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Review – Megaman Powered Up

posted on April 4th, 2006 by horatio

Megaman Powered Up
Developed by Capcom
Published by Capcom
Released 3.14.06

Here, Megaman faces off against Cutman, who would later go on to challenge a variety of social norms by becoming the first gay hairdresser robot.

I often wonder whether games have gotten easier over time, or if I’ve just gotten better. This weekend I picked up Megaman: Powered Up, Capcom’s PSP remake of the original Megaman, and I can now definitively answer this question: old-school games were, and still are, hard as fuck. Still, a potent combination of 1337 gaming skills, perseverance, and far too much free time on my hands allowed me to conquer (at least a significant portion of) the game and bring you this delectable review!

For those who didn’t catch the Blue Bomber’s debut back on the NES, the game takes place sometime in the year 20XX, which I guess is a really long time from now because we still just use numbers for our years. In this year, Doctor Light and Doctor Wily have finished the creation of a series of devastatingly powerful robots that are meant to serve such illustrious purposes as pounding rocks, refining oil, and cutting hair. Dr. Wily, unable to escape the harsh legacy left by his name, decides to steal the robots and take over the world. The only robot left to stop them is Mega, a helper bot Dr. Light upgrades into a fighting machine which he renames Megaman. The player guides Megaman through six levels where he fights each of the robot masters Dr. Wily stole before ultimately going on to confront Dr. Wily himself. Two features made the original Megaman unique. First, you had free range over the order in which you fought the robot masters. Second, Megaman assimilates each boss’s weapon into his own arsenal after defeating them; further, each robot master is weak to one of the other boss’s weapons.

Megaman: Powered Up expands upon the original by offering up three modes of play: story mode, challenge mode, and construction mode. First, let’s talk about the story mode. Story mode follows the above plot, and is split into two games: old style and new style. The old style game uses the levels from the original NES game, and is presented in a 3:4 aspect ratio that looks akin to a Gameboy screen. It has been graphically updated but retains the original music. The new style game has new levels for the original six robot masters, as well as two completely new bosses. The original music has also been remixed for the new style game, and some voice-overs have been thrown in to add a little more depth to the plot. Finally, new style mode has a slew of unlockable characters (including every robot master), as well as plenty of collectable “construction packs” for construction mode (more on that later).

This is how we win Iraq.

It may be almost twenty years since the original release of the game, but the Blue Bomber hasn’t rusted one bit. Quite to the contrary, Megaman: Powered Up is incredibly well polished. The game sports a very bright palette and Chibified characters. While this smacks of the sort of kiddiness we’ve come to expect from Nintendo, every bullet, robot, and explosion is animated so nicely you get over it very quickly. Further, an amazing amount of detail was spent on the backgrounds, giving each robot master’s lair a distinct and immersive feeling. The music remixes in new style are accordingly poppy, but after that sixty-ninth failed attempt at jumping across that pit full of spikes, the light tunes may be the only thing keeping you from ramming the PSP up the nearest person’s ass. While the voice acting is surprisingly good, this is tempered by dialogue that will often make you feel ill (“Bombman, that’s dangerous. Stop setting off bombs!” followed by “You should have been here yesterday, I had some big boom-booms then”).

Gameplay itself is incredibly smooth with controls that always feel tight and responsive. Capcom really outdid themselves with the variety of enemies (mechanical frogs, menacing pairs of bouncing scissors, the indestructible shield-toting sniper Joes) and obstacles (conveyor belts, spikes, pendulums, more spikes, disappearing blocks accompanied by spikes). All of these are of course themed to each robot master’s level, like the nefarious propeller based penguin robots in Iceman’s stage, or the molten pillars of doom in Fireman’s stage. As I mentioned before, even on the normal difficulty setting, the game is very difficult, but still manageable. In terms of drawbacks, there are a couple of enemies that cause the game to noticeably slow down. While this is infrequent and forgivable, given the effort Capcom put into the game it’s a pity they decided to be lazy in this instance. Also, even with the extra two levels story mode is very short: for my first play through I beat the game in well under five hours.

This of course is a problem endemic to all side-scrollers, and Capcom has done a few things to remedy the situation. The first solution, of course, is the different playable characters. Each of the robot masters is unlockable and not only features his own weapon but has a unique skill: Cut Man can jump off of walls, Guts Man can break certain ceiling tiles with his head. While this provides some fun, you’re still playing the same levels in story mode. Also, even though Capcom designed these levels specifically for Megaman: Powered Up, they don’t seem to have put much effort into balancing them in order to make using each character a fun experience.

