Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rockman and Forte (Super Famicom, 1998)

Time to return to the Mega Man series and cover another classic. This one was released in Japan at the tail end of the Super Famicom's lifespan, too late to get a localization here since the Super NES was getting phased out well before 1998. It eventually got a portable release (as Mega Man and Bass) on Game Boy Advance years later, but I prefer the SFC version.

For a long time this game was incorrectly labeled "Mega Man 9" on the internet, but this isn't the case. It's more of a Mega Man 8.5, a fusion of elements from the seventh and eighth games. ...maybe that makes it 7.5? It also features a surprise guest. You'll never guess who it is: Forte, aka Bass. In any case, let's check it out.

 Great title screen. Capcom was really putting a lot into the Mega Man series around 1998, dropping Mega Man 8, this game, and Mega Man X4 on the fans in fairly rapid succession. It was a magical time to be a fan.

So, taking a nod from Mega Man X4, you get to choose between two characters. The game is pretty much designed around the much more agile Bass, which means Mega Man has a much more difficult time.

Sweet power-description screen. Bass is equipped with a dash, a double jump, and can fire in all directions. In other words, he's AWESOME. Downsides include: He can't fire charged shots, he can't slide into narrow places, and...uh... that's about it. Yep, Bass makes Mega Man look practically obsolete, edging much closer to X and Zero in maneuverability.

A shot of the heights Bass can reach with his double jumps. Rush Coil Who?

The first stage doesn't play around, giving us platform jumps against the push of a rainstorm. Luckily, missing a jump as Bass isn't much of a problem when he can do a second jump out of it. Almost as good as being able to grab onto walls.

Here's Protoman (not playable, unfortunately) confronting the villain of the game: King. Yeah, that's his name. King.

King proceeds to SLICE PROTOMAN IN HALF and flee the scene. Holy shit! that Rush in the background? Why does he look evil? It's a world gone mad!

The first boss is the fabled Rock Monster/Dark Moon/Yellow Devil/Green Devil. This one is the Mega Man 8 version, but it's severely scaled back in difficulty. It never breaks apart, and it takes about 5x normal damage from attacks.

After that intro stage, we end up at the stage select. This one is interesting because rather than give you a choice of eight stages from the get-go, you can only choose between three at first (Cold Man, Astro Man, Ground Man). The next set (Burner Man, Pirate Man, Dynamo Man, Tengu Man, and Magic Man) are each accessible by clearing the stage in front of them. I'd have preferred a regular stage select.

I go with Ground Man first. There isn't really a best choice for first in this game, unlike most of the series. Any of the initial three are beatable without special weapons; maybe that's why they set it up the way they did. Regardless, Ground Man's stage bears a heavy resemblance to Pharaoh Man's stage.

This game is extremely derivative of the others in the series, even borrowing several bosses outright from Mega Man 8.

Ground Man himself is a new creation for this game, and looks like he'd be at home in Mega Man X. I half expect the X-Hunter fight theme from Mega Man X2 to kick in.

Next, I continue into the set-of-five and take on Tengu Man. This guy, along with Astro Man, is a Mega Man 8 refugee, and his stage is pretty much lifted right from that game. It's odd that they made six new bosses for this game and just swiped the other two. Maybe they ran out of ideas, or maybe Astro and Tengu Man were just really popular. This game does come across as being a weird love letter to fans, after all.

Tengu Man himself is exactly the same as his MM8 incarnation, and easily beaten with Ground Man's drill weapon. Wait, drill weapon? Yep, not only does Ground Man have Pharaoh Man's stage design from MM4, he has Drill Man's weapon from the same game.

...I know too much about Mega Man.

"Go get laid!" yells someone in the back. Yeah... I'm sorry.

Magic Man is new, but he seems almost like a re-imagining of Clown Man from MM8 in terms of stage design.

Yeah, I definitely saw this enemy before in Clown Man's stage... this thing is horrible.

And that clown in the background smashing a bell! He was in Clown Man's stage!

Sweet house of cards there, regardless. Nope, you can't knock it down. It's the most solid house of cards ever.

Magic Man himself is ready to wow audiences with Cock Magic! There were no survivors.

