After six Mega Man titles on the Nintendo Entertainment System, a lot of the creativity was sucked dry from the franchise. Character names, powers, gameplay, maybe even the look to some people, needed a bit of tweaking to really get the franchise feeling a bit fresh. Capcom applied their craft on the Super Nintendo and released Mega Man 7, the 16 bit entry of the long running franchise. With it, the old adage “everything that’s old is new again” applies pretty heavily, but there are still a couple of twists to the old formula.
One bit of shake up to the original formula is having only four initial bosses to choose from. As the story points out, after Dr. Wily was held for six months in lock up, four robots came alive to break him out. The first four stages help mold together a much colorful and delightful visual presentation. Mega Man himself looks great, with better animation, a more colorful hue from his Mega Buster shots and considerably larger than his 8 bit avatar. The bosses take the look one step further, adding a more diverse color palette, double or triple the size of the 8 bit versions, and in general, looking more menacing than ever before. However, the names and powers are still devoid of much creativity. Junk Man is about the equivalent of Dust Man, but has a shield power, which happens to appear in nearly every NES Mega Man title. There are exceptions, however. Cloud Man, as stupid a name as that is, adds an element of pitfalls on each side of the battle, with a slightly wider screen area to fight him in. They try a little, but go back on the old formula more than anything.
With the upgrade in system power, Capcom was able to put together some pretty solid songs for each stage, with some nice remixed tunes here and there. It’s nothing you’ll remember hours after you play, but it’s a solid mix of tunes, and one of the best non first party soundtracks on the system. Everything else received a 16 bit boost in its sound, which do sound a bit cheesy, but work out nevertheless. The controls ported over flawlessly from the 8 bit world to the 16 bit one. Seems like the controls feel a bit tighter as well, with a lessened need of being at the very edge of any given platform to make the jup across. Mapping the shoulder buttons to scroll through your newly acquired powers helps tremendously, without having to pause the game, unless you need Rush support.
In the end, it’s Mega Man, but in a new 16 bit skin. While it seems like there was some kind of effort in terms of changing things up here and there, in the end, it’s the classic Mega Man gameplay, with a slick new look. As always, the game is still a good time and a good challenge, but the innovation lessens with each new installment.