After five tries, Capcom finally crafts a worthwhile American cover.
The gang's all here for the final Famicom entry.
RELEASE DATE: Between December 1993 and March 1994
Mega Man VI didn't just mark the end of the series on the Nintendo: it marked the end of the Nintendo era, period. Very few games would release after it, and despite being a part of a prominent series, many gamers chose to ignore it for its 16-bit cousin, the fantastic Mega Man X. Reports vary about when VI actually came out. Wikipedia and GameFAQS both list its release date around March 1994, while NintendoAge lists the date around December 1993. Though I personally remember seeing – and renting – the game in a Blockbuster in '93, it doesn't really matter. Mega Man VI was one of the last NES games to come out in the States, and only thanks to Nintendo's own efforts; for some unknown reason (I tried hunting down information, to no avail), Capcom had decided not to publish it in America. It's really a shame that this game was ignored, though I'm not at all surprised that it was. Even if you were a Mega Fan back in the early Nineties, you were inevitably experiencing burnout and a sense that Capcom should have stopped, possibly with III or IV. While VI is no masterpiece, it is certainly on-par with IV and a great deal more rewarding than the travesty that was V. Capcom saved the majority of its developing mojo for Mega Man X, but Mega Man VI still deserves to be played.
Like the previous entries, Mega Man VI tries to add a couple new features to keep the formula from becoming too stale. Instead of calling out Rush whenever you want to jump higher, swim, or fly across a gap of spikes, now Rush adapts to Mega Man's body. Rush's powers allow Mega Man to punch through cracked blocks or fly with a jet pack. The plus side of this is that Mega Man no longer has to refuel the "Jet" or "Pow" powers; plus his look of cute determination as he flies upwards in his jetpack is priceless. The down side of this is a severe lack of Rush. He's seen in the transformation screen when you switch between the Rush forms, and that's it. Beat, however, makes a triumphant or lackluster return, depending on your affinity for the character and his amazing ability to destroy burgeoning world conquerors. In order to get him, you have to beat the "real" bosses in the stages of Yamato Man, Tomahawk Man, Centaur Man, and Knight Man. In these stages, there are two branching paths: one will take you to the clone boss, and one to the "real" boss. Obviously, it takes a little more effort to get to the real boss, but Beat's not as necessary to VI as he was to V – if you get him, cool, but if not, you won't suffer. Another new and neat little feature are in-game stats that appear whenever you choose a boss. There's the typical height-weight information, but it also gives the bosses attack power and defence power, along with their title; for example, "Blizzard Man: Master of Snow." Nothing too fancy, but it's a nice change.
The story treats Mega Man – and his fans – like complete jackasses. While I like the idea of a robot world tournament because it's a blatant callback to Capcom's own Street Fighter II and it makes for more interesting robot bosses, "Mr. X," the supposed bad guy, isn't fooling anyone. I can't believe that Mega Man bought Mr. X's story about being in control of Wily from the beginning, when he looks exactly like Wily with a beard (equally ludicrous is the picture of "Mr. X" smiling, with his hands above the world). True, nobody is playing Mega Man VI for a gripping soap-opera story, with Pynchon-esque labyrinthine plot twists, but some creativity could have helped VI's reputation.
I'll probably get flack for saying this, but this particular boss set contains some of my very favorite bosses out of the six NES entries. I've always been an advocate for the more ridiculous the design, the more profound the impact (except for Charge Man, who deserves nothing less than a lifetime junkyard sentence). Say hello to:
YAMATO MAN, KNIGHT MAN, CENTAUR MAN, WIND MAN
Since all of the bosses came together around the premise of a world robot tournament, each boss is from a different (and, true to Capcom form, stereotypically represented) locale. Flame Man is from Saudi Arabia (though with that turban on his head, he represents the Middle East), Blizzard Man is from Canada, Plant Man is from Brazil, Tomahawk Man is from the United States, Yamato Man is from Japan, Knight Man is from England, Centaur Man is from Greece, and Wind Man is from China (?!).
If you've ever played a Mega Man game, you know what to do: run from right to left, shoot robotic enemies, avoid spikes and drops, and defeat the boss. It's precarious platforming at its palpitating finest. Here are some off-hand observations/quirky things I noticed whilst traversing the stages of Mega Man VI.
are oil pits in Flame Man's stage and there are also enemies that
spit out little flames from the top of their head. The oil itself
won't hurt you, but should the flames touch the oil, the entire pit
will go up in flames. It's a well-done graphical effect that
displays just how well Capcom knew the Nintendo's architecture.
are timed exploding platforms in Blizzard Man's stage. I'm surprised
it took Capcom six tries to mesh both explosions and platforms.
- Mega Man VI
loves spikes more than any of the Mega Man games. Said torrid love
affair kicks off in Blizzard Man's stage, where Mega Man is on the
constantly moving submarine. Jump too high and spikes. Sink with the
ship and spikes. More spike-on-robot action to come.
Man's stage is uneventful, until around halfway through. Long-time
Mega Fans know what I'm rappin': a combination of non-stop bouncing
coils, floating platforms, robotic fish that try to snap your
trousers from below, insectoid flying creatures from above, and an
ever-present watery grave. It only gets harder too! As you go
along, enemies appear on the coils ahead of you, bouncing with
reckless abandon, impeding your progress, and firing projectiles at
you. Until I figured out that you hold down 'A' to bounce high, this
part was torture. Possibly one of the hardest platforming sections
of any Mega Man game.
dispensers of Metools in Tomahawk Man's stage are awesome. Look at
how they're piled on top of each other!
