Gamestyle Archive intro: the archive wouldn’t be complete without a Mega Man entry and here Adam tackles the Anniversary collection.
Published: June 2004
Your palms are sweaty as you traverse the dangerously placed platforms, knowing with one wrong move your character will plummet to his doom. As you jump over to the next section you are caught with a bullet – you didn’t see it coming – and because of this you are now sent back to the beginning of the level. This is what its like playing a Mega Man game, as they are the pinnacle of frustration, but somehow you just want one more attempt before giving up in a fit of rage and flying consoles. Gamestyle felt this way while experiencing Mega Man Anniversary Collection, it may be tough, but Gamestyle loves it nonetheless.
Celebrating the 15th anniversary of Mega Man, this retro compilation contains all eight of the original Mega Man games, each one however virtually plays the same with only a small handful of gameplay enhancements happening over the course of the series. This can be forgiven though as while nothing has evolved, the gameplay has remained as good as ever and is the usual case of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, a phrase that could very well be the motto for all Capcom sequels. Starting from the beginning then. The first Mega Man game laid the boundary for what would turn into ones of Capcom’s most legendary series. What was unique at the time was being able to choose what level you wanted to tackle first, would you try to take down Ice Man or opt for Fire Man? Its solely your choice, but there is also a tactical element to the proceedings. Beating each boss also gave you his ability, and if you chose to complete the levels in a specific order then it would be a far easier gaming experience. So, beating Elec Man first and obtaining his Thunder Beam would give you an ideal advantage over Ice Man. While this may seem simple, later editions in the series weren’t quite as straightforward and required lucky guesses instead of a more Pokemon style paper, scissors, stone system. Still, Mega Man paved the way for future games in the series and is still as enjoyable today.
The first Mega Man game gave birth to the series with an enjoyable opener, the two following sequels however surpassed the original in every way. Mega Man 2 threw away the difficult learning curve of the original instead opting for a simpler approach. Mega Man 3 however is believed by many to be the best of the Mega Man ‘originals’ and Gamestyle can’t argue with that. The game features a near perfect level design with a difficulty placed somewhere between the toughness of Mega Man 1, and the easy nature of Megaman 2. The greatness of Mega Man 3 was also helped by the inclusion of the dash manoeuvre, which gave Mega Man the ability to slide under objects and avoid enemy fire. Something that would prove critical later in the game.
The fact that the Mega Man series was still enjoyable when they reached the 4, 5 and 6 mark is a testament to how strong the gameplay was in the first place. New bosses and levels were introduced, the only slight hindrance was that graphically nothing had really changed (as it was still on the dieing NES console) and Capcom seemingly had begun to run out of names (Gyro Man? Dust Man?). Gamestyle are being overly critical though, as even though the games were still firmly cemented in the past the gameplay still raised a smile. Mega Man 7 though took a graphical leap forward (thanks to the extra power of the SNES) and reminds us somewhat of the Mega Man X series, with its vibrant visuals, clever level design and memorable music.
A nosedive was inevitable though and it happened with the final entrant in the compilation, Mega Man 8. Entering the realm of 2.5D, Mega Man 8 may have looked wonderful and contained some wonderful FMV sequences, but that is meaningless when the game is incredibly dull. For starters, on some levels it can be difficult to figure out what is in the background and what is in the foreground thanks to the new visual look. Something that causes you to try and avoid things that were harmless, inadvertently sending you to your doom. Level design also hit a series low and the bosses are the most frustrating Gamestyle has ever encountered. Still, one bad game in a compilation of eight is certainly no bad thing. Being a celebration of Mega Man’s 15th birthday it would be wrong not to include hidden extras, and there are plenty, all of which have to be unlocked by using a lost art known as “skill”. The highlight of the extras would have to be the two hidden games, Mega Man The Power Battles and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, both of which are quite entertaining to play (especially with a friend) but are only really enjoyable in short bursts.
Other hidden stuff include interviews with the Mega Man creator and a bunch of remixed tunes for your listening pleasure. A few changes have also been made, most notably, you now don’t have to remember those infamous passwords, instead you can save straight to the memory card. A new, easier setting is also available to the Mega Man newcomers, who can’t quite get to grips with the, at times, sever difficulty. The final new inclusion that can also help the new players is the ‘Navi Mode’. By turning this on you get helpful hints through the game and sometimes Beat the Bird or other friends show up to point you in the right direction. I’m glad to see Capcom offering the player a chance to get assistance during the game, after all, most of us know how infuriating these games can be. While this review is of the Gamecube version, the PS2 edition has one major difference, that being instead of the bonus interviews you get remixed music (during gameplay) and a free anime cartoon. But, whichever one you opt for, you won’t be disappointed, as this is a compilation that deserves to be in every retro fans collection.
Gamestyle Score: 8/10