Give Me a Five-Count: Mega Man V Now on Virtual Console

Give Me a Five-Count: Mega Man V Now on Virtual Console

We're nearing the end of the road for "Mega May" with just two titles left, so you know what that means: Today, the long-awaited and relatively rare fifth Mega Man Game Boy title is now available on the Virtual Console for the Nintendo 3DS.

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Taking It to the Xtremes: Capcom Bringing Remaining Mega Man Game Boy Games to Virtual Console

ec30aee21e161e3a6405b4c3878cf662 When it comes to the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, Capcom's approached the platform in a rather peculiar manner. After releasing Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge there some time ago, the company instead opted to begin releasing the Blue Bomber's NES library to the service as a way of celebrating his 25th anniversary. Which would be all well and good, save for the fact that we've had approximately six (give or take) other chances to get those same games already-- most of those within the past ten years. But what about the rest of the often overlooked, underplayed, but still beloved Game Boy entries?

At last, we have our answer. On Capcom Unity today, Brett Elston revealed that they are now moving forward with bringing the rest of the Blue Bomber's black-and-white battles to the service in both North America (he said "U.S.", but we're assuming he meant Canada, too) and Europe.

This is a great piece of news, as Mega Man V remains one of the coolest oddball (used in the most affectionate way possible) games in the series. Instead of Robot Masters, Mega Man fights Stardroids, and instead of a typical Mega Buster charged shot, he has a Mega Arm projectile attack (similar to the MM6/7 Rush upgrade). It's a very clever entry that's been hard to legitimately play for years, so pick it up!

Mega Man IV is equally impressive, combining aspects of the NES Mega Man 4/5 to create one new experience. I daresay it's the best of the NES mimics (I, II and III also mix enemies and bosses from the NES) and well worth a look.

For some, that might be enough, but as it turns out, there's more still as both of the gawdawfully-named Mega Man Xtreme titles are also coming to ensure that ridiculous pun never, ever dies. Of the duo, Brelston notes "Xtreme 2 is particularly interesting, with its playable Zero and DNA souls / parts system." Name aside, the latter game is definitely worth checking out for those who could use a Mega Man X fix, as it shakes things up considerably when compared to its predecessor.

The only downside to this news is that there are no release dates set yet, but those should be along in the coming weeks.

Looking Back: Mega Man V

Mega Man V Title Screen As 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 Mega Man series. This time, I’m reviewing Mega Man V, which perfected much of the groundwork laid down by its predecessor while also breaking new ground in a variety of areas.

Mega Man V is my all-time favorite Mega Man game and one of the best installments of the series, period. Capcom and Minakuchi Engineering put a lot of love into this game, tried a lot of new concepts and perfected the art of level design in this monochrome classic. By now, most fans know that the normal formula for the Game Boy sub-series of utilizing two different NES installment's Robot Masters was replaced with brand-new Stardroid robots and settings. The regular Mega Buster is also dropped for the new Mega Arm, which can be upgraded at Dr. Light's lab. Beat is also replaced with fan favorite and series curio Tango, who serves as an adorable but totally nerfed, land-based version of the blue attack bird. The Power Accelerator from MMIV makes a comeback, as does the half-block kick back from the Mega Buster (during the opening cut-scene).

Introducing TangoThe Second Set of StardroidsMega Arm cinematic

To say I am a little biased toward this game is an understatement. While I have been able to get past the nostalgia I have for Mega Man 4 and 5, I can in no way shake my absolute love for this game. The story and setting is the most original in the Classic series. A number of cut-scenes throughout the game keep the story going, from the first four terrestrial levels to the journey into space to the revelation of Dr. Wily's involvement to the final battle with the ancient Sunstar.

Rushing into spaceWily Star risingBefore the final fight

The process of pushing the Game Boy to new limits continues with MMV. The graphics maintain the same level of detail as Mega Man IV, with Mega Man venturing through locales from Venus' bubble-ridden halls to Saturn's gravity-defying ruins to the mines of Pluto. The brand-new music for the game is as great as it is varied. From Neptune's melancholy tune to Jupiter's bouncy beat to the awesome final battle track, the Game Boy's simple sound chip was pushed harder than anything else in 1994. This is also the only game in the series to utilize the Super Game Boy, a great addition that added a (limited) color variety to the mix, along with allowing players to use the SNES controller and play on their television screens.

The levels themselves are well-designed and are fairly varied. Despite substituting thematic Robot Masters for more vague Stardroids, the levels themselves tend to maintain a clear theme, even if it sometimes is inexplicable. Mars' level takes place in an armory, Jupiter has an ice-covered space fortress and Pluto has a mine. While MMV could have had levels with stronger or more consistent themes and gimmicks, cutting the game some slack seems sensible given the uncharted territory of the bosses and the overall plot. MMV  also carries over the practice of secret rooms that hold power-ups and branching paths-- most curiously in Jupiter's level. Moreover, the levels of MMV are well-designed for the smallscreen and the inclusion of the Mega Arm.

Slip sliding on ice. In space. Genius and sort of scientifically accurate.The mines of PlutoFun times in Venus' level

The Mega Arm is the single most important new gameplay element introduced in Mega Man V. This is no understatement, as it changes the gameplay in three important ways. The first is that its purchasable upgrades makes Dr. Light's Shop relevant in a way that no other upgrade could. Players who know what they're doing will make the purchase of the Clobber Hand and Magnet Hand top priorities as they slug through the levels. The second is that those upgrades allow the player to engage enemies that are all over the screen-- not just those that share the same x-axis as the Mega Buster-- an important change in a game that frequently puts players in tough platforming situations with flying enemies (Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter's levels being chief offenders).

