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The progression of music in Capcom games

by Courtney Weaver Monster Hunter, Megaman, Dead Rising, Resident Evil, and Street Fighter are just a few big names are a part of CAPCOM, and they have recently released all of their music for the world to hear. We are going to see how their music has evolved.

Resident Evil

Image from Resident Evil
The re-released version of Resident Evil 2 prompted CAPCOM to do a music dump and release all of their music. In Resident Evil, known as Biohazard in Japan, the player has a part in the reactions of a virus being released under specific circumstances and causes a zombie apocalypse. The music in this series is mostly ambient. In the opening piece, it creates dissonance or clashing sounds with horns and strings. It also has warbled and muffled screams that then leads to a more electronic mix. This provokes an uneasy feeling and makes the player jump unconsciously with the load clashing moments. The swelling of pitches creates the rising tension and the bass and lower instruments start to create tension, making the player’s heart beat a little faster. The ominous voices that play in the background on another layer give an eerie and ominous feeling of the impending turn of humans to zombies. It makes the player want to move the character faster. There are moments throughout the game that ease up, letting the player know there is a safe point nearby. They have quite a bit of piano music that lulls the player into feeling somewhat safe but able to tell that crazy events are about to happen. In the remake, they remastered the music and it opens with heavy orchestral with voices overlayed. This is slightly different than the original but keeps the odd, uneasy chords with a slight buzz to get the player ready for the virus spread impending doom. Much of the newer music sticks to being more orchestral than the slightly augmented electronic spin on it. Both versions work for this game, while taking in the technological advances for the past few decades.   

Mega Man

Image from Capcom
Mega Man, also known as Rocketman, is an android that was created to be a lab assistant for Dr. Light. Mega Man then has to step up to the challenge and defeat Dr. Wily and his group of robots to gain abilities and progress in this platformer. The first game was released in 1987 and the story continues in the 11th game release. This game has a wonderful soundtrack that keeps the player engaged but still has that traditional platformer music style. Since the player always faces off against Dr. Wily and his robot companions change, we will compare Dr. Wily’s stage from the second game and the 11th. The music is in the classical Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) that is done mostly, if not completely, with a synthesizer. It has a repetitive line of music but is catchy to the listener. It has a fast pace to give the player a sense of urgency that they have almost made it to the end. Most of the music from this age is not super heavy and steers away from the lower notes. It has a drum line that stays constant throughout the piece that propels the player forward. This then changes when the player walks in, the door closes behind them, and they face off against Dr. Wily. While in the fortress, the music changes to a darker side that has more reverb and simple chord progressions. This also adds more of a simple bass line that lets the player know that a battle is on its way. In the newer version, along with an upgrade to graphics, the music got a revamp as well. It still has that tech like feel to it, but it has a little more bass, not as much reverb, and sounds wonderful. It still is done mostly, if not completely on synthesizer. When facing off against Dr. Wily, he has multiple phases, thus the different feel in music that is played to keep the player engaged. The music is heavily electronic-based because of the setting and the purpose of it. Each piece goes on with the stage and conveys a meaning the way it is written. It is written to be a part of the stage, not just ambiance, background noise.

Street Fighter

Image from Street Fighter
Street Fighter is a one-on-one, fighter game that pits different characters against each other. There is plenty of back story which runs through all of the games. The first game in this series was also released in 1987 but its bestseller was Street Fighter II which was released in 1991. This game was a stepping stone for the one-on-one fighter genre for games to come. This game could not get too outrageous because of the music being in the background and to keep the player’s attention except for those who are button mashers.  It is not really used for ambiance, but to help define each character. The earlier versions have that typical SNES style that incorporates a bounce to the music that goes with the characters’ idle animations. Each small clip of music blends the character’s background and personality. It does not have too much when it comes to background music, unless it is the bonus level, thus being slightly different. Starting at around Street Fighter V, the music becomes less of the electronic age and becomes heavier on the rock aspect. More drums, heavy guitar, a little synthesizer, and significantly more bass. This changes the feel from the original charm but brings forth a different feeling. It is used to help hype the player and get them ready for fights. It heightens it to seem more epic when dealing with characters players have grown up with. The music evolves with the player and the character. Although each character seems to lack their own theme, like they had in earlier games, this still fits the style and changed with the times. Music has always been a major part of video games. For some, it is a defining part of their brand. It brings emotion and feeling to the game. It breathes life into the world and characters of the game many people spent years working on. Not many people will take time to notice the music, but it is always there. With CAPCOM releasing all of their music, it gives the music a chance to get the appreciation and recognition it deserves.
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