Randy Marsh PSA: Leave Cock Magic to the professionals.

Tengu Man's weapon is my favorite of this particular game. It's a claw-slash that also fires an erratic disc-like projectile. Magic Man here fears it. Unfortunately, it isn't that useful in a lot of the regular gameplay because most of the enemies in this game strike at range (and the projectile disc is inaccurate).

Another sweet function of Tengu Man's weapon is that it turns Bass' dash into a dash-slash. Try saying that really fast.

Still uses weapon energy, but man, it looks cool. Notice how the health of Bass and his foe are at about the same level? Even when using boss weaknesses, the fights are still challenging and usually close. It's a well-balanced game in that regard.

Next up, I take on the stage that I recommend taking on first, Cold Man. Small ice platforms are no problem for Bass and his double jumping. The series must be running out of ice-elemental Men at this point, huh? We've gotten Ice Man, Freeze Man, Blizzard Man, Frost Man, Cold Man... what's left? Snow Man?

Speaking of, there's a snowman miniboss here. "I should have had my own stage" he mumbles.

Cold Man himself is a somewhat easy fight... if you arrive in any condition to compete. He has a really simple and appealing design. I know I said there isn't really a definite "first boss" to fight in this game but that the first three were all good choices. Well, I'll revise that a bit and say that Cold Man is a little easier than the other two.

Speaking of designs, here's The Fury from Metal Gear Solid III. He's the biggest PITA in this entire game simply because, for some reason, he gets to be invincible most of the time.

Also, doing major damage to him is a matter of pushing him onto spikes with Cold Man's Ice Wall attack. It's quite difficult to do this consistently when the boss is usually impervious and dashing all over you. Invincibility is my LEAST favorite boss mechanic, but I can deal with it when it's part of a special attack. This guy is just flat-out impervious to damage about 75% of the time while he's just moving around. For no reason.

Next I take on the most forgettable boss in the game, Pirate Man. His stage has these mechanical whales that are lifted directly from another game in the series. Which one escapes me right now, though. Point is, it's the water level of the game, which means Mega Man can jump screen-high.

...Bass has been doing that for the whole game! HAW HAW! Suck it, Mega Man!

Shockingly, Pirate Man is vulnerable to Burner Man's flamethrower even though the fight takes place underwater. You'd think it wouldn't work, but it does.

Also... Pirate Man? I know a lot of these original series bosses are supposed to be useful household type robots or machines designed to do specific tasks. What would Pirate Man exist for? Dragging treasure out of the ocean? Pleasuring our wives?

I stand corrected, THIS guy is The Fury from MGS3.

He's the second-biggest pita in the game because he can heal himself. He always waits until he's near-death to do it, too. Once he hooks himself up to a machine, you've got mere moments to shoot out the two sides of it before it heals him to full. Yikes.

Obviously, he's the electric-element boss for this game, and defeating him earns you a really cool lightning bolt attack. I didn't cover his stage at all because there isn't much to cover. It's a boring, generic base-stage.

Astro Man's stage is actually somewhat different from the MM8 version, and has pretty cool new music. Might be my favorite of the stage themes. The stage itself looks great, too.

Here's Astro Man's music for this game...

...and here's the MM8 variety. It's a pretty sweet tune in both cases.

Astro Man himself is the same exact fight as MM8, and easily beaten with the Magic Card weapon. It was absolutely brutal!

Time to take a quick break and look at one of the coolest things about this game. Collecting CDs hidden throughout the game will reward you with bios for characters and foes from the rest of the series. There are a hundred CDs in all, and a hundred bios. Let's see what Stoned Dr. Light has for us.

Pharaoh Man! This guy is timeless.

Not sure what information the bios give us. Is 1000 his power level? If so, he can't compare to Sigma's power level of 22,000 in the X series (yes, the X series has power levels).

Maybe someone who can read Japanese can shed some light on this.

It even has Game Boy exclusive characters, like Punk (seen here) and Ballade. Pretty much covers everybody. I don't usually go for collectibles in games, but this is one game I'd go out of my way to catch 'em all in if I had time.

At first I thought this was some kind of super version of Toad Man. Nope, that's Venus from Mega Man V. Man, they went all-out with these. I wish one of the MMV bosses could have made it to a console game in fight-able form and living color. This would have been a good game to do it, actually.

Next up, we've got Auto's shop. Collect bolts and trade them in here for all kinds of exciting prizes! Unfortunately, most of them aren't useful, but there are a couple that are crucial. Namely, the buster power-up (fourth from left on the bottom row), the Energy Balancer (second from left, top), Exit, and the Energy Saver (first on the bottom row). The buster power-up doubles the strength of Bass' regular weapon, the Balancer does the same thing it always does, and the Energy Saver halves the rate of special weapon consumption. Alas, you can only have one equipped at a time between the Buster and the Energy Saver, which means a lot of trips to the menu.

Another useful (and fun) thing from the shop is Bass' super adapter. This lets him summon Treble and do their fusion thing from previous games.

...only now YOU can control it, hovering around and firing multiple shots at once. It's very useful against King later on. ...oh yeah, remember that guy? I wonder if Protoman is okay. Talk about getting thrown under the bus. They totally Apollo Creeded him here.

The stage select icon with a crystal on it... brings you here. It looks like a boss-rush capsule room, but it isn't.

Instead, each capsule brings you to a room where you need to use a specific boss weapon to make a giant bolt (worth 100 currency) appear. You can only do this "stage" once, and if you do it before you have all eight weapons you'll be screwed out of a lot of bolts. What a weird idea.

In any case, this is a great way to get the bolts to buy that stuff I mentioned above. Another good way to farm bolts is to shoot the drill-bits in the intro stage with the Magic Card. For some reason, that weapon causes bolts to drop.

Finally, the King stages. There are only three final stages, but they're extremely long. The second in particular is pretty much three regular stages put together in terms of length. They're also quite boring compared to the rest of the game, so I'm giving you the cliffnotes version.

The boss of the first stage is very reminiscent of the first Wily stage boss in Mega Man 8. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's the same sprite. This is a somewhat irritating fight because you need to use a pulley system to pull the boss up and actually damage it. Astro Man's copy weapon works wonders here.

The second King stage is where things get difficult. This tank has a bunch of parts that can be damaged independently from one another, and different weapons are effective against each of them. It's a unique fight, but it takes ages to be over with due to having to wait for each part to "open up" and be damageable.

Defeat the tank and you end up in an auto-scrolling situation where you leap from platform to platform while battling a flying craft. This might well be the most difficult fight in the entire game, in large part because the fist-missiles can abruptly destroy platforms. Bass' second jump saved me from pit-oblivion a bunch of times here.

At last, here's King. The Super Adapter finally shines here, as you can hover and fire diagonally down over his shield with more or less impunity. Fighting on the ground here is suicidal, much like most of the first-form Sigma fights in the X series. He usually decimates you if you don't start hopping up the walls quick. But that series is a tale for another time.

Defeat him, and Protoman shows up. Man, everyone in this shot looks so injured.

King has a second, shield-less form, and this one is much more mobile. So much so that it seems designed for a game with wall-jumping instead. Since it's so difficult to avoid him, I throw on the Energy Saver and rock him with lightning strikes (since you're invulnerable while that weapon is in use) every time I'm about to get hit. He'll pass right through, then get shocked.

After that fight, prepare for a shocker: Dr. Wily was behind everything. What a tweest!

King isn't done yet, though. He combines with the tank and the flying machine to create one big Megazord type deal. This is a very challenging fight, especially since this game doesn't have E-Tanks.

That's right.


I win with the double buster and a lot of diagonal shooting. A lot of this fight is luck, since you can only damage him when he's in the right position for it.

My final save screen. This is a decent inventory going into the final stage. I've got all of the key items here; aside from the buster damage bonus and the Energy Saver, another worthwhile weapon is the damage reduction barrier. That one is great in the final fight. /walkthroughmode off

Here's the graphic for the King stages. The top one is the finale, and it looks like we're getting a boss rush.

