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Street Fighter X Mega Man

Street Fighter X Mega Man

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

This week, the Blue Bomber turned 25, and Capcom is celebrating by promoting a fan project that’s two anniversaries in one!

Street Fighter X Mega Man

Should we wait for the Hyper Turbo Championship edition?

Should we wait for the Hyper Turbo Championship edition?

Genre: Action Platformer
Link to Game: http://www.capcom-unity.com/mega_man
Game Info: Developed by Seow Zong Hui with music by Luke Esquivel with support and distribution by Capcom on December 17th, 2012 as a way of joining together the consecutive 25th anniversary celebrations of Mega Man and Street Fighter.

Street Fighter X Mega Man sounds like a fun title to say, right? Crossovers can be a great thing in video games, and when the two sources find ways to hybridize their core strengths, they become all the more interesting to experience. Street Fighter X Mega Man is more or less exactly what it sounds like; a crossover game where Mega Man battles the Street Fighter gang, who essentially replace Mega Man’s typical Robot Masters at the end of each level, while Dr. Wiley is replaced by the familiar head of Shadooloo and his lackeys. The incorporation of Street Fighter into the game is more than just simple character skins and accompanying musical cues, however, as boss fights now play out a bit more complicated than Mega’s pattern-based robot masters, pulling in varied movesets and in many cases well-timed combos (whether or not these combos were intended, or actually a fascinating programming glitch just like their introduction in Street Fighter II, I can’t say).

While a fan project would rarely be able to replace an effort made by Capcom proper, I think it’s great that Capcom is willing to back these types of indie-grown projects to give them a push for wider distribution. In fact, I really hope it continues. Capcom has been in business long enough and has had more than its fair share of inspirational successes over the years, in turn creating legions of capable fans who are willing to put their own spin on things to honor the games they grew up with. In an era where copyrights are now being questioned by most every major publisher, Capcom’s decision to side with Seow Zong Hui instead of countering with an immediate “cease and desist” order is a refreshing change of pace; one that if repeated could bring a lot more people together than fans of just the two franchises represented here.

Unfortunately I’m conflicted when it comes to giving Street Fighter X Mega Man a recommendation for a download. I think you should; don’t get me wrong. The problem is I didn’t particularly enjoy it to the extent that I was hoping for, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment. As a Mega Man fan, the game concerns me greatly, as Capcom has been demonstrating a rather bad habit of judging their successes by numbers and what they perceive as fan support, rather than the quality of their games. Mega Man’s fallen on hard times lately; the last two of his projects cancelled, despite having fans take an interactive role in building the games. The latter of the cancellations, Mega Man Legends 3, and I apologize for bringing this up again, was even cited by the company as being pulled due to lack of visible community support (of course, the facebook group “100,000 strong for bringing back Mega Man Legends 3” would suggest otherwise at this point). While this particular game was a free project with no monetary transaction, you can bet that Capcom is tracking downloads for further analysis. My concern would be that the number of Street Fighter X Mega Man downloads would be incorrectly associated with the number of people who would want a new Mega Man game. I’m worried that this little independent project may have been elevated to a statistical relevance that it otherwise shouldn’t be receiving, as in terms of Mega Man – it’s currently the only game in town (I don’t count that weird iPad thing). It’s a substitute; and it’s a sad thing that the character is receiving a substitute on its 25th birthday. Believe me, I’d much rather play a real Mega Man game than this (and I promise to try and focus this review on the game we did get, rather than the game we didn’t), and if this game proves to cause any influence in releasing future titles, I’d think it would be an influence based on flawed statistics. It’s a flawed train of logic not just for the fact that this wasn’t a Mega Man game made by Capcom; it’s flawed because this isn’t a Mega Man game.

Think this means Mega Man is now a Maverick

Think this means Mega Man is now a Maverick

I think what’s put me off of Street Fighter X Mega Man the most is that while it looks so much like a Mega Man game, there’s far more to the gameplay that emanates from Street Fighter than is immediately recognizable, and depending on which franchise you were a bigger fan of, can perhaps make or break the experience. The key difference is at play within the boss battles, where you’ll find the Street Fighter characters combo’ing  Mega Man to death in unpredictable ways. Characters have too many attack moves at their disposal, bringing in their varied supers from their own series, while Mega Man essentially uses one (two if you’re using charged shots), making you feel as if Mega Man got sucked into a Street Fighter battle with a severe handicap; unable to counter certain attacks with others. Ryu can spam five hadouken’s, hurricane kick to the opposite side, shoryuken, hadouken some more, and hurricane kick back in mid-air in quick succession, meanwhile Mega Man’s just trying to shoot him (by the way, having hadoukens soak up shots like a damage sponge AND making him invincible during Hurricane kicks is a bit much).

