At 25 years old, it seems that the Mega Man franchise has stalled out. With series creator Kenji Inafune now doing his own thing outside of Capcom and the last two Mega Man projects cancelled, things seem a bit dire for the Blue Bomber. Maybe it’s just that Capcom isn’t sure what direction to go in.
Enter Street Fighter X Mega Man, a fan project that ties both worlds together in a neat 8 bit Mega Man style NES game. Instead of fighting Dr. Wily and his robot masters, Mega Man is going toe to toe with Street Fighter bosses this time, with 8 stages based on their particular theme. While the game skews heavily towards Mega Man, there’s also some neat Street Fighter related touches to compliment the game.
First things first, I’m extremely impressed with the attention to detail with regards to the NES style Mega Man games. It’s all here including sweet chiptune music mixing the Street Fighter character’s theme with a classic Mega Man robot master’s theme. The graphics fit extremely well into the 8-bit era and it’s a thrill to see Street Fighter characters rebuilt as sprites. Not only that, you have all the little tricks such as reappearing enemies if you move out of view and even drops that have devious spike placements waiting for you. It’s just about a nostalgic overload if you’re a fan of the classic Mega Man games. You can tell that this really was a labor of love in creating this experience.
My biggest mental hurdle upon booting it up was knowing that this would be the first Mega Man title I’d ever play without using a controller. I won’t lie, that frightened me a little. I know this game supports a gamepad but I don’t actually have one for the PC so I had to go at it with just a keyboard. After an initial struggle, the controls became a little more familiar and I was able to progress in the game. I know that it’s not the game’s fault for me sucking with a keyboard, but trust me, it does get easier the more you play.
A couple of things kind of stood out to me that you could say brought down the experience just a little bit. First off, the game isn’t incredibly challenging, at least, not to the level of what gamers would expect out of a NES style Mega Man. There’s no tricky sections or anything that’ll really make you pull your hair out like those disappearing blocks. Granted, I’d normally consider that a good thing but it does take a toll on the overall length. The stages seem to be a bit shorter and simpler making the game clock in at around 40 minutes. Though, I have heard that the game’s length was a design decision and also why there are no passwords. So once you exit, it all gets reset.
The other issue I have (and it kind of goes against Mega Man games in general) is with the Street Fighter bosses. Now, I don’t know if this was a design decision exactly, but the bosses don’t have a pattern to them. The boss battles play out more like you’d see from a Street Fighter game. Bosses have their trademark attacks, but when they use them is all random. For me, part of the fun was learning boss patterns and exploiting them. That’s not present here at all. This also means, there’s no real first easy guy to knock off. That’s not to say they’re incredibly difficult fights, but it just kind of throws things off a bit.
Still, even with all of that, the game has loads of charm and really pays homage to the spirit of the old school Mega Man games. I do happen to like how there’s a revenge meter in there like Street Fighter 4 has, which bosses will use once filled. Again, a nice touch.
Ultimately, it’s a free PC game built primarily by a fan. So regardless of the pros and cons, it’s a game I recommend you pick up. Capcom is using this release as a sort of litmus test for future Mega Man games down the line so if you want to see the franchise continue, give this game a download. With Mega Man’s official 25th anniversary taking place a few weeks ago, here’s hoping that this title is only the beginning in a Mega Man revival in the upcoming year.