The third is that by having the charged Mega Arm blast meaning a detachment of Mega Man's arm, the player trades power for temporary vulnerability-- not unlike the 1/2 block recoil trade-off from the charged Mega Buster shot in MMIV, but it also has additional implications. The temporary vulnerability that comes with launching the Mega Arm is used against the player in various parts of the game, such as during the fight with Saturn, when time is slowed down by Fooley, or when the Mega Arm launches after the wrong enemy or stays on a foe (or boss) for longer than you wanted.

Navigating Mercury's levelDealing with Fooley in Saturn's levelFighting T. Khamen in Uranus' level

Mega Man's selection of acquired weapons in MMV is just as interesting as the rest of the game. Mercury's Grab Buster is incredibly useful, allowing Mega Man to steal life and weapon energy from enemies as it kills them. Venus' Bubble Bomb travels in a weird arc and floats along ceilings (useful against the multitude of airborne enemies in this game), Mars' Photon Missile is powerful but fires on delay, Neptune's Salt Water is a blob thrown on a downward arc that splashes and hurts enemies (weird). Jupiter's Electric Shock is a short-range weapon that makes the player immovable and Saturn's Black Hole is the requisite full-screen attack that sucks enemies toward the player before killing them. Uranus' Deep Digger is a monochrome version of Guts Man's Super Arm, Pluto's Break Dash is a somewhat cooler version of Charge Man's Charge Kick (both of which can destroy certain blocks, opening up different passages in later levels), and Terra's Spark Chaser is an awesome homing weapon that attacks most enemies until they're all dead.

Fighting Hyoey in Neptune's levelUsing the Grab Buster in Mercury's levelUsing the Break Dash in the Wily Star

Perhaps the best part of Mega Man V is the amount of care put in to making it both an extended shout-out to the fans while being the concluding game in the Game Boy sub-series. Observant folks will notice that the Mega Buster still has its recoil from MMIV when the Blue Bomber tries to fight Terra in the opening cut-scene (and that Sunstar shoots Power Accelerator-enhanced Mega Buster shots from MMIV). Fans of the series finally face-off against a portable version of the Yellow Devil with the mid-game fight against Dark Moon, the series has its first fully SHMUP-style level with the journey in the Rush Space adapter toward the Skull Blazer, and the Mega Man Killers plus Quint make a comeback as mini-bosses during the very, very long Wily Star level. In the end, the player is rewarded with the very first final battle against someone other than Dr. Wily.

Fighting Dark MoonThe Rush Space levelUsing the Salt Water on Punk

Fighting WilyFinal battle against SunstarLooking back on the Wily Star's destruction... and five monochrome adventures. 

As I've said, I am hopelessly biased when it comes to Mega Man V. It was the first Game Boy game I ever owned, and it was pretty much a permanent fixture in my Super Game Boy for the summer of 1995. Over the subsequent eighteen years, a lot has changed–- Pluto isn't a planet anymore, Mario and Sonic are in video games together, dragonfire.net is long gone, I've been to places that resemble other worlds and a thousand other things have happened–- but this game is still just as enjoyable as it was when I considered Calvin & Hobbes fine literature.

Does Mega Man V have problems? Sure. But I will always overlook them. When I play Mega Man V, I am in gaming bliss and it is perpetually summer of 1995. And almost 18 years later, it still feels that way every time I go to save the four-color world from the evil Stardroids.

The End.

James is a feature contributor for The Mega Man Network and a 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. James desperately wants a hack of MMV that unlocks the debug menu at least, and if you still questioned his love for this game (or if you need a password for any part of the game), check this out.

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

Looking Back: Mega Man IV

MMIV Title Screen As 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 Mega Man series. This time, I’m looking at Mega Man IV, one of the best games of not just the Game Boy sub-series, but of the entire Mega Man series.

Regulars to The Mega Man Network may remember that I hold this game as one of the most innovative and influential game in the Classic series. To summarize, MMIV greatly changed the classic series by introducing a true ongoing story, Dr. Light's Shop, a more versatile weapons roster, a great expansion in secret passages and alternate paths, and a fine-tuning of the gameplay to account for Mega Man's greater share of the screen size, a change in gameplay that would carry on with subsequent classic games that featured a far larger Mega Man sprite than the NES installments.

Fighting the Doc TowerJust rightFighting Ballade

But there's more to this game than just these influential innovations. The graphical work is head-and-shoulders above Mega Man III, working in complex sprites and detailed backgrounds without generating slowdown. The developers also finally figured out how best to port over the large enemies from the NES games without making them impossible to defeat. While much of the soundtrack pulls from its source material in Mega Man 4 and 5, the original tracks are also fitting and well-composed considering the hardware limitations. The Robot Master fights are, for the most part, well-calibrated for the Game Boy (with awesome strategies to defeat them shown during the ending) and many of the new bosses are interesting (Doc Tower) and frantic (Ballade, Wily).

