RELEASED: October 1994
AVAILABLE ON: GEN
Nearly two years ago, the Mega Man franchise was among the first to be dissected on this blog, and as hard as it might be to believe, I only scratched the surface with a total of 11 reviews. Mega Man's been around for 26 years, three years shy of yours truly - and not many of those years have gone by without presenting us at least one title in the main series, or one of the countless spin-offs. Besides the SNES classic Mega Man X - the first one, which I consider to be the best game in the whole franchise - I've never been too keen on the spin-offs, but I signed my death warrant when I started doing this blog. I know I have to take a look at those some day soon, but luckily, I can start things off in a familiar setting - an obscure game, a cult classic that gave new life to the three games that in turn gave life to this popular series. Following the success of an edition of Street Fighter II on the Sega Genesis, rumors of a non-Nintendo Mega Man game began circulating in the media. As ludicrous as it seemed, especially since Capcom was working on Mega Man X2 for the SNES at the time, and another game which turned out to be Mega Man 7 for the same platform, Mega Man: The Wily Wars for the Mega Drive/Genesis hit the Japanese shelves in late 1994. An outsourced 16-bit remake of the kind of obscure first game, AND the two games that all but made the series what it is today, all in one, topped with its own story and extra levels? Time to whip out the arm cannon.
Blue Bomber: Origins
It's funny how some critics constantly remark the recent wave of HD collections and "Origins" remakes and remasters like it's a whole new thing. Yeah, it's surely become more common in these days, but one shouldn't forget 16-bit remakes of 8-bit games; Super Mario All-Stars is surely the most known and popular one out of the small bulk. If there's one thing that hasn't changed or doesn't ring any less true in the case of remakes, is that they can go both ways. Remakes of classic games can be really good, but they can also have several flaws which might go as far as to actually prompt us to dig up the earlier versions, which still turn out the more enjoyable ones. For a recent example, The Secret of Monkey Island. The 2010 "Special Edition" of the 1990 game looked good, it had voiceover work by the same guys who had worked the series for years since the third installment... but the gameplay was crummy. It had none of that classic feel in it. It's kind of sad that a lot of PC players seemed to play the whole game on Classic Mode, which was the original game, without the voiceover work and fancy graphics which carried the game's whole point. Sad for the people who busted their balls to accomplish this long-anticipated remake. It was good, but it could've been much better. What I'm hearing of the new edition of BioWare's critically acclaimed debut Baldur's Gate, it plays out a lot better than the original. What I'm seeing, is almost the exact same game. That's not the way either. There's actually no rule of how to make a good remake that is satisfying from all possible standpoints. Making one is damn hard these days, and although Super Mario All-Stars was a winner, it wasn't any easier back in the 16-bit era.
|Basically, the games are exactly as they were. |
The Wily Tower is set to Mega Man 4's user
|Our first encounter with one of the cheesiest |
villains in history. There's bound to be a few
more. That's why it's called Wily Wars...?
|I never noticed how much that huge... thing... |
looks like Elijah Wood.
What does ruin the atmosphere, however, is the music. Especially Mega Man 3 is known for its music, and the way-beyond-classic opening track (which now also works as one for the first game, for some reason), as well as the Stage Select theme tell yet another sad story about how game designers seem hell bent on totally rearranging music that should've simply been remastered. The thing that bothers me here the most besides a different sound is most definitely the tempo of the songs. If I had never heard the originals - and I can't imagine someone who hasn't, in some context - I would love all of it, but the notably slower tempo and different arrangements do severe numbers on more classic tunes I can count. We're not quite talking something as horrid as adding xylophones to Ninja Gaiden's 4-2 here, but I can honestly say the 8-bit tunes were a lot better. The original music, which there's a lot of, sucks throughout the line with the exception of just a couple of tunes; there's no Mega Man in it at all, it rather sounds like something from the Capcom jam stock.
OK, a quick explanation. Mega Man: The Wily Wars is, for all intents and purposes, a 3-in-1 (+½) cartridge. The binding plot is amusing rather than distracting, it's the cheesiness of the series as we used to love it before it was taken a bit too far. You can play the games in any order you like, but separately. In other words, you can't go and stuff Atomic Fire from Mega Man 2 up Ice Man's ass in the first game as much as you'd like to. When you've finished all three games within the confines of a single save file, the Wily Tower is unlocked and you can try your luck with a complete weapon and item set of your choice, from any of the three games. It's way more solid than it sounds like.
|I hate this room.|
|Mega Man 3 gave us Rush, one of the greatest |
sidekicks ever - and he's going to help you a
LOT in the final stages, and the Wily Tower.
The last item on my list of gameplay issues regarding the remastered games is control. Mega Man moves more fluidly in look than he ever did in the original games, and therefore, he also feels more fluid to control. What I like most about this game's controls might sound like a small and simple thing, but I think NES kids know what I'm talking about when I say I'm so glad they made C the jump button and B the fire button instead of moving one of these features to A - as usually A and B are the main action buttons in Genesis games. This way, adapting to the controller after hacking through these games on the NES for half your life is not hard at all. The learning curve is two seconds into it for any guy or gal who's half a fan.
|This guy's huge, he has two health bars and |
he's still a pushover.
In my honest opinion, I think Mega Man: The Wily Wars is an extremely overlooked gem, perhaps second only to Super Mario All-Stars when it comes to the greatest compilation of remakes in history, and one of the best overall games on the Sega Genesis system. To get 8-bit masterpieces like Mega Man 2 and 3 remastered this gracefully for the 16-bit environment, one more classic game, and extra levels to boot, on one single cartridge... just think about it. The only thing I can really complain all the way to oblivion about is the quality of the music. Seriously, nothing else. This is a bundle of love, and it's a true joy to kick off the year with such a positive surprise.
+ Three classic games that made the franchise what it was
+ Nice colouring and overall, good graphics
+ Fluid gameplay that surpasses the original games
+ All that originally made these games stick: innovative enemy and level design, non-linearity, all that
+ Especially with Mega Man 2's modified difficulty level, and with Mega Man 3 and the Wily Tower here, you are guaranteed a Mega Man game of challenge and length like no other
- Although the capacity is larger, there are some persistent lags and glitches like the slow-down following the firing of the Gemini Laser
- Wily Tower's a cool, lengthy extra, but somewhat of a pushover
- The new bosses aren't too impressive, either
- Several problems involving sound; glitched audio, the total lack of some classic sound effects, badly rearranged music, and crappy original music (except for one gem in the Wily Tower)
- One of the saddest moments in my "career" was to find I've run out of fresh insults towards Ice Man, Heat Man and Spark Man
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