Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rockman Battle & Fighters (NGPC)

A quick and fun....fighting game?

Ok, I won't lie. I've been a big Mega Man (or Rock Man, if you prefer) fan for years, having first played all games as a child. Over the years, I have enjoyed a wide range of MM titles, covering many systems and series. But while many good games have been released (MMV on the GB, for starters...), many duds have appeared over the years (coughcoughMMX6cough). But while browsing on the internet, I picked up a Neo Geo Pocket Color, with three games. Shortly after, I found a company that was issuing an arcade conversion of the two MM arcade hits (Power Battle and Power Fighters) - Rockman Battle & Fighters. Having heard of the game from various MM sites on the net, I ordered it, and eagerly played it the moment I opened the package. Was it worthy of joining the upper ranks of MM games, or was it amongst the dregs of the series? Read on to discover.

THE GRAPHICS: Having played many MM games over the years, I have always held a soft spot for the classic look of the NES and Game Boy titles. And considering that the graphics of the arcade games were between MM7 and MM8, I was surprised at the quality of the graphics in this cart. Backgrounds were kin to the most detailed Game Boy Color games, with details of various objects being crystal clear. From the whale in the ice levels to the searchlights in the far background. Sprites are actually very good, and many classic NES sprites return. Most notable is the fact that the MM7 bosses from the arcade are transformed into NES-like sprites. Oddly enough, all of them look good, except Junk Man, who seems... wierd. The attacks typically are easily seen, though in Power Figters some attacks (Shade Man and Air Man being the two worst) blend into the background, making evasion difficult. The only other quirk is when the sprites overload, causing some ''classic'' fading of sprites. The only real time this is visible, though, is when the foes explode, which has little or no effect on gameplay. Did I forget to mention that all of the playable characters look great? Including Bass and Duo? Heh.

THE SOUND: To be honest, there are maybe three level tracks (all mediocre) for the regular boss fights, though since they are remixes, that accounts for something. The boss music against the pre-Wily boss and Wily was something that I never heard of before, but I will say that the final music was well done. The sound test is the only place to hear this at any real length, though...  And the sound effects typically are good, if not simply generic. All of the electric attacks share the same sound, as do nearly any and all attacks of the same type. The one sound effect that does impress is the voice at the beginning, though it is a Japanese voice...

THE GAMEPLAY: Ever wanted to fight the bosses in the MM games without goint through the levels to fight them? Then this is your game. The game is virtually all boss fights, with a little story added in depending on the game and character you are using. Whichever game you start, the bosses start of with relatively little health. This makes fighting the harder bosses much easier, provided that you are able to select them as early as possible. Which brings me to the boss selection screen. While the Power Fighters has a more traditional screen (displaying 6 bosses per the three selectable missions), the Power Battle selection is a bit trickier. The bosses depend on which of the ''paths'' you select - MM1-2, MM3-6, or MM7. Then you are treated to a screen with a map of sorts that has selectable areas - a city, a factory, a jungle, and other areas. The catch is that you have no idea who resides in each level without a FAQ or memorization, and you have to select the stages based on the fact that the cursor moves clockwise, making timing a key part of the selection. Character controls are pretty basic to the MM series, though the characters moves vary a bit. While Bass and Mega Man share the same type of buster, Bass can air dash while Mega Man slides. Proto Man's buster shoots longer shots than his allies, while doing a ''shield dash'' (for which I have found no use for), which gives him a boost of speed. These are the common features of the characters in both games. Now, in Power Fighters, there are a few changes. Duo does a body slam instead of a dash or slide (all of which are initiated by pressing down+Jump, BTW...). Also, he uses a Mega Arm-like attack with his fists. For those who do not know, that means that his attacks are short ranged, and he cannot attack until his fist comes back. Also, every once in awhile, Eddie will appear and give you a powerup, which differs based on your character. Bass gets Treble, who attacks your foe; Duo and Protoman get Beat, who grants a temporary shield; Mega Man gets Rush, who can be used as either a spring board or as a tool for attacking your opponent. Finally, the bosses paterns are generally differient than their older appearances, and some (namely Pharoh Man) are completely differient.

RE-PLAYABLE: This is an arcade game, but the challenge involved (especially with an adjustable timer) adds some replay. There are few secrets, and the Japanese text will confuse some. But with the various characters, timer settings, and difficutly, it is worth playing again.

OVERALL: The sound will annoy you after a few hours, but given the great gameplay, you will probably just need to turn on a boss MP3 on your computer. This is easily one of the best Rockman titles around, and a great find for any fan.

NAME: ROCKMAN BATTLE & FIGHTERS
SYSTEM: Neo Geo Pocket Color

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