The pillars of Crystal Man's level......and the fun platforms of Crystal Man's levelNavigating Ballade's lairToad Man's level

As mentioned above, MMIV featured greater weapon versatility and more branching paths and secret passages. The levels themselves tend to be more complex than anything attempted in the preceding games, be it Toad Man's rain, Crystal Man's moving platforms (and dreaded shifting pillars), Pharaoh Man's falling blocks or Ballade's exploding munition blocks. Even with the Game Boy's limitations, this game has arguably far more interesting levels for the Robot Masters than on their NES outings. Also of note is that MMIV follows MMIII in setting the second four Robot Master levels inside the Wily Fortress, again changing the scenery somewhat while maintaining the theme of the boss (i.e. Napalm Man forgoes the NES jungle for a strictly armory setting).

There are a number of other innovations that turned out to be one-offs. Unique to this game is the kick-back from the Mega Buster that pushes the player back a half-block, changing the dynamic of the gameplay in a small but important way. This marks the only Game Boy game to feature Beat, who becomes available after collecting the BEAT letters in the first four Robot Master levels. The second set of Robot Master levels feature WILY letters throughout the levels that must be collected in order to move on to the final Wily levels.

Finally, the Power Accelerator is introduced in this game. If the player chooses to continue after losing all lives four times in a row on the same level, Dr. Light upgrades the speed of the Mega Buster shots and the shape of the charged shot. Given the relative slowness of the regular Mega Buster, one wishes that this would have been a purchasable upgrade from the store (or at least could be retained in passwords). Though most of these innovations would not be retained beyond this installment or the Game Boy sub-series, they all add something new to the formula and make this game that much more of a unique experience.

Entering the fortress using the WILY lettersUsing the Power Accelerator upgrade to the Mega Buster Fighting Dr. Wily (the only GB game with a saucer fight!)

After all these years, Mega Man IV is still one of the best, if relatively unknown Mega Man games. Not only did it set the Classic series on a new course, it features some of the best level design and greatest graphics possible on the original Game Boy (it also had a great debug menu). The platform which was once considered a gaming backwater reserved for watered-down versions of simple NES games became the home of one of the Blue Bomber's best outings ever, easily outdoing the "source material" of MM4 and MM5. Only a trip to the outer reaches of the solar system could outdo this 1993 classic.

James is a feature contributor for The Mega Man Network 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.

Mega Man V - The Replacement Stream

Last week, Capcom Unity continued their tradition of monthly Mega Man streams with Mega Man V for Game Boy. Unfortunately, the stream didn't work out well due to technical issues. But Mega Man V is one of the most unique entries into the series, and we think it's story still needs to be told. So teaming up with Press Start and mugenmidget, we give you our own Mega Man V live stream! It features amazing things such as:

-No giveaway prizes or trivia challenges -Less interesting game commentary -Awkward delay in commentary due to Skyping across the world

Also, the stream started off with some echoing issues; if it really bugs you, you can skip to 13:30 where it works out. Nevertheless, Dan played a good game and did manage to complete the challenges originally given to Brelston! We hope you enjoy; Mega Man V is definitely a game worth revisiting! Many thanks to Press and mugen!

Watch Capcom Unity's Livestream of Mega Man V to Win Mega Man 10!

MegamanvboxAt 3 o'clock PM PST/6pm EST, Capcom Unity is holding a livestream of one of the most elusive jewels of the Classic Mega Man series, Mega Man V for the Game Boy. The game has yet to be re-released, as plans for Mega Man Anniversary Collection (nee Mania) for the Game Boy Advance was axed, while Capcom has taken a detour back to NES-ville for the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console releases. For those unfamiliar, this is the Game Boy game which broke out of what had been a traditional mold to that point, offering all new stages based on the planets of the solar system and new enemies to inhabit them in the form of the powerful Stardroids. Furthermore, it was the sole Mega Man Game Boy game to fully support the Super Game Boy adapter for the Super NES, lending a custom Metool-populated border and a splash of color to the proceedings. Which way will Capcom Unity play? Tune in and see!

You may also want to tune in for a chance to win a free download code for Mega Man 10. All the Mega Magic goes down on Capcom Unity's TwitchTV Channel, so don't miss it!

News Credit: Protodude's Rockman Corner

Looking Back: Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge

Title Screen for Dr. Wily's Revenge As 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 Mega Man series. This time, I’m examining the first installment of the Game Boy sub-series, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge, a short but tough monochrome romp.

Capcom and the outside team from Minakuchi Engineering they entrusted to develop these games took an interesting approach to the Game Boy sub-series. As most people know by now, each of the first four Game Boy installments reused Robot Masters from two NES games. Players were given the chance to see what effect Rolling Cutter had on Quick Man, what the Air Shooter did to Needle Man, and so on.

Generally speaking, the Game Boy games generally inherit whatever gameplay innovations were featured in the games they mix and match, thus Dr. Wily's Revenge has no slide or Mega Buster. Unlike the NES installments, the player can only choose from four Robot Masters at a time. On top of mixing and matching the Robot Masters, each game threw in a new robot (most of the time, a "Mega Man Killer") to fight with a unique weapon. While these games started out fairly simple, it eventually led to some of the best and most influential games in the Classic series, leading to significant change in the main installments.

Dr. Wily's Revenge, or Mega Man I, to use Mandi Paugh's naming convention, is sort of a miracle. Considering the other Game Boy games released in 1991, it pushed the Game Boy hardware pretty hard. The size of the sprites remained unchanged from their transition from the NES, and the speed of the game is only slightly affected. The music is nothing to write home about, but most of the tracks come close to faithfully recreating the music from the NES games. MMI nails it in terms of aesthetics and staying true to the solid play control of the console installments, making an easy transition from TV screen to the dot-matrix playing field.

