Friday, March 12, 2010

Mega March Madness - Megaman 6

Slowly but surely all of these Megaman games are driving me insane. I've been working on this blog for close to a year now and this is the first time I've ever looked forward to not playing a videogame. I really do think if I keep at this series it's going to break me. These aren't bad games but they're so similar to one another that I wonder if it's even worth bothering to continue.

Nevertheless now I'm up to Megaman 6 and surprisingly it's a bit different. There's eight more robot masters and a mysterious Dr. X to contend with. I'm not even sure why Capcom bothers cause for one this Dr. X is obviously Dr. Wily and for two the level themes just feel so uninspired. So okay I'm going to fight a guy named Knightman. Wouldn't his stages have Knights? They could have at least tried to put together a decent medieval theme. Megaman could jump on moving javelins, dodge boiling oil, and Knightman's weapon could have been the black plague or something. Instead he uses a mace. It's not even a cool mace either like the ones that swing around. It's just the ball and it travels a short distance before coming back, sort of like Ringman's weapon from MM4. This weapon is used against Centaurman and yes there are no centaurs in his stage. I hate this game.

Rush has been completely revamped and now he works as armor to attach to Megaman. There are two sets of armor, one that allows Megaman to throw punches that break walls, and another that allows him to fly for a short period of time. If you've played Ranger-X the jet's mechanics will be instantly familiar to you. Whenever you fly a small meter quickly drains, which only nets you a couple seconds of air time at the most. When you touch the ground the meter refills almost instantly. Using these two armors will allow Megaman to access alternate paths to find all the pieces of Beat. I didn't find Beat and that's because I hate this game.

The reason I hate this game is simple. Megaman 6 is really not interested in being a Megaman game. I figure Capcom knew this was going to be their last NES Megaman game so they shuffled in all of the ideas they had been playing around with even if they wouldn't make much sense in a Megaman game. The end result is something that reminds me of Darkwing Duck or some other Capcom game that uses the Megaman engine but isn't a Megaman game. Thus it is very clear that this game suffers from a lack of identity.

How is that possible? Megaman 6 has all of that other stuff from Megaman 1 through 5. It's got the same jumping controls, the same weapon properties, Megaman still climbs ladders, and there's all that other junk we've come to expect. The key problem here is that there is no challenge. Throughout all of the Megaman games whether it was purposeful or accidental there was always challenge. Certainly some of the games are much easier than others but at least they were open-ended to the point where the player could make them difficult if they wanted to. In this game however there are no obstacles to overcome, there's nothing resembling the seemingly insurmountable, and the odds are always in your favor.

The robot masters feel like an afterthought in this game. Aside from being among the most uncreative and unexciting the bosses themselves barely worth noting. They're an inconvenience really. I probably would have been better off if the stage simply ended, heck they wouldn't even have to give me a weapon. I wouldn't need it because the game is such a walk in the park and it'd probably turn out to be useless anyway as is the case with most of the weapons.

The alternate paths are a nice touch but most of the time all it adds up to is meaningless replay value. None of these alternate paths do much to provide a challenge. Some of them require the jet armor to get through but the level design doesn't do anything. There's some platforms that can only be reached with the jet and towards the end a couple clever sections that actually require some understanding of how the system works. 90% of the time there's no follow through so we end up with useless clutter. The power armor is probably the greatest example of this. If there were no breakable walls in this game you would never use the power armor. Actually I take that back there is one boss that the power armor is recommended for.

You might think me a hypocrite but this is one of those times where the last thing a Megaman game needs is new ideas. There's enough material for one to create a better game simply by improving on what's already available. Instead I'm pausing the game every few screens to switch to the jet armor and then a few screens later I'm switching to some other armor. Every switch is coupled with a short cutscene which I presume was done to give Rush some face time. This really feels like the kind of sequel where everything I've learned playing the past games has been squandered. There's no reward for beating this game other than a pretty major incentive to never play it again.

Although I'd be better off if I dropped this series while I was ahead I have already started work on Megaman 7. Rather than leave anyone in suspense I'm just going to sum it up with a line I heard from a famous Caveman once: "Ugh".

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