There’s also the unpredictable nature of the attacks to consider. Mega Man’s boss fights are a game of patterns where moves get telegraphed. Players can realize how fast Guts Man can throw a boulder, just as they realize how high Toad Man can jump, or how far he can travel. The Street Fighter characters demonstrate none of these qualities. Sometimes the same moves are sped up, sometimes they extend their range or duration, and sometimes they cut out a bit sooner than one would expect, leading you to fall right on the boss thinking they would’ve passed by you. It makes the fights a bit more unpredictable than they should be and may appear to be stacked against Mega Man at certain times with attacks that are incredibly hard to dodge (take Dhalsim’s fire attack, or Vega’s claw dive that adjusts itself at the speed of Mega Man’s slide, for example).

I say this, yet despite the difference in how bosses fight, the game overall plays out relatively easier than other Mega Man games. In fact, most bosses are often easier to take out with just the mega buster alone. There are boss weaknesses, and certain weapons are cleverly built to counter the movesets of their respective bosses instead of arbitrary choice or elemental consistency; a concept that wasn’t really fleshed out until Mega Man 3 (in particular I think the weaknesses for Rose and Ryu were smart inclusions). The trouble is that for how random the Street Fighter characters do seem to fight and move about the screen, the ability for the player to set a trap doesn’t always prove as effective as just keeping on the offensive, making several of the game’s fights a battle of attrition. A few fights, it seems that the best way to win is to allow yourself to take some hits in order to out-damage the boss. It’s not a bad way to go about things, but it’s not how I particularly like to play Mega Man. With a few exceptions, I didn’t really have a grasp on what weapons should be used on what bosses until I got to the boss rush, and even then the buster proved the better option for some.

In terms of order, there are also some stages that are clearly designed to be played towards the beginning. Chun Li’s stage is practically a straight line featuring a constant stream of easily defeated enemies offering little challenge, and several “farming” locations where a player can hang out and power up health, energy and even lives just hanging out for a while. Whether or not you think this adds to the experience, giving newer players a clearer entry point is up to you. It would make sense, I suppose, as since the game is free, chances are many people will be downloading it without playing any previous Mega Man games (hopefully with the understanding that all Mega Man games aren’t like this), and may need a more readable entry point. Personally, I like the initial challenge of determining your starting point, so I wasn’t a fan of having some options so easily suggested.

It’s actually fortunate that the game is easier as well as a bit short (It can be beaten in around 40 minutes to an hour if you know what you’re doing), as the game also features no save feature at all; not even passwords or sphere grids like the games from decades ago. I think this is a misstep, as any game with player choices (in Mega Man’s case, choosing which bosses to start in on, determining stage order, when to use your energy tanks) this level of commitment puts added pressure on the player that just doesn’t need to be there. I also feel that the lack of saving will encourage more people to cheat, looking up the boss order online in advance instead of allowing the time for trial and error.

Word of advice; save E Tanks for Vega

Word of advice; save E Tanks for Vega

Not to harp on problems outside of the core game experience, but it may be worth noting there were a few control/bug issues as well. A few odd times I noticed an E tank spawning inside a wall for no reason other than to make me feel bad, and I experienced a few issues when setting up custom controls. If you can stick to the default keyboard, it may prove your best bet.

With that said, there are a few points in the game that I think are incredibly well done. When you acquire a new power, you test out that power on Dan, which I find hilarious. There are also some stages that are just well designed and outright more fun to play than others; Uriel’s cave stage smartly introduces how falling platforms work, Dhalsim’s stage hints at the boss door before you are able to reach it showing how the level wraps around itself, and Crimson Viper’s stage features an excellent laser chase sequence reminiscent of Flash Man. The Music to the game by Luke Esquivel I think is another high note for its blending of Street Fighter themes with accents from Mega Man levels as well. Dhalsim’s stage, for example kicks off with the intro to Snake Man’s theme from Mega Man 3. Presentation is also pretty well handled; the Street Fighter characters, while now being rendered in 8-bit, do feature a lot more animation frames than the average robot master, and their super attacks offer a nice momentary camera zoom to add some additional excitement to the fight.

Also to call out one weapon in particular, Blanka’s melons are a great powerup, having both an attack functionality, and a slight mobility enhancement. I wish more items were that cool.

This also may be personal preference, but it’s also good to see Mega Man running around with the slide and Mega Buster at his disposal again. He had to go without those nifty features in his most recent outings (although granted they did get transferred to Proto Man), but I enjoyed more opportunities for the slide to be factored into the level design, as well as in the boss fights. It’s funny to watch him slide right under Chun Li or Blanka when quickly moving overhead.

While Street Fighter X Mega Man is a nice gesture to start off the Blue Bomber’s anniversary, I certainly hope that this isn’t the future of the blue bomber’s continued outings. I downloaded this game to play a new Mega Man game, and feel as though I didn’t get one. I got a game with Mega Man in it, and he completed actions similar to a Mega Man game, but in pulling in additional concepts from Capcom’s other franchise, the game was sadly robbed of some of Mega Man’s fundamental play experiences. I do think the game is still worth a download to try for yourself, with the added bonus of adding to the visible pool of consumers Capcom may perceive as “interested in another Mega Man game,” even though the reality of Street Fighter X Mega Man does not live up to the experience and style of the core series.

Mega Man is Mega Man. Download this game, and accept no substitutes.

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