Weird that this ice-level staple started with MMI Strange gate layoutPretty cool

One element of gameplay that suffered from this transition, however, was the room given to the player to maneuver due to incredibly small size of the dot-matrix playing field. Retaining the NES sprites makes the game look good but its easy to see how this can be problematic for the player. While the game does not punish the player with frequent off-screen antics (which would later be the chief complaint of a number of NES-to-Game Boy Color ports), it means that there is simply not a lot of room to dodge enemies and move around obstacles.

The game makes some omissions for the smaller screen-- the Yoku blocks are now Yoku bars, for instance-- but for the most part, the game is NES graphics with less about the third the playing room. It's unfortunate that more changes were not made to accommodate the platform, especially considering that Minakuchi Engineering made serious revisions to the game, as the prototype features a number of differences and changed content.

This leads to a dramatic change in how the game is played. While on the NES one can move fairly quickly through the levels, the lack of maneuver space means that it is far more advantageous for the player to engage enemies from a distance and tread a bit more carefully. This is doubly true considering that Mega Man's life meter is reduced from its NES total of 28 bars to 19 for the Game Boy outings. How the developers managed the gameplay with these restrictions would change over the course of the sub-series, but it made for an incredibly tough first outing.

Annoying.Also annoying.I hate these things.

The first four levels feature two-thirds of the lineup from the original Mega Man on the NES. While Ice Man and Fire Man's levels and boss behaviors more or less resemble their console counterparts (Ice Man adds melting blocks and falling icicles, Fire Man adds the Hothead enemy from MM2), Cut Man's level is completely different, featuring moving walkways from Mega Man 2 and an all-new enemy, the Cutting Wheel, while Cut Man himself is a terror due to his speed and no room to dodge. Elec Man also underwent a change, with new propeller boxes that generate gusts for Mega Man to leap over larger chasms and battling Elec Man is a bit simpler, with the Thunder Beam being less powerful than its NES incarnation.

An interesting note: The gates leading to the Robot Master all feature a drop down into the arena, and in fact this is one classic game that completely omits normal, horizontal gates.

Pretty useful.A really fun battle.Another fun battle.

After the first four levels, Mega Man gets to navigate a fairly lengthy Wily level that utilizes the one and only Carry item. Carry generates a platform under our hero, allowing for a bit more variability in how the final levels are structured.

Following the end of the first Wily level, the player finds himself in front of four teleport hatches that lead to Robot Masters from... Mega Man 2. The boss fights themselves are a bit slower and take place in empty rooms, but overall not too different from the NES incarnations. In the end, Mega Man faces off with Enker, the requisite unique robot for this Game Boy installment.

Using the Mirror Buster.One of three fun Yoku Block segments.Winner of best Wily Machine design.

The final level takes place in the orbital Wily Station, beginning another Game Boy tradition that goes nearly unbroken. With a stirring 8-bit version of the Popcorn Song and armed with the interesting-but-not-always-useful Mirror Buster from Enker, the player navigates another incredibly long level. The Wily Machine fights are less than fun, with dodging an incredible amount of Cutting Wheels and in the end using the Mirror Buster, this game's unique weapon, to defeat the evil doctor (which, of course, becomes another sub-series tradition).

Looking back, some of the design decisions are curious: Was it truly necessary to even include the four Robot Masters from Mega Man 2? Why give the player five new weapons with only one level to use them in? Given that this game was developed in 1991, why not give Mega Man the slide and the Mega Buster?

One can only wonder now, but it is likely that the game was developed on a tight schedule and was treated an experiment in what was possible on a platform most wrote off as one more given to puzzlers and simple arcade ports. Overall, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge is an enjoyable game but has been overshadowed by many of the portable games that came after it. It is a solid but short distraction and a good first effort, but the transition from NES to Game Boy meant a far more difficult game, even if it was a measly six levels.

James is a feature contributor for The Mega Man Network 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.

Game Boy Mega Man Tunes Get the Arranged Treatment

The Game Boy Mega Man games have some of my favorite music in the series, though in truth the tunes are often overlooked by fans and musicians. So thank goodness that Blues 'Chaos' Light has cooked up his own arranged EP, featuring a track from each game.

You can listen to the songs above, or head over to his site and download the fan album for your personal enjoyment.

Editorial: The Game That Changed The Classic Series

Previously, I covered the concepts that made the Mega Man Classic series fun. This week, I narrow down the one pivotal game that changed that series and set it on a new direction. While Mega Man 2 introduced and refined a few overarching concepts that became series staples, it was Mega Man IV for the Game Boy that set the Classic series on its post-NES course and established a number of innovations.  The Mega Man series of games in general (and the Classic games especially) is usually accused of relying on aged gaming mechanics and not generally thought of as embracing innovation from one installment to the next. While it is true that any significant change in gameplay is marked by the introduction of a new series (such as RPG elements and 3D gameplay defining Mega Man Legends), small tweaks and innovations are commonplace in each of the games, with some innovating more than others.

The Game Boy sub-series is usually ignored when discussing the evolution of the Mega Man series. Similarly, Mega Man IV often gets overlooked in favor of the space-bound Mega Man V, and yet, it was IV that truly took the series took a new direction. The introduction of an ongoing story and Dr. Light's Shop came along with a renewed focus on weapon versatility, greatly refined level design, and establishment of new gameplay tempo made IV one of the pivotal installments of the series. 

