The very first console I ever owned was a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I was 4 1/2 years old then and the 1980’s were coming to an end. But my lifelong affection for the sights and sounds of this 8-bit machine were only beginning.
Now before I even had an NES to call my own, I had already been exposed to the console thanks to my cousins. Whenever I would go to their house I’d watch them play Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Because of that, the “Overworld” and “Underground” themes were as much as lullabies to me as say “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Hush, Little Baby”.
But it wasn’t until a year into playing the NES did my taste in games begin to really progress. And so at this point in my life, I would frequent the local Blockbuster nearly every Friday evening and rent a new game. One of those games was Mega Man 2.
Mega Man 2 is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable, addicting, and frustrating games I’ve ever played. I can recall staying up all night Friday to play, writing down the code after defeating a boss on my college ruled line paper, and finally going to bed around 1 a.m. On Saturday I’d wake up around 10 a.m., watch some Fox Kids, and begin the cycle all over again until I had to return the game Sunday (dat 2 nights, 3 days policy doe).
What made Mega Man 2 such a special game, however, was not only the exceptional non-linear gameplay, but also the soundtrack. From the moment you turn on the game (after 3 rounds of blowing into the cartridge), the opening title screen music immediately takes you into the year 200X. It begins as this hauntingly melodic piece until 43 seconds in when that synthesizer slide strikes and the tempo is suddenly turned up to 11.
Then there’s the moment you select what stage you want to play. The boss select theme itself is simply unforgettable and maybe my favorite 8 seconds in all of 8-bit.
Furthermore, the actual stage music is incredible. Each stage theme reflects its respective boss perfects. For example, Flashman’s music compliments the blinking lights of the stage while Heatman’s theme captures the hectic pace one has to endure as they hop their way through the level. Then there’s the beauty that is Dr Wily’s stage theme:
The Mega Man 2 soundtrack is an instant chiptune classic. And it’s an integral element that makes Mega Man 2 truly an 8-bit masterpiece. On a personal note, it was one of the first times in my life where melodies really had an effect on me. To this day, melody is the most important factor in determining what songs I enjoy. And that’s all thanks to the NES.
Honorable soundtrack mentions (and totally underrated Action/RPG games):
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves