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Classic Mega Man Series Review Pt. 2

Well, I covered quite a bit in the first portion. Now comes the second part, and in this portion you will begin to see the evolution of Mega Man as he lands on different consoles, only to return to his roots towards the end. So with that said, let’s get right to it.

MegaMan 6 Title Screen

October 5th, 1993 is the day Mega Man 6 was released, and it was the last Mega Man title to appear on the Famicom/NES system. The story this time is that the first annual “Robot Masters Tournament” is held in order to test the designing capabilities of the world’s greatest robotics engineers. The tournament is hosted by a man known only as “Mr. X” and many strong Robot Masters participate. Dr. Light, a pacifist, decides not to enter the competition, but sends the robotic hero Mega Man to supervise it. Near the end of the event, Mr. X announces that he has reprogrammed the eight finalist robots to do his bidding in taking over the world. Of course, Mr. X is revealed to be Dr. Wily(Who didn’t see THAT coming!?)and you must lay the smackdown upon him once again.

Mega Man 6 introduces the “Energy Balancer”, which automatically refills the weapon with the lowest energy when picking up Master Weapon power. Fucking useful!! The other thing is that previous Mega Man games typically allowed the player to call on your dog Rush or use other support items in order to traverse difficult or otherwise inaccessible parts of a stage. Mega Man 6 instead features a pair of “Rush Adaptors” that fuse Mega Man and Rush into special forms. The first, “Jet Mega Man”, lets the player fly upward or hover for a brief period of time, but prevents the use of charge shots. The second, “Power Mega Man”, utilizes a powerful, short-range punch attack for destroying large blocks. As cool as they sound, they are pretty tricky to use. For one, you can’t slide with either of them on. So, taking them into a Robot Master fight…yeah, no. However, aside from their shortcomings, the adaptors also present less linear ways to complete the stages than in previous entries in the series. There are two pathways in many of the stages that lead to boss rooms, but the player is often required to use one of the Rush adaptors to begin an alternate route. Although either one will clear the stage, only one of them will give the player a letter circuit board for assembling the helper bird Beat(Literally spelling B-E-A-T). So with that, the series was halted on the NES due to it’s demise. But then Capcom decided to shit on everyone and gave us…

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Ugh, I absolutely loathe this game…almost as much as I hate SaGa Frontier. But, as a Mega Man Vet, it’s my job to bring information to you all…even if it gives me stomach ulcers in the process. Mega Man 7 was released for the Super Nintendo sometime in September of 1995. The game takes place 6 months after the events of Mega Man 6 with Mega Man putting Dr. Wily in jail. However, what Mega Man didn’t know was that Dr. Wily had robots hidden somewhere is his lab. After six months without Dr. Wily’s input, the robots would activate, and search for Dr. Wily. The Robots gave the city a surprising attack, looking for their master. Mega Man and Dr. Light watch the robots help Dr. Wily escape from a far distance. With that, Mega Man heads out to put a stop to it.

Unlike the first six Mega Man games, only four new Robot Master stages are selectable at a time, with the other 4 becoming available after beating the first 4 and going through an “intermission stage”. Mega Man 7 uses many of the same conventions introduced in previous installments, such as sliding along the ground, being able to charge the Mega Buster for more powerful shots, and calling on the hero’s dog Rush to perform various tasks. One unique feature is Rush Search, which causes Rush to dig up useful items wherever the player is standing. Certain stages contain the letters “R-U-S-H”, which, when collected, will grant the player access to the “Rush Super Adaptor”, a combination of the two enhancements introduced in Mega Man 6 with a powerful rocket-arm attack and jetpack for flying short distances. This title also makes use of the “bolt currency”, which began in the Mega Man Gameboy series(See? I told ya’ll I’d show some love!). Bolts occasionally drop from enemies and can be traded at Eddie’s Cybernetic Support Shop for various items and enhancements. Other gameplay elements also exist, such as the player being able to obtain the robotic, helper bird Beat and Proto Man’s trademark shield, though acquiring the latter is a bit of a rough trial. This game also marks the introduction of a few characters:

Bass & Treble – Two counterparts to Mega Man and Rush. Initially, he seems to be on your side. But as it turns out, he was a creation of Dr. Wily and was working for him all along. There is more to Bass’s story then I am letting on, but I’ll let someone else explain it.

