The Blue Bomber's debut has hit mobile phones. Find out why it's still nearly a must-purchase...
The Mega Man franchise has managed to defy conventional wisdom by actually growing stronger as the years go by. The series debuted with a bang in 1987 and Capcom quickly capitalized by released an impressive five NES sequels. Since then the blue bomber has become a bonafide mascot, appearing in RPGs, retro collections, and more. It's appropriate that the franchise's mobile debut should be the game that started it all. We just hope it isn't the last Mega Man title to see a mobile translation.
One big problem that I have with a lot of NES ports is that the original's lack of a save function was thoughtlessly carried over into the mobile release. This is 2006, not 1986- saving should be a bare necessity. With mobile gaming intended for short bursts, no save function causes gamers to see the same first few levels or sections of retro ports over and over again. Mega Man eliminates this issue in a couple of major ways. For one, the original game design itself allows you to choose what order to tackle the six levels.
Even cooler is the game's "capture mode," which allows even the most casual gamer to enjoy Mega Man's occasional stiff difficulty. Capture mode doesn't record your high score as the normal mode does, but it gives you unlimited lives, compared to the main game's two. If you die you begin anew at the beginning of that same screen or boss battle, allowing you to enjoy a stress-free Mega Man experience, should you want one. Die as much as you like in capture mode - you'll still slowly progress. It also allows you to save your progress and resume it later, if getting to Dr. Wily in one sitting takes too long.
Think of Normal mode as the Mega Man you remember, and Capture mode as Mega Man thoughtfully tweaked for mobile gaming. Retro porters, take note.
As for Mega Man's classic gameplay itself, it holds up rather well. Gamers choose a stage and then make their way through a handful (generally 5-6) enemy-inhabited platforming screens before facing off against a boss. Defeat him and you add his weapon to your arsenal, and then move on. Choosing the right order to tackle the levels can greatly ease up the difficulty. Getting Iceman's enemy-freezing icebeam as early as possible is a must.
The game's oldschool graphics and sound (including all of the original's still-catchy tunes) are intact, and with no noticeable sacrifices made. On the gameplay front I'm not quite so sure. I have a hunch that enemy placement or behavior isn't identical to the NES cart, but unless you're a Mega Man fanatic it shouldn't matter. It didn't bother me, and I have fond memories of the original.
The gameplay holds up well and remains fun today, whether you have fond memories of the original or not. 2D game design has evolved greatly since Mega Man first appeared, but thanks to smart porting choices Mega Man has been left behind.
What's Hot: Classic music all present. Optional continue system eases difficulty
What's Not: Very slight control issues