Review: Mega Man 6 (NES)

In this review, we blast our way through another Mega Man action game. This time, we are taking on Mega Man 6 for the NES.

This installment of the Mega Man series was released in 1994. It is part of what is known as the classic series. We’ve already played a vast majority of the series already. We’ve reviewed Mega Man 2 which was an excellent play. We reviewed Mega Man 3 which was also a very good play. We reviewed Mega Man 4 and found it to only be an above average play. Finally, we reviewed Mega Man 5 and found that game to only barely be a passable experience. We also, just for kicks, reviewed Mega Man 2 as released on the game boy and certainly found it to be a title to avoid. So, we decided to forge ahead with this particular game even though it was particularly late in the NES life cycle to see if there was any juice left in the series by this point.

The storyline is, at this stag,e very par for the course for this game. Dr. X is hosting a tournament where robots battle each other. In a twist, he takes over the robots and plans for world domination. It is up to you, as Mega Man, to stop him.

The first impression going into this was, “really?” I said that because you are greeted with the exact same 3×3 grid where you choose one of 8 robot masters to defeat. You can select them in any order you wish, but you must defeat them all before taking on the final series of stages. By this point, this concept has been done to death in this series. To be honest, I didn’t know if this concept could be refreshed with a new concept. Clearly, the designers needed to find some way of sprucing up this tired concept too because they decided to add a little something as you complete the levels. If you complete a level, you can either get the free life icon (which apparently indicates you get nothing extra), or you can get a letter. Eventually, the letters spell “BEAT”. Assembling all four letters means you get the final power up of the game: Beat the bird. This character was introduced in Mega Man 5 and appears to make another appearance here.

Another concept was that defeating 2 particular robot masters means you get a bonus upgrade. You can either get the Power Megaman or the Jetpack upgrade. The Jetpack is arguably the most useful upgrade in the entire game because you can jump and fly for brief moments in the game. Landing (or climbing a ladder) will recharge your energy. This, I thought, was actually a novel concept where certain powers could simply be recharged outside of the secondary powerups or completing a robot master level. The power upgrade makes Mega Man adorn boxing gloves (???) so he can blow up cracked blocks or walls. Often, these blocks contain particularly helpful powerups like the energy container or a free life. The cap for both is set to 9. I thought the two new powers were interesting, but Beat ended up being fairly useless in the grand scheme of things.

You can rack up special items by re-challenging the levels. If you complete a level again, then you can go to the robot master chamber and simply warp out. This enables you to rack up spare energy tanks and free lives for later in the game. Not a new concept, but a concept that was retained.

Another retained concept is that was retained is the fact that defeating a robot master means you obtain the robot masters special weapon. Different weapons cost a certain amount of weapon energy. You run out of that energy, then you can no longer use it. It can be refilled by certain items you can pick up on the various levels in the game.

Additionally, the powering up of the buster weapon makes a return once again. If you power up this weapon, you can fire a more powerful (and larger) blast of energy. The balance between the power up ability and the other weapons was actually nicely balanced this time around. If you happen to find a robot master weakness, it is often worth it to simply use that weapon instead because it deals about the same damage as a powered up buster shot. The powered up buster shot has its pitfalls in that if you take damage, you have to charge back up all over again. This makes combat more tricky – hence an advantage to the other weapons that a master is weak against.

A second feature making its return is Mega Man’s ability to slide. This can give you a brief burst of speed or allow you to slide under low ledges to pick up items found in small holes and crevices.

If you defeat all of the robot masters, you move on to tackling the fortress. The levels are linear and a line is drawn between each point for whatever the level you are about to take on. It can give you a rough idea if you are doing a lot of running, climbing, or free falling in a particular level, but that’s about it. Your goal is the skull at the end (the last or second to last level). In this game, there’s two fortresses. So, you have to complete the second fortress to beat the game.

Another returning feature is that one level forces you to be pitted against all the robot masters. Beating a robot master means you get a large burst of health before taking on another master. Beating all of them for the second time will yield an additional boss to defeat.

One thing I liked about this game is the fact that the difficulty was about right. It was challenging, but not overly so like some other installments in this series. You need a chance to practice your fighting against robot masters, but once you figure them out, then it’s definitely possible to defeat them just with the buster weapon, though other weapon can make this task easier.

A major pitfall is that it recycles a lot of the same concepts from previous games to the point that it becomes boring. In fact, this problem is so severe, it does overshadow the smaller innovations (and even the fact that this game is certainly approachable) that can be found in this game.

Another thing I found annoying was the occasional sluggishness in the controls. From time to time, I swear I hit the jump button or perform a dash only to see Mega Man just stand there and take the impending damage. So, that wasn’t the greatest thing to see in the game.

Generally speaking, this game plays to the idea that, once you’ve played one Mega Man game, you’ve played them all. If you’ve played Mega Man 3, there is hardly any differences between that game and this one. There is some aspects that can be enjoyed in this game, but there is pretty much nothing exciting about this game.

Graphically, this game is about what you would expect in a Mega Man, only with a few less special effects like animated walls and floors. If you want a Mega Man game that showed the special effects, there are much better examples in the series like 2 or 3. This actually seemed a bit more plain to me. A problem here is that SNES was in full swing by this point, so the fact that this game doesn’t do much innovation in graphics hurts a lot more because there are console games with much better graphics capabilities. If a new system is released, the last thing you want to do is relax on the graphics if the game is destined for the previous generation console. That is what this game did.

The audio was pretty decent in this game. The music was fairly well done, though nothing was particularly memorable for me. It was nice to hear the music when I heard it, but nothing I will say a year or two down the road and say, “Hey, remember that level’s music from that Mega Man 6 game?” The sound effects were not too bad either.

Overall, if you are obsessed with how the first few Mega Man games played, then this game gives you more of that. If you are looking for a Mega Man game that will excite you with something new, this game really isn’t for you. While there were small bits of innovation involved here, it is over shadowed by a major sense of “sameness” throughout. It’s way too predictable for my taste and seriously needs a concept makeover to reinvigorate the series. So, if you want to familiarize yourself with this series and want to know if there are games in the series you can skip, I would say that this is one of those games you can skip. You won’t miss much.

Furthest point in game: Sent Dr. Wiley to prison (beat the game).

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 58%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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