Auto – Even though he was not introduced until Mega Man 7, it is clear that he has been with Dr. Light for a while. He is seen to have a pickup truck, and is the mechanic for Dr. Light. Eddie is almost his pet. He creates items for Mega Man by using Bolts/Screws.

One other note to mention is that this game is kind of dark towards the end with Mega Man telling Dr. Wily to “Prepare to die!”. Wily mentions the Three Laws of Robotics, causing Mega Man to pause briefly and say the he is “More than just a robot”. But what would have happened if Mega Man indeed killed Wily right then and there? Would the series have stopped or would a new antagonist have emerged? Marinate on that for a bit.

…You know for a game I’m not a big fan of, I sure explained a lot about it…anyway, moving on to the next title!

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Released in January of 1997 for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, Mega Man 8 was a massive improvement over it’s previous title, Mega Man 7. The game takes place during an unspecified year, but sometime shortly after the events of Mega Man 7. During the opening, two strange beings are fighting each other in outer space. As they collide into each other, they start falling towards Earth. Meanwhile, Bass and Mega Man are fighting on Earth, but the battle is cut short when Roll calls Mega Man. Dr. Light tells them that a strange meteor with a powerful energy signature has fallen on an island, and Mega Man is sent there to retrieve the meteor before it falls into the wrong hands. However, the island was Dr. Wily’s current secret base, and he escapes with the extraterrestrial energy from one of the robots. Mega Man found the other robot badly injured in a crater and sends him to Dr. Light to be repaired. From there, he has to defeat Wily’s 8 Robot Masters and Wily himself once again.

The game has massive amounts of new features this time around, one of them being anime cutscenes. A noteworthy addition to gameplay in Mega Man 8 is the ability to display and use multiple weapons onscreen simultaneously. This change introduces a unique way of using weapons strategically. For example, Mega Man can place a Tornado Hold, jump into it and swing the Flame Sword while rising with the air current. The player also has the ability to use his Mega Buster at all times, even when equipped with a Master Weapon. Auto’s part shop from the last game also appears in the form of Dr. Light’s lab, where the player can buy new abilities from Roll in exchange for special bolts found throughout the levels. However, due to a limited number of bolts and power-up slots available, the player must carefully decide which power-ups to buy. Special power-ups involving Mega Man’s dog Rush are won by fighting mid-stage mini-bosses. This is also the first (and only) game in the series in which Mega Man can swim.

Now, the Sega Saturn version has several very different features in it. Here are a few:

– A Bonus Mode was included, which includes official and fan artwork, voice test, music test, and a secret animation test for the FMVs. Of note, the voice test includes some unused vocal samples, including an unused line by Frost Man, Dr. Light, and Mega Man saying “Metal Heroes” (used in the Japanese version). Bonus Mode replaces the promotional videos of Mega Man: Battle & Chase and Super Adventure Rockman that were present in the Japanese PSX version.

– Special water morphing effects in Aqua Man’s stage; the water flowed and moved more lifelike. Although it’s not a transparent blue like in the PlayStation version, the wave effects gave it a more realistic feel.

– Cut Man(from Mega Man)and Wood Man(from Mega Man 2)make cameo appearances as one-time mini-bosses in Duo’s mini-stage and Search Man’s stage. Defeating them earns Mega Man two Bolts that are otherwise lying in the open in the PlayStation version. (On a side note, Cut Man and Wood Man are thought to be the apparent stolen Robot Masters that were in the two broken display cases seen in the background of the Robot Museum stage in Mega Man 7.)

– The music is slightly different in the Saturn version. Two notable examples are Aqua Man’s Stage, which is moodier and has a wider variety of instruments, and Tengu Man’s Stage, the only stage in the game which had an entirely different tune.

Of course the game had it’s share of flaws. One of them is the voice acting…which was almost as bad as the voice acting from the original Resident Evil on PlayStation. Dr. Light sounded like Elmer Fudd, and Mega Man sounded like a girl with his voice actress reading the script terribly. I think Bass, Roll and Proto Man had the best performance because they at least tried, where as the latter just said “Fuck it”. Oh well, no game is perfect…except for Chrono Trigger.

