Looking Back: Mega Man 7

Mega Man 7As part of our celebration of the Mega Man series hitting its 25th anniversary, we are featuring a look back at many of the games of the Classic series. For this entry, I’ll be looking Mega Man 7, famous for being the first original series game to go beyond 8-bits and the first game to have absolutely terrible sound effects. To best understand Mega Man 7, one must place Mega Man IV and V (yes, the Game Boy games) into the canon of series development. As I have argued before, MMIV is the single most influential sequel on the Classic series bar Mega Man 2.

It was MMIV that introduced the store, greatly expanded weapon versatility, improved level design with hidden passages and alternate paths, crafted an ongoing story with cut-scenes and character development, and most importantly changed the pacing of the game changed to accommodate the smaller maneuvering space afforded to the player on the Game Boy screen. Interestingly, that last aspect carried over directly to Mega Man 7 , as the ratio of MM7's Mega Man sprite to the rest of the screen is far closer to the Game Boy installments than the main NES series games.

Hyper BoltFighting Proto Man
It is into this part of the series’ development that Keiji Inafune and his team crafted Mega Man 7 over the course of just three months. Despite such a rushed development, Mega Man 7 successfully ported many of the aforementioned innovations and built on that base. Hidden rooms and alternative paths now held secret items, power-ups, and even an optional fight with Proto Man. In fact, every Robot Master level included at least one hidden item, with some requiring the player to utilize the alternative uses of various weapons.

Collectible letters made a return to the series to snare Mega Man the use of the new Rush Super Adapter, which in turn melded together not just the Rush Power and Jet Suits from Mega Man 6, but also the Mega Arm from Mega Man V. And finally the Mega Buster is toned down, with charged shots only worth two regular shots. And following the handhelds' tradition of introducing new robot adversaries, Mega Man 7 debuted Bass and Treble, who quickly became fan favorites.

While Mega Man 7 has the most number of items of any of the numbered installments, they mostly serve as a means to tone down the difficulty of some levels, not act as a new gameplay mechanic. Unlike the NES games where some items were awarded with defeating Robot Masters, every level of MM7 can be completed without any item because the level designers could not count on a player obtaining any of them.

While usually items brought interesting new abilities, nothing in MM7's item roster truly innovates in a meaningful way. While the Super Adapter is immensely useful, its limited jet capacity does not change the gameplay in the manner of MM6's Jet Suit, nor does any of its functions replace or displace the usefulness of many of the weapons. For players that might be newer to the series, putting the time in to finding (or purchasing) items helped avoid more frustration down the road in the Skull Castle levels.

Using the Super AdapterGetting the (optional) Rush Jet
Carrying over lessons learned from MMIV and MMV, weapon versatility is favored over items. The Freeze Cracker can freeze lava and cause snowstorms, the Thunder Bolt can power machinery and the Scorch Wheel can burn certain objects. The other items are also unique without being hard to use. The Noise Crush can charge if you can catch it bouncing off a wall, the chargeable Wild Coil fires in both directions and has variable height, the Danger Wrap can be dropped directly on the ground as well as catch enemies in the air, the Slash Claw makes up for its short range with power (making some boss fights a lot more interesting) and even the Junk Shield is interesting with its deteriorating nature and multidirectional projectiles, despite being the obligatory shield weapon. All in all, the weapon selection is not just unique but also useful not just in destroying enemies but also in affecting the various level environments.

Burning the woods downPowering up the machines
For those without the handheld titles, Mega Man 7 may have seemed like a huge step forward for the series, but for Capcom it was a case of evolution and repackaging. While it was certainly a fun installment and one of my personal favorites, it served to make the series more pretty on the surface and to improve upon trends that started on the earlier monochrome installments. Despite its popularity with fans (and with amateur sprite artists in the late 1990s), Mega Man 7 was less a revolution than an evolution. It was in fact its successor which could plausibly be called the closest thing the series has ever had to a full-on revolution.

Screenshot credits: VGMuseum

James is TMMN's Features Contributor and world traveler. He is currently in a faraway land, but he occasionally sends messages in a bottle. If you require more of his love, he left behind a sentient Tumblr account that updates all on its own.

The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.