Mega Man + Mega Man 2
Composed by Manami Matsumae and Takashi Tateishi
If any franchise from the Nintendo era were to define the potential of the Nintendo's sound chip, it would be Mega Man. Consistently, Mega Man has been highly regarded for its soundtrack, from various composers, regardless of the quality of each game. And it all started with Manami Matsumae. As a young child, listening to her Father playing the acoustic guitar struck inspiration within her. She took music classes, learned the piano and the organ, and aspired to be a piano teacher after college. She later found out that Capcom had been hiring music composers. As someone who was interested in music from the Mario and Dragon Quest games, she was interested in the opportunity.
Her first project for Capcom was one piece for the game Jissen Mahjong, along with Harumi Fujita, who would ironically end up composing three pieces from the Mega Man 3 score. It was Capcom's way of easing Matsumae into working a music composition job for them. After Jissen Mahjong, she got her first job as a primary composer, Mega Man. While a lot of composers struggled with Nintendo's limitations, Matsume had little trouble composing within the Nintendo hardware's limits. She attributes this to her fondness of learning and performing Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, which could easily be performed with no more than 4 sound chips. The only amount of stress she had was the pieces that relied on percussion to carry the beat. She had to listen to then-popular percussionists, like Phil Collins, to help give her an idea of how to translate a good percussion to the Nintendo system.
Although multiple composers contributed to different Mega Man games, the piece that plays when a Robot Master is selected has been the most reprised piece in the original Mega Man series. And although she is the name often attached to Mega Man in regards to the music, it was Takashi Tateishi's score for Mega Man 2 that wound up becoming one of the most popular in the series, as well as one of the most popular scores in the entire Nintendo library.
When Matsumae transitioned to the arcade department, the sequel needed a new composer. Takeshi Tateishi was a piano player through his life, and performed keyboard for a local band, but never achieved the pro level of fame. Despite this, and despite not having a degree in arts which was required by Capcom, he applied for an "experienced worker" position at Capcom and was hired after impressing the studio with his demo tapes and his knowledge of music. His first game with Capcom was the game Mad Gear. Immediately after, he worked on Mega Man 2, a game that Capcom developed in three months.
Already a fan of the first Mega Man, and Matsume's score, he sought to live up to what Matsume had achieved with the first game. Matsume even managed to contribute a small portion of Air Man's stage theme to the score. Initially, the majority of his score was rejected for sounding more cute than cool. Out of his initial batch, only one piece was approved, Crash Man's stage theme. Arguably, the most popular piece from the entire game is the first Dr.Wily stage theme. It was even appreciated by the game's director Akira Kitamura, who suggested making another piece similar to it. That piece became Wood Man's stage theme. The first Dr.Wily stage theme was so well received, it re-emerged in 2007 as a lyrical arrangement uploaded to Nico Nico Douga by user Blue Fang called Omoide wa Okkusenman, a song not about Mega Man, but about Ultra Seven fans growing from child to adult. The most notable version of this song was recorded by JAM Project as a bonus track for the album Nico Nico Douga Selection: Saino no Mudazukai - A Waste of Talent.
The first two Mega Man games set a standard for memorable, innovative, and catchy scores for video games. Mega Man 2 raised a bar so high for Nintendo, few games, let alone their scores, matched the legacy that the game continues to relish in, even to this day.