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On September 22nd, 2008 Mega Man 9 was released for the Wii’s Virtual Console. In the short days to come, it would be released onto the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace, as well as PlayStation Network’s. For once, the game is one of the latest non side-story game in the classic series released since 1996/1997’s Mega Man 8, and one of the latest non-licensed game released in the classic series (not counting remakes and collections) since 1998/2002’s Mega Man & Bass. The story now is Dr. Light, the creator of the world’s greatest android hero Mega Man, is blamed for sudden incidents of destructive, robotic rampage. Mega Man’s nemesis Dr. Wily has no apparent connection to it. After showing a news video of Light declaring planetary domination and Wily refusing to follow him, Wily announces that he needs monetary donations to complete the robots he built to combat those of Dr. Light. Mega Man vows to fight to prove his creator’s innocence and expose Wily’s true intentions…which he does.

Using the original Mega Man and Mega Man 2 as the main inspiration for the gameplay in Mega Man 9, several significant features from previous games were left out. Specifically, Mega Man lacks the ability to slide along the ground and the ability to charge up his Mega Buster for more powerful shots. Aside from using or omitting various elements from past games in the series, Mega Man 9 introduces a time attack mode and 50 optional challenges where certain requirements should be met to be accomplished. These range from defeating a boss using only the Mega Buster to clearing the entire game without taking any damage(BULLSHIT!!). Downloadable content for all three versions of the game was made available for purchase during October 2008. Proto Man can be downloaded as an alternate playable character and this game was the first game to feature him as a playable character. Proto Man is able to slide, can charge up his buster, and takes double the damage of Mega Man, among other differences. Additional downloadable add-ons include higher difficulty modes, an endless stage, and a special stage featuring a new boss, Fake Man.

According to Capcom’s own Keiji Inafune, who was working closely with Inti Creates on the project, the game was developed using an 8-bit graphics and music engine to bring back the nostalgia of the NES-era Mega Man games. Taking away the ability to slide and charge the Mega Buster was done to make the game’s challenge and handling more in-line with the first two games in the series. While cutscenes are used to tell the story, they are 8-bit in nature. According to Inafune, the game is “just as much a new Mega Man game as it is a new NES game.” The game also features the first female Robot Master boss in the series, Splash Woman.

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Well, here we are…the last Mega Man game that was released for us. Sad, right? Well unfortunately, dems da breaks, kids. On March 1st, 2010 Mega Man 10 was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console, with the releases for the other major consoles to follow shortly thereafter. The story goes is that an illness known as “Roboenza” suddenly begins infecting robots all over the world, causing them to malfunction and hamper human life. Mega Man’s sister Roll becomes one of the disease’s victims. A month following the outbreak, many of the infected robots go berserk and attempt to take over the world. The villain Dr. Wily comes to Mega Man and Dr. Light, claiming that he was building a machine making medicine to cure the disease before one of the infected robots stole it. Mega Man decides to help retrieve the machine and soon runs into his brother Proto Man, who quickly joins him. Meanwhile, Mega Man’s rival Bass sets out on his own to challenge these new robots. Mega Man halfway finishes his journey when Dr. Wily completes a prototype antidote, which is given to Roll. Of course Wily, being the dick that he is, admits he engineered the virus in order to get all the robots in the world to work for him in return for giving them the cure. Mega Man is of course like, “Aww, hell no!” and promptly goes off to smack Wily around yet again.

At the start of Mega Man 10, the player is able to choose and play through the game as either Mega Man or Proto Man. Though the two characters play similarly, there are some fundamental differences. For example, unlike Mega Man, Proto Man is able to charge up his arm cannon for more powerful attacks, slide along the ground, and block small enemy shots with his shield. However, Proto Man takes twice the damage that Mega Man does, is knocked back twice as far when hit, and can only have two shots onscreen at a time versus Mega Man’s three. So when you think about it, choosing Proto Man is definitely a great challenge for any Mega Man Vet to try. Both characters have optional support abilities. Mega Man can call on his dog Rush to reach high platforms or traverse long distances in the air. Proto Man has the same capabilities in two generic support items.

