“There weren't a lot of games with rock motifs at the time. If you look at Super Mario, that's more like classical music, right? So with Mega Man 2 I did imagine as if the music would be played by a guitar.”
Discord & Rhyme is breaking format this week to talk about ... a video game soundtrack! This week’s host, Rich, has a love for the classic Capcom NES series Mega Man that may run even deeper than his love of music, and composer Takashi Tateishi’s legendary soundtrack combines the two with panache. Mega Man 2 was a true passion project, developed on the side while its team worked on games that were deemed more profitable. To give Tateishi inspiration under such stressed circumstances, producer Akira “A.K.” Kitamura encouraged him to build the level design into his compositions, giving him a series of punchy phrases (“Keep moving along at a brisk pace… don’t stand in one place for too long!”) to use as frameworks. The result is routinely considered one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time, and a fine standalone piece of electronic music, to boot. Rich takes Phil, Will, and special guest Shivam Bhatt through the soundtrack’s most important cuts — including a handy primer on the NES sound chip!
For our listeners who aren’t already equipped with Mega Man knowledge, here’s a playthrough from YouTube. It’s a longplay, so you don’t have to worry about anybody talking over it.
Our special guest, Shivam Bhatt, is a retro video gaming expert, host of the Magic: The Gathering podcast Commanderin’, and a longtime friend of our host’s. He also officiated Rich’s wedding, which did indeed contain Mega Man-related content.
Special thanks to Patrick of the podcast Retro Game Audio, who allowed us to use several clips from his YouTube series NES Audio to illustrate elements of the NES sound chip. The YouTube series is worth watching in full, and was one of the inspirations for this episode.
Rich is actually relatively new to the the subject of chiptunes and produced this episode out of journalistic curiosity, so it’s quite possible he got some of the finer technical details wrong. If you have any corrections or clarifications, email us or @ us on Twitter — but be nice about it!
In case you were wondering, the cassette of Rich’s early-‘90s Discord & Rhyme audition is lost to time, as is all of his Mega Man fanfic. (That’s probably somewhere on the deep web, and if you can find it you are much more technically skilled than he is.)
Amanda was not on this episode, but would like to note that the Flash Man theme also sounds like the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man,” and that everybody passed up an opportunity for a Beatles reference when Rich mentions entering Mega Man 6’s castle through the bathroom.
The Birth of Mega Man (Translated interview with Akira Kitamura)
Discord & Rhyme’s Mega Man playlist (Spotify)
Rich’s Perler Mega Man madness:
“Stardroids” from Mega Man V on Game Boy, colorized (special appearance by Majora’s Mask)
Discord & Rhyme roll call
Rich Bunnell (host)
Phil Maddox (moderator)
Shivam Bhatt (special guest)
Chris Willie Williams
Mega Man OST tracks covered
Wily Stage 1
Wily Stage 2
Other clips used
Mega Man 2 tracks we played but didn’t discuss:
Get a Weapon
Wily Saucer + Skull Castle Map
Dr. Wily Defeated!
Other Mega Man tracks:
Manami Matsumae - Elec Man (Mega Man)
Minae Fujii - Boss (Mega Man 4)
Yasuaki Fujita - Snake Man (Mega Man 3)
Yasuaki Fujita - Magnet Man (Mega Man 3)
Inti Creates - Concrete Man (Mega Man 9)
Setsuo Yamamoto - Chill Penguin (Mega Man X)
Other video game tracks
Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros.
Koji Kondo - Legend of Zelda Overworld
Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros. 2 Overworld
Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros. 3 - Sky Land Map Theme
Bad Dudes Level Clear
Jake Kaufman - Shovel Knight Main Theme
Yuzo Koshiro - Ready Funk (Streets of Rage 2)
Non-video game tracks
Rush - Spirit of Radio
Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere
John Mitchell and Tom Keenlyside - Mega Man Cartoon Theme
Journey - Faithfully
Raymond Scott - Powerhouse
Elvis Costello - 5ive Gears in Reverse
Steve Miller Band - Jungle Love
Ellie Goulding - Burn
The Advantage - Flash Man
Metallica - Seek and Destroy
Rush - Time Stand Still
Aqua - Barbie Girl
Aqua - Lollipop (Candyman)
Stereolab - Miss Modular
Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Crash Test Dummies - Keep a Lid on Things
Christopher Cross - Ride Like the Wind
Madonna - Ray of Light
The Moody Blues - Gemini Dream
Plaid - Dang Spot
Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip
Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
They Might Be Giants - Particle Man
Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood
Emiliana Torrini - Jungle Drum
Asia - Heat of the Moment
Glenn Frey - The Heat Is On
Deep Purple - Burn
Prodigy - Firestarter
The Rolling Stones - Miss You
Blind Guardian - Time Stands Still
Aqua - Barbie Girl
Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Dave Matthews Band - Crash into Me
Judas Priest - Riding on the Wind
Air - Kelly Watch the Stars
Takashi Tateishi - composer
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
Takashi Tateishi - Mega Man 2 Title Screen (this episode only)
You can’t buy or stream this album anywhere because it doesn’t really exist, but there are cover versions on Spotify and we’ve linked to a long-play video above. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope, Phil @pamaddox, and Shivam @elektrotal. Special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production, editing, and aggravating Rich. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.
Are you a fan of Devo's quirky hits like "Jocko Homo" and "Whip It"? Well, our next album features neither of those! Next time, Dan takes on Devo's Duty Now for the Future, commonly regarded as the smart-assed new wave band's sophomore slump, and our four hosts could not disagree more. Join us as we discuss the "connective tissue" that binds together Devo's body of work.