Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Megaman (GG)

Decent dose of Mega for the Game Gear, even if it's mostly rehashed

I first remember seeing the box art for this game at some random Mega Man website years ago and shook my head in disbelief. The cover art, comprising several Mega Man illustrations that have been seemingly cut and paste at random areas over a sterile black backdrop, seem to make the original Mega Man's cover art look like a masterpiece. In my mind, there was no way this could have been real.

Sure enough, one of my friends had a copy of the game and he confirmed that the box art is as shown on the site. This is a strange entity to be sure. For the most part, I wasn't remotely aware that there was a Mega Man game for the Game Gear. I knew about the Wily Wars compilation on Sega Genesis, but I never saw this game sitting in stores or anywhere else for that matter. So this is a rare beast indeed - few copies can be found on eBay if you're lucky, but they cost a pretty penny. But let's find out if the game is worth the money.

STORY: Oh no. Dr. Wily has gone crazy with one of his plans to conquer the world and it's up to Mega Man to stop him... yeah, it's the same cut-and-paste storyline that has been prevalent in a number of classic Mega Man games. I suppose it works considering the content we're working with here, but outside of that, it's nothing special... because in all honesty, the story means nothing here since the game doesn't really actively do anything with it.

GRAPHICS: For the most part, Mega Man's graphics are very nicely rendered, with everything being about the same resolution as on an NES screen... almost. Although the majority of the game's graphics are simply rips from the NES games, you can probably find some additional details in some of the stage designs and character sprites. The game seems a bit more colorful and vibrant compared to the NES originals. So overall, the game is visually good and a slight enhancement of what you find on the NES. Of course, there's the issue with the full-size graphics not being able to fit on a small Game Gear screen, but we'll get to that later.

SOUND: Mega Man has some of the most wonderful music you'll ever find... but none of it is featured in this game. Let's face facts - sound is often a major failing with the Sega Game Gear and this game, sadly, is no exception. While you can theoretically churn out some decent tunes with the inferior audio hardware, it's pretty clear that Mega Man doesn't take that extra step. As a result, the game sounds horrendous - what with the awful sound effects and butchered soundtrack. Best to play this one with the volume turned all the way down.

GAMEPLAY: Okay, let's get to the meat of Mega Man; the unoriginal gameplay - even by Mega Man standards. Much like previous Mega Man games, you have the ability to choose any of four stages to play in any order. You fight through the levels, face the Robot Master, beat him, acquire his weapon, and use that weapon against another boss. Clearing all four bosses brings you to the Wily stages, where you'll encounter two more Robot Masters (and subsequently acquire their weapons as well) before the final showdown. Simple stuff - and it works rather well here. So judging from the visuals, longtime Mega Men will easily assume that the game based itself on Mega Man 5 for NES and you'd be right, but it's much more than that. Mega Man is nothing more than a glorified cut-and-paste job of various levels from Mega Man 4 and 5 with the gameplay of 5, resulting in an interesting mishmash of elements from those two games. Notably, you'll have the MM5-style Mega Buster (Charge your Buster to shoot a bigger, stronger shot - get hit while charging and you'll lose your charge), Mystery Tanks (only one in the game), and the MM5-style Rush Coil adaptor that isn't particularly useful. Also, for some reason, you're only allowed two pellet shots on screen at a time as opposed to the usual three shots on screen (which was the case with most Classic Mega Man games, even on the Game Boy titles). Whether that's due to a hardware limitation or simply an attempt at diversifying the gameplay, it certainly makes for a jarring change.

The levels themselves are also straight rips from the NES games, so chances are if you've played the older games, you've already played the levels here as they're exactly the same thing with some minute changes. However, you're also face with the added challenge of vertically scrolling, due to the levels being too tall for the small Game Gear screen to fit in. This means you'll have to be extra careful, as you never know if you'll land on a platform or a bed of spikes. While this doesn't really cripple the game, it does hurt it and it makes me wonder why they couldn't just make a new game for the Game Gear like they did on the Game Boy. In any case, the gameplay is tad slower than the NES originals (or even the GB titles), but it's otherwise a serviceable translation

CHALLENGE: For the most part, Mega Man is about as difficult as the games it's based on. While the vertical scrolling function does make it a tad more difficult than it should be, it becomes a moot point if you're even remotely familiar with those games, then the game shouldn't be too difficult. In any case, US Gold is gracious enough to include a difficulty select similar in vein to the one featured in Mega Man 2. Of course, they removed continues from the game... Yeah, that's right. One Game Over and it's back to the title screen for you. But at least they have passwords so you can continue.

RE-PLAYABLE: Replay value is the same for all titles in the series and Mega Man is no exception here. Actually, there might be LESS here since the game's relatively short and the difficulty setting can be a turnoff for some.

OVERALL: As a novelty item, Mega Man is a rather interesting find that no doubt does its very best to maintain the traditional gameplay of the NES originals on Sega's color handheld system. What the game lacks in sound and variety, it more than makes up for its good gameplay, graphical upgrades, and fair challenge. As much as this is a no-brainer for those with Game Gears wanting a dose of Mega Man, I wouldn't go far as to recommend you go out of your way to pick it up. Aside from the rarity of the game, Mega Man is nothing more than a compilation of levels and elements from the old NES games that you might have already played. There's simply nothing unique or fresh about this game that warrants a playthrough unless you really want your dose of Mega on the Game Gear. Nonetheless, for those who still have Game Gears laying around and are Mega Man enthusiasts, this is probably a interesting novelty item worth picking up if you can find a copy at a respectable price range. But those looking for brand new Mega Man to conquer should probably look elsewhere... I hear Mega Man 10's knocking...

SYSTEM: Game Gear



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