In the future, treadmills are no longer used for transport, but rather to send pesky robot intruders to a spiky doom.

The real mileage for the game begins in the other two modes: Challenge and Construction. Challenge mode consists of one hundred assorted tasks (twenty for Megaman, ten for each of the eight robot masters). These challenges range from running through a gauntlet of enemies without taking damage, taking out a certain number of enemies in a limited amount of time, to wall bouncing off of swinging pendulums onto ladders that are precariously placed over a surfeit of spikes. The one thread running through all the challenges is that they will make you cry. If you’re at the point where you’ve finally acclimated to the difficulty of side-scrolling games and feeling pretty good about yourself, play challenge mode for five minutes and gaze in wonder as your newly discovered ego crackles and melts away like a tiny marshmallow lost to the campfire.

14 Comments

  1. Billy said on April 4, 2006:

    Holy crap! A PSP GAME…game being the magic word… I will have to buy this. Megaman rocks even if the Japs turned him Chibi-gay.

  2. Cyril @ Defunct Games said on April 4, 2006:

    Billy: “Game being the magic word.”

    I guess you haven’t heard about Syphon Filter: Dark Tomorrow, Daxter, Lumines, Liberty City Stories, Exit, Street Fighter Alpha MAX 3, SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo, Burnout Legends, Capcom Classic Collection Remix, Exit, Pursuit Force, Maverick Hunter X, WipEout Pure, and so on so forth. It sure is easy to make fun of the PSP for not having any games, but it’s also completely dishonest. This month alone there have been quite a few games worth picking up for the system.

    I’d agree that this is a good game, but I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best. I love being able to download new levels, but there are some truly spectacular games on the system … regardless of what the naysayers say.

  3. Horatio said on April 4, 2006:

    I’ll agree that that’s a list of at least mostly good PSP games, but I think it is a valid criticism of the PSP that they have not produced a lot of games that seem to warrant buying the system. Yes, Lumines is fantastic, but I don’t buy high end electronics to play a fricken puzzle game. The same is true for almost any game in that list–there are much cheaper ways to get better kinds of entertainment. I think MM:PU is one of the best games on the system because it has the perfect combo of nostalgia, good graphics, and a long lifespan (particularly if you’re utilizing the level editor/downloading levels) that most portable games can’t rival. Finally, the games that I would consider the best shot at contender for good games on your list (Syphon filter, Daxter) are also incredibly recent; so, maybe Sony is getting its act together and pushing out good content. Thus far though, given that I’ve had my PSP since shortly after it came out and own three games (Metal Gear: Acid, MM:PU, and Maverick Hunter X), I think Billy’s criticism is legitimate.

  4. Billy said on April 5, 2006:

    Hmm, did I strike a nerve or something? If I didnt know better the PSP was your love child Cyril, no offense, but the system rocks, too bad they don’t produce more than a handful of games for it. I guess this is why an inferior system like the DS can whoop it so easily.

    I am not going to sit back and talk specs or anything with you, I willingly agree that the PSP is an amazing system, so is my own personal computer, but at least I can get games for my computer. I go into any Gamestop or Walmart or whatever you can think of, and I ALWAYS glance over the PSP section. I see 1 row of games and 10 rows of movies. Sounds like I made a poor purchase. Now theyre going to release a differnt version of the PSP that’s less crappy, great, I am sure glad I dumped a few hundred dollars into a portable DVD player.

    I have more fun on my GBA than the PSP. As it stands now, I play on my DS and GBA and my PSP is literally a paper weight on my desk.

  5. Cyril @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    Nope, you didn’t hit a nerve, Billy, it just seems like the idea of there not being any good games is outdated. If you had said that in August I would have agreed wholeheartedly. But this month was amazing.

    I think it’s important to note that the DS took awhile to create a bunch of great games. They came a little sooner, but it was about a year after that system was launched that it really took off with the quality software. But I find that most people don’t seem interested in giving the PSP the same amount of time.

    They are releasing a new version? Says who?? Not Sony. Or are you thinking of the DS, which actually IS getting a newer (“less crappy”) version this year? I play my PSP a lot (because I review a lot of games on it), but I also play my DS quite a bit as well. The PSP is not my favorite system, but it’s frustrating when the games ARE here and people still say they aren’t. I’m not sure what it’s going to take, but this month alone there have been some truly stunning games.

    By the way, Horatio, Lumines is easily the most addictive game on the PSP. Didn’t you buy the system for good games? What’s wrong if one of those good games just happens to be the best puzzle game of the last decade??

