‘Mega Man’ provides mega value

By Gus Bode

Gamers too young to remember “Mega Man” and its numerous sequels are in for a treat. Now you can collect all of the 8-bit classics (as well as several more entries in the series) with “Mega Man Anniversary Collection,” out for both PlayStation 2 and Gamecube.

There are no graphical updates here, no stunning CG cinemas or celebrity voices to help sell the game. It’s all about gameplay, and that’s something only the biggest names in the industry can claim. “Mega Man” has always sat with the best franchises like “Castlevania” and “Street Fighter,” and owning this collection should do nothing but re-affirm why Capcom has been in the game for so long.

Included are the six games from the NES, “Mega Man 7” from the Super NES and “Mega Man 8,” the last game in the series from 1998. The goal of each should be common knowledge:Beat the evil robots, steal their weapons and use them on the other robots. There’s no defined order to besting the ‘bots, and that’s what makes the game so much fun. Ask anyone who’s played the originals what order to play “Mega Man 2” in and odds are each person will give you a different view.

Advertisement

“Mega Man 2” alone is worth the purchase, but no, you get them all. Also bundled in are two arcade games that most Americans have never seen, “Mega Man:The Power Battle” and “Mega Man 2:The Power Fighters.” They’re both essentially the same game, a one-on-one fighter that, while fun to look at, gets old much quicker than the main attraction.

Both versions of the game have exclusive perks, too. Gamecube owners get interviews with key players in the series and PS2 aficionados will sample some of the “Mega Man” cartoon. You’ll also unlock artwork and remixed music, something the franchise is known for throughout gamer circles.

But be warned:Capcom has switched the controls for the Gamecube edition. B and A have been swapped as fire and run, something longtime fans will immediately pick up on. It’s pretty distracting, and as such, the PS2 version comes recommended over it.

New controllers odd but fun

Comparisons between Sega and Nintendo are lately gaining much more validity.

Back in the Dreamcast days, Sega would always try to offer up something different, be it through software (“Seaman”) or peripherals (“Samba de Amigo’s” maraca controller). These off-the-wall decisions, among other things, ultimately led to Sega’s downfall as a hardware giant. Since 2001, however, the company has prospered fairly well as a multiplatform developer for all three major consoles.

Nintendo, too, has tried the gimmick approach and is seeing a mainstream alienation much like that of the Dreamcast (it’s not quite that bad, but compared to past Nintendo consoles, the Gamecube should be doing much better).

Advertisement

Gamecube / Game Boy Advance connectivity, it turns out, was a ploy to sell more GBAs and link cables, as the only two games worth all the trouble were “Crystal Chronicles” and “Legend of Zelda:Four Swords Adventures.” Everything else was pure novelty, adding little to nothing to gameplay.

But at this year’s E3, Nintendo rarely mentioned connectivity. It did have an interesting new controller for the Gamecube, though, the drum peripheral used for “Donkey Konga” and “Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.” When you first see the bongo look-alikes, you might think Nintendo’s lost its mind. There will be one game that uses it, and then you’re stuck with this high-priced accessory you’ll never use again, right?

Possibly, but based on reactions at E3, the drum set, along with the “Donkey Kong” franchise will stick around for quite some time. And have faith; Nintendo has made some questionable add-ons in the past, and the drums look a little silly, but they’re undeniably fun.

“Donkey Konga,” which comes bundled with the drums, is Nintendo’s entry into the rhythm genre. Simply pound the appropriate drum at the right time to make a song. With four people, it gets pretty interesting as they all have to keep their rhythm without paying too much attention to everyone else’s. And if you all consistently hit the mark, it sounds just like you’re all drumming and clapping whatever song is playing (“Dancing in the Street” was the case at E3).

Drumming and clapping, you ask? Quite right – in addition to the two drums, the controller has a sensor for noise that acts as a third way to input commands. “Konga” could get rather hectic with all the commotion, but it seemed more people were interested in its companion game, “Jungle Beat.”

It plays just like a good ‘ol side scroller, only you control DK with the drums. Tapping on the right side makes him run, pounding both has him jump and clapping signals his trademark DK slap that dazes enemies with a shockwave.

Imagine playing an NES or SNES game not with a standard controller, but with your very actions and you should have a good idea what to expect. It’s both mentally and physically demanding, something very few games can say.

“Konga” is due out later this year, but “Jungle Beat” is still slated for a 2005 release, which seems a little odd. The game looked and played extremely well, but perhaps only one level is complete at this time. Either way, definitely keep your eyes on the two, as they’re party games just waiting to happen.

Advertisement