Mega Man and Bass
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 04/24/1998
Score: 75%

This review was published on 06/30/2013.

Mega Man and Bass is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game developed by Capcom and released for the Super Famicom in 1998. In case you aren't aware, the Super Famicom is the Japanese name for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was known as "Rockman and Forte" in Japan, which is merely the Japanese name of the same characters. North America and Europe didn't see this particular Mega Man game until 2003, where it was ported to the Game Boy Advance. Mega Man and Bass is quite a strange situation; it actually came out after Mega Man 8, the first Mega Man game to make the jump to the more powerful Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. It was clear at this point that the age of the 16-bit era, of the Super Nintendo and Super Famicom, was coming to a close. Yet, Capcom decided to release another 16-bit Mega Man game in such a climate. According to Keiji Inafune, Mega Man's creator, the reason for this game's existence is for those few children who couldn't afford the newer consoles and were stuck with the Super Famicom. I suppose that makes sense, to some extent. What's odd about Mega Man and Bass, aside from it being such a late era Super Famicom game, is that it uses a lot of graphics straight out of Mega Man 8. The graphics aren't in 32-bit color, of course, but many of the sprites in this game seemed to have been directly ripped from Mega Man 8. That's pretty impressive, considering this is substantially weaker hardware. As impressive as that is, the game itself isn't too hot. It feels like a stripped down version of Mega Man 8, with worse music, worse game play, and the same visuals with less detail and color.

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Dr. Light, scientist creator of the titular robot Mega Man, has many of his creations stored in a place known as the Robot Museum. Our adventure begins with a mysterious robot breaking into said Robot Museum to steal blueprints for some of Light's robotic designs. The robot calls himself King, and he wants to take over the world. Don't they all? King claims he wants to create a utopia for robots to rule, kind of like the robotic uprisings spoken of in many science fiction novels. Bass, Dr. Wily's most powerful robot and Mega Man's rival, decides to go after King to prove his supremacy. Mega Man and Bass temporarily put aside their differences and go after the same villain, though they do so on their own terms. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, as the saying goes. This game sets the stage for a story that's more interesting than your average Mega Man game, but it doesn't really do much with it. If you played any of the previous Mega Man games, then you know what the big plot twist will be. Also, the reasoning for Bass being involved in this adventure isn't very convincing. It's a Mega Man game, though, so you can't expect much from the plot.

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As the title of the game implies, there are two playable characters in this game; Mega Man and Bass. This is the first time in the series where you can control Bass in the main story mode, so that's the big selling point of the game. Mega Man controls much like he does in Mega Man 8, being able to slide into small areas and charge up his Mega Buster to increase the damage of his shots. Mega Man's primary weakness is that he can only shoot straight forward wherever he's facing, but he can shoot while moving. Bass has a completely different set of moves when compared to Mega Man. First of all, Bass overcomes Mega Man's weakness by being able to shoot in seven directions, covering even the diagonal shots. His gun also has an automatic rapid fire, allowing you to rapidly shoot bullets by holding down the button. That's not all, though. Bass can also perform the dash from Mega Man X and the amazing double jump. The combination of the double jump and dash totally breaks the game in his favor. The main drawbacks with Bass are that his individual bullets do less damage, he can't charge up his shots, and he can't slide. None of that really matters, though, because his double jump and dash offsets all of his weaknesses. To be honest, there isn't much of a reason to play as Mega Man. Bass just completely overshadows the blue bomber. While this game could stand to make the characters more balanced, playing as Bass is so fun that it doesn't matter.

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The stage designs in Mega Man and Bass are all tailored around Mega Man's abilities, so playing as Bass really wrecks the difficulty. You might find the whole game a breeze to play through if you choose Bass. Bass does have one major weakness, though: he's terrible when it comes to boss fights. The bosses don't take much damage from Bass' rapid buster, and on top of that, this game has some of the hardest bosses in the whole series. Even as Mega Man, a lot of the endgame bosses are infuriatingly difficult. I guess that's the game's way of punishing you for taking the easy way out with Bass. Going with Mega Man will make the bosses a lot easier, but the stages will be way harder, sometimes bordering on the extreme. This is probably one of the hardest Mega Man games out there. The only advantage Mega Man has during the stages is that he can slide into certain areas Bass can't get to, and this is usually done to grab a CD. CDs are optional collectibles in the game that unlock useless features like character bios for the cast of the Mega Man series. It's a nice touch if you're the sort of person who enjoys collecting extra goodies, but most people will ignore it all. Anyway, despite the imbalance between Mega Man and Bass, there are still a couple of advantages and disadvantages to using one over the other. I still recommend using Bass if you're going to play this game only once, since you use Mega Man in all the other games.

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Even though the game innovates with a second playable character, it doesn't innovate when it comes to the central premise. Just like in every other Mega Man game, you have eight Robot Masters that you need to take care of. You do have to take care of a boring intro stage first, though. Mega Man X was the first game to introduce the concept of intro stages, and that concept carried over into Mega Man 7, 8, and now this one. You could say it became a standard. Like in those other games, beating the intro stage takes you to the stage select screen, where you can select what stage to play. The difference this time around is that you don't have access to all eight stages right at the beginning. Mega Man 7 and 8 went in a similar direction, but Mega Man and Bass does it slightly differently. In this game, there is a sort of "map" with interconnecting paths that connect the various stages. You start out with three stages to choose from, and beating these stages will unlock other stages that are connected to them via the pathways. It's a very strange departure for the series, and I haven't seen it repeated in any other Mega Man game since. I give the development team credit for coming up with something that's marginally new, but I prefer the traditional stage select system better. The way this game does it merely limits freedom, and the whole purpose behind the stage select is to allow for freedom. It's counter-intuitive.

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Both Mega Man and Bass have the ability to absorb the weapons of any Robot Masters they defeat in combat. For the most part, they both get the same special weapons from the same Robot Masters. Each Robot Master is weak to a certain weapon, so whether you're Bass or Mega Man, the weakness order is still important. The Robot Masters in this game are Cold Man, Burner Man, Dynamo Man, Ground Man, Magic Man, Pirate Man, Astro Man, and Tengu Man. You can tell this game is a hand-me-down because two of the eight Robot Masters are taken straight out Mega Man 8. The other Robot Masters are unique to this game, but most of them are pretty generic. I'd say Pirate Man is the only interesting one, being that he's a robotic pirate. You can't get much cooler than that... unless you're Cold Man. Am I good or what? Don't answer that. I suppose Magic Man is kind of neat, with his top hat and card tricks, but he's kind of corny. None of the special weapons you absorb from the Robot Masters are particularly useful, outside a select few. Mega Man and Bass feels really uninspired in its Robot Master designs.

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This game deviates from the formula in a few, small ways, but it ultimately isn't that different from most Mega Man games. It's also not very good. The boss designs and stage designs are very lacking, and while it's impressive that the sprites came from Mega Man 8, they lack the color and detail that made Mega Man 8 a visual masterpiece. Mega Man and Bass also lacks the good design that made Mega Man 8 the better game. The only real benefit to this game is that you get to play as Bass, and admittedly, that's pretty darn cool. Playing as Bass actually makes the game fun, though it's not really worth it in the end. If you've already played Mega Man 8, then you can skimp out on this one. If you haven't, well, then you're better off playing that instead.

Word Count: 1,650

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