Between a Rock and a hard place
And presenting the sixth and FINAL Mega Man game on the NES, or at least if we’re going with the impression that 9 is the wannabe NES game that walks around with Goomba shirts listening to 80s one-hit wonders on his IPod, wishing he was born in the 80s. Capcom had this wretched mentality with sequels back in the day of “keep making them until the general public sees your little trick and moves on to something kind of fresh. And then keep making sequels anyways.” Mega Man has been made to bend over so often that even Tony Hawk dreads a dystopian future where his likeness is made into six hundred different bizarre Nintendo DS RPGs.
Anyways, Mega Man 6. Here is the storyline to Mega Man 6, quoted Mega-verbatim from the introductory cutscene. Of course, this is an NES game and “cutscene” actually implies “a series of pixilated still images coupled with Cap-locked text.”
IN THE YEAR 20XX AD…THE 1 ANNUAL ROBOT TOURNAMENT WAS HELD WITH 8 OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL ROBOTS. BUT…MR. X, THE SPONSOR OF THE TOURNAMENT, TOOK CONTROL OF THE ROBOTS AND BEGAN TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
MEGAMAN: MR. X!! WHY!?
MR. X: IT’S TIME TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH. I HAVE BEEN MANIPULATING THAT FOOL, DR. WILY FROM THE BEGINNING. BUT NOW I NO LONGER NEED DR. WILY’S HELP. COME AND FACE MY POWER, MEGAMAN!!
MEGAMAN: WE’LL STOP YOU! FOLLOW ME, RUSH!
Sweet Jesus, there’s an actual timeline to the Mega Man universe! I’ve always thought that the use of the year “200X” was to suggest that the games took place during an unspecified moment in history, but look! At least ten years have progressed between the six Mega Man games. And just like Smash TV presented the world with a violent, ominous vision of 1999, soon too will we be able to say that the Mega Man games tried to portray life from a decade ago.
Released during the initial controversy of the early UFC shows and the rise of no-holds-barred combat, this Mr. X character must’ve concocted a scheme wherein he recruited the top fighters of the world to his army. But conscripting the likes of Royce Gracie and his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would prove to be a greater challenge than he had hoped, and instead will have to settle for the elite in robot martial artists.
Knight Man: Trained in the gym at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, Knight Man brings to the table a strong, mace-based right hook and a shield to assist in deflecting…well nothing really, the shield seems to exist more for spectacle than strategy. However, he takes too long in throwing his trademark mace, leaving him open to an effective counter punch. A Floyd Mayweather-styled fighter could give Knight Man some difficulties.
Tomahawk Man: The pride of the Algonquin tribe. Tomahawk Man throws a vicious uppercut-like spinning tomahawk. He also employs a secret technique of hurling his head open, throwing a series of lethal feathers forward. While doing this, his head is left wide open and a well-timed jab to the chin could leave Tomahawk Man seeing stars. Forget Dr Light, Mega Man should be programmed by Freddie Roach.
Yamato Man: Japanese fighters are known for their legendary fighting spirit and will to win, and Yamato Man is no different. Even when he has a single bar of energy left, he’ll never give up. However, Japanese fighters are also known for stubbornness and unwillingness to adapt new strategies, and Yamato Man has a very primitive tactic of “throw a blade, then run across the room to pick it up.” While doing so, Yamato Man is vulnerable to any number of tactics, like say, a high kick to the face.
Flame Man: Not to be mistaken for Fire Man, this Punjabi fighting sensation prefers to keep the fight at a distance with well-timed flame strikes from the ground. He’s a frequent competitor in the Abu-Dhabi Submission championships and makes his opponents submit with his trademark fiery armbar. Mega Man should study some proper submission defence and hold Flame Man to the ground with superior Greco-Roman wrestling skills, then beat out a victory with point-blank laser shots to the head.
Centaur Man: The first Quad-pedal robot master in Mega Man history. The presence of four legs means grants the potent ability to swat off takedowns like mosquitoes. In addition, Centaur Man’s ability to freeze time opens up possibilities for landing open strikes. However, Centaur Man uses his time-freezing ability to stall and take small energy jabs, as if he seems content for the time limit to expire and earn a Judge’s Decision win. If Mega Man presses the action and hits some leg kicks to the shins, he can potentially take the big horse down and submit him with a Ken Shamrock-like leglock.
Wind Man: Air Man v3. Now the fans are on his shoulders, allowing him to suck opponents towards him, take them down with his superior wrestling and hold them with his sizable girth. He will then ground and pound his adversaries with punches and tornados to the face. It would be of great benefit to Mega Man to keep this fight at a distance, and build his fight around a well-placed jab to keep Wind Man at bay. It’s not the most exciting strategy, but you can’t always give the fans what they want.
