Bass, as a common rather than proper noun, refers to low-frequency audible sound, and is the opposite of treble. Frequently, lower-toned instruments whose names begin with bass, like the bass viol or bass guitar but not the bass drum, are simply referred to as bass. The lowest singers in a choir or quartet are also referred to as bass. When referring to sound or music, bass is pronounced with a long a, as in "base."
A bass, pronounced with a short a (rhymes with gas), is an edible fish. It is a common game fish (there's even a group devoted to bass-fishing, known as Bass Anglers Sportsman Society or B.A.S.S.), and is quite tasty fried or grilled.
A peculiarity of the English language is that bass is used for both the singular and the plural, whether referring to sound, instruments, or fish. (This can sound awkward when using bass as a quick way of referring to bass guitars, viols, or singers; usually the abbreviated version isn't used in the plural because of this.) "Basses" is not a word.
YOU BETTER TELL ME WHO YOU ARE?
- Mega Man, in Mega Man 7
I'll tell you who he is. Bass (known as Forte in the Japanese version) is the dark-armored, heavily-armed rival of Capcom's blue bomber, Mega Man. Built after the events of Mega Man 6 and responsible for Dr. Wily's breakout at the beginning of Mega Man 7, he was built when Dr. Wily actually clued in that reclusive, one-trick-pony robots weren't exactly stopping Mega Man (after all, he'd gone through more than 40 of them so far), so he decided to build a robot as versatile and intelligent as Dr. Light's creation.
Doc Robot and Terra are conveniently forgotten when saying this is the first "versatile, intelligent robot" Dr. Wily has built. Shhh, this is Capcom we're talking about.
Naturally, it didn't work. This is Dr. Wily, after all.
In Mega Man 7, Bass posed as another crime-fighting robot, until, predictably, he turned out to be evil, surprising exactly two people, and was defeated by Mega Man. He harassed Mega Man all through Mega Man 8, apparently obsessed with proving himself to Dr. Wily. (He needn't bother, as this is the guy who build Junk Man and Dust Man we're talking about.) Of late, Dr. Wily has been looking to replace Bass, having built such robots as King (destroyed by Mega Man and Bass working as a team in Mega Man and Bass) and, much later, Zero (as implied in Mega Man: the Power Fighters and all but stated in Mega Man X4 and X5.)
Bass's armor is dual-layered. On the bottom is a flat white suit. Over that is a black breastplate with flaring shoulderpads, with gold trim and a large blue gem in the center. Over his waist and lower torso is a black bottom piece, edged on the top with gold. His lower legs and lower arms are covered with oversized guards, also edged in gold, but his feet and hands are white. His arm cannon is large-caliber and has a flat end, rather than coming to nearly a point, like Mega Man's. His eyes are brown almost to the point of being red, and he wears a perpetual sneer. Finally, his helmet flares from his forehead like a pair of wings, gold on the bottom and black on the top.
Fitting in with the musical puns in the names of Mega Man characters, Bass is accompanied by his loyal robot dog, Treble. This pits Rockman, Roll, Rush, and Tango against Bass and Treble. Unfortunately, in this case, the Japanese names are less clever, as Forte is accompanied by his dog, "Gospel".
Bass is pronounced "base," as in music. In Mega Man 8, his name is occasionally pronounced "bahss," as with the fish, but this is usually attributed to the fact that the voice actors are not native English speakers.
Bass is only playable in Mega Man and Bass and the Mega Man: the Power Battle series, and has very different abilities in each. In MM&B, he has a double jump, and can fire in any direction. As a trade-off, he can't shoot on the run, nor can he charge up his gun, making many bosses much harder. In MM:PB, he handles pretty much like Mega Man, with a dash he can jump out of instead of a slide.
His role in the Mega Man fan community in the US is a little odd. For some reason, Bass is generally cast as either a bumbling fool or a total stoneheaded moron. The reasons for this aren't quite clear, but Bob and George is an excellent example of this, having Bass forget such things as opening a door before he tries to walk through it.