Mega Man kept strong until the very end.
And finally the last game of the original hexalogy arrives. It is year 1993 and we’re halfway through the 16-bit generation, two years away from the release of the first Playstation console. It’s late, way too late for a NES/Famicon release, but Capcom doesn’t seem to care.
It’s pretty clear to see why these last two Mega Man releases have been obscured by everything else going on in the industry at that moment since the lifetime of the original Nintendo had long since passed. Unfortunately for us all, this is a pretty great release of the Mega Man franchise which was obscured by the awful timing. If you were one of the people who felt a bit disappointed with Mega Man 5 because it felt too similar to Mega Man 4, you’re in for a treat because this one actually carries enough punch to go the extra mile.
The gameplay overall stays pretty much the same, Mega Man controls and feels like the last few releases, nothing really groundbreaking introduced in terms of movement or the way Mega Man controls. The most impacting difference is actually how the utilitarian items are used. In the past we got used to Mega Man’s robot dog Rush performing actions like catapulting and jet-planning us around. This time Rush morphs into an upgrade and gets implemented into Mega Man’s own suit.
You have normal Mega Man, without any upgrade. You have the Jet Suit, which uses Rush’s power to give Mega Man the ability to fly for a short while. You also have the Power Suit which makes Mega Man become ultra strong, capable of knocking out even highly armored enemies that would be completely immune to damage otherwise. It’s nice that they decided to make the usage bar for these upgrades recoverable in time, so it’s less of a pain to use.
Another new feature are the secondary pathways you may take within stages. Some stages feature secondary paths that upon reaching the end and defeating the Robot Master once again you might get cool new items. You’re informed of the stages which still have exits to be found in the stage selection screen, the stages marked with Mega Man’s face are complete, while the ones that have a blank space still have something to be found.
The series continue to deliver its intensive difficulty level all around, the last two castles are a hell on earth while the stages provide the right amount of headaches. No Mega Man game is complete without a few tough-as-nails stages that make the whole adventure all the more worthwhile.
There’s the two recovery items that can be used in times of despair. The E-tank, up to 9 of them can be collected at any point and completely recovers your health; and the M-tank, also known as the Mystery Tank, and completely recovers all your special weapons’ power. You can only carry one M-tank, so use it wisely.
The presentation is basically the sharpest in the classic series. The stages are pretty well constructed, the Robot Masters are all pretty interesting and the new weapons are as imaginative as they can be. There’s also a new intro information card at the beginning of each level detailing the stage, the Robot Master of said location and a few other interesting info like the original purpose of the locale and the Robot Master’s health, weight, attack and defense stats, etc.
The soundtrack once again blows everyone’s mind. Each Mega Man has had its share of incredible music to go along the adventure and this one is no exception. The Mega Man series can be easily mentioned as having taken the rudimentary sound pallet of the original Nintendo console to lay foundations to incredible high-class compositions. They’re easily recognizable, pretty satisfying to listen to, and ultimately adds incredible depth to the atmosphere found in each of the levels.
The environment you’ll encounter in this sixth chapter range from a ski station to an old west kind of location, full of pistoleros shooting as soon as you enter their line of sight. New gameplay objects can be found throughout the adventure, stuff to control the wind and currents, springs with differing stages of impulsion, or the possibility of swimming at the bottom of a lake that floats in the air, making the lower portion of the stage the one with land and the top one with water. Everything very Mega Man-styled, full of machines and killer robots. There’s also the return of Beat, a cool little cybernetic bird that accompanies Mega Man, helping him out in his adventure if you ever need a wing.
So this game is pretty solid from start to finish, a true Mega Man experience that shouldn’t be forgotten in favor of other more well-known titles like the ones in the golden age of NES/Famicon game releases. Sure this is pretty late in the console’s lifespan, everyone should have moved on by now, but the game itself has everything a great game should have, especially what a great Mega Man should have. Capcom made a decent job in trying to make the series stay fresh for all its releases. Now that we swallowed the hype, had a taste of what modern gaming is all about, we can finally feel the need to revisit old classics we might have missed from the old days, this one should be on everyone’s list.