This time I've got weaknesses for everyone, as I unleash the SWEET lightning weapon on Cold Man. You fight the bosses in a specific order rather than a capsule room, much like Mega Man 1 and Mega Man X. The Energy Saver is the item of choice for these fights; double the ammo can make all the difference.

This is it, Wily's skull tank. It's an easy fight for Bass since he can just jump up and pummel the obvious weak point with the double buster.

The saucer, on the other hand, is as much of a pain in the ass as ever. Especially here because...


Fighting this thing immediately after the skull tank is brutal. And speaking of brutal, the Magic Card is the best weapon to use against him. It does the same if not slightly more damage than the double buster, and has a ton of ammo... thus freeing you up to use the double defense item over the others. Taking half damage while firing cards makes this fight drastically more manageable.

I barely win, and that's it for this game. I feel like this post was way more of a walkthrough than my usual posts. Not sure why, because I'm not in the walkthrough business. Hopefully it wasn't too dry and technical.


Even though Bass isn't constrained by the same morality clause as Mega Man, he still won't finish off Dr. Wily. And thus ends the classic series... for a long ten years or so, at least. This game is a terrific gaiden to Mega Man 8, and I highly recommend checking it out if you're a series fan.


  1. I would love a hack of this game that added energy tanks and let you get up to 9 of them.

    Double jumping in a Mega Man game is something else.

    Actually, that dog in the background is from Mega Man 2, the one in Wood Man's stage. He's a little harder to recognize when he isn't huge.

    It's kind of hilarious how someone can start as Bass, have an easy first stage of double jumping, then fight the easiest Devil in series history. This game will be a breeze! Then it proceeds to WHOOP YOUR ASS.

    Cold Man's stage has sweet music:

    Yeah, Ground Man looks like Tunnel Rhino from Mega Man X3.

    If this game is a love letter it's a hard love.

    The Robot Masters originally were designed to do helpful things, yes. That only applies to non-Wilybots though. Any of the ones Wily made (which by now are in the majority) were never designed with that in mind, naturally. MM1's were Light's, MM4's are Cossack's, and the ones from MM6 were from various robot designers around the world (two from America!).

    I wonder how similar the information on the Robot Masters here is to that sweet coffee table book I got which has them all: Sadly the book is still up to date since nothing new has come out since. (also wow the price of it has shot up, no surprise there)

  2. I've heard about this game for a long long time and it's great to finally see it. To begin with, it's way more colorful than I imagined. Why hasn't a US version of this come out btw?

    I'm a big fan of seeing more of Bass. Btw, how much does his color scheme change when he gets different weapons? Less than Mega Man's, it seems.

    Watching Protoman get CUT IN HALF like that was truly jarring, one of those "maybe this is why they didn't release it here?" moments. Bass is pretty chill talking to 1/2 Protoman here though, saying "Is that King? I'm the strongest in the world so I'm more than enough to take him on!"

    I'm not all that familiar with MM8 so these images aren't repeats to me, at least.

    The 1000 here is cooler than power level. It says (because he's the Pharoah) that he's the ruler of 1000 kinds of beings and has a ton of subordinates. It adds that he's charismatic, has a weakness for beauties, likes treasures, and dislikes sandstorms. Cool unexpected stuff right? Makes you want to collect more cards!

    I personally appreciated the explanations of how the game worked, and I think since this is a foreign-language title they were necessary. This also shows this isn't just an assembly-line Mega Man; there's stuff to think about too.

    King tells you to get out before his mech explodes in the second-to-last stage there. Nice robot solidarity.
    By the way, a robot using a mech is fun times.

    No E-Tanks! Quite the challenge.

    Easy to say Bass didn't kill Wily because Wily made him. Btw doesn't Wily show the plans for Zero in this game?

  3. Bass reason for fighting Wily in this one was pretty cool. Basically Megaman did it because he's a good guy and Bass did it... Wait for it... He wanted to prove to Wily that he was the best creation Wily ever made... By beating all his others robots and showing him that he doesn't need to make others robots, after all Bass is his ultimate creation.
    Well yeah to miss the point Bass, maybe if you actually beat Megaman once and for all Wily wouldn't have to create others robots but hey whatever works playing as Bass is pretty damn awesome.