it’s predecessors, Mega Man 8 was still quite fun.

TONS OF FUN.

New gameplay features in Mega Man 8 were plentiful (for a change).

The shop from Mega Man 7 made a return, though this time around it was run by Mega Man’s sister, Roll, and the currency used there consisted of an extremely finite, and difficult to acquire, supply of bolts scattered throughout the robot master stages.

Items in the shop consisted of equipment to dampen the “knock-back” effects of getting hit, decrease the charge time for a Mega Buster shot, change the function of Mega Buster, and a variety of other things.

Part of the fun of the shop was the fact that not all of the items were all that useful, such as the one that increases your climbing speed, or the one that disables your Mega Buster!

I greatly preferred this shop system, as unlike 7, where all you had to do was “farm” for money by killing enemies, purchases in 8 felt much more strategic.

A Hummer: THE strategic purchase.

In addition to the shop items, there were also a total of 4 Rush items, all granted to the player after defeating minibosses during the robot master stages.

While virtually all of the Rush items were nothing more than novelty items that could net you a nice item or two here and there, I always thought it was a neat idea to turn Rush into a motorcycle and ride him into battle.

PIMP.

But, that’s just me.

In addition to the changes made to the overall pace of the game, Mega Man 8 also featured some truly inspired level designs.

No longer consisting purely of platforming action, 8 contained a several vehicle segments and a few maze-like stages that couldn’t be completed linearly.

While Mega Man 5 was the first in the series to feature on-rails vehicle sequences, in the form of a jet-ski ride during Wave Man’s stage,

Mega Man 8 took this concept and greatly expanded on it.

Frost Man and Dr. Wily’s tower both featured perilous snowboarding sequences wherein the player would have to alternately jump or slide to survive the course.

JUMP.

Tengu Man’s stage featured an extensive on-rails shooting sequence in the skies.

"FUCK YOU, WHALE!"

This sequence was one of my favorites in the game, as it had you riding Rush while shooting numerous enemies, all while gradually recruiting a huge DEATH SQUAD of Mega Man’s buddies to help you out.

The Mega Man Death Squad in all their glory.

Auto, Eddie and Beat all made appearances in this sequence, with Beat finally redeeming himself as the single most powerful ally you could acquire.

I'm lettin' you off easy this time... Chump.

Sword Man and Astro Man’s stages served as the first maze levels in Mega Man history.

While Sword Man’s stage was not really a maze, but rather a series of trials that had to be completed while making use of specific robot master weapons, Astro Man’s stage was one mother of a maze.

ARRRRRGHH!!!

Seriously, I fucking hated Astro Man’s stage…

Well, I think I’ve said more than enough about Mega Man 8, it’s time we got down to deciding who’s The Best MAN, for the very last time.

The Best MAN of Mega Man 8 is…

Frost Man

FROSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST MAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!

Didn’t see that comin’ didja’?

You know why Frost Man’s The Best MAN?

‘Cause Mega Man 8 was the first game in the series to give it’s robot master voices, that’s why.

Okay, okay, that’s not the only reason I picked him, but it had a lot to do with it.

You see, Frost Man’s voice made me laugh as a kid.

His character was supposed to be that of a huge, powerful, dopey idiot, and his voice reflected this very well.

"I will love him, and kiss him, and I will call him George..."

Seriously, when the biggest fuckin’ robot master in the fuckin’ series leaps into the arena, smashing a bunch of Mega Man ice sculptures to show off his strength, only to yell out something retarded like:

“I’m gonna’, crush you! I will…… Beat, you!”

I just can’t help but smile.

Tune to 4:45 for example:

Seriously though, Frost Man has a lot going for him.

His “walking igloo” design is inspired and truly a sight to behold in-game with it’s vivid animations, his weapon, the Ice Wave is fun to use, (although much cooler looking when he uses it) and his stage is lots of fun to play with one of the better background tracks in the game:

If anyone could usurp Frost Man’s position as Best MAN, I’d say it would be Clown Man or Search Man.

Seriously, I actually had to rewrite a big portion of this post on account of me changing my mind about Search Man at the last minute.

The problem with Search Man is that, while he’s got personality up the ying-yang, and a cool weapon to boot, I didn’t care much for his stage.

