Saturday, January 5, 2019

Go Behind the Scenes of Mega Man 2 with Composer Takashi Tateishi

The man behind the mega – Mega Man 2 composer Takashi Tateishi

Yesterday during "Mega Man-athon 7" – a 72-hour charity marathon that took place during MAGFest 2019 – Mega Man 2 composer Takashi Tateishi was interviewed during a live play of the game. Because this was Tateishi-san's first visit to the U.S, and the first time interacting directly with English-speaking Mega Man fans, he had a LOT to say about Mega Man 2's development.

Ever wanted to know why Wily Stage 2 doesn't have its own unique theme? That and other cool tidbits await you after the break!

- Tateishi had no idea how popular Mega Man 2 was until 10 years ago – 20 years after its development! He didn't know how popular the Metal Blade was among players, either.

- The Mega Man 2 development team was a very small, tight group lead by Akira Kitamura and Keiji Inafune.

- At its apex, Mega Man 2's development team had six people, and it took between 3 to 4 months to make. Because the team was so small, there were many late nights during development.

- The upper management of Capcom didn't send any words of encouragement to the development team. Instead, the Mega Man 2 team decided that, in order to feel more motivated, they all would wear customized Mega Man 2 jumper suits. The jumper suit had the logo of the game on the front and the word "Staff Only" on the back.

- Tateishi ended up making a few songs for Mega Man 2 that didn't get approved. Initially he made some "cute sounding" songs but the director asked him to make "cool sounding" songs instead. Only one "cute" song made it into the final game: Crash Man's stage.

- Director Akira Kitamura liked the music for Dr. Wily Stage 1 so much that he asked Tateishi to make another song similar to it. That song ended up being Wood Man's stage theme.

- Tateishi's favorite song from the game is the ending theme.

- Unlike most stages that used a guitar for its basis, Heat Man's stage used a bass. The NES was not very capable of producing bass sounds, so in order to produce a bass sound they had to use all three sound system channels to make that particular sound.

- Tateishi's process for creating Mega Man 2's music involved creating bombastic melodies using different layers and combining them into the final song using the NES capabilities.

- The reason why the Wily Stage 1 theme plays during both Wily Stage 1 and Wily 2 is because they ran out of space. By the time Tateishi had to compose Dr. Wily Stage 2, they had no more data available. He had to play the theme over and over again in the same interval to compose the full song. Without the data limitations the song will be very different today but he also noted the development schedule was tight so he may not have been able to compose more songs.

- No music in the rooms prior to the Dr. Wily fight was Akira Kitamura's idea.

-The ending theme uses two channels from the three available on the NES because they ran out of data.

-For Quick Man's theme, Kitamura told him to make a song that basically told players to "hurry up".

-For Dr. Wily Stage 1, Tateishi wanted to make a bunch of melodies that you can't only make with a guitar, so he ended making a bunch and overlaid them to get the result.

- Tateishi's favorite boss is Metal Man.

-Tateishi did quality assurance and bug checking on top of composing Mega Man 2's soundtrack and sound effects. He pretty much had to beat the game every day for a long time.

- Last time he played the Mega Man 2 was five years ago.

- Although most of the songs in Mega Man 2 sound like they were performed with a guitar, Bubble Man's stage theme was more piano-oriented. In Tateishi's head, an underwater level was a quiet place. However, you can't have a stage with that's too quiet, or else Kitamura would not approve it. So in the end, it made sense to compose a melody with piano as the basis.

- Tateishi has a lot of respect for Kitamura. He thinks Kitamura is a creative genius, and the same can be said about Inafune as well.

If you want to watch the interview and learn even more trvia, check out the embedded stream above or head over the HalfEmptETank Twitch Channel.


  1. It was such a treat to watch this live. Wished I was actually there...!

  2. Truth be told, I'm a bit gobsmacked that Bryan 'n them got Takashi Tateishi in on the festivities. I remember Mega Man-athon 2, where Half Empty Energy Tank was kind of tucked into the entryway instead of having their own dedicated corner of the Gaylord Convention Center. It was such a small and unassuming event… very nice and very Mega Man-oriented. These days? They kind of go all-over-the-place. Yeah, it's still mostly Mega Man stuff… but, over the years, they added live music performances and tossed in arbitrary games to fill time, such as Mario Kart or Yoshi's Island (to pick two from this year's line-up). I guess they couldn't find enough people to play every single Mega Man game, or interest waned, or something…

    Anyway, my main point was… in the seven years that this thing has been going on, it's gotten bigger-and-bigger. And, this one? They got freaking Ogeretsu Kun, himself, to pop in! It's really amazing to think about.

    1. I haven't been to MAGFest since 2010 (which funny enough was a year or two before it really took off), but have been tuning into Mega Man-athon for the past few years now. Some of the Azure Striker and fangames made sense, but this is the first year they've blocked off a lot of time for non-MM games. Maybe it's like you say, they want to keep things fresh to get people coming back, though I was always fine with a purely MM lineup.

      This year's biggest draw was definitely Tateishi IMO. Seeing him take a selfie with Bit Brigade before they played MM2, having Bitforce play Wily 1 for him, and of course this guest-spot during the MM2 run was awesome. There were a ton of great insights he provided in that interview, and the guy seemed genuinely excited to be there.

      I hope HEET keeps running it, and even if they do need to switch things up every year, stay true to the title. It's fun to drop in on the stream every now and then, chip in a few bucks, and see how much they can raise for a good cause.

  3. The circumstances behind Mega Man 2's development just seem kind of odd to me.

    After they released the first game in limited quantity with little fanfare and basically no advertisement outside of Japan, the game sold well enough to warrant a reprint and they rushed a worldwide release.

    Then after that they told the developers if they wanted to work on the sequel they had to do it on their own time between projects because of how it sold (from their own efforts or lack thereof) and couldn't even be bothered to send any words of encouragement?

    I'm extremely grateful to every person on the little team that stuck it out through all that. Without them Mega Man probably would have never been given an opportunity to exist as a franchise in the first place.

  4. I was there at both the playthrough and Q&A. I even got to ask him something. It was nice.

    He probably would've given insight into Air Man and Flash Man's themes, but he was a bit too nervous at first so he didn't think about it.

  5. Wow! That's cool! I wish i could ask him why Yoshihiro Sakaguchi used nickname "Yuukichan's Papa"

    1. This might be reaching a bit, but maybe he was the papa of Yuukichan.

  6. To sum it up he's basically saying that everything wee see or don't see in the game is because of storage/hardware limitations lol

  7. It's a shame that the Legacy Collection and it's capabilities didn't fix that issue with Wily Stage 2 and have him create what he intended for the stage as an option. It would have made an easy, yet satisfying addition to the collection.

    I wish more MegaMan games would have followed Kitamura's direction toward having less "cute" songs and more "cool" songs. The cute song are the worst in my opinion. I've never seen MegaMan as cute, but more cool, in a tragic way. That's why MegaMan 2's ending was so impacting to me. The battle was over, but it was still at a cost. Many of the games now lack that cool edge and instead go the cheesy and cute route.


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