Now like the previous installment, this game has DLC and being able to play as Bass is one of them. Bass Mode is so unbelievably easy…seriously. Bass has the ability to shoot rapid-fire shots in all directions, but he has to be stationary to even shoot. Instead of Rush, he has Treble, obviously. But, rather than having Coil or Jet, Treble merges with Bass a là Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 and gets the ability to fly around for a limited time. During the transformation, Bass shoots a 3-way shot in front of him and can maneuver quite well. So, if you are looking for an easy play through this game, then Bass is the one you want to play as.

The other DLC are three Special Stages that are based on levels in the Game Boy Mega Man entries and have bosses named “Mega Man Killers” from three of those games: Enker from Mega Man in Dr. Wily’s Revenge, Punk from Mega Man III, and Ballade from Mega Man IV. Out of the three playable characters, only Mega Man is able to acquire their special weapons and use them in the main game. It seems that Capcom really put a lot of effort and passion into this game…too bad it might be the last one…

Legacy

There is no doubt that the Mega Man series has left a solid impact on the world. Due to its high levels of popularity, Mega Man has been turned into mangas, crossover comics, several animes and OVAs, appearances in fighting games, and fan films. The music from the series has exploded in popularity with bands like The Megas, The Advantage and Minibosses covering the majority of the game series’s more popular and memorable songs. OC Remix artists are notorious for taking songs from video games and transforming them in to beautiful pieces of their former selves, and Mega Man is no stranger to that(Metal Man Goes Clubbing is one of my personal favorites!). Even conventions see their fair share of the Blue Bomber via cosplayers. I am friends with several people who show mad love to Mega Man, and their cosplays are very well done! Hell, even my oldest daughter has cosplayed as both Roll and Mega Man in the past! So, it’s safe to assume that Mega Man’s legacy will continue to live on in some way, shape or form.

Future?

Everyone knows that Capcom’s business sense as of late has been shit. Now, I’m not smashing on them because of what they did to the Mega Man series, but merely pointing out something. Obviously, a series can only go so far before it gets run into the ground(See: Final Fantasy)and that is completely understandable. But, don’t cut the legs off of all the fans when you promise them a couple of games, then cancel it. Don’t remember, Capcom? Does Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe sound familiar to you at all? Think about it for a sec…development for both games were in the high 60 percent last announced. Then what happens? Capcom pretty much says, “Ahhh…fuck you guys.”. Obviously it didn’t go down like that. There was a lame excuse thrown in there somewhere. But when you have pages like “Get Me Off The Moon” and whatnot, you kind of have to acknowledge the fact that you’ve pissed a lot of people off. But I digress.

Now, word on the wire is that there is a Mega Man 11 being developed. Now, that’s just a rumor but I have seen rumors come to fruition on several occasions. Of course, there is kind of a new Mega Man coming out on his 25th birthday. It’s called Mega Man X Street Fighter and it will be available on PC for free. Now, I’m all for crossovers, but I am kind of iffy on this one. But, I’m not one to judge a game without playing it, so I will give it a shot. If it turns out to be good, I’ll write up a review for it. I just find it kind of insulting that Capcom couldn’t just give the fans Mega Man Legends 3 or Mega Man Universe, but they’ll absolutely give us a fucking 8-bit crossover nobody really knew about in a shitty attempt to satisfy us? I think now I fully understand why Inafune left that company. All I can ask is, what happened to you Capcom?

In closing I just want to say that I had a lot of fun writing this. I got a chance to throw my thoughts and experience down on the table and share it with all of you. To my fellow Mega Man fans out there…keep Mega Man in your hearts and minds. As long as he resides there, he’ll never cease to exist. I often get a lot of shit from some of my friends for loving the series and that doesn’t bother me. I’ve chosen a series that tests your timing ability, making you plan your next move carefully and raising your hand-eye coordination level as opposed to mindlessly shooting a gun, throwing combat axes and calling 13 year-old kids names that would’ve made George Carlin blush. Classics will ALWAYS be superior to currents in many ways!

Rock on, Mega Man!

Until next episode…

thmegamanheadbangHeadBangMonkey

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