Mega Man and 365//365 seem to go hand in hand. This is not intentional whatsoever — it seems as if the blue bomber just follows me around. For the most part, the core series has been featured thus far, and at this point, it seems inevitable that every game in the series will be dissected at some point. This time, however, this is a different Mega Man title of sorts. Mega Man for the Sega Game Gear is actually closer to the Mega Man titles on the Game Boy than the Mega Man titles on the NES in terms of story and gameplay. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? It’s both actually, however there’s one significant change that adversely impacts the game in a negative way.
The main issue here is the vertical scrolling. Due to the size of the Game Gear’s screen, not all of the stage can be shown, and scaling Mega Man and his foes down would distort the overall visual presentation. What developer Freestyle has done is try and retain as much graphical detail as possible by having slight vertical scrolling. The major pit fall to this new set up is, in fact, pit falls. If you’re on a platform that’s a bit high up, the area below you will be off screen, making your travels across the screen, or even moving downward, a literal leap of faith. Toss in the fact that there are no continues (though there is a password system at least) and you’ll soon become more infuriated more with this Mega Man title than any other before, or after it.
Since the bosses and stages featured in this Game Gear iteration of Mega Man are a mix of Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5 bosses and stages. If you know them like the back of your hand, you might be able to get through these stages with as little fuss as possible. However, for the everyday gamer, who doesn’t necessarily play Mega Man games religiously, especially the later titles, you’re going to be in for one frustrating ride.
As for the rest of the package, it’s a mediocre product as a whole. Visually, there’s less enemies on screen at once, not to mention less of a screen at once as well. The color palette and character models retain a similar resemblance to those found on the NES, though just a hair smaller. There’s a bit more flickering to every character that gets hit, though nothing as annoying as the other visual shortfalls. The controls retain the familiar feeling of the NES game, with no major changes done.
The audio, however, takes a significant hit. The music manages to capture some semblance of Mega Man 4 and 5, but in a slightly faster pace, and with a lot less quality and clarity. Mega Man 4 on the NES had passable music, but the Game Gear incarnation is devoid of life, and anything that made it somewhat memorable. The sound effects? Quite a step down in quality. Dying sounds like a bird chirping, shooting your mega buster has a whole new, ear bleedingly chime to it.
It’s hard to find the right source to blame for this botched Mega Man title. Should we blame developer Freestyle for not knowing how to replicate the consoles success onto the Sega Game Gear? Should we blame the Game Gear for being an inferior handheld system? It’s really a little of each, since the Game Boy Mega Man titles were far and away much better productions than this sole Game Gear installment of Mega Man. If you’re craving a Mega Man game on the go, hunt down some of the Game Boy Mega Man installments, as they are much better games from top to bottom.