  6. Cyril @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    Oops, sorry for the second post in a row, but I went over to GameSpot to see how they ranked the PSP games verus every other system. I did a quick count of how many DS games received an 8.0 or better compared to the PSP. Here is what I found:
    PSP – 31 games
    DS – 17 games
    There’s no doubt that there are some AMAZING games on the DS (some were my favorite games of last year), but certainly there are some good games in that list of 31 PSP titles that got an 8.0 or higher.

  7. Horatio said on April 5, 2006:

    What’s wrong is that puzzle games don’t warrant buying a new system. They don’t make use of the technology they’re presented on, and so I don’t feel I should have to spend that sort of money to acquire one, even “one that is possibly the best puzzle game of the last decade” (count every puzzle game someone has said that exact same thing in reference to, and think of how many of those come for free on the PC, and I think you’ll start to understand why you shouldn’t buy a psp, or any system, for one). Complaining about the new DS is arbitrary– all the changes are to its style, not substance. If Nintendo can make a profit off of consumers wanting a sleeker form factor so they can look cool with their friends, why not do it? That’s probably the PSP’s greatest strength; it looks sexy. Finally, I’ll agree that this month has been amazing for the psp- of the ten most frequently visited faq pages for psp games on gamefaqs, all but one came out in March. In contrast, the DS’s top ten visited faq pages range from release dates of roughly September until now. That being said, I’ll agree that if the PSP continues and increases this line of production for a few months and people are still claiming “the games aren’t here,” you might have a sound argument Cyril. Indeed, I hope exactly this comes to pass, because I want reasons to utilize this machine. It has a lot of potential. But right now, the DS has the PSP handsdown outclassed in terms of quality and quantity of games, and Sony has not done nearly as good a job breaking into the market as they did with their first foray into console gaming with the PSX.

  8. Patrick @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    I think the problem with most of you isn’t fanboyism… since you DO own a PSP… its that you have lost focus. I’ll admit that my PSP doesn’t get as much play as my console counterparts, but the play I get out of it is well worth it.

    THe functionality alone on the system was enough for me to buy the system… it is wonderfull to be able to play emu’s on the system and watch live cams of japan and such! As for the games, Cyril is right, personally, my collection is only 8 games, soon to be 9 when i pick up Daxter, Also, the PSP isn’t being “whooped” they are just having a downtime. No one expects Sony’s little portable to take out the DS, or even match it in sales, If it survives the first year then it will have a chance to contend with the Big N.

    P.S.

    Why is Competition bad?? we saw how lazy Internet Explorer got when they eliminated Netscape, and we saw how many versions of the orginal gameboy?? Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Pocket. There have also been 3 GBA systems, and 2 DS systems so far… even IF sony comes out with a different version of the PSP, who cares!! Nintendo does it all the time!!

  9. Cyril @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I remember getting Tetris with my original black and white Game Boy and loving every second of it. Heck, I STILL play the old GB version on my DS, it’s great fun. I’ve probably put more time into that game than any other game ever made, which seems like a pretty good investment to me. That may not be true for you, I will certainly respect your opinion that it is not enough to buy a system for. But like I said, there are plenty of other games for the system (including a lot that got great reviews). If they are not your cup of tea then that’s cool, nobody will fault you for that. My issue was the broad generalization that there are very few good games, something I certainly disagree with. I’m sorry that you only got a few games, but that doesn’t mean those are the only good games available.

    As for the new DS, didn’t they announce that it can now be used to watch media and surf the internet? Two things the PSP does. Not sure how how small those are. And for the record, I wasn’t saying Nintendo shouldn’t do it, I’m saying that it seems like a double standard to criticize one company for doing it but not the other company.

    You will not get an argument from me about the quality of DS titles, but it depends on what you want to play. I’m not so much into Animal Crossing (although, I do agree that it is a well made game), whereas Pursuit Force and Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX were just what the doctor ordered. I’m a big fan of racing games, so the PSP certainly appeals to that aspect of gaming. I still buy and love my DS games, but to me the two systems are really good at doing different types of games. Which is why it’s not DS vs. PSP for me. My only thing is that there are good games for both, and the reviews certainly back that up.

    Oh, and one more thing: The PS1 was an exception, it was a success more because of the time it was released than anything. When it comes to portables there are still a lot of people that only trust Nintendo (right or wrong). I’m not so much interested in who wins, I honestly don’t care, all I care about are the games. And there have been quite a few good ones lately, with more good ones on the way. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the PSP to the PS1, just like it’s not fair to compare the DS to the Nintendo 64. The industry is different now.

