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Mega Man 6

Year released: 1993
Company: Capcom
Genre: Soldier Shooter

The NES was already starting to wind down when Capcom decided to put this game out on the shelves, and the reasoning was probably just to squeeze every last penny out of the original Mega Man series before the system totally keeled over and the company turned their attentions to the Mega Man X saga.1 In previous capsule reviews, I noted that the game seemed as if it had been constructed in a slapdash manner, which isn't entirely true. Mega Man 6 is a decent game that certainly holds its own among its brothers in the family, but didn't impress me the way its earlier renditions had.

Once again, Dr. Wily is attempting to take over the world. In the guise of Mr. X, he supposedly holds a tournament where other people's robots would square off against each other. In a huge plot twist (well, not really), Mr. X steals the robots and uses them for his own evil purposes. Honestly, the storyline is as transparent as acetate at this point. Not even a mention of Dr. Light or Proto Man, either. The latter makes a cameo appearance in one of the levels to drop off a power-up, but that in itself isn't enough to make a presence. The translation leaves something to be desired, too; in the scene where Dr. Wily sheds his disguise, he says, "My plans for world domination have faild!" Looks like someone need to buy a vowel. 2

As like the other games in the series (except perhaps MM4 - I've always looked upon that one as the black sheep), the technical facets are quite good. The graphics are very much trademark of the later Mega Man games: every enemy creature has facial expressions, lots of attention paid ot the backgrounds, and so on. The color is a little washed out, but I can deal with it. The best thing is the animation - you can see the leaves drop from the trees as enemies pounce from the bushes, and there's very little flicker.

Musically, the game doesn't miss a beat. The themes to the Blizzard Man, Wind Man, and Tomahawk Man stages are some of the best tunes in the series.3 The Dr. Wily music doesn't really get me going, though, and the ending theme isn't among my favorites either. I do like one thing they did with the ending, though: as you probably know, the opening of the credit roll is used as a curtain call for the eight primary robots you fought in the beginning. This time around, they actually use parts of each robot's music as part of the ending. It's a great technique that I wish they'd thought of sooner. The sound effects, as always, are on the high-pitched side, but it's getting to the point where I hardly even notice anymore.

The play control of this game is altered somewhat with the renovation of the Rush items. Instead of them being introduced as regular weapons, they're considered alternate forms. When you get the Rush Power adapter, you get the ability to destroy certain blocks. With the Rush Jet, Mega Man can use a jet-pack for short peroids of time. Both are fairly simple to use, employing the same energy meter as other weapons, although the Jet fills up every time you touch the ground, and you build the Power adapter before using it. Aside from that, everything is as it was in the last game. Tight handling is a major plus, losing your Mega Buster charge upon taking a hit is a minor irk.

The only problem that I can see with the new Rush items is that it makes the game way too easy. Since the Jet never runs out of power, you can literally use it everywhere. Jumps that were once extremely tricky are now cakewalks because you can hover for about a second before having to land. The brick-breaking ability doesn't affect the challenge as much, but once you get the Jet, the game is by and large won. Also, like the second and fifth games, the robots can be defeated just as easily with your arm cannon as with the special weapons. In fact, I almost never use the special weapons on the Mr. X and Dr. Wily bosses. As usual, you have a password to chart your progress, but also as usual, it only works up to having the original eight robots beaten.

But just because a game is really easy doesn't mean you can't have fun playing it. Mega Man 2 is probably the easiest game in the series, and it's always a blast to play through. MM6 looks like it tries to deliver an enjoyable experience; there are some interesting concepts to the game like the time bombs that double as platforms and the propeller-driven cannons that hover all over the place in later stages, but it just doesn't hold together like the earlier games. I have a feeling that the new Rush execution coupled with the True/False bosses really damage the game's connection to the series.

Again, it's by no means a horrible game. Mega Man 6 is actually a very good title, and worth the effort to find it. Don't be surprised, though, if it plays just a bit hollow.

1. Then again, they did release a Mega Man 7 on the Super NES, and an MM8 on the Playstation, so maybe they weren't quite done with it yet.

2. I've been playing Wheel of Fortune way too much this week.

3. It's just a shame that nobody can seem to make MIDI sequences out of them without butchering them.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 15
Challenge: (Easy)
Thrill: (Easy)
Aesthetic Score: 14
Overall Score: 71%

You are now listening to the Plant Man stage music from Mega Man 6.