Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Mega Man (Sega Game Gear, 1995)

Interesting portable Mega Man game here. As it came out after Mega Man IV for the Game Boy, it had the potential to tie up any loose ends that the Game Boy series didn't cover...and it kinda did. Problem is, only kinda. I can't tell if this was supposed to be a follow-up to MMIV or a remake, because it's about half and half.

Docta Wawee is at it again. This game doesn't do anything groundbreaking with the villains, as it falls firmly into the era of the NES and Game Boy titles in the series. 

We get the backstory of how Mega Man used to be a real boy, until he was converted into... 



We've got a stage select of four bosses, like the Game Boy titles. This is truly bizarre though. It's three Mega Man 5 NES bosses and one Mega Man 4 NES boss. They picked like the worst guy from MM4 too. The only one of these four that MMIV for Game Boy didn't cover already is Star Man, so at least that's exciting. 

The graphics are better than they are on the NES, for the most part. Only issue is that the screen is zoomed-in all the time, like you're right up close and personal with everything. 

This leads to the biggest problem with the game: The scrolling. The field of view just isn't big enough to follow Mega Man while he jumps and falls and so forth. Here's what happens when you jump high: 

...the screen scrolls upward. This is a problem if there's anything bad underfoot.

 Here's the NES version for comparison. Since the camera isn't all zoomed-in on everything, you have a lot of room to see what's going on and there's no need for scrolling.

Our hero blasts falling cheese, as we discover another step back with this game: You can only fire two shots at a time, rather than the customary three. Even on the Game Boy you could fire three. I have to wonder if the limited shots and zoomed-in screen were design choices rather than limitations. 

You can also fire a charged shot, and it's big and bad. Unfortunately this has the same design as MM5 and MM6 on the NES where getting hit while charging breaks your charge. 

Here's an example of spikes you can't see until you jump down from the above platform. Considering that they had the screen so zoomed-in, they probably should have just deleted these spikes. The levels aren't completely 1:1 recreations of the NES versions anyway (though they're very close). Or they could have just reduced the overall size of the levels, which would have made up for the smaller field of view. 

Oh, you've also got the slide, of course. This game seems like a hybrid of 4 and 5 more than anything else so far. Rush Coil is your only "accessory" powerup and it functions like it does in 5

Here's another spot where you can't see spikes until you're mid-jump. The Game Boy iterations of the series didn't have these problems. To be fair, it's mostly an issue with Star Man's level, since this level was very much designed with the NES screen height and high jumps in mind. ...which begs the question of why they picked this one out of the four leftover stages from Mega Man 5

AT-ST miniboss! Interesting thing I noticed: Minibosses in this game die in one, sometimes two hits from the fully-charged shot. They can take a lot of regular shots, though. It almost seems like a glitch. 

Star Man. I like this guy because of the fight mechanics. Both of you jump super high. His weakness is Stone Man's weapon, but he's easy enough to stop with the default buster.

He's got the requisite four-satellite shield weapon, like Wood Man, Skull Man, etc. 

Here's an odd thing about the game: The weapons don't have their proper names. They're all "(Something) Weapon" and it often lacks the name of the actual boss. Here's Crash Weapon, while Napalm Man gives you Bomb Weapon and Bright Man gives you Flash Weapon. There's some confusion here, though the game does splice in some Mega Man 2 DNA alongside 4 and 5

Bright Man's stage is next. Never liked this stage. Here's an obnoxiously-long jump where you have to basically leap off of one foot to make it across. 

Gumball miniboss! MM4 on the NES has some appealing minibosses. 

Bright Man leaps all over the place and attacks with a poor man's Flash Stopper. Star Man's "crash weapon" makes short work of him, but it's important to stay a step ahead of him since his primary attack is bumping into Mega Man like a Night at the Roxbury guy. 

Also worth noting: While all of these guys have their correct stage themes from their games, they all use the MM4 boss theme regardless of which game they're from.

Napalm Man's stage is home to tigers...that you can't really see until they pounce.

Here's the NES depth of field, for reference. 

This hidden passage from the NES version is still here, and leads to... 

...a prized E-Tank. I only found 3 of these while going through the game, so they're more valuable than ever. The final boss is a good time to have one, in particular. 

