Saturday 23 August 2014

Mega Man (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1987

Mega Man is a side-scrolling platformer and your mission is to take down Dr. Wily who has double crossed his partner Dr. Light.

Each of the games six stages can be tackled in any order you like, although long-time players will tell you there's a preferred sequence. After you've beaten a boss you consume its special attack and each boss is susceptible to a particular weapon - therefore, if you've already acquired it you'll find the battle much easier. The main problem I had with Mega Man is the amount of trial and error required to succeed; the game is littered with cheap hits and has a seriously punishing difficulty level. Newcomers won't find any intro level to ease you into the action; nope, you're completely thrown in at the deep end! The controls aren't as responsive as they need to be, and the frequent slowdown can make it extremely challenging to avoid some attacks. There's also an unnecessary roadblock towards the end of the game; if you get to the last level and you haven't found the secret Magnet Beam weapon (hidden in a previous level) you'll reach a dead end with no way to progress. The game doesn't warn you of this and to say I was annoyed is an understatement! However, despite hating the game in my first play-through I found myself coming back to Mega Man - it reminds me a little bit of Castlevania which repeatedly kicks your butt until you dedicate yourself to mastering all areas of the game. Once I'd taken time to learn enemy tendencies in Mega Man and figured out which special attacks to use on the bosses I started having more fun and the frustration factor was lessened. Cheap hits are still going to happen but knowing what's ahead is key to progressing.

If you're a patient gamer who likes a challenge, give Mega Man a go. It does have some flaws that make it overly difficult but if you're willing to study attack patterns and make pixel perfect jumps you'll get some enjoyment out of the game.

Random trivia: Released on the NES in 1992, Little Samson was developed by former Capcom employees and features similar gameplay to Mega Man (including the ability to switch characters on the fly). Despite being an excellent game, it was largely ignored by the public and is now one of the rarest titles on the NES.

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