In Japan, IV was released just weeks after Mega Man 6. But despite its small stature, it was IV that set the evolutionary course for the rest of the series and beyond. And while Mega Man 9 and 10 are often lauded as attempts to recapture the magic of Mega Man 2, even they are in no small way another part of Mega Man IV's legacy.

(Warning: Classic series spoilers ahead! We wouldn't normally worry about it, but since some people might now be waiting for a Nintendo eShop release...)

The cohesive, ongoing story was one of the significant innovations of Mega Man IV. Previous installments in the Game Boy sub-series did not feature any dialogue, let alone cutscenes that went beyond shots of the Skull Castle and Wily Space Stations. The NES series was barely any better: Mega Man 3 gave no explanation of nearly anything, making the cutscene in Dr. Light's Lab before Skull Castle seem a bit abrupt (unless, you know, you read the instruction manual, but who liked to read in 1990?). Mega Man 4, 5, andfeatured introductory scenes before the title screen, with a brief story scene of Dr. Wily revealing himself to be the puppet-master coming later.

This all changed with Mega Man IV, as gamers were given a four-color bonanza of cutscenes that told an ongoing tale. While the story itself was fairly generic for the series (Dr. Wily steals four old Robot Masters from an expo, eventually escapes to his fortress and then to space), it was the first time in the series that the plot continued to unfold in separate cutscenes. Using both in-game graphics and surprisingly detailed animation, Mega Man IV set the stage for an ongoing narrative to be a cornerstone of the series. Over a decade later, even the NES-style Mega Man 9 and 10 utilized the same formula for storytelling.

With the ongoing story came Ballade, the Game Boy sub-series' obligatory extra robot. While Enker, Quint, and Punk were more-or-less mindless drones, Ballade showed a little more personality. On top of being featured in the introductory cutscene and the mid-game story sequence, Ballade appears in the ending and, after telling Mega Man that he has seen the error of his ways, sacrifices himself to save the Blue Bomber from the collapsing Wily Star.

Thus, Ballade is the first in not just a long line of characters who seemingly perish yet miraculously return later on, but he is also the first new character with ambiguous loyalties that plays an important part in the plot. This would become a trend which continued with Sunstar, Bass, Duo, and King, to say nothing of the Mega Man X, Zero, and ZX games.

The introduction of Dr. Light's Shop in Mega Man IV may be its most obvious innovation. Compared to future installments, the shop in IV is fairly useless; even so, the limited selection of items still plays a great deal in making the game a bit more bearable for those who are less accustomed to seemingly impossible jumps and navigating amusement parks of death (like, say, Crystal Man's level). Stocking up on extra lives and tanks may have brought the challenge of the game down, but its optional nature made it the perfect Mega Man-style solution to making the game more bearable.

Mega Man IV also includes several gameplay innovations. In my earlier article, I detailed how special weapon versatility is one of the bedrocks of fun for the series. While some may disagree, it is clear that with IV, this aspect of gameplay became more integral after languishing during the last three NES installments. More interesting still was that this shift toward versatile weapons meant tweaking the weapons ported from Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5; the Ring Boomerang could now fetch items, the Rain Flush douses flames and opens paths, and the Charge Kick destroys certain blocks new to IV.

This concept was continued in Mega Man V, expanded greatly with Mega Man 7, and still continues to this day. In UDON's Mega Man: Official Complete Works, Keiji Inafune and the staff of Mega Man 7 describe this mechanic of weapon versatility as an important aspect of the design of that game. While most fans see Mega Man 7 as the start of this substantial push back toward weapon versatility, it was Mega Man IV that refocused this aspect of the series and provided the base from which its successors drew substantially.

Released three weeks earlier, Mega Man 6 beat Mega Man IV to market and introducing alternative paths in several levels, but it was Mega Man IV that integrated this concept with weapon versatility while also featuring numerous extended dead-end paths containing hidden items, and even single-room dead-ends that featured Proto Man. Every Mega Man game since IV further developed branching paths, hidden item areas, and secret locations.

One of the greatest legacies of Mega Man IV is one most up to interpretation. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge and Mega Man III from the Game Boy sub-series were notoriously difficult because there were too few alterations made to allow for NES-style gameplay on such a small screen. Mega Man's sprite, as well as those of his enemies, were simply too large and his weapons too slow to allow for the same style of quick running, jumping, and shooting that defined the series in the beginning.

It was with IV that the level design began to account for the tiny maneuver space and slow-moving weapons. Many levels feature gimmicks which reward a more deliberate approach, a manner more attuned to Mega Man's relative size to the rest of the screen and the slower speed at which the game moves due to the hardware constraints. As players navigate the levels, the focus is more on understanding the gimmicks in each level. Surviving Crystal Man's growing and shrinking pillars, jumping on Napalm Man's flying drills, and navigating with Bright Man's automatic platforms are all gimmicks that take center stage. The enemies that pepper these stages are part of the challenge of navigating these gimmicks, but it is here that the Mega Buster is utilized best. Given the slow speed of regular shots and the infrequency of enemies, it behooves the player to always have a Charged Shot ready. 

Similarly, the slide is much more in tune with the smaller maneuvering space and the focus on navigating the gimmicks of each level. It gives Mega Man an advantage in a game where he takes up a considerable amount of space relative to his small stature in the NES installments. Simply put, the tempo of Mega Man IV jives not just with the small screen, but with the Mega Buster and the slide.

