Welcome to a new segment here at Classical Gaming: GAME MUSIC HELL. Each post features a gamer, blogger, or musician discussing their least favorite video game soundtrack. This segment takes a good long look (and listen!) at what we perceive to be “bad” music. I’ve left that interpretation open to each individual writer.
Today, we’ll take a look at Malachy_19’s least favorite soundtrack. Malachy_19 is a close friend and a life long gamer. His blog, Initial Reviews, reviews movies, games, and anime culture.
Now, for your reading pleasure, I present to you our first game to be inducted into GAME MUSIC HELL: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 by Malachy_19. Enjoy!
Ever since video games first began to develop and become popular, I’ve found that music has been a key and important factor in them. And ever since music started being used in games, there has been “bad” music. While thinking of what I would consider the worst music, it seems easy to think back to the early era of gaming. I’m talking about back when composers had little to work with and those bleeps and bloops could easily become aggravated scratches and screeches that would make Skrillex look like a master composer. But I kind of have to give them a half a wave off. They didn’t have much to work with and game music was in its infancy. No, what is more offensive is when you have a game, in the modern era, that has all the possible tools and still remains to fail.
It takes a lot more to fail then just bad music. Sometimes it is not the fact that the music is bad, but that it is incessantly boring and/or out of place. Sometimes the bland music of a game can be such a detriment that it lingers in videogame zeitgeist for eternity. It becomes a joke that we, as gamers, try to pretend it never happened. One such example is Marvel vs. Capcom 2. So sit back, remember playing this game, and let me take you for a ride.
It’s obvious that if you played the game and had to remember a track from the game, the first thing you’d think of was this character selection screen which played “I’m gonna take you for a ride!” over and over and over again. But besides that, try and think back. Can you remember ANY of the other music? Can you sing it? Can you hum it? No. The reason is it makes one of the most grievous mistakes in music gaming: it is so boring it is barely even there.
The music in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, when placed in a vacuum by itself, is not all that bad. It is this funky jazz type of sound. I could even see myself driving down the highway listening to some of these tracks and having a ball. I’m sure this soundtrack would fit great if placed along a funky style racing game as in Outrun or Cruisin’ World… or maybe even in a weird 3-D platformer, such as Nights. But the problem is, it’s not one of those games! This soundtrack was placed into a fighting game where the music is supposed to be exciting, unpredictable, and wild… and definitely not calm and funky. The game needs music that you should want to kick someone’s butt to; music that is epic and memorable; music that really makes you feel like you are in the fight! And not music you want to snap your fingers and bob your head to. It’s similar to having the entire musical score of Citizen Cane being replaced by music by Journey. Just because the music is good doesn’t mean you can jam it anywhere you want and make it a good soundtrack.
A lot of people may think I am being too harsh on Marvel vs. Capcom 2. You may say that even though the music isn’t memorable that doesn’t make it bad. I mean, it definitely is better than the horror that is the soundtrack to Action 52.
(credit: mapaniju) (Classical Gaming’s note: This might be the worst thing I’ve heard in my entire life.)
But I would disagree. Action 52 was a terrible game with a terrible soundtrack to go along with it. The entire game was uncared for, rushed, and cheaply made. But Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was neither. It was a very well built fighter that would be the backbone for the fighting genre for years to come. Yetm it was sullied by this horrendously boring soundtrack. It is almost insulting in its inability to synch up the right soundtrack to the right game.
So, the absolutely worst part is that they actively had to try to mess this up. At least half the characters were already from previous fighting games, each of which with their own specific music and theme. They could have done what every other fighter does and give each character their own music. All they had to do was remix existing themes already on record and maybe write and design a few extra for the new characters. Instead they decided to throw all that perfectly good music out the window and make a series of jazz tracks for specific stages and run with it. And it failed. Miserably.
Let us look at an example. Here is the music to the “Swamp Stage” in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
It’s not terrible. It’s not bad. It’s just bland. Are you ever going to remember this? Is this going to get you pumped and excited about a massive 20-hit combo followed by a Hyper Attack? No. It’s just kind of going to be in the background and ultimately forgotten. It does not represent ultimately how I felt when I played Marvel vs. Capcom 2. The music was so boring my brain literally just blanked it out. Now compare it to this. “Guile’s Theme” from Street Fighter II.
Listen to that. Listen to that wonderment! That excitement! That epicness that makes you want to suplex your enemy and hit them in the face with a Sonic Boom! This is what fighting music should be. And the best part is I probably didn’t even have to add that link. All I had to do is say “Guile’s Theme” and I guarantee the music is already coursing through your head. And that is exactly what good music should do! You play enough of a great game, with a great soundtrack, and that music will be with you forever.
And that is the ultimate fault with the soundtrack to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It is the bland and boring blemish that will forever scar the memory of one of the greatest fighters of our generation. And it is for that reason that I say that Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has one of the worst videogame soundtracks of all time. -Malachy_19
Thanks for reading folks! Comments are welcome and if you, yourself, would like to nominate a game soundtrack to be sunk into GAME MUSIC HELL, let me know!