You see, like Mega Man 7, 8 split up it’s robot masters into 2 groups of 4.

Because I rarely finished the game as a kid, the second group of robot masters were one’s I didn’t end up seeing all that much of.

Sorry Aqua Man, no one likes you...

On top of that, I’ve never actually fought Search Man without having the Flame Sword to pwn his ass with, so I’ve never really gotten to experience a real fight with him firsthand.

Clown Man on the other hand, while one of my favorite designs in any Mega Man game, suffered for exactly the same reason Frost Man was promoted.

His voice annoyed the piss out of me.

EXAMPLE

He had an extensive repertoire of interesting attacks, his stage was cutesy fun, and his weapon was not all that bad, but his voice was just painful to listen to.

Oh yeah, that and he was WAY too fucking easy…

Protip: Sticking your arms into the ground isn't a viable combat tactic. It just gets you shot. In the face.

Well folks, we’ve named our last Best MAN.

Hopefully everyone had fun along the way, I know I did.

See you tomorrow when I (hopefully) think of some other shit to write about…

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The Mega Man Monomyth

Mega Man (and a little bit of X) Heroic Formula:

• A crisis of some sort is initiated, often times involving a heist, jailbreak, or decimation of a city.

• The Hero, initially a normal young person, is born through his commitment to or association with a wise and kindly Old Man. This Old Man possesses the capability to lend The Hero great power, however he is hesitant to do so as he has vowed to dole out this power only for the sake of all things good and decent. Impressed with the young Hero’s purity of heart, he imbues The Hero with great power to combat evil. One of these powers includes the ability to call upon the aid of enchanted animal companions, some of which have the ability to change their shape or form to assist The Hero.

• The Hero arrives on the scene and puts a stop to the ensuing mayhem, only to find that this was merely the beginning of a much bigger ordeal.
• The Hero again enlists the aid of the Old Man, this time to inform him of the nature of, and location of the forces of evil.
• It is revealed that the Old Man is somehow affiliated with the leader of the evil organization, typically in the form of a former colleague. As a result, both the Old Man and the Villain possess similar powers to imbue and/or create beings of great power, though their intent in the use of this power is where they differ most.
• With his forces spread across the land, it is revealed that the Villain has divided up his conquered lands into 6-8 geographically unique territories, each headed by a powerful guardian or chief possessing a singular magical, mechanical or elemental power. Each region is also crawling with clone armies of enemy soldiers, manifested or enlisted with the intent of hindering or overwhelming The Hero, with none possessing the strength to best The Hero alone.


• For whatever reason, the Villain’s fortress proves to be unreachable and/or located in an unknown region, forcing The Hero makes the difficult decision in choosing which chief to tackle first on his long crusade to rid the land of enemy forces.
• The Hero then embarks on his first mission, eventually reaching and slaying his first chief, whereupon it is revealed that, among the powers given to him by the Old Man, he was also given the power to absorb the powers of each of the guardians upon their defeat at his hands.


• On his next sortie into enemy territory, The Hero utilizes his newly acquired power on the next region’s chief. Going by the region chief’s name, which serves as a clear label of his elemental, mechanical or magical ability, The Hero selects his next opponent by matching his new power with the chief who’s power would fare weakest against, I.E. fire vs. ice. This formula proves largely effective, though there may be occasions when The Hero is simply stumped or confused by the logic of his opponent’s weaknesses. On occasion, The Hero may also discover items that have the power to replenish his energy in time of need. These items possess capabilities including but not limited to: instant use life-restoration, instant use power/weapon energy restoration, as well as extremely potent energy reserves of both varieties that can either be replenished indefinetly via the acquisition of surplus energy restoration items, or used as single use reserves. These extra potent items are seemingly hidden, intended to be accessible, but not without employing special efforts to acquire. In general, one can assume that all of the instant use restoration items are composed of the life force of fallen enemies, as they often emerge from fallen foes.


• After having dispatched exactly half of the Villain’s guardians, The Hero is alerted by the Old Man to the emergence of a previously minor or unknown evil force. This evil is typically a retainer or general of the Villain’s, either that or a neutral and possibly misunderstood third party. Nevertheless, The Hero rushes to the scene, combating the evil as he would any other. As fate would have it however, the battle comes to a premature halt, in most cases with the opposition revealing that they were merely testing The Hero, inevitably leading to their declaration that the two of them will meet again. In the case of a neutral third party being the source of the disturbance, The Hero and this new character will come to an understanding of sorts, agreeing to either come to terms with, or fight alongside one another.


