Sound Theory – Zero (MMX/UMVC3)

Hey everyone! The Marvel fervor was high, so I had to write a few pieces about it. I haven’t been talking about music as much, but for this write up, I’ve returned to my roots. This month's Sound Theory features one of my favorite character themes to appear in a fighting game and that is the theme of Zero, one of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3’s top tier characters.

For a little background on this character, Zero was created by Kenji Inafune to be a redesign for Mega Man in the MMX series, but ended up being a secondary character. Sporting a long blonde ponytail, Zero is extremely dedicated to his cause of ridding the world of Mavericks who, according to Mega Man X lore, are robots who turned against humanity. Zero, unlike X, sports a red and white set of armor with horns on the helmet. He also draws his Z-Saber in combat where in comparison, X prefers to use his Mega Buster. Although, it is worth noting that Zero does have a Z-Buster (which is +2 on block for those of you who don’t know) that he uses as well.

I'd love to see Ben try throwing a temper tantrum now...

Zero’s theme in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is probably my favorite theme from the series as a whole. Hideyuki Fukasawa worked on the MVC3 soundtrack and the grand majority of the soundtracks of the most recent Capcom fighting games. He worked on the Street Fighter 4 series, Street Fighter x Tekken and even Street Fighter 5. The reason I wanted to pay special attention to this track is because it’s not a completely original tune, yet there is a lot of room for creative liberties in this song. The creative process is one that is unique because instead of making changes to existing theme songs to make them fit the new game, there was a fair amount of improvisation in Zero’s theme. Keeping in mind Marvel vs Capcom 3’s general sound direction and the sounds of Mega Man, I find that Fukasawa was able to successfully craft a Zero theme that fit well within Marvel vs Capcom 3, but also would work exceptionally well in a Mega Man game.

Zero’s theme in UMVC3 is based on his theme from Mega Man X2, which is only about 30 seconds long, but it is filled with intensity. It’s fast paced & electric and sounds like you’re about to meet your doom at the hands of the Maverick Hunter himself. In the theme’s transition to Marvel vs Capcom 3, an entire latter segment is added to the piece which is completely original. The first 26 seconds of the theme is very close to the source material with only a few changes made. Since we’re in a much newer age compared to when Zero’s X2 theme first came out, the MVC3 theme sounds smoother and more refined. At the 26 second mark, the completely new segment starts and it is absolutely wonderful. The segment almost immerses you into the world of Mega Man X. It sounds like you’re riding the Raikosen lighting through Neo Arcadia. When you play as Zero and his theme is on, you feel more than ecstatic to hit your opponent with the lightning loops and melt their life bar away. You’re clearly vanquishing Mavericks who are a blight to the Marvel vs Capcom universe. If you’re on the other side of Zero as his theme is playing, you feel like you’re going up against a boss in the last level of a Mega Man game. You feel as if you’re in a heap of trouble and have a daunting task ahead of you as you stare down that robot with a human face as he draws his Z-Saber and charges his Z-Buster (which, did I mention is +2 on block?).

Zero’s theme in MVC3 is a great example of staying true to the source material while letting creative liberties shine. The creative decisions that Fukasawa made with this piece are, in my opinion, fantastic. Zero’s theme screams “I AM TOP TIER” and it’s a wonderful complement to his character. I hope you all are able to appreciate this character's theme song a little more after this. Perhaps Zero will be back in Marvel vs Capcom Infinite to fight alongside his boy, X... only time will tell.

Until next time!

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