Mega Man games are awesome and so is the music from those games, so it’s about damn time someone around here did a top 10 list featuring Mega Man music. Since 2016, it’s been a tradition at Geekade to do a Mega Man-related top 10 list every January. Kris and I have always done them together, but this time he invited me onto his video game music podcast, WaveBack, so we could share some of our favorite Mega Man songs with each other. Still, consistency is important, so I needed to compile my own list of favorite Mega Man songs. I did, however, have to lay out some ground rules.
First, I ruled out Mega Man 11. It’s an amazing game with some amazing music, but not only is the instrumentation very different, but so is the feel of the music, and I didn’t like the idea of potentially judging that music alongside music from the 10 previous games which have more similarities. Second, I limited myself only to Mega Man 1 through 10 – no Gameboy games, Star Force etc. Lastly, I only picked stage themes – no menu music, no robot master battles etc.
Alright, enough about the history and rules. Here they are – my top ten favorite Mega Man songs!
10: Mega Man 3: Wily Stage 3-4
The music in this stage is extremely dark and sinister, and that’s part of the reason I like it so much. At this point in the game, you’re deep inside Wily’s fortress, and there are some memorable sections in this particular stage. The creepy music perfectly complements the deadliness of certain obstacles, like when the lights turn off and the moving platforms scroll across the rooms full of spikes. The repetitious drums are extremely effective since they keep a light and nicely-paced beat behind the eerily slow-moving chords. I have loved this song my entire life but always felt that it stood out as a bit different from the normal feel of Mega Man stage music; this is one of the creepiest songs in any Mega Man game, but so grimly epic.
9: Solar Man
Solar Man’s stage music is just badass and metal. The heavy percussion in the beginning is ominous, and the whining keyboards make this song sound scary. The staccato notes are extremely effective to help kick the song into overdrive, and this perfectly captures the hectic nature of Solar Man’s stage. There are fireballs that shoot back and forth, lava, and plenty of enemies trying to knock you into that lava. This may not sound much different from other heat-themed stages, but this song fits the theme beautifully. Mega Man 10’s music isn’t too great with a few exceptions, and Solar Man’s theme is definitely one of them. I love it.
8: Mega Man 4: Cossack Stage 3-4
This song first plays when Mega Man is in high altitude still trying to actually get inside Cossack’s fortress, and is an example of a song that wonderfully captures the visuals of the stage. It’s overtly melancholy as the screen so sadly and slowly scrolls to the right. However, there are also instances where there’s harmonic percussion behind the main melody, which adds an interesting punch to the track. The bridge before this song repeats is catchy, and even though this song sounds sad, it still makes me happy as I play through the stage.
7: Flame Man
Mega Man 6 is far from my favorite Mega Man game, but Flame Man’s stage music is an absolute joy. The theme moves along innocently before a beautiful but rough harmony. The song is so upbeat, I feel happy and pumped to play through this stage because of it. The last few notes before the song repeats literally bring a smile to my face, and I love listening to this song while driving. Even though he’s a heat-based robot master, the theme in his stage is oil. I don’t know how I would’ve imagined oil-themed music before Flame Man, but this stage does it, and does it so very well.
6: Snake Man
The first few seconds of this song are scary, but it quickly becomes exciting, and considering the setting, has perfectly fitting echo effects. Snake Man’s theme has a simple bass line, but it’s one of my favorite bass lines in any Mega Man song because it complements the melody so well. The lead instruments are gorgeous, but this song would not be the same without the bass. Somehow, Snake Man’s theme sounds both joyful and sinister at the same time. This feels like a song to dance to…not that I’ve ever done that.
5: Mega Man 2: Wily Stage 1-2
I may catch some anger for not giving this a higher spot on the list because this is arguably the most famous song to come out of a Mega Man game. It’s nothing short of an amazing classic that deserves to be instantly recognized, but number 5 is where it stops for me. Still, I love it, and have plenty of good things to say about it. It is exciting, layered, and epic. During the second verse, the additional melody over the already established theme projects a feeling of sadness. Some of the music in Mega Man 2 is short, but this theme deservingly plays for over a minute before repeating because it needs that time to properly invoke emotions from the player and truly capture the beginning of the end of Mega Man 2. It is certainly an awesome song that deserves a spot on this list.
4: Pharaoh Man
Mega Man 4 has some great music, but unfortunately, many songs have a twinge-y sound that diminish my enjoyment. Regardless, Pharaoh Man’s theme is so badass that it more than makes up for any shortcomings. It immediately kicks you in the face with speedy spookiness. The light percussion, to me, somehow appropriately resembles sand, and I love the crazy, high-pitched bass line that accents the melody. The chorus of the song is bananas and executed so perfectly and energetically. Pharaoh Man’s stage music is definitely my favorite song in Mega Man 4 because it’s an awesome and fast-paced bop.
3: Tornado Man
So much of the music in Mega Man 9 is great, but this one stands out far above the rest. The awesome rising, whistling lead is backed by a great choice of instrumentation that rips a very catchy rhythm. This actually makes it feel like Mega Man is ascending into high altitude. The quick hits of percussion that work in tandem with the keyboard notes are an absolute joy. Tornado Man’s stage music is another instance where the composers knew how to sonically represent the visuals in the game. This music is somehow both hectic and soothing, even though absolutely nothing about Tornado Man’s stage is soothing. It has so many different musical sections that all fit perfectly with the vastly different sections of his stage. This song is a masterpiece.
2: Quick Man
This stage’s music has an outstanding rhythm, and the echo that the reverb produces works so well with the stage’s setting, which is some sort of power plant. The introduction to this song combined with the visuals make Quick Man’s stage seem like an epic, endgame task before any other difficulties in this level appear. After the hectic, danceable main theme, it cools off and has a calm melody before building to a few abrupt chords, then it repeats. This is really effective, because just when you think this stage has calmed down, it gets harder and scarier. I love the off-beat percussion, I love the epic echo, I love the frequency shifts that mimic electrical sparks, and I love this song. Quick Man, his stage, and this song all scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, but at some point in my life, I learned to love the things that hurt me. Quick Man’s stage theme is astounding and fills me with fearful joy, which is perfect, because Quick Man is notoriously legendary in Mega Man history.
1: Metal Man
Metal Man’s stage music has always been the Mega Man anthem to me. The winding lead of quick notes that play simultaneously with the soothing sounds of the rhythm are perfect. I’ve already stated that the musical compositions of Mega Man games are great at capturing the stage to which they are attached, but this song puts me into the stage and makes me feel like this is actually ROCK man. The main melody takes a much different turn with some high notes and echo as the bass dances, and then everything comes together perfectly before it repeats. This song is so exciting, so perfectly varied, and really captures everything great that a Mega Man song can be in one relatively short package. I love Quick Man and his theme as well as Tornado Man and his theme, but Metal Man’s stage music is synonymous with Mega Man to me and deserves the number one spot.
There you have it! Did I pick good songs? Do you agree or disagree? Do I care? A little (a lot). Regardless, I’m sure we can agree that Mega Man music is awesome, but if you feel so inclined, leave a comment including your own list!