Replaying Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, and Mega Man and Bass, one can understand how they might be best described as developing from the path determined by the innovations of Mega Man IV. Not only do these games include more polished story sequences and expansions of the shop concept first pioneered by IV, but they also force the player to take on the Robot Master levels in two waves, just like the Game Boy sub-series. They all feature versatile weapons and more interesting level designs and features that can be traced back to ideas that first developed or were reintroduced in IV.

However, it is the tempo of these games that is perhaps the greatest inheritance from Mega Man IV. Until Mega Man 9 reverted the series back to NES proportions, the Classic series of games following IV kept the same tempo as the monochrome classic. Mega Man 9 and 10 continue nearly all innovations first seen in IV, but arguably the single most important change they made was to simply reduce Mega Man's size relative to the rest of the screen and change the tempo of the game back to the NES standard. After crunching the numbers, the math is that in 7, 8, and Bass, Mega Man's size relative to the rest of the screen is much more similar to the Game Boy games (all hover around 2% of all pixels displayed on the screen, compared to the NES-style games where Mega Man constitutes less than 1% of pixels (see a full comparison).

Mega Man NES vs GB

While both of the recent installments feature clever new gimmicks and wonderfully challenging level design, the overall expanded scope of view and faster gameplay meant that the Mega Buster and slide were deemed no longer necessary, as they were when the series followed IV's tempo. Mega Man 9's producer, Hironobu Takeshita, essentially stated that taking away the Mega Buster and slide was the price of establishing a better sense of balance with the return to the proportions of the NES games.

Mega Man IV might be one of the most under-appreciated and underplayed installments of the series, but it radically changed the direction of the series and introduced and revamped a number of concepts that became series staples. Along with Mega Man 2, it is the most influential chapter in the Classic series.

Screenshot Credits: Mega Man 5 screenshot from VGMuseum.

Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge Hits eShop Today

If you tune in to your 3DS's eShop updates today, you'll find something a little Mega Man themed. According to a Nintendo press release, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge will be hitting the download shop today for $3.99. It also will be arriving in Europe as well, as we previously reported. Dr. Wily's Revenge is perhaps one of the smallest Mega Man titles ever developed, with only six stages, but I still find it a joy to play through and am particularly fond of its renditions of music. It is a bit tough too but definitely one of the ones you can keep playing over and over, despite how small it is. Also Enker is cool. If you haven't had much of an experience with the game before, I recommend it.

Thanks to Matt for the tip!

Mega Man, Meet the Mega Boy

Okay, everyone, you can relax: Capcom isn't saddling us with a new, younger version of Mega Man that feels cribbed from Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (he's already 10, and they already gave us Powered Up, if the idea needed to be driven home). Rather, one fan has taken one of the greatest video game systems of all time, and tricked it out with a Mega Makeover. As you can see in the image to your right (click to enlarge), the classic brick model Game Boy has apparently volunteered to be converted by one Hyaki Ikari into a fighting machine, so that it can stop other portable gaming machines of the late 80's and early 90's from spreading boredom and draining batteries the world over. It has been equipped with a blue D-pad and blue A and B buttons, a custom-printed screen, a Pro Sound 1/8” TRS stereo jack, and perhaps most interesting of all, a blue backlight. No more "creamed spinach color!"

Okay, so granted, having the classic 8-bit Mega Man doing his best Dan Forden impression in the lower-left corner may do little to benefit your gaming prowess, but Tiny Cartridge suggests that this unit is likely meant more for "dudes who plan to tinker with LSDJ or other Game Boy music stuff," given the chiptune-specific modifications.

Nonetheless, if this is a piece you would like to own, then you can find it at auction on eBay here, with about three days left (as of this writing) to buy at a price of $184.23, or your best offer.

The TMMN Megacast #006 - I Lost a Bet

It's been six months of the Megacast, can you believe it? Half a year! They said it wouldn't last. I said it wouldn't last! But here we are. In this very serendipitous episode, the Megacast crew (sans Andy) welcome special guest, UDON Entertainment's managing editor, Matt Moylan. Matt gives us the lowdown about various upcoming Mega Man publications, especially concerning details surrounding the fan-powered Mega Man Tribute due out this summer. Then in the Mega Man Game Club, we cover Mega Man V (Game Boy) and discover it's harder to carry on a good conversation about a game we generally like (except Jesse, he totally hates this game).

Additional discussion covers looking back at Kotobukiya's foray into Mega Man model kits, and speculation about what new places the Mega Man franchise might take us, which goes utterly nowhere. But just when you think it's all over, a surprise interloper jumps into the podcast!

This episode features a Mercury Stage remix by Saitone from Chiptuned Rockman, and there might also be a little prize giveaway in order if you listen carefully! Hope you enjoy the show!

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Image via TFWiki.net

Resurrecting Mega Man Mania: A "Pitch" Concerning the Values of Mega Man

I consider it to be a great shame that we never ended up getting Mega Man Mania. And although the Mega Man Anniversary Collection had its flaws, it still showed the bevvy of interest remaining in classic Mega Man, even though it would still be years before we got legitimate advancement in the series. While the Game Boy titles largely just recycled content from the NES predecessors (with the exception of Mega Man V), they still had their own uniqueness and their own charm, and most importantly of all they were still fun. Personally, while I did own the NES games growing up, it was the Game Boy games that served as my initial entry into the series. The Game Boy games were the first I played in depth, and the first that I conquered. So indeed I do find it a shame Mega Man Mania just sort of sank away. The following essay is how I think the concept could be resurrected, and although it will essentially read like a pitch, it's also my intention to illustrate the strengths that classic Mega Man possesses. Frankly, I'm not sure how good of a job I'll do there. But I do hope you enjoy the essay and find something insightful, or at least something to be excited about.

