While we've seen and heard increasingly more about Mega Man Universe since it was announced two months ago, we learned that the game would not be playable until the Tokyo Game Show. You know, the one going on as we speak. So naturally, one would expect at least one journalist from this side of the pond to be in attendance and putting their "Mega-fied" world through its paces. And in this particular instance, the one to step up and see what the buzz is all about would be none other than 1UP's own resident Retronaut and Mega Man fan, Jeremy Parish.
So, what does he think of it?
Well, the title of his preview is very telling: "Mega Man Universe Offers Imperfect Fan Service," it says, adding "Its heart is in the right place, but this odd new Mega Man game doesn't quite hit the mark."
As this is the only Mega Man title announced (that isn't exclusive to Korea, anyway), some may find this disheartening. But what exactly are its failings, according to Parish?
Something about Mega Man Universe seems a little bit off. Maybe it's the graphics, which hover somewhere between the bobble-head look of Mega Man Powered Up, cel-shading, and classic bitmap Mega Man without ever quite committing to any one style. Or maybe it's the controls, which feel slightly sluggish and imprecise -- not cripplingly so, but still enough to throw me off my game after two decades of conditioning my reflexes with classic Mega Man adventures.
He adds that the game is "a fun idea based on a beloved franchise," but notes that this in turn "makes its failings downright agonizing."
For those concerned about his statement regarding the controls, this could easily be a case of "your mileage may vary." Parish has been known to express concerns over the accuracy of a "2.5D" game's controls versus those of a strictly 2D game. We've seen some people express similar views, while others never seem to even notice, perhaps even preferring the newer form in some cases.
The preview goes on to say that "there's a lot to love about MMU," and talks about the TGS demo's features, which include three stages based on each of three difficulty levels (Easy, Normal, and Hard), and around half a dozen characters to choose from, many of them different takes on the classic Blue Bomber. There is also a description of how one mixed-up Mega Man manages to come together:
One possible character variant features the head of Mega Man-MU on Metal Man's shoulders and Quick Man's body. The resulting character concoction has Quick Man's speed and can fire Quick Boomerangs and Metal Blades in addition to the standard arm cannon.
For fans of agility and heavy firepower, however, it appears that the rules of Mega Man 9 and 10 are still in play; that is, no sliding, and no charging your Mega Buster. But by the sound of things, those abilities may not be missed-- at least, among the FrankenRockman bunch.
Parish notes that the devil is in the details, with the "base model Mega Man characters" not playing right, "with a slightly sticky feel to their actions." These are apparently worsened when you begin to tweak the models.
It's the little details that have always set the best Mega Man games apart from their competitors, imitators, and even the less worthy chapters of the series itself. MMU fumbles the little things, and as a result it doesn't quite feel like a "true" Mega Man game.
Parish closes by expressing his desire for Universe to excel, as it follows an "excellent" premise, but notes that as a fan of the series, he carries expectations which the game is so far failing to meet. Fortunately, with the time for its release still a ways off, there is hope that such niggling issues ("namely, its sluggish controls") will be remedied before it is unleashed upon the Blue Bomber-buying public.
To see Parish's preview in full, check it out at 1UP here.