As so eloquently stated in the Book of Proverbs, “He that spareth his rod maketh his child playeth too much Mega Man.” At least that was the case with me as a kid when I spent an entire week of my summer vacation playing the first Mega Man (or Rock Man for Japanese purists) game in my grandpa’s house. It would’ve been more than a week, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids, er, my grandma. See, at the time, I had this brilliant idea of taking my grandma’s TV from her room each day so I could get my Mega Man fix before returning it at night (yes, it’s amazing what ideas sound good when you’re a kid). Naturally, my grandma started wondering where her TV disappeared to each day, finally catching me as I snuck out to my secret hideout with her beloved appliance and a super long extension cord in tow. Thankfully, my grandma didn’t believe in spanking kids, though she certainly gave me an earful. Let’s just say that one should never get between a woman and her Asian dramas.
But enough about me, let’s talk about people like me instead. If you loved classic Mega Man enough to spirit away your grandma’s TV, then Capcom’s recent gesture to celebrate the Blue Bomber’s 25th-year anniversary might be of interest to you. I’m talking about Street Fighter X Mega Man, a classic re-interpretation of 8-bit Mega Man for the PC with a Hadoken-throwing twist. Instead of featuring Dr. Wiley’s cast of robot misfits, SF X Mega Man serves up digitized versions of Street Fighter characters Mega Man style — a realization made even more hilariously obvious after viewing the game’s funny opening. From popular staples such as Ryu and Chun Li to more esoteric characters such as Rolento and Rose, SF X Mega Man draws from Street Fighter’s rich history and plugs its fighters into a classic Mega Man world. The result is an homage that is sure to place vivid rose-colored glasses in the eyes of any Mega Man fan. The fact that it's a pretty resource-light game also means this won't have any trouble running on pretty much any laptop.
Gameplay-wise, SF X Mega Man follows the classic Mega Man formula. You start by picking among a list of bosses to challenge then bust your way through their stage before reaching a climactic showdown at the end. Initially, you only have access to Mega Man’s buster — which can be charged — and his slide move. As you beat bosses, however, you gain the ability to use their powers and give their brethren a taste of their ex-comrades’ medicine. Mega Man’s trademark rock-paper-scissors is on full display in this game as all bosses have a weakness that can be exploited when using the right boss weapon against them. Blanka, for example, is weak against Dhalsim’s flames while Rose is weak against Blanka’s attack. As with any Mega Man game, taking advantage of enemies’ weaknesses is crucial as some bosses can be quite the pain to deal with when only using Mega Man’s regular buster. Like any classic Mega Man game, newcomers to the series or even rusty Mega Man players will find the game’s difficulty to be quite brutal at first, though it becomes more manageable once you get a hang of enemy and boss patterns. (Fortunately, this game is compatible with PC controllers like the wired Xbox gamepad so I definitely recommend using one of those)
As well as the game emulates its predecessor’s style, though, it certainly isn’t perfect. This game basically got its start as a fan-made project and it shows as the game lacks the same kind of polish that players expect from a Mega Man title. Other issues include its short length and the lack of a password or save feature. Despite its shortcomings, however, SF X Mega Man is a nice — and free — gesture that hopefully kick starts renewed interest in the venerable franchise. Thanks to the cancellation of two Mega Man games, including the cult favorite, Mega Man Legends 3, Capcom hasn’t exactly been in the good graces of Mega Man fans as of late. Judging from the buzz created by a simple 8-bit-style Mega Man game, hopefully the powers-that-be at Capcom reconsiders their position on the Blue Bomber and green light a new quality title in the series.
FINAL RATING: 3.5 stars out of 5
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DOWNLOAD AT: Official Street Fighter X Mega Man site .