Now a lot of fans certainly have their own Mega Man games, and I in no way look at this as something like "the best possible Mega Man game." I think this is more like "a very effective Mega Man game." It wouldn't be as much work to plan and develop, because the content already exists. Furthermore, it is a lot of great content in one package. Five games worth. It's the same principle that made games like Mega Man Anniversary Collection and Mega Man X Collection work so well.

I also think it would be a particularly good game to have in the initial years of the Nintendo 3DS launch. Granted, this concept could work on any hardware, but coming from what were originally portable games I think it's best suited for a portable system, and I would like to make some use of the additional touch screen. Furthermore, the 3DS lineup as we know it so far has very few games of a simpler, arcade nature. Therefore, a Mega Man Mania-type compilation could really stand out from the other numerous games for the 3DS, and appeal to people looking for a more classic, simple gaming experience.

However, I would like to do more than a simple porting of games. I'd really like there to be a level of consistency in the feel and design of the games, and there's also room for additional features. And really, given the monochrome Game Boy origins, the games could stand to have something of a face-lift.

Here is something just to convey a sense of what's possible. Truthfully I'm not really concerned over what kind of visual style it should have. Hand-drawn sprites? 3D models? It makes little difference to me, so long as the game has a fresh and consistent look. If anything I would prefer it to look "video gamey" and not try to be particularly stylish in any sense. I also don't think the 3DS's 3D effects will play a very important role. But for an example this is pretty attractive looking, don't you think?

As I was saying, given the advancement of gaming technology it does make sense to update the look, without putting in needless amounts of effort. New Super Mario Bros. is a great example of this. It also helps to give each game a good, consistent feel. This mostly applies to Mega Man II, the black sheep of the Game Boy titles. It has content from two of the best selling Mega Man games ever made, but its mechanics and execution are terrible. Even Keiji Inafune commented in Mega Man Official Complete Works how poorly Mega Man II turned out. However, with the right effort and care, Mega Man II could be a fantastic game! I'd even retain its original music, which can sound great given the right treatment.

Anyway, the top screen is pretty easy to figure out, so let's focus on the bottom screen. This is where the weapons and options menu will be permanently fixed. Now instead of always pausing the game, you can switch weapons with a touch of the lower screen. Not only that, but you can access certain items as well. As long as you have at least one E Tank, for example, pressing the icon for it will instantly use it (though it'd probably be required to press the icon for a second or so, to prevent accidental use). Of course, you would  still have the option of pausing the game and navigating the menu with the directional pad if you preferred, or if using the touch screen doesn't feel natural.

Of course, adept fans probably noticed something in that last picture which gives way to the concept's most prominent features, and you'll notice it in this one too.

Simply put, in the primary game mode, once you beat a Robot Master and obtain his weapon, you can bring that weapon into any of the other four games. The same goes for support items, use items and other abilities. You can build up a whole arsenal and play with it. Experiment how effective different weapons are against bosses you could never fight with those weapons. Novices, who may be only able to beat a couple bosses from each game, could still build up equipment and feel rewarded. It also allows for new areas and functions in stages that can be manipulated with the various other weapons (although this steps into the realm of generating new content).

Some of you may already be thinking that such a feature would make the game far too easy. I disagree with that notion, but moreover I don't care. Games that are easy aren't bad. It's games that are uninteresting that are bad. And a lot of the games out there that are very interesting and fun do so by making you feel empowered. This is why the Metal Blade is so well remembered (and why I need to disagree with my own comment from a couple years back). It was broken, but no one cared because it was so awesome and fun to use. Great games let you break them. It's the same phenomenon as getting to run on the ceiling in Super Mario Bros. and finding a hidden warp zone to further worlds. Certainly Kirby's Dreamland is "too easy" because you can just fly over every stage. But instinctively, you will probably not want to do that. You will want to make things happen.

So I do honestly think giving the player an impressive gamut of weapons to earn will only make the game more enjoyable, and provide more new experiences on subsequent replays. Support items like the Rush adapters would only need to be earned once. And the options screen would allow what type of Mega Buster you want to use, whether you want to enable sliding or not, and so forth. Of course, outside of the main game mode, you'd certainly have the ability to play each game as an individual experience, without bringing weapons and items into others games, if you so desire.

I do think the features and content described above would easily justify a retail release, but it's always possible to add more. Here are some additional features that would probably be easy to implement given the nature of the concept.

  • Difficulty Setting: Makes changes to damage data and the aggressiveness of enemies. I think my greatest interest here would be giving the enemies new attacks and such for a harder difficulty. With how this was implemented in Mega Man 10, it made some of the battles like fighting entirely new bosses.
  • Endless Attack: My favorite feature, and probably one of the greatest things to happen to Mega Man since the password. With a game of this magnitude, a really tremendous Endless Attack mode could be culled together. Well over 100 unique stage segments, randomly assembled together each time you play. And why stop there? We could even add enemies not appearing in the main games. Maybe represent all the NES Robot Masters. Maybe even Bond Man. Wouldn't that be a fun surprise!
  • Challenges: I really enjoyed the challenges from Mega Man Powered Up and Mega Man 10. Making a variety of little challenge stages would be a piece of cake.
  • Stage Creator: Probably the feature I'm least keen on. Stage creation is a fun concept but in practice I don't think it's often used to its fullest potential. But I did consider that custom stages could be propagated via the Nintendo 3DS's StreetPass/SpotPass functions, and that might be interesting. Or better yet, instead of creating stages, create challenges. Make your own challenge stages, pass them onto friends and see who can get the best rank!

