A unique entry into the classic Mega Man series.
NOTE: This review was written by me years ago, but it's never been posted on GB, so enjoy!
It’s been 5 years, but Mega Man is back in his purest form. Mega Man & Bass is the latest (and probably the last) game in the original Mega Man series. MM&B is a pretty important release for the GBA, because it’s one of those games that you hoped would make it to North America after reading about it (the game was released for the Super Famicom back in ’98). Now that MM&B has arrived, I have to say that it’s great. The translation is good (you won’t see the word “retire” anywhere), the graphics are beautifully animated, and the sound is what we’ve come to expect from a Mega Man game, as is the challenge (which is high).
MM&B’s gameplay isn’t quite standard Mega Man fare. Like Mega Man 7 & 8 before it, you can’t just choose any of the 8 robot masters; this time, you must traverse paths on a map, where completing a stage will open a path to another stage. Adding to the nonstandard MM gameplay is the addition of Bass, who was first introduced in Mega Man 7 as Mega Man’s sworn enemy, but is now a playable character (and he’s cool as hell). Finally, there’s the CD database, which made the cut (thank you, Capcom!). Each stage is littered with CDs that you can collect to learn some interesting—and silly—information about every single MM character in existence. The CDs also contain really cool artwork of each character (I’ve always been a fan of Mega Man art). Getting every single CD will require you to play as both Mega Man & Bass, and many of the CDs are either deviously hidden, or really difficult to acquire. The inclusion of a second character and CD scavenger hunting add replay value to a series that really didn’t have much of it.
The one question that people like to ask is: “What’s harder, MM&B or MM Zero?” Honestly, the comparison between difficulty levels is subjective unless, perhaps, you get into the finer details (which I won’t). In both games, you will die many, many times, so leave it at that. But if you need a reason to choose MM&B over MMZ, I can’t really think of one--more replay value, maybe? Both games are great, and both have different styles of play, so it’s best to buy both games to save you the trouble of choosing one over the other.
MM&B is worth a purchase if you like challenging games. If you happen to be a Mega Man fan, then you’ll adore the CD database, and you’ll love seeing the old (and a few obscure) characters, now injected with some personality. It’s nice to see Japan-only games finally getting their spotlight in the North American market. The one thing that I hoped would happen is occurring slowly but surely. Could we see the original Star Ocean on the GBA yet? If MM&B were any indication, I would say that it’s more probable than before.