  10. Patrick @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    “Sony has not done nearly as good a job breaking into the market as they did with their first foray into console gaming with the PSX.”-Horatio

    Not to nitpick, but the PSX did horriable… not sure who bought that monstrocity… I am of course talking about the Sony DVR/PS2/Media Box that is titled PSX. lol.

    The Playstation as we all know was created by Nintendo, so should that be a dead give away to why they may copy ideas?? Did you not imitate your parents when you were a kid, try to be successfull like them and make them proud?

  11. Billy said on April 5, 2006:

    Cyril are you telling us that our opinions are wrong? lol. There are no games for the PSP… this isnt an opinion. Its sales lag compared to an inferior system because of this. If anything it’d be your fanboyism, not ours.

  12. Cyril @ Defunct Games said on April 5, 2006:

    Couple points, Billy. I’ve made an effort from the beginning to say your opinions aren’t wrong. Check it out, I am the first to say you are entitled to your own opinions. I don’t know where you got that from. If you don’t like the games on the system, that’s fine … but it’s just an opinion (and not one shared by the staffs of many game magazines and websites, including GameSpot, as I pointed out). If you prefer the DS over the PSP that’s GREAT. I’m not going to stand in your way. In fact, I can argue the DS’ strengths just as easily as I can the PSP’s.

    The sales lag?? Well, the system is $70 more expensive and is outselling the DS in the U.S. and Europe. I think I mentioned that. That doesn’t mean it’s a better system (in fact, I would be the first to admit that the DS had an amazing year last year, a MUCH better year than the PSP). But that doesn’t change the fact that the more expensive PSP is outselling the DS in two regions of the world. Japan is different, but mostly because of the types of games they like. Apparently they are the types of games you like, which is perfectly understandable.

    It IS an opinion that there are no good games for the system. GameSpot gave 31 games on the PSP an 8.0 or greater, so yes, it IS an opinion. And please don’t throw the fanboy label at me, I didn’t do that to you. I respect your opinion, I just simply disagree. But that doesn’t mean we don’t agree on other things. Like I said, the DS had a much better 2005 than the PSP. My point was not to bash the DS (a system I love), instead it was to point out that some of the information that was being used was missing the bigger picture. People bring up how it’s doing in Japan, but fail to talk about how it’s doing in the U.S. If I remember correctly more PSP’s have shipped worldwide than the DS, but like I said numerous times, that doesn’t prove anything.
    I am a fan of games, not systems. I love my DS, I love my GameCube, I love my Xbox 360, and yes, I love my PSP. There are great games on all systems. You may not agree, but that doesn’t make me a fanboy. I just stand up for systems that are ganged up on. If you want I would be more than happy to argue the DS’ merits, I think you’ll find that I have absolutely nothing against Nintendo nor the DS. In fact, I just got done playing my DS. Sorry, but I’m not fanboy. (And again, I never once called you guys fanboys). Please read my full comments, I think you’ll find that I really DO respect your opinions, and even agree with some of them. I just don’t agree with people ganing up on a system and then not telling the full story.

  13. jay said on April 5, 2006:

    I mock the PSP because it does not have many games I personally want to play. I am not misleading people, or failing to tell the whole story because this is an editorial site, not an informative site. You may have a number of counter arguments, but they are unnecessary. I am sure a lot of people love the PSP’s selection of games, but not every dones. People are not faceless game-ometers that measure system’s value based on review averages. Everyone has specific tastes. The PSP has a great number of fun titles for Generic American Consumer #42, for you, and for a GameSpot editor, but not for everyone.

    As far as comparing reviews goes, it all depends on the arbitrary cutoff point you pick. From Metacritic.com, 53% of PSP games get a review of 70% or better and only 47% of DS games do. But then if you look at scores of 85% and above, the PSP scores 8% of its game and the DS 14%. This is all moot anyway, magazine editors opinions are their own and good and appealing are different things. Again, there are many games I understand are good that do not appeal to me.

    I wrote in the most recent news update that the DS is raping Japan but did not mention the world market. This is true, but I did mention this a week or two ago. Updating people on this every week is not necessary and if you tell me about a market where the PSP is outselling the DS by 5 to 1 in recent weeks, I’ll mention it in the next news article.

  14. pat said on April 8, 2006:

    I dont think that partisan bickering gets us anywhere. What’s important is that we are all game fans. I’ve played all of the jaks, and so would probably like daxter and a few other games on the psp. The distinction here is that the ds has provided genuinely new content. Performing surgery, being a lawyer, few games (and even fewer worth noting) have provided such an experience. Ds is creating and innovating while psp is doing things we’ve seen before but better. I’ll take something that new and fresh any day.

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