Those are some possibilities, but again it's all flourish. The core is a game with classic gameplay and lots of content, with lots of replayability thanks to the weapon holdover system. It's simple but it's never been done. And while other recent Mega Man games have done a good job focusing on the core values of Mega Man, they have not done much to expand on the content of the core game. With the level of technology today, a classic Mega Man game could have hundreds of stages, tons of Robot Masters. It's time to push the content envelope!

All in all, this would be an easy to develop, powered up game collection which would look great on the handheld market. There are many players who miss the Game Boy games, and many more who have yet to really experience them at all. It may not the game Capcom develops down the road, but I do look forward to games in a similar vein.

I must give immense thanks to Jason Howell for providing the mock screenshots used in this article. Going into this idea, I knew my words alone wouldn't be enough to motivate everyone. The pictures illustrate what could potentially be, and frankly are just beautiful. Thank you, Jason! Additionally, the top original Game Boy screenshot was found on GameSpite.net.

Who are the Mega Man Killers?

"Who are the Mega Man Killers?" That is a question that no doubt some people are asking upon seeing the bosses for the three downloadable (semantics aside) Special Stages Capcom is releasing across all platforms for Mega Man 10. Odds are, as a fan, you might know who they are in passing; you've seen people talking about them on message boards, or perhaps you obtained their corresponding data discs in Mega Man & Bass. Or you might have even seen their entries on our very own wiki.

But fewer people have actually had the pleasure of getting to fight these Blue Bomber assassins, as until now, the original Game Boy had exclusively been their domain. What's more, they typically did not rear their head until the challenging later portions of their respective titles, making them lesser-known enemies among Mega Man fans.

If you are among those who know of the Mega Man Killers, but don't know them particularly well, then our friends over at Press the Buttons have created just the video for you. Mind, there are spoilers here, particularly for the fourth Mega Man Game Boy title:

With this, you should now have a better idea of what you will encounter at the end of each Mega Man 10 special stage, as well as your reward for conquering some of Mega Man's most dedicated foes, those determined enough to be labeled his Killer.

Is it Time for the "ReBirth" of Mega Man?

As many of you are no doubt already aware, it seems that one of Konami's worst-kept secrets of late is their plan to bring a new Castlevania title to WiiWare. The ESRB posted the info before Konami was able to make an announcement (and, as of this writing, they have still yet to say anything), but from what we can tell, it seems to be a "ReBirth" remake of Castlevania: The Adventure, which was the first portable Castlevania title (with the possible exception of the Simon's Quest Tiger handheld, if one were to count that. But we won't). Unless Konami is simply recycling the name (not an impossible scenario; anyone remember the retitled Metal Gear: Ghost Babel game for Game Boy Color, known here simply as "Metal Gear Solid?"), it appears that Konami is taking a game that has been all but forgotten from the early days of the original Game Boy, and adding a bit more dazzle in order to sell it to today's gaming audience. Of course, if Gradius ReBirth and Contra ReBirth are any indication, we should not expect contemporary graphics for this game, but rather something along the lines of new graphics developed in a style reminiscent of the games of the Super NES.

Perhaps you are wondering where I am going with this, talking so much about Castlevania on a Mega Man website. However, I should think it is rather obvious. I think we can safely agree that Mega Man Mania, otherwise known as the Game Boy Advance Mega Man Anniversary Collection, is not happening. Dead. Over. Finished.

The exact reasons remain unknown, and we may never know the full truth, but the time has perhaps come to put this behind us and look to new avenues to explore. And I believe that with Castlevania the Adventure ReBirth, Konami is showing us, and hopefully Capcom, the way.

Since Mega Man Mania is a lost cause, I would definitely and strongly encourage Capcom to release the Game Boy Mega Man titles, a series which gets progressively stronger as it goes, as a series of remakes on WiiWare. It would be a great way to give Mega Man fans more of what they want, but without the need to divert a lot of resources toward development. The groundwork is done, it would simply need to be prettied up, have some music remixed, and perhaps adjust some things for screen ratio.

Certainly, it may not be the colored collection of the original titles that we had all wanted, but as a runner-up, having WiiWare remakes of these loved but oft-overlooked games would not be a bad prize in itself. And for a lot of people, it would probably be almost as good as having new Mega Man adventures without Capcom having to actually make new Mega Man adventures. Plus, it will help maintain a part of the Blue Bomber's heritage.

Capcom has a whopping one title available in the WiiWare catalog to date, and while this would do little to showcase any diversity in their lineup, it would at least help to increase their presence on Nintendo's downloadable service, as well as capitalize on the apparent goodwill Wii gamers have shown for Mega Man 9.

Finally, as a disclaimer, I've no problem with the games appearing on Xbox LIVE Arcade or the PlayStation Network; in fact, with Capcom, it seems a far more likely scenario that they would. The above has simply been written with the consideration of Konami's WiiWare-only ReBirth titles and Mega Man 9's significant popularity on the WiiWare where it originated, as it followed to the other services in Japan only more recently.