This big goon is a sort of stage-end miniboss in a bunch of MM5 levels. He takes a lot of punishment normally, except...he can be beaten in one charged shot here. 

Napalm Man himself is one of the more appealing robot master designs out there for some reason. Defeating him is a simple battle of attrition, since Bright Man's flash weapon hits him no matter where he is on screen. So you just need to use that every time he stops blinking and you should win before he ends you. Problem is, if he gets scrolled off the screen at any point, the flash won't hit him. 

Stone Man, like Napalm Man, has an appealing design. He's weak to Napalm Man's weapon and probably the best choice to fight last in this game. His weapon works well on Star Man, who is relatively easily defeated with the regular arm cannon. It's also a difficult weapon to aim, since it sends rocks spiraling outward from Mega Man. As a result, his weapon doesn't have much use in this game. It's best to fight him last.

This stage has these iconic enemies. It's basically Hard Man's stage, Version 2.

Mountains r' nice, as we're on a collision course with...

...Stone Man, who is a bit of a chore to fight. He breaks down into an invincible pile of bricks a lot, and Napalm Bomb is a little difficult to aim. I mean, none of these bosses are particularly difficult, but I can see more people having issues on this one.

After defeating that last MM5 boss, we're whisked away to...Cossack Fortress from MM4. Yep, no second set of four bosses, unfortunately. The cool thing about this is, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect out of this game. Didn't know if there would be another set of four bosses, or a fortress, or what. And what we get next is...

…not a fortress, but Wave Man from MM5! Pretty cool that we're getting another boss that wasn't covered by the Game Boy series. The placement of this stage is a little odd since it's actually easier than the previous four. On the other hand, the boss is a little bit tougher than the others and doesn't have any weaknesses, which probably explains it. 

Wave Man's stage is one of the more memorable stages from Mega Man 5 for two reasons: One, these bubble rooms where you have to ride bubbles up a few screens. This part is exactly as it was in the NES version, and the screen size isn't actually a detriment here because they reworked the level size to fit.

Mountains r' nice, as we reach the other memorable thing about the level: The jet bike portion.

There's a miniboss here, as is tradition. It looks a lot smaller than I remember it being on the NES...

Yep, it's definitely smaller. The proportions of the Game Gear versions of these levels are really odd.

With no weaknesses, Wave Man is a pretty challenging fight until you figure out his pattern. He does the same few moves every few seconds.

Victory gets you... WAVE WEAPON. Come on guys, is this as creative as you could get with your naming?

It sends a wave across the ground. Against ground-based enemies it works really well. Not so great against everything else though.

Next up: Toad Man? Really? He's the sixth and final Robot Master of this game. Kinda seems like an odd choice. Again, the game is indecisive about whether it's a retread or breaking new ground for the portable series. Instead of Toad Man and Bright Man, I would have loved to get the last two missing bosses from Mega Man 5 (Gravity and Gyro Man). In a roundabout way, it would have made this an alternate take on Mega Man V for the Game Boy that didn't go off in its own direction with new foes. Instead we've got what essentially amounts of a retread of several other games.

Visually this is obviously closer to the NES version of the level than the Game Boy version, and I'd say it even exceeds the NES version a little bit on colors. It should also be noted that the furiously-gyrating Toad Man is the...

"W! W! E! Tag! Team! Champion!"

In other games Toad Man was a bit of a joke, and the best choice for first boss. Here? Not such a joke. As a matter of fact, he's the toughest boss in this game to beat with the standard arm cannon, outside of the final boss. How did that happen? He's the last robot master, so it makes sense that they beefed him up. He moves faster now, and blasting him doesn't interrupt his rain attack unless you charge up and hit him super fast after he lands. It's like "Hard Mode Toad Man" if you weel.

The good news is that he takes HUGE damage with Wave Man's weapon (about 25%), so if you have good enough timing to get him with it as soon as he lands, the fight is no problem at all. Winning gets you Rain Flush, which... doesn't really do much in this game. I mean you only have a stage or two to use it in, and those stages have very few enemies, and you can't go back to other stages. No foes are weak to it. It's like Luna or Dryad in Secret of Mana: Too late in the game to get any real use, and not good enough to make an effort to use regardless.

