Nathan (vovat) wrote,

Rock 'Em Roll 'Em Robots

Since I have kind of a rainbow theme going this week, I thought of the rumor that Capcom was originally considering "Rainbow Man" as a name for their robotic hero, due to the fact that his color changes when he uses different special weapons. He was Rockman in Japan, but perhaps fearing that Americans would think of a character like Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four based on that name, they decided to call him something different, although "Rock" was retained as his pre-fighting name. I actually kind of like "Rainbow Man" (yeah, I would, wouldn't I?), but I can see how it wouldn't be appropriate for the tone they were trying to set. As generic as "Mega Man" sounds, it really is a good name for the Blue Bomber.

One thing regarding this series that I've been thinking of recently (and yes, I DO contemplate Mega Man quite a bit for someone who hasn't played any of the games in years) is the numbered list of robots. At the end of Mega Man 3, we see the beginning of this list, with Mega Man himself as number one, and a housecleaning robot named Roll as number two. Incidentally, Roll is only one of two known creations of Dr. Light's to have a female form, the other being Splash Woman. I guess there's no reason why a brilliant scientist can't also be sexist. There's probably a reason Light is an old bachelor. Anyway, robots three through eight are the Robot Masters from the first game, and MM3 reveals that Proto Man, Mega Man's prototype, is number zero. The credits to the first few games at least (I'm not sure if the trend continues past the NES) continue the list with their own Robot Masters, with the MM2 bosses being nine through sixteen, the MM3 bosses seventeen through twenty-four, and so on. While this is kind of cool, it also doesn't make a whole lot of sense, as we're dealing with robots from different creators. The first eight were made by Light, while the next eight were Dr. Wily's own creations. The MM4 back story says that Wily blackmailed Dr. Cossack into making that game's bosses, while the MM6 Robot Masters are ones from around the world that Wily stole and reprogrammed. So why would they all be on the same list? I'm not aware of an in-series explanation for this. Maybe they all use the same frame or engine or something, although I have to suspect that the more mundane reason is that the creators just didn't put a lot of thought into the matter. Also, if the MM3 list is of Light's creations, what about robots he made after the first game, like Rush and Eddie?

Another aspect of the games I've been pondering on is the prevalence of characters named after musical terms. Rock and Roll are obvious, and Proto Man's Japanese name was Blues, which makes sense given how, in a sense, blues music was a prototype for rock and roll. Later characters like Beat, Tango, and Reggae also fit the pattern. When Wily debuted his own robot-and-dog team in MM7, their Japanese names were Forte and Gospel, but the American translators changed them to Bass and Treble. I can see the desire to make the names more related, as well as to avoid the religious connotations of "Gospel," but then why not Forte and Piano? Oh, well. But what about other robots (obviously omitting the ones with the "Something-or-Other Man" naming scheme)? Was Rush named after the Canadian rock band? Is Eddie's namesake Eddie Van Halen? Or am I stretching this too far, and the real answer is that sometimes the robots have musical names and sometimes they don't, without there being much rhyme or reason to it?
Tags: mega man, music, video games
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