maanantai 7. tammikuuta 2013

REVIEW - Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge | GB | 1991

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: July 26, 1991
AVAILABLE ON: GB, 3DS Virtual Console

In 1991, it was Mega Man's turn to conquer the Game Boy with the first game in an artificially confusing, but well received series. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge was the first outsourced Mega Man title, and it was developed by a team whose leader was apparently a huge fan of the franchise, and knew just what the series needed to shine on the Game Boy, and make a better impression than most of its peers that had recently debuted on the handheld. I've always wanted to try the Game Boy series, so I started the first game up in good spirits. I left utterly torn. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge is better than your average, old-school portable game - but it is also devastatingly difficult.

Metal up your ass

That jump can be much nastier
than it looks like.
Dr. Wily redesigns and rebuilds eight of his old Robot Masters to stall Mega Man down on Earth, while he's up in his new fortress in outer space, and working on what he considers the ultimate cure for his persistent, blue headache: Enker, the Mega Man Killer.

Not a day goes by I wouldn't have some major game project underway. Not necessarily a game project that I'm doing for the direct benefit of the blog, so I need a quickie for that. I was considering doing Mega Man 10 for the PS3 now, but I'd have to pay my respects to Mega Man 9 first. I still haven't beaten that game, either, so I thought it'd take me a while to wrap up my current major project AND the two unforgiving throwback maelstroms that Mega Man 9 and 10 are. So, I turned to this handheld series, thinking that after such a long and difficult game as Mega Man: The Wily Wars was, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge would be dealt with in under an hour and I could quickly get started with this cult Game Boy series, that used to confuse a lot of folks back in the day - due to the similarity of the titles between these games and their totally different NES counterparts. Although Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge looks like a quick and easy game on the outside, it's actually one of the toughest Mega Man games I've ever pitted against. It's kind of good, but it has notable flaws just as just about any handheld iteration of a classic game back at that time. Each key subject of my reviews has a part to play in the degradation of the overall taste of the game.

I like this post-boss screen.
Actually, you don't need to do more than watch the game to see there's something wrong with it. The graphics - well, it looks like Mega Man, all right. A giant Mega Man in the land of the dwarves of bad architectural sense. The levels are like puzzles thrown together from bits and pieces of the first two NES games, and extremely narrow, cramped as heck. Jumping, whenever there's just a slight bit of roof on the top of your head and spikes right in front of you, equals death more often than my gamer's comfort can take. It's extremely hard to time or place jumps correctly. Your health bar is absolutely pathetic, and even the tiniest enemy can do a huge number on it by just one hit. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, there are only two regular enemy avatars that surpass Mega Man in terms of size - and as you might know, it's the small ones that unleash the most hell in Mega Man games anyway. There are some really annoying enemies here. All of them have been featured in the series before, but they were never this annoying. Nor were it ever this cramped. The game simply can't take complex enemies, like the egg-laying birds from Mega Man 2 - luckily, they turn up seldomly. Nevertheless, notably. The lag that ensues is guaranteed to leave you with very little, if any energy left. Technical problems such as this and the level design is just the beginning, I'm afraid.

The original music is not that good. The tunes in the first four levels (Ice Man, Elec Man, Fire Man and Cut Man) are taken straight from the first game, and they strike as the most familiar and best tunes here. From there on out, the soundtrack's kinda sloppy and repetitive. There are some horrid sound effects to go with the lackluster music, of which Cutting Wheel's cue might very likely turn out your "favourite". Man, those bastards are a nuisance like no other.

Due to the narrow hallways,
these drills from Mega Man 2
can form quite an unbreakable
wall if your hand fails to take
the pain.
Since it's a Game Boy game, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge has a different structure than any NES installment. The basic idea's pretty much the same, though. There are four levels in the beginning of the game, which alone makes it pretty easy to pick the right spot to begin. There are actually no wrong ones, since the bosses all move in similar patterns and it's relatively easy to blast 'em all to oblivion with your standard arm cannon - depending on your current state of health. It's the levels themselves that are the true problem. They're very long, there's just a couple of checkpoints per each, and the game is REALLY stingy with health items, not to mention extra lives. There are no Energy Tanks at all. Very soon you'll realize how much the game designers actually prompt you to find every benefit in extra weapons, and how they help you to preserve energy, by offering you a huge amount of weapon energy replenishment instead of health. Kind of a cool idea, since the arm cannon has usually been perfectly enough to hack through the actual levels in any Mega Man game, but it calls for some trial and error, as well as an extensive amount of annoying menu toggling. Besides, using Time Stopper or Ice Slasher against any excessively annoying enemy doesn't remove the threat they pose; they can actually be more dangerous than usual while perfectly still.

We survived the game, what's
a few bosses?
The first four levels are based around bosses from the first game, and as I already noted, Ice Man once again returns to give us a few good laughs and not much more - the trip to him is nothing short of furious, since it's an ice level in a game that doesn't really shine in the level design department. Hell, it's probably the hardest single level in the game - I started from it anyway, 'cause well... I have principles. Principles which the whole character of Ice Man is very much against. Well, after these four bosses, you'd expect the sudden emergence of four more bosses, as seen in Mega Man 7 years later. Well, that's not the case - you're going to Wily's fortress "already", "already" meaning about six or seven hours of cursing later. If you're lucky. Wily's fortress is just one level. One long-ass level, in the end of which a traditional boss survival awaits - but you will not be reprising your battles with the first four bosses, instead you'll be taking on four bosses from Mega Man 2. Namely Flash Man, Quick Man, Heat Man (God damn it, first Ice Man and now him???) and Bubble Man - who's suddenly become a menace. Probably the hardest of the standard bosses. Well, after these bosses you'll go face to face with Enker, who despite being nicknamed the "Mega Man Killer" is not much of a killer at all.

It was 1991, and already we
were thinking how this guy
never seems to learn.
After this, it's time for the final level, Dr. Wily's second fortress up in outer space, which as a level is surprisingly easy, considering everything you've been through - it just has a wide array of single rooms that stack the odds against your survival with utterly unavoidable hazards, which are and have always been just retarded, and do not add up to a true challenge in my opinion. After one more long and grueling journey through a narrow labyrinth of annoying enemies, you're set one on one against Dr. Wily, who's easy enough to beat, as kind of a reward to you, for seeing the worst and conquering it. I don't remember when I've last been so thankful for seeing a game's credits roll. I think I actually got on my knees and passionately kissed my living room floor. I don't remember, for being in a trance-like state.

I'm not sure of my thoughts and emotions, heading into Mega Man II. This is the only game in the handheld series I knew anything about before this, and I still wasn't prepared for such a hellishly difficult game. It's difficult for a lot of wrong reasons, but it's still Mega Man, and probably the best handheld translation you could expect from the first game of its kind. I hope to see a lot of its flaws harvested in the second one - but since it is the first one, I'm willing to let it pass with flying (or at least gliding) colours, 'cause the basics are in order and it can be an entertaining game. It's a much better handheld debut than the one Castlevania made, anyway.

+ It feels solid, there's nothing to take away from the standard experience as usual (even in great games such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening)
+ No invisible walls or comparative gameplay nuisances which plague Game Boy installments
+ A clever structure
+ Makes good use of extra weapons throughout the line

- Technical problems with the execution of complex enemy behaviours; lots of lag and flicker
- Cramped and random level design
- Not the best cavalcade of enemies or Robot Masters I could imagine
- Sucky audio
- Very stingy with items that could actually do you some good
- Only one piece of equipment for elevation, and it sucks ass

< 7.1 >

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