What are we looking at up there? Bloody hell. Look to the Japanese box art if you want something accurate. Look somewhere else entirely if you want a cushy, enjoyable time with this series. That’s harsh, but it’s true. That isn’t to say that this isn’t worth playing. For a sense of history and perspective, I think anyone who has enjoyed a classic Mega Man game should give this a shot. It’s weird saying this seven nuts in, but this is a platforming series with a heavy emphasis on ranged combat, characterized by a multitude of projectile types derived from the powers of a set of enemy bosses. You can tackle their stages and steal these rock/paper/scissors-esque powers in any order you choose before heading to the final levels comprising Dr. Wily’s fortress.
Dr. Wily is a serial villain with a fetish for Guts Man (one of the bosses debuting here) and eyebrow wiggling. There’s no story beyond a modicum of rudimentary exposition, in the manual. Good. Mega Man isn’t War and Peace.
Why is this so ball-bustingly difficult? Well, movement is stiff and it randomly seems like there’s ice physics in play EVERYWHERE, not just Ice Man’s stage. There are no E-tanks. When you fight a boss, you’ve got one life bar and that’s assuming you show up with full health to begin with. There’s a swift, movement puzzle of a beast that most people can only take down using a glitch. Oh, and you have to re-fight the bosses. That’s not strange, though. That’s both a general Capcom and a Mega Man specific tradition. No, the rub is you have to fight four of them in a row with no health items immediately before the two-part battle with Wily.
Hey, guess what? Their projectiles don’t disappear and you can die because of this AFTER THEY’RE DEAD.
You can’t fudge this game with E-tanks and be awarded a victory and gooey feelings that’ll encourage you to get better, more elegant, over time. In this game, and the first sequel, you have to get better NOW. You stay in the trenches and do it OVER and OVER and OVER until you throw your controller just to pick it back up again, like a machine.
Play it. You don’t need to beat it, you don’t even have to enjoy it. Knowing the pain is something I think is beneficial, though. History and perspective.
Buyer’s Guide: NES game. Mega Man Anniversary Collection (PS2, Xbox, GC). Virtual Console. PSN. Cell phones. The usual.
2 Victories of My Own Choosing out of 5