Mega Man (Video Game Review)

Mega Man 1

Video Game Review
Mega Man
NES
1987
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom

During the early days of the NES, there weren’t that many games that were a step above what you’d find in the arcade. While Nintendo was leading the charge with titles like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, the third-parties were content with releasing ports of their arcade titles and blatant rip-offs of Mario. Capcom defied this image by releasing Mega Man. It was an action platformer with some pretty clever design elements that were unique for the time. Even today, the level design and ingenuity of the title make it very fun to play. However, the difficulty level is quite high and as your progress towards the final levels, it becomes incredibly hard. Also, the controls could have been better. Still, Mega Man is a solid title for the NES.

In the future, two doctors are working on making robots for the betterment of mankind. Dr. Wright and Dr. Wily have successfully completed the first human-looking robot named Mega Man. While working on several other robots, Dr. Wily betrays Dr. Wright and uses six of the robots to wreak havoc on the world. Dr. Wright activates Mega Man to stop Dr. Wily and save the world.

Mega Man is equipped with a power blaster and sent off to fight the evil robots. Every time Mega Man defeats a robot master, he will gain their special abilities. While Mega Man’s levels are linear, the player gets to decide in which order they can be played. This becomes strategic as some robot bosses have weaknesses to particular weapons. So playing through one level might be easier if you gain the right power-up before hand.

The controls are really simple. The d-pad moves Mega Man. The B fires his weapon and the A button makes him jump. The start button opens the weapon select screen. The controls feel a little bit off though. Jumping doesn’t feel as solid as it should. There will be a few times playing this game where you’ll miss a jump and you don’t know why. Also, the weapon select screen feels a bit awkward during an intense situation. You lose precious seconds as the screen pops-up and disappears allowing the enemy to strike when you’re most vulnerable.

Despite its age, Mega Man is a graphical marvel of the 8-bit generation. The game looks great for the hardware it’s on. There is some flicker when there’s too much happening on screen but it doesn’t hurt the game in the least. The sprites look fantastic and the levels have some really interesting visuals. The graphics of the game are so good that retro-releases of the series on present-day consoles look almost identical to the general look of this title.

The sound is also great. The game has some amazing sounding tunes. Some of the songs will definitely get stuck in your head. The sound effects, while good, won’t wow you as much as the themes. Still, the audio presentation is a feast for the ears and can be preferable over some soundtracks of present-day games.

If there’s one critical drawback to Mega Man, it’s that the game starts off tough and gets much harder towards the end. In fact, the boss battles just prior to the final showdown with Dr. Wily is a marathon of brute force that leaves Mega Man in a heap of trouble; only to force you to fight Dr. Wily with diminished health. There are tricks that can be done to make it easier to defeat the enemies but, while it technically isn’t cheating, still feels dishonest. The whole experience feels like running up against a brick wall and then, after scaling it, falling into a pit full of spikes. Casual players will be turned off by the difficulty level of the game.

However, for those who feel they can handle the punishment, the game does give you plenty of reasons to enjoy it. The power-up system is fun although you’ll probably stick to one or two of your favourite power-up once you gain them. The rock-paper-scissors mechanics is very interesting. Some boss battles can become incredibly easy if you’re using the right weapon. Even though you can choose in which order you want to progress through the game, there is an order to beating the bosses so that you don’t break a sweat. The fun is trying to figure out that order.

Capcom’s Mega Man is a good game. I’d even go as far to say it’s a great game but I can see people who aren’t used to hard games getting frustrated by the difficulty level. It also doesn’t help that the controls aren’t as always as spot-on as you’d wish for. Those who don’t mind a challenge will enjoy this game. There might be more complex or graphically superior games out there but it still stands up well against modern-day action-platformers. Causal players take caution with this title as you might break a controller in frustration. Hardcore players, feel free to add another star to the final score because you’ll be the only audience to appreciate the game.

☆☆☆

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