Blizzard Man: This massive fighter is an offensive specialist, hurling himself forward in a spinning attack as he looks for the takedown. If Blizzard Man is to Man, then beware! For he’ll attempt to pin the former Rock Man down with his ski poles. If Mega Man were to develop a keen sprawl, he can keep the fight standing and deliver a Flame Man shot to the chin for the flash knockout.
Plant Man: Coming out of Wood Man’s training camp up in the mountains of Big Bear, comes The use of Photosynthesis grants Plant Man great stamina provided the fight takes place in the daytime. He uses his pedals like a shield to protect himself in the clinch and defend himself from incoming strikes. However, the pedal shield leaves him vulnerable in the rear, exposing the possibility of a choke. Presumed homosexual.
Dr Light has set up 8 obstacle training courses leading up to each of the 8 fights, to help Mega Man improve his cardio. Mega Man will improve his strength and conditioning through running, jumping, climbing, firing charged shots, baseball sliding and the most intense blinking regime ever concocted for a fighter.
Part of me feels that half the team of Capcom were excited about this final Mega Man NES project while the other were content to phone in another generic shooter. On one hand, we’ve got another fire, ice, air and forest stage, coupled with the old platforming cliché of “the giant castle.” On the other, Capcom’s Japanese heart beats with pride in other segments, as Mega Man finds himself pitted against the likes of robot shogun warriors, robot pandas and numerous anime clichés. The game will test newcomers but a veteran with a simple grasp of charging Mega-Buster haymakers and the baseball slide will feel no pressure.
Allow me to give you, the reader, the keen advice of “beat Flame Man and Plant Man first”, for they give you the game’s two new Rush abilities. No longer does the wonder dog fly in and act as a living magic carpet. No, now he merges with Mega Man to form new super robots! Seriously. “Jet Mega Man” sacrifices the baseball slide and shot charging in favor of a jet pack that lets Mega Man float for a limited time, allowing him to access hard to reach areas or navigate tricky platform sequences. “Power Mega Man” is Butterbean-like in his approach. He’s too fat and slow to slide too, and his short, stubby arms gives him limited reach. But he throws energy punches with great force, and can charge up a knockout punch that can break any Metool’s chin, along with some hidden walls.
The game’s levels are largely designed to let this aspiring karate kid access hidden powerups and branching paths through use of the above fighting styles. The catch is that to change costumes, the game goes to a different screen to display a cutscene of Mega Man and Rush becoming one. You can skip the sexual part of this sequence, but that there’s a 2-3 second wait before I get back to the action is a bit inconvenient, considering you’ll change outfits with great frequency. A non-gamer reading this will be completely and utterly shocked, but us gamers don’t quite have the patience to wait 2-3 seconds every freaking time we want to change Mega Undies.
Going back to the branching paths idea, some levels have two paths. And if you take the hidden path, you’ll defeat the “real” version of a boss (that’s how it’s been described to me. I guess some bosses have cheap imitations that can fight exactly like their past forms. I don’t quite understand it myself.) If you defeat all four of these “real bosses”, you’ll get…Beat! Again! I’ve complained in the Mega Man 5 review that the little Tweety-bot is a lame reward for investing in the game’s major side-quest, and here we go again! Beat’s even more useless in this game considering the available power-ups and how some of the bosses are even easier this time around.
So you’ve beaten the 8 robot contenders and won the World Mechanical Heavyweight Championship. Now it’s time to visit your sponsor. You’ll go to Dr X’s castle, because everyone in the Mega Man universe needs a freaking castle. You’ll go through stages designed to make you change costumes so often that Mega Man and Rush will get closer to each other than ever before. You’ll fight some lame robot bosses before your final confrontation with Dr X. And after you defeat the man who’s been pulling the strings of Dr Wily all along, you’ll discover that Dr X is really…Dr Wily! But at this point, could you really expect anything else? Like say, an original idea?
So you go to Wily’s Skull Castle Fortress Dojo (it’s got a bit of an oriental design to it), play through more of the same kind of stages, defend your title against the previous 8 robots, have the easiest battle with Dr Wily yet (including another confrontation in the damned UFO) and beat the game. After six games, this is the game where we finally get to put Wily behind bars. I guess there’s a small sense in accomplishment for that. I guess.
Mega Man 6 is slightly different from past games because of the Rush outfits, which I feel has to be commended a bit. It’s at least a more bolder game than Mega Man 5. But the game still feels so aged. The only people playing 6 are diehards and they won’t feel adequately tested here. If you’ve been following the series up to now (and probably because you’ve been playing them on Mega Man Anniversary Collection) than you may as well play Mega Man 6 for the sake of completion. But it’s not one of the games in the franchise that truly commands your attention.
3 ½ stars