Review: I'd tell you how great this game is, but I'm afraid Mega Man would get a big head. Wait a minute?
The Mega Man series is a very interesting one. It's not often that a company can get by with making what is essentially the same game over and over, and yet that's roughly what Capcom has been doing for the last two decades with the series. Granted, they throw new bosses into the mix with each series, and sometimes they'll toss in a new move or two, but essentially every game is the same- a rock-paper-scissors style shooter where one boss' strength is another's weakness. Now that the PSP has been around for nearly a year, Capcom has been in the process of remaking some of their biggest hits, and the original Mega Man was an obvious candidate for the remake process. In the transition, Mega Man was given a 3D coat of paint as well as a new super deform style (a cutesy big head with a little body). While this game shares the same bosses and same weapons as the original, this game is not your average remake- instead it's more like a remix, giving post NES newbies a taste of old 8-bit glory, while giving the old salts (ie anyone born before 1990) something entirely new in a familiar, yet new package.
When it comes to gameplay, Mega Man Powered Up delivers in spades. The game features four modes of play- a story mode (New Mode), a Challenge Mode, a Construction Mode, and a remade version of the original Mega Man (Old Mode).
Old Mode is basically a bare bones remake of the original Mega Man for the good ?ol NES. The graphics and style are new featuring a fully polygonal world with 3D characters, but the perspective is still 2D. Stages are built identical to the original with enemies and powerups right where they were back in 1987. The end of each stage still features one of the original six bosses complete with their old patterns and weaknesses. An interesting addition to Old Mode is the original 8-bit soundtrack, which is oddly out of place with the new graphics engine, but still really cool. Oddly enough, in order to keep the dimensions of the original game the screen has been cropped for Old Mode, giving the game a more vertical look on the PSP's wide screen. It's a little disorienting to see at first, but it works fine for the game.
The meat of the Mega Man Powered Up is definitely the New Mode. In this mode, players are given a new storyline complete with fully voiced dialogue. New Mode features two extra bosses, Time Man and Oil Man, accompanying the original roster of bosses. Along with the new bosses, comes new moves and new weaknesses for each. For instance, Elec Man not only can shoot lightening beams at Mega Man, when he gets low on health, the evil robot will summon a giant lightening bolt to crash down from the heavens that can only be avoided by running as fast as possible. A great new addition to the title is the ability to play through the entire game as any one of the eight boss enemies. If Mega Man beats each boss in a certain way, that boss will be available for play through the full game. Each boss features his own move set such as Cut Man's wall jump maneuver, or Bomb Man's ability to direct his bombs and obviously the bosses' can infinitely use their own moves, but are unable to take other bosses' moves. The stages themselves have all been remade with new enemies and dangers to be found as well as special construction sets scattered throughout. All stages can be played on Easy, Normal, or Hard modes, each featuring different degrees of platforming and boss fight difficulty. The construction sets can only be collected on Normal and Hard modes, and often require one of the bosses' special moves to reach. The music has been all remixed giving the songs a more uplifting and lighthearted feel to fit with the Saturday morning cartoon style of the game.
Challenge Mode is interesting to say the least. It consists of 10 different challenges for Mega Man and the 8 bosses. The challenges start off very easy and quickly become difficult building on each character's abilities. The challenges don't necessarily get so difficult that the player will want to break his/her PSP, but they definitely live up to the name of the mode. It's been said that there is a special prize for beating every challenge, but that's up to the player to find out what that is.
The last play mode is definitely the most time consuming of the three- Construction Mode. In this mode, players use the construction sets they gained in New Mode to custom build their own stages. Construction sets range from different stage obstacles to different enemy sets. The background and music to the stages depends on which sets the player chooses. The builder is very simplistic, though somewhat limited due to memory space constraints. Each stage set consists of a ladder, wall/floor block, spike, and background tile. Elements such as water and fire are only accessible depending on which stage's set was chosen. Players also get to choose who the playable characters will be in the stage as well as how much life and weapon energy each has. The same goes for the stage boss. What makes Construction Mode so fun is that if players have access to a wireless internet connection, they can put their stages on the internet for others to play and rate. Also, by linking up to the internet through Mega Man Powered Up, players are able to download new playable characters for the main game such as Roll as well as new costumes for the characters. Players can even download special construction sets like the original Fire Man's stage which features the old 8-bit patterned blocks and backgrounds to give their stages that unique 8-bit look in 3D. Either way, the construction mode along with the internet connection bonuses gives this game nearly limitless replayability with endless possibilities for new stages.
As was mentioned before, Mega Man Powered Up uses a style known throughout Japan as Super Deform, where characters are given big cute faces with tiny little bodies. The style is a little obnoxious at first, and it takes time to get used to, but the cartoony feel quickly grows on you. While it wouldn't have been my first choice to make the game like a Saturday morning cartoon, it definitely fits together in a good, albeit cheesy, manner. The presentation of the game is very well done, though a little basic. The graphics won't win any awards for being cutting edge, but they are colorful and they get the job done, but not everyone will appreciate them. The graphics aren't without their flaws, though. While simplistic, slowdown is rampant in the game- especially when three or more enemies are on screen at any given time. It's definitely a problem that can get on one's nerves and affect the gameplay, and it's just too common to ignore.
The audio is a little give or take. The voice acting is both great and terrible at the same time, sounding like an episode of Pokemon with some Dragon Ball Z thrown in for good measure. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if all of the voice actors in the game lent their talents to the above shows. They all deliver their lines as though this was a Saturday morning cartoon, which puts Mega Man Powered Up's cheese-o-meter up to 10, and that's what makes it so good. Even though it's extremely annoying, for some reason you just can't help but crack a contagious smile every time Bomb Man (who sounds remarkably like Brock from Pokemon) shouts ?BOMBS!? as he appears on screen, or every time Time Man cracks a lame one liner about how ?Your time is up!? or his rant about an appointment before his boss fight. Again, much like the graphics, the voices won't please everyone, but they just add to the fun spirit of the game. As mentioned before, the music has been remixed to be much more upbeat than the original tunes. While I've certainly heard better Mega Man remixes on www.ocremix.org
, the music is definitely palatable and again, ties into the cartoon feel of the game.