Those two stages are all for Cossack Castle. Time for the Skull Castle, which actually has a couple of Wily stages. There's bad news, though: The passwords for this game end after the initial four bosses. So if you game over at all in this final part of the game, you go allllll the way back to before Wave Man's stage and have to do both of those over again. It's really weird.

The first stage here is Quick Man's stage (without a boss) which fills in one of the gaps from Dr. Wily's Revenge. The first Game Boy game lacked stages for four of the bosses it had. Well, here's one of them.

This stage is lengthy and difficult, and Bright Man's "Flash Weapon" doesn't actually freeze time or help you get through this. All it really does is damage everything onscreen with a flash, so basically the same thing Toad Man's weapon does. This is easily the level most likely to doom players and send them all the way back to the beginning of Wave Man's stage. There's good news here too though: The first part of the beams isn't an insta-kill, and only does normal enemy damage. The beams themselves ARE an insta-kill, but if you can get hit by the first part of the beam and use your I-frames to fall through, it makes the stage a lot more manageable. There's also the slide to help out in this game.

Dr. Wily door. No fortress bosses or capsule room in this, just the final boss. A one-form final boss! Really makes you thankful for the Mega Man games that give you a bit more to do.

Here's the final iteration of the menu screen. I never found the M-Tank, and only have three E-Tanks to show for the game.

For those wondering, the M-Tank is in Stone Man's level. There are a few destructible walls there. I should have remembered this from the Game Boy version of the level.

For a final battle you only get Wily in his capsule, no other forms, and no boss rush teleport room. Weird thing is that the floor has what looks like a teleporter in it there, which indicates that they planned to put a boss rush teleport room into the game at some point.

As far as Wily capsules go, this one is pretty easy. The regular buster is the best thing to use. I had E-Tanks hoarded in case there were several forms to the final boss, or the Yellow Devil showed up, or something. Turned out I didn't need to hoard, at all. One for the final boss pretty much assures victory, and it can be done with zero without much fuss.

We see Dr. Cossack's Palatial Russian Estate blowing up (though oddly enough, not Skull Castle).

That's it for this game, as we get fireworks and credits. All of the names are noticeably not Japanese, which confirms that a side-team at Capcom worked on this.

Weird game here, but it was fun simply because it was new and I got to be surprised. It used some of the stuff that never got used in the Game Boy series, namely Wave Man, Star Man, and Quick Man's stage. I wish it'd have gone a bit further with things that were unused, though. Heck, Cut Man and Guts Man never made it into the Game Boy series, throw them in there.

Instead of how they did it, I would have had Star/Wave/Gravity/Gyro Man as the first four bosses, then Cut Man and Guts Man as the next two non-selectable bosses, then abbreviated versions of Quick/Heat/Bubble/Flash Man's stages as the Wily levels. Abbreviated so we don't run out of memory. That would have pretty much covered everything the Game Boy series didn't cover pre-MM6. Then they could have made a "Mega Man 2" for the Game Gear that was basically just a port of MM6 and we'd have full portable synergy with the NES Mega Man games.

Instead we have this odd mishmash of levels where you can't tell if they were covering un-covered components of the other games or if they were just throwing things in randomly. Quick Man's stage being the final level might be less about covering something the Game Boy series didn't and more about the devs of this game just throwing in the most difficult stage they could find in order to slow down the player at the end. A lot of this game feels like it was made by a C-Team at Capcom, because it was. It's alright though, and aside from the scrolling issues it was a fun play.


  1. Super fighting robot!

    Those "weapon" titles are weird.

    The tigers, they POOOOOUNCE

    Stone Man has one of the more unique weapons in the series, but there's a reason they never replicated it.

    It's ya boy the TOOOAD MAAAAAN! Hard mode Toad Man is in interesting concept.

    I wonder if Jay and Bob were there.

    Thank you for playing!!

  2. "A lot of this game feels like it was made by a C-Team at Capcom, because it was."
    In fact, besides licensing (and perhaps royalty fees), Capcom had nothing to do with the game. As was typical for U.S. Gold, they sublicensed the series and had a different british company, Freestyle, develop it.

    Somewhat interesting fact: Freestyle's founder previously co-founded Gremlin Graphics/Interactive and Core Design.