Man's stage is called "Restricted Area" and, judging by
the desert backgrounds and the egregious cowboy robots, is set in
the Western United States. As if naming a character Tomahawk Man
wasn't enough to imply that, yes, he's supposed to be Native
only is Yamato Man the "Master of Spear," his fortress is
impregnable. Don't even try impregnating it because you won't get
ancient Japanese figure atop a toad in Yamato Man's stage definitely
goes down as one of the strangest mid-bosses in Mega Man history.
like the castle interior theme of Knight Man's stage, but the two
outside backgrounds – silhouetted trees atop a red sky, and a
dark, looming storm – are 8-bit graphical wonders – plus,
they're reminiscent of Castlevania,
always a good thing.
spikes in Knight Man's stage, this time in the form of a descending
Man's stage fulfills the "one water stage per Mega Man game."
As usual, gravity is reduced underwater and spikes are constant.
Man has to be one of the biggest – and most undeniably
– bosses in the series.
to Mega Man Wikia, Knight Man and Wind Man are the only two bosses
ever designed by North Americans. Not exactly sure how Wind Man got
picked, but Knight Man's great. Good show, Yankees!
Man might have the most boring stage of the lot. Fitting as his
concept/design is basically Air Man Redux.
MR. X'S CASTLE
STAGE 1 - STAGE 2 - STAGE 3 - STAGE 4
Mr. X foresaw that Mega Man would come after him and decided to build a fortress with about four stages or so. At this point, I wish I could have sat down with Mega Man - had some coffee, a biscotti, and some small talk. I'd ask, "Doesn't this remind you of anyone, Mega Man? Shouldn't you be clued in by now?" Mega Man says nothing as he wrestles with the stale biscotti. "Well, just keep in mind that this is fortress #1, alright? Very good," I say, sipping my coffee as loudly as possible. It doesn't really matter why Wily tries to hide his identity anymore. He's a tenacious robot-making/enslaving doctor and that's that.
"Mr. X Fortress Theme" that spans all four stages is
incredibly evocative of previous somber stage themes. Yuko Takehara,
the composer, did a good job throughout, but this particular piece
is as fantastic as any Mega Man theme from II
blue city background in Stage 1 connects so well with the music that
I wish Mega Man could have stayed outside and not gone into the
fortress. Then again, I've come to realize over the course of six
games that I always
appreciate when Mega Man's outside of an enclosed fortress.
Fortresses all begin to look the same, but Capcom's artists do
wonder with natural scenes.
2 is incredibly short, but between the abundance of spikes,
obnoxious bouncing skulls, and Metools, it will feel a lot longer.
3 has the best boss: a tiny Metool in an oversized novelty robot
obnoxious cousins hang out in Stage 4 and travel through long yellow
tubes. They hate Beat, and consequently, they dive bomb Mega Man.
X is incredibly easy to beat. He's inside of a Chain Robot with
spikes on the side and he swings back and forth from the ceiling.
Just avoid his energy blasts on the ground and pump him full of
Flame Blast. He transforms back into Wily after you defeat him,
without even acknowledging that he was using a disguise.
"LET THE FINAL BATTLE BEGIN!"
DR. WILY'S CASTLE
Welcome to fortress #2. It's a lot like fortress #1, except a lot more pink on the outside. It's fine to embrace lighter colors as a man, Wily, but combine them in a way that's pleasing to the eyes. Bubblegum pink has no place underneath a lime green pagoda.
be using your Jetpack a lot in Stage 1. One particularly nasty
section has you falling quickly amidst lines of spikes. Mega Man's
dealt with similar situations in previous games, but it's nice to
have an extra boost with the pack, if you need it.
dinosaur boss in Stage 1 is so Nineties.
some suggestive-looking snow that dominates all of Stage 2. Also,
bubblegum pink returns as a color that no one asked for.
3 is predominantly a "fight the boss all over again because we
know you love to do that" stage, but there's one particularly
devious section prior to that where you're stuck between two walls
of spikes, and an enemy fan alternates between sucking you towards
itself (and spikes) or blowing you away from itself (and spikes).
- Wily has three forms in the last stage, all of which are incredibly easy. The first is a Skull Smasher, the second form is the Skull Smasher with a visible Wily, and the third is Wily in his UFO. It's sad that he tries so hard to conquer the world year after year – investing billions of dollars into robot schematics, dual fortresses, hidden identities – and yet Mega Man continually takes him down without fail.
"MY SCHEME FOR WORLD DOMINATION HAS FAILD!"
According to the Capcom Times, Mega Man finally hog-ties Dr. Wily and puts him in jail. At long last – after six years of up-and-down, will Wily conquer the world or not – we can all sleep soundly knowing that Mega Man VII's at least a couple years down the road.Mega Man VI does exactly what it needs to do: right the wrongs of Mega Man V and bring closure to the NES saga. Compared to V, the gameplay is more balanced, the bosses and their weapons more unique, if not wholly bizarre, and the music, while not a complete success, captures the Mega Man essence more often than not. It would have been nice to have one more classic Mega Man adventure on the NES, but who can blame Capcom for pouring the majority of their resources onto Mega Man X? Mega Man VI is a solid platforming experience and a worthy addition to the series.
BAs always, a million and one thanks go to GameFAQS.com for helping me through the tough times, Megamanwikia.com for an amazing wealth of knowledge about all things Mega, and MegaManNG's Youtube videos for being so well-organized and accessible.Thanks also to you, the reader, for taking the time to read my ramblings. It means a lot.