Fidelity Concerns: Mega Man (Rockman) 1/2/3 and Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Rockman Mega World) continued-

This is Part 2 of my two part analysis of the music from Mega Man:  The Wily Wars.  For Part 1, please click here.

An example of fidelity lost:

I don’t normally revisit previous posts topics so quickly.  After posting a lengthy discourse on the music from this game yesterday, I was listening to my iPod today and found a really quite horrendous adaptation of Mega Man 3 music on the Genesis.  I figure I would post it.  In general, the Mega Man 3 music is not treated particularly well but this one is pretty much the worst.

I also fixed the title and some typos.  He’s known as “Mega Man” here and “Rockman” in Japan- there’s a space.  Oops.  I’m glad no one pointed this out.  I guess I just did though.  Double oops.

Here’s the offending example.  The “Ending- Theme of Protoman” track from the Genesis version of this game is downright awful.  Let’s demonstrate.  Here’s the NES version:

(fixed this link finally – 8/20/13)

The original intention for Protoman is this idea of a whistle-based melody that plays when you meet him throughout the game.  The artists, according to the Mega Man Official Complete Works, mention that Protoman was intended to be neither friend nor foe- an ambiguous character archetype from Japanese anime.  The idea is that he would have a “cool” theme (literally using the word “cool” to describe him).  The artists and the sound programmers worked together closely to develop a true, team-wide aesthetic.  The whistle could be Protoman whistling, to announce his arrival.  I feel that falls into line with the idea of how “cool” Protoman is in the sense of that epic Japanese anime hero genre from which he’s developed.  Either way, when you fight him, part of this theme plays:

(credit:  I apologize for the awful sound quality.  Ouch, my ears.  Clearly done on emulator or something.)

So naturally, the ending theme exposition of this theme is warranted and welcome considering how the game plays out (spoilers, etc etc).  So you’d think they would do a decent job moving this over to the Genesis?  Uhhhh:

(credit:  )

(Yes, that’s me.  This stuff isn’t online so I’m just going to post it.  I’m sick of looking for it.)

I do not like this attempt at creating a “flute” sound or a “whistle” sound.  It is unflattering and shrill.  I think it does execute the “rock ballad” successfully.  Then, you get to about 1:06 and you’re all set for it to go into the modulation and cool solo… and… wait.. what?  The music stops and begins to repeat.  I heard this on my iPod yesterday and was like:  WHAT?!  I couldn’t believe it.  They chopped off literally 30 seconds of music.  That is unacceptable in my mind.  I would love to ask someone who worked on the development team why this happened.  I understand there was a lot of pressure to churn this game out but wow- I don’t see why they couldn’t just spend the extra time and get it done.

More on the music:

I finally received my Mega Man Official Complete Works artbook in the mail yesterday and read some very interesting information about Mega Man:  The Wily Wars.   For one, the game was outsourced for the artwork and design.  Also, as I quoted from Wiki, this was a very disorganized and rushed project.  With book in hand, I can confirm the quote made yesterday.  Keiji Inafune, the lead artist and developer, was not directly involved in any of the decisions, though, he did aid in creating the “Journey to the West” inspired villains for the bonus content.  Thus, I’m not sure if we can really blame anyone in particular over at Capcom for the following Wily Tower stage tracks:

This is the “Huey Lewis and the News” track I was talking about.  Yes.  This is supposed to be a castle of doom.  In fact, it is the second to last stage of the game.

This next track is much more “Mega Man” by comparison though.  It reminds me of the later Mega Man X tracks (like Mega Man X5 and X6):

I really like this track.  It’s like the classic “Mega Man” feel meets epic anime theme song.

Since I’m in the uploading mood, here’s a couple more tracks that were not on YouTube I posted for your consideration:

After this, I should think the subject should be exhausted.  Hope you enjoyed !


About Classical Gaming

Steve Lakawicz holds an MM in Music Performance from Temple University as well as a BM in Tuba Performance from Rutgers University . His teachers include Paul Scott, Scott Mendoker, and Jay Krush. His love of video game music has lead him to form a blog, Classical Gaming, to promote discussion both casual and academic about the music of video games. He is the co-founder of the video game/nerd music chamber ensemble, Beta Test Music and regularly composes/performs chiptune music as Ap0c. He currently resides in Philadelphia where he teaches college statistics at Temple University. View all posts by Classical Gaming

5 responses to “Fidelity Concerns: Mega Man (Rockman) 1/2/3 and Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Rockman Mega World) continued-

  • CWalois

    I just discovered this issue of “fidelity” yesterday when hunting down an obscure track I remembered fondly from childhood (“The Uncle’s Townhouse” in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” for the Game Boy; yes, really). Because it was a licensed game, they released it for everything: GB, NES, SNES, GEN, and PC.

    I thought I could rely on the GEN or SNES versions of the track to sound at least as good as the Game Boy version, which I could not find. It turns out the Genesis version has a totally different soundtrack for some reason.

    The SNES version has the same music as GB, but there were some poor instrumentation choices similar to the Protoman example above, where better sound did not equal better music; also, the tempo was significantly slower. And bizarrely, an important, complex series of notes was completely botched, at least compared to the NES and GB versions.

    The NES version was much more similar to the GB version, but the tempo was again slower, which was a detrimental change IMO. (Interestingly, the games for NES and SNES are almost unplayably bad, as if they were ports from the GB (!?) made by an inexperienced team. The Angry Video Game Nerd had some choice words for the NES version.)

    Thanks to the fidelity problem, even though the GEN and SNES tracks were on YouTube, it took me hours before I had an acceptable recording of the track; I didn’t anticipate having to play through the GB version myself to get it. Incidentally, the composer is Mark Van Hecke, who doesn’t seem to get a lot of respect, but his work on this game was quite nice, esp. if none of the tracks were adapted from the movie score.

    P.S.: I guess I’m too young, because all I could think of when I heard the Wily stage 3 track was the iconic Ghostbusters theme. I just now learned about the litigation from Huey Lewis over the similarity to his “I Want A New Drug”. Good thing for Capcom that Huey’s label wasn’t paying attention to NES games at the time!

    • Classical Gaming

      Oh yeah, no doubt! It does sound like Ghostbusters, for sure. I think Huey Lewis and the News DID music for that movie, if I recall correctly.

      As for a lot of those weird movie games, it was complete mess. Those are really the games that fall into the cracks- crappy production teams, companies that fold quickly – there’s literally no record of them. It’s like Alien 3 – the NES and GEN versions have completely different OSTs. A lot of times, different companies handled different licensing agreements. It’s like, The NEW Ghostbusters II vs. Ghostbusters II- two different companies handling the same movie and look at the difference?

      • CWalois

        When I read about this on Wikipedia, it indicated that Huey was asked to do the movie’s theme, and declined. Then Parker came in and made the Theme that everyone knows and loves. The fact that it so closely resembles a Huey Lewis song is fascinating, and I suppose it should be left as an exercise for the reader to connect the dots 😉

        Soundalikes are always an interesting subject, and I’ve also noticed that the Japanese sometimes get away with not just mimicking, but outright copy-pasting. I can think of an animé soundtrack which was at least 50% directly ripped from soundtracks of various European films, and I doubt there were ever repercussions, because no one in a position of power would be likely to notice.

      • Classical Gaming

        There’s very little communication between the copyright people in Japan and the copyright people in the EU and hell, even here in the US. A lot of those lawsuits aren’t even worth it though.

  • The Mega Man Network » Looking Back: Mega Man: The Wily Wars

    […] and hardware limitations, but I will not belabor the point any further, especially since this guy has done a fantastic job at identifying the […]

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