Theme sets the tone

The more I see and hear of Mighty Number 9, the more it becomes an example how not to follow game developer’s fame but the games themselves. I feel lucky that I never backed it, but I was of doing so. Why didn’t you? you ask. There’s three reasons and the music they had is the first one.

This song has no punch to it. It’s generic synth. There’s a neat tune buried in there under the whole mess, but it can’t get out due to how muted everything is. And the synth kills it. It’s just synth all the way through with no actual variation to it, just change in how the synth is used.

Now listen to this.

It gets you pumped. It has a rising start until the main bit hits in. The only bad thing about is that it’s short and the main bit endlessly.

You can pick any NES Mega Man outside the first one and listen to the main theme and get an image how the game will play out. The stage themes will more often than not follow the overall quality of the main theme.

Let’s be fair here, Mega Man 1 has pretty awful music compared to the rest of the series. The only few memorable songs pale in comparison to pretty much everything after. Manami Matsumae has some credits behind her, but most of her scored games consists of Derby Stallion titles. She contributed some to the Air Man theme on Mega Man 2, thou the rest the track was from Takashi Tateishi. He is responsible of perhaps the most iconic and overused theme in the whole franchise.

If Mighty Number 9 really would be a spiritual successor to Mega Man, it fails in every bit of its music, which was already leaked. With Mega Man you can listen to the songs even in their 8-bit beeps and boops. Then again, CAPCOM has been remaking them from time to time on different platforms, like on CPS-1 with Mega Man Power Battles and Mega Man 2: Power Fighters, and Rockman Complete Works on the PlayStation. CAPCOM even pushed out two arrange albums for the 20th anniversary. The Rock one carries the songs better out of the two.

It’s not even about disliking synth. It’s how it’s used. All the songs in Mighty Number 9 has problems that can be traced in how they are handled. For example, the Opening Stage in Mighty Number 9 has its main melody skipping from a progression to another, without sticking to a theme or a progression in itself. Then, it sorta stops where the song starts to loop again, like a drop from a cliff you just climbed. The tune itself is not bad, yet its grating after the first loop. I can’t say that tune that lies in there is well utilised, and that goes all the songs, I’m afraid. Even the boss fights that would need to have a bit more oomph to them simply don’t carry themselves. The Final Boss fight has some urgency to it, but then you have relaxed jazz or something thrown in there, making it sound somewhat cacophonic.  Then again, the Boss fights look laughably easy, so perhaps they go together well enough.

What made the Mega Man music so memorable was the emphasize on the main melody. More often than not you had a very clear instrument doing the main tune with other pieces supporting it rather than forcing it down, muting it. There are similar synth pieces in Mega Man, especially on PlayStation, but  even then the music stood out because how the main tune was allowed life. For example, you have Jet Stingray’s theme. At first you have that synth guitar building tension with support of the drums before the main melody hits. At that point, the drum’s role is dropped lower and the tune is given more emphasize. Just a tad later the role of the guitar is dropped down to let the solo part, or ‘jingle’ to shine on its own. Then the song simply keeps on pressing by combining them before the natural loop. Jet Stingray is not the best song out there, and most of Mega Man X4 music is something you don’t end up humming afterwards, thou I must admit I have a very soft spot for Zero’s intro stage theme. That guitar solo just stuck with me.

Perhaps the word you may want to use for Mega Man songs is unique. Most themes that are employed in Mega Man have personalised touches to them, like corrupted guitar or extended bass line. I’m actually trying to kick my editor to write a relatively long entry on Mega Man music, but she’s having other things in her life at the moment, so don’t expect it to appear any time soon.

This kind of synth music Mighty Number 9 employs was barely acceptable on the PlayStation. A game with backed budget of $3 845 170 should have far better soundtract than this. The game already was budgeted and would’ve been developed and released despite what sort of success the Kickstarter would’ve had, the three million and then some was just an extra. You don’t see or hear that extra anywhere. I have to ask where the hell did that money go to? It doesn’t help that the game’s release has been pushed back few times around already and won’t be launching this year at all. I know âge is even worse with their pushbacks, but I’m giving both Comcept and âge the same shit about being late on their promised deadlines.

With the extra funding, you would expect the game to look better at this phase and sound even better. The game has been underwhelming all around. Of course, I will need to play the game myself to give it proper full review. It’ll need to drop in price quite a lot before I do that, as this game doesn’t look like it would deliver enjoyment all that much.

If Red Ash’s Kickstarter is anything to go by, Comcept won’t be getting any games off before they show that they are a capable developer in the eyes of the consumer. Kaoh, the pirate penguin game, got cancelled as well and ended up costing Marvelous 461 million yens. That’s around 3 397 100€ or €3 845 500 with current rates. That’s insane amounts of money Comcept has wasted in its short life. While I encourage concentrating on the games, I can’t ignore how badly Inafune and his crew has been managing things.

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