Mega Man
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Gear
  • Developer:
    • Freestyle
  • Publisher:
    • U.S. Gold
  • Released:
    • US 10/02/1995
Score: 70%

This review was published on 08/31/2016.

Mega Man is a side-scrolling platform video game licensed by Capcom, published by U.S. Gold, and developed by Freestyle for the Sega Game Gear. This is the sole Mega Man game on the Game Gear and it was originally exclusively released in North America on October 2, 1995. Considering the highly prolific Mega Man franchise was born in Japan, it's odd that this game didn't get released there. Despite sharing the same title, this isn't a remake of the first Mega Man game that was originally released in 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Similar to the Mega Man games on the Game Boy, this game reuses stages, enemies, bosses, and other miscellaneous stuff from some of the previously released NES titles, particularly Mega Man 4 and 5. Unfortunately, this game isn't anywhere near as good as the NES originals. It's not even on par with the Game Boy line of Mega Man games. With that said, this is still one of the better games on the Game Gear.

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Prior to the title screen, there's a short intro scene explaining the plot, some of which was ripped from Mega Man 4 on the NES. The plot of this game is essentially a retelling of the basic Mega Man storyline. Basically, a scientist that goes by the name of Dr. Light created a pair of housekeeping robots he called Rock and Roll. Yes, you read that correctly. Rock was designed to have the appearance of a boy and Roll resembled a girl, and they were programmed to think of each other as siblings. Everything was peaceful until a mad scientist named Dr. Wily sent a bunch of robots to cause mayhem across the world. Having a strong sense of justice, Rock asked Light to convert him into a fighting robot to combat the mad doctor. Reluctantly agreeing to the request, Light equipped Rock with special battle armor and a powerful gun. In this new form, Rock became known as the super fighting robot, Mega Man.

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Almost all of this game's graphics and music were lifted directly from Mega Man 4 and 5. However, the conversion process wasn't perfect, so some things look and sound different. Visually, everything has been more or less faithfully recreated. Most of the environments and enemies look nearly identical to the real thing. The color palette is also mostly the same, save for a few differences here and there. Some things actually look better, like the explosion effect. Power-ups now also do a little bounce when dropped by enemies. Sadly, the cute rotation effect when Mega Man stands on a rotating platform is missing. Where things start to diverge more significantly is in the sound department. While most of the music sounds fairly close to the original tracks, the sound effects are pretty different. A few sounds have been improved, like the noise Mega Man makes when charging his gun, but just about everything else is worse. Most notably, the sound effect for when Mega Man fires his gun is atrocious. Considering that's the main thing he does, that's a big problem.

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Another major difference between this and the original games is the screen's resolution. Since the Game Gear is a handheld system, it has a small screen, which translates to a resolution that's considerably smaller than what the NES outputs. In a vain attempt to compensate for this inadequacy, this game has smooth vertical screen scrolling. Normally, the Mega Man games on the NES would stop the action whenever the screen scrolled vertically, but that's not the case here. This still doesn't solve the underlying problem, though, as the stages clearly weren't designed with the smaller screen in mind. Crucial parts of the stages will often be obscured off screen, resulting in many leaps of faith and unexpected deaths. Unless you have the stage layouts completely memorized, you're going to run into a lot of unfair situations. No matter how you look at it, that's simply inexcusable.

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Pretty much everything Mega Man could do in Mega Man 5, he can do in this game. He can jump, shoot, and of course, walk. If you hold down and press the jump button, Mega Man will slide, which is used to fit through smaller spaces. Holding the shoot button for a little bit will cause Mega Man to charge his gun, and once it's fully charged, you release the button to fire a huge shot. This powerful shot is modeled after the one in Mega Man 5, meaning it's about as big as Mega Man himself. There are also consumable items he can use from the menu, like Energy Tanks that fully restore his life and Mystery Tanks that restore his life and weapon energy. Lastly, Mega Man begins the game with Rush Coil, which also functions like it does in Mega Man 5, allowing him to use his robotic dog as a springboard to reach higher ground. Oddly enough, this game lacks Rush's other abilities. Beat, the robotic bird first introduced in Mega Man 4, isn't here, either. Anyway, the controls aren't as good as the NES games, but they're good enough.

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Instead of the typical eight stages that most of the NES titles offer, this game only starts off with four, which is similar to the Game Boy games. As with most Mega Man games, you can do these stages in any order. Three of the stages are from Mega Man 5, and one of them is from Mega Man 4. After you beat those, you'll move on to Dr. Cossack's castle from Mega Man 4, though strangely, Cossack himself is absent from this game. Inside of Cossack's castle, you'll do two stages, one from Mega Man 5 and one from Mega Man 4. Upon completing those, you'll progress to Wily's fortress, where you'll do one last stage from Mega Man 2. Surprisingly, the stages are almost exact replicas of the originals, so props to them for that. The issue is that there's not very many of them. Even if you add the last couple of stages, this game is still far shorter than the average Mega Man game, and Mega Man games are already short as it is.

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As for the bosses, otherwise known as the Robot Masters, this game features Star Man, Napalm Man, Stone Man, and Wave Man from Mega Man 5, and Bright Man and Toad Man from Mega Man 4. There are no Robot Masters from Mega Man 2, even though there's a single stage from that game. All the Robot Masters are basically the same as their original incarnations, but some of their weaknesses have been modified. In case you don't know, Mega Man steals the weapon of the Robot Master he beats in battle, and can then use the weapon on his future opponents to exploit their weaknesses. The special weapons also function much like they do in their original games, so there are no surprises here.

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Besides the Western release of Mega Man 2, this is one of the only games in the series to feature multiple difficulty modes. There are two modes; normal mode and hard mode. In hard mode, there are more enemies and they do more damage upon your person. Unlike just about every other Mega Man game in existence, there are no continues in either difficulty, so you get sent back to the title screen if you lose all your lives. However, like most Mega Man games, you still get passwords after beating most stages, and can use these to continue your game at a later date. There are no passwords for the final leg of the game, though, so that makes life much harder, especially on hard mode. The extra modes could potentially add some replay value to the game if you're into that sort of thing.

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This game is basically a truncated, vastly inferior version of Mega Man 4 and 5. The main thing holding it back is the tiny screen; dying because you can't see where you're going is rather infuriating. The developers should have either redesigned the stages to fit the smaller screen, or not even bother making the game. There's also absolutely no original content in this game, so if you've already played Mega Man 4 and 5, then you have no reason to play this. This is still technically not a bad game for the Game Gear, but it's below average for a Mega Man game.

Word Count: 1,400

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