• Following this episode, The Hero gets back to slaying chiefs.


• Finally, with all of the chiefs defeated, The Hero is given the location of the Villain’s headquarters by the Old Man. The Hero then proceeds to raid the Villain’s fortress in stages, starting with the front gate then working his way to the interior in 2-3 successive raids.

There is a possibility that The Hero will return back home in between each raid, presumably to receive a debriefing of sorts from the Old Man. Regardless, at the conclusion of each raid, The Hero is faced with a bizarre and distinctly inhuman monstrosity that possesses great strength and no visible weaknesses. Through trial and error though, The Hero manages to discover that the creature does in fact possess a weakness in the form of one of his previously acquired powers.


• Once The Hero has reached the section of the fortress just prior to the heart, he is once again confronted by the character whom opposed him at the halfway point of his chief slaying adventure (if such a character is incorporated into the story). At the outset of, or shortly after combat, it is revealed that the fiend has either acquired new powers since their previous encounter or has chosen to reveal their true strength. In either case, the battle is hard fought, but eventually The Hero is victorious, though in some cases a comrade may intervene, sometimes resulting in their death.


• Upon reaching the heart of the fortress, The Hero is confronted with a hall lined with 7 or 9 transporters, with all but one, usually the one in the center of the room, activated. In entering any one of these transporters, The Hero finds himself transported to a room inhabited by one of the previously defeated chiefs! Using his intimate knowledge of his former foes abilities, The Hero dispatches these resurrected fiends with relative ease.

Upon re-dispatching each successive chief, The Hero is transported back to the transporter hall, with the small “reward” of his fallen foes life energy in between battles as a means of keeping himself replenished. Eventually, The Hero succeeds in clearing every transporter, leaving only the final, previously inactive transporter…
• Proceeding through the transporter, The Hero is whisked away to a great hall in which he is confronted by a gigantic war machine housing the Villain. Being frail and slight of build, as well as elderly, the Villain has used his great power to create/summon this awesome tool of destruction as a personal final option for use in combating The Hero. As the two duke it out, The Hero once again employs the logic of trial and error in regards to his arsenal against the great behemoth. Eventually, The Hero discovers the weakness of the great monstrosity, often times finding that the most esoteric and seemingly useless of weapons proved to be the only effective means of damaging his opponent. With the outer shell destroyed, the Villain deploys his final weapon, a tiny vehicle housed within his once awe-inspiring, now smoldering, ultimate weapon.

This vehicle proves to be exceedingly agile, yet severely lacking in firepower. Unfazed, The Hero grounds the flying machine before the Villain can escape. Realizing his situation, the Villain cowtows before The Hero, begging for mercy. Being the pure-hearted soul that he is, The Hero scolds the Villain for his actions, then promptly carts him off to prison.


• With that, the world is given the gift of a new champion and enjoys a period of peace and harmony. Inevitably though, the Villain will escape from prison to cause more mayhem, (occasionally under the guise of new, assumed identities) though The Hero will always be there to stop him.

Optional:
• The Old Man may exist merely as a spirit guide to The Hero, awakening powers within them progressively as a means of cultivating greatness through various trials.


• Within the various exotic regions the chiefs occupy, The Hero may discover or be given various tools or armors that serve to improve his capabilities. In some cases, some of these tools or armors may be required to bolster The Hero’s abilities as a means to defeat the Villain’s ultimate weapon.


• The Hero may have sibling(s) that lend support and/or shadow him throughout his adventure. Typically, if they have a sibling seemingly operating in opposition to them, The Hero will discover that they are merely testing them, not genuinely possessing evil qualities or motivations.


• At some point in the journey, The Hero may be inclined to revisit regions which he had presumably cleared some time earlier. His reasons for doing this vary to some extent, ranging from: collecting recovery items to hold in reserve for future battles, or searching for hidden items or tools that he may have missed.

Some of you may have read this awhile back, but oh well, hope you enjoyed it the second time around!

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