Saturday, April 13, 2024

Rockman: The Power Battle (Arcade, 1995)


One of the two Mega Man arcade games that Japan got in the mid-90's. Eventually it made it to the US via being included as a bonus in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for PS2-era systems. I'm playing it on the modern Capcom Arcade Stadium (it's on the second one). Was surprised to realize I never covered these on here, given that I did most of the Mega Man series. It's basically an "Oops, all boss fights" version of Mega Man.

Editor's Note: Being told that this actually DID get a release in American arcades, so correction on that.

We've got a choice of three characters here. Unlike the main series games, they all play pretty similarly to each other. They all have the ability to rapid fire or charge their shot, depending on the button pressed. The main difference between them seems to be what kind of slide they have. Mega Man has the normal slide, Protoman has a kind of shoulder-dash, and Bass has an X-series type dash. Kind of fits that Bass has that, considering Bass was the latest step on Wily's road to creating Zero.

Choose a character, then choose one of three boss lineups. Mega Man 7 was the latest one at this point, so it gets its own set. Surprisingly they gave MM1+2 a set rather than splitting the first six evenly.

The boss you fight is randomized from the stage select, but you can press a button to stop the cursor mid-randomization and possibly catch the one you want. It doesn't really matter though, as boss weaknesses aren't a big part of this game at all and you can beat everybody with the standard shot.

Right off the bat, the visuals in this game are pretty sick. It almost looks like the animated series in terms of art style and the visual fidelity is pretty much up to Mega Man 8 level (which wouldn't exist for another year).

Defeat a boss and you get their ability, which might be a special weapon or it might be some other ability. The fights with the bosses are pretty much on par with how they are in the games, and their life meters get longer as you go on. However you have unlimited extra lives by entering coins, and it starts you right back where you died, so you kinda can't lose this game. Took me about four "coins" to get through a playthrough, sometimes less, which is pretty good.

Wood Man. They made each robot master from scratch for this in a more modern (at the time) style, which is pretty awesome.

Oh, I forgot to get a shot of the stage select, here it is. While it lets you stop the randomizer on a stage, it also doesn't tell you who any of the stages are so there's no real point.

Using Wood Shield against Crash Man, I discover something interesting. Each special weapon seems to do big damage to a robot master...the first time you hit them with it. So it actually wants you to cycle through the weapons and hit your foes with all of them, I think.

I switch to Mega Man next to battle Cut Man. The charged shot looks really nice here. All in all this is a pretty great game. I expected it to be more like a fighting game (haven't even looked at this in 14 years) but it's basically a normal Mega Man game with extra flair and arcadeyness.

Ice Man follows the exact same pattern he does in Mega Man on the NES, firing shots at 3 levels. I could just stay back and fire back and forth pretty easily. Was he this easy to beat on the NES? Maybe I should have started with him all those years instead of Bomb Man or Cut Man.

There was also Heat Man in this first set of six, but I missed getting a shot of him. Note how they had 3 bosses from each game, an even split.

After beating all six bosses (surprised they didn't just go with eight), it's time for Wily Fortress, which consists of two fights.

First is the Yellow Devil, which is luckily nowhere near as tough as it is in the main series.

Most notable is that the music for this fight is REALLY good. This is the kind of Mega Man music that I can "feel", a desperate struggle kind of track. It has a lot in common with the final stage theme from Mega Man X5 (which incidentally has a fight with this guy right before it).

Protoman's dash in action.

Win that fight, and next up is a Wily Machine. His main thing is having these big hands that block shots. The background of this room is constantly in huge sweeping motion, which adds a lot to the fight. (Also something found in the final stage of X5)

Wily Machine has a second form, but it's all on one life meter.

Defeat him and you get this odd minigame where you have 10 seconds to finish Wily before he escapes. Not sure if this affects the ending, as I always barely get him in time.

Protoman's ending is kind of weird, just him being mysterious and lurking on top of a building (probably the one from the MM2 intro).

Next I take on the MM7 set. Turbo Man is the simplest foe here and basically just drives back and forth while you shoot him. With how much he gets beat up, his insurance premium must be through the ROOF.

Next up, Slash Man. I WISH his weapon looked this cool once you get it, but it doesn't. It's small and anemic compared to his massive slash.

Junk Man is usually the first boss I fight in MM7 actual. All of these fights are pretty much blending together at this point, since I'm using the same strategy for all of them. Drop special weapon hits once, then use charged shots if I don't have many windows to hit due to enemy movement, and use rapid fire if the enemy stands still.

Shade Man is just as annoying as in the console game, swooping down to drain health. Decided I'm gonna get a different character ending for each of the three stage sets, and it's only fitting that Bass gets Mega Man 7.

Here's Freeze Man, master of the "Freeze, Cracker!"

Lastly Cloud Man. Always liked trapping this guy in bubbles in MM7, no such weapon here though.

MM7 is one of my less-liked Mega Man games for some reason, but I do like the boss designs. Burst Man and Spring Man are the two they left out of this game. Still unsure why they didn't just go for the full eight-boss lineups as is tradition.

For this one, instead of a Yellow Devil, you fight the pumpkin miniboss from Shade Man's level. Same incredible music though.

Note: There are two versions of this arcade cabinet with different sound chips. Here's the Wily Fortress fight theme with the older sound chip, which a lot of folks prefer. It's very Genesis-ish.

Wily returns here, now with a different background. Basically the same fight though.

Bass's charged attacks are so strong that you can see him being physically pushed back in midair as he fires.

Wily is incensed that Bass would turn on him, while Bass is all "No man is my master". Well...

...Wily's next project is going to take the Bass design and reach new unprecedented levels of power. Of course, he's talking about Zero. We'll see more about this in Rockman 2: The Power Fighters which came out a few months after this one in Japan. Talk about confusing titles though.

Finally, Mega Man takes on the MM3-6 boss set. Again, surprised they didn't have MM3 in the first set. There's Gyro Man...

...the ultra-lame Plant Man...

...Gemini Man, who is pretty cool. That reminds me, for some weird reason, Freeze Man's battle theme was Gemini Man's stage, while Gemini Man doesn't have his own stage theme. Maybe it randomizes the themes / shuffles them? A lot of the fights seemed to have their correct themes, which could just be coincidence. I don't know.

Dust Man! For my money, Mega Man 4 is low-key the best Mega Man game on the NES. They should have included Pharaoh Man instead though, Dust Man literally sucks.

Finally, Magnet Man, whose weapon is awesome in this game and homes in on foes with lightning speed.

There was also Napalm Man, who I missed getting a shot of, will get him in the next game. That means MM3 and MM5 both had two bosses here while the others had one each. Man, if you're only including one boss each from MM4 and MM6... Dust Man and Plant Man? Really?

Get through all that and there's another Yellow Devil and another Wily Machine, same as the others.

Mega Man's ending is pretty bland, and exactly what you'd expect. He spouts some platitudes while Auto looks on creepily.

So, thoughts on this game? It's really freaking good, with a great OST and some action-packed boss fights. The only real downside to it is that the three characters all kinda play the same. The sequel adds a fourth character and makes everyone play a bit differently, but it also messes up the format of stage sets and kinda mixes everyone together. It also reuses a ton of bosses and graphics from this game, while adding some new ones at least. All in all I prefer the first. Except that the second has more story elements which is good.

While the first seems like a supplement to the first seven games, the second seems intended more to hype up Mega Man 8 which was on the way, while also tying the classic series to the X series in a way that, as usual, they never followed up on. More on the second game later.

Other Mega Man Posts

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