Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Mega Drive
  • Developer:
    • Minakuchi Engineering
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 10/21/1994
    • UK April 1995
Score: 75%

This review was published on 08/16/2015.

Mega Man: The Wily Wars is a side-scrolling platform video game published by Capcom and developed by Minakuchi Engineering for the Sega Mega Drive. In Japan, the game is called Rockman Mega World. This is the first Mega Man game to be released on a non-Nintendo platform. It was released in Japan on October 21, 1994, and Europe in April 1995. Although there were plans for a physical release in North America, they never came to fruition. Instead, the game was briefly available in North America as a digital release on the Sega Channel, which was an online cable service that allowed people to download games onto their Sega Genesis systems and ran from December 1994 to July 31, 1998. As for what the game actually is, it's a remake of the first three Mega Man games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, featuring totally redone graphics and sound. In a way, this is similar to Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, except with Mega Man. Even though this may sound like an incredible value, Mega Man: The Wily Wars is marred by countless issues that render it inferior to the originals.

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Despite this being a remake, the story to The Wily Wars is actually different from the original games. In that sense, it's sort of a sequel, but not really. The Mega Man games all star a blue robot named, well, Mega Man, and he fights for everlasting justice using his trusty arm cannon. Talk about being well armed! His main foe is an evil mad scientist named Dr. Wily, who has tried repeatedly to conquer the world with robots. Each and every time, Mega Man foils Wily's plans for world domination. After being humiliated a large number of times, Wily conceives a conniving plan to build a time machine and travel into the past, where he hopes to undo his previous defeats. Upon reaching the past, Wily rebuilds all of his old robots and, yet again, tries to take over the world. Dr. Light, the good scientist who built Mega Man, creates a time machine of his own and sends Mega Man into the past to stop Wily from changing history. Now Mega Man must relive all of his past adventures to preserve the timeline. I'm not sure why Capcom felt it necessary to carve a ridiculous narrative to canonically justify a remake, but there you go.

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Obviously, the most significant change between this and the originals is the graphics and music. The graphics in The Wily Wars are far and away superior to the originals. On top of expanding the color palette from 8-bit to 16-bit, many of the character sprites and backgrounds were completely redrawn. A few of the new sprites look goofy, but most are good enough. In cases where the original NES versions lacked backgrounds, Wily Wars adds entirely new ones. All the backdrops have a decent amount of detail and some even have cool effects, like the wavy background in Fire Man's stage and some parallax scrolling. A couple areas shifted themes as a result of the background changes, such as the beginning of Cut Man's stage being changed from an outdoors area into an indoors one. Where Wily Wars drops the ball in terms of presentation is the music. The original tunes have been butchered in this remake, with 16-bit renditions that, quite frankly, are embarrassing to listen to. Some of the tracks are passable, but most are downright awful, like the scratchy tunes to Bomb Man's stage. The sound effects also sound weak, lacking the punch of the NES originals. Considering music is one of the best parts of Mega Man, that's a bummer and a half. I mean, he's called Rockman in Japan, for crying out loud! There's no rock to be had here, man.

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Whenever you boot up Wily Wars, you'll be able to choose which of the three Mega Man games you'd like to play. You don't need to unlock any of them or anything, as all three are available right from the start. All the games in this collection revolve around beating bosses to steal their weapons and using them to exploit the weaknesses of other bosses. Each stage is linear and has a boss at the end of it, but there are stage select screens to play the stages in any order. Wily Wars improves a few things, however. For one, the Mega Man 1 stage select screen was enhanced to show mug shots of the bosses presiding over each stage to make it consistent with future games. Secondly, Mega Man 2 and 3 originally used passwords to save progress, but Wily Wars replaces those with actual save files. This is particularly handy for Mega Man 1, as it originally didn't even have passwords. One thing that was removed, though, is the easier difficulty mode from Mega Man 2, which is sure to rustle someone's jimmies. Aside from those changes, the games retain the same general structure.

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While the remade games play mostly the same as their original counterparts, there are many minor tweaks. Some of these tweaks make the games harder than they originally were, like how a few bosses were arbitrarily made tougher; Cut Man being a prime example. However, some tweaks make the game easier, like how you no longer die to spikes in Mega Man 1 during your invincibility frames. A couple of bugs were also fixed, like the infamous pause trick from Mega Man 1. These tweaks range from pointless to good, but what's not good is the excessive amounts of slowdown present in certain areas, which most notably occurs during the Yellow Devil fights in Mega Man 1 and 3. Speaking of slowdown, the European version of the game runs like molasses. Even the Japanese version is noticeably slower than the NES originals, with Mega Man's bullets traveling at a slower pace. Most of these are small things that can be ignored, but the occasional bouts of slowdown are too massive to turn a blind eye to.

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If you beat all three Mega Man games in Wily Wars, you'll unlock an additional mode called Wily Tower. This is the main reason to play Wily Wars, as Wily Tower is entirely new content that's exclusive to this game. The Wily Tower mode consists of seven new stages and bosses, three of which are new Robot Masters. The new Robot Masters are known as the Genesis Unit, named after the Sega Genesis, and their designs are inspired by characters from the Chinese novel, Journey to the West. The premise to this mode is that you're able to equip Mega Man with weapons and items from the first three games. There are 22 weapons and 7 support items total, but you can only equip 8 weapons and 3 items at a time. The stages mix enemies and elements from the first three games, as well. The bosses and stages themselves aren't terribly noteworthy, though, so they merely act as a testing ground for your weapons of mass destruction. Being able to combine weapons from different games is pretty great and is the main appeal to this mode.

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Mega Man: The Wily Wars does some things right, but most things wrong. The graphics are one point in this game's favor, looking mostly better than the originals, though they're still dwarfed by the average Genesis game made in 1994 and 1995. The Wily Tower is also another neat bonus. Perhaps if the butchered music and occasional slowdown didn't bother you, then this would be a good deal, since you've got three enhanced games on one cart, plus something a little extra. However, if you are a huge fan of the original NES games, then this is nothing short of blasphemy. No matter how you slice it, the first three Mega Man games are good, whether you experience them in The Wily Wars or otherwise. It is, however, more advisable to stick to the originals.

Word Count: 1,327

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