Looks like [info]gelgameth managed to beat me to the punch by just a bit. No matter.

So, thanks to my wife and her boss, we have ourselves a nice new copy of Mega Man Powered Up(and what was the preorder for that became my means of getting Tetris DS, FTR).

And it’s a pretty damn good game. Very good in fact.

But, not without its flaws. And since everyone’s so busy gushing over it, I’m going to play the Devil’s advocate here, and actually pick apart some of my gripes with the game(though I’ll likely mix in some praise as well). It’s nowhere near as bad as the 4/10 some Eurotrash site gave it(I’m not saying Europeans are trash, just this particular site/reviewer. They just seem anti-Mega Man), but there are some nuisances, though they don’t really ruin the game. In fact, most are like asides, in a way.

One of the first things that come to mind is all of the playable characters. This is quite fun… for the most part. I haven’t gone through all, but I find some are a lot of fun(like Bomb Man. I love his dialogue with Fire Man). Unfortunately, there are also parts that seem hideously imbalanced. I expect some characters to have difficulty with some areas, as well as ease due to the whole weakness cycle, but somehow it seems more unbalanced as a playable character.

Guts Man is my prime target for this one. I love the character, and his new voice was kind of jarring, being unlike any version of Guts Man before it, but still quite likable. He doesn’t sound as stupid as other versions. He’s like a big brother(the good kind) who’s a construction worker.

Sadly, though, playing as him isn’t as much fun as fighting him. He’s practically defenseless. His primary method of attack is to pull these blocks out of nowhere, which makes a great defense a lot of the time, and can get you past some obstacles, like spikes. He can also pick these blocks up and throw them.

Sadly, his trajectory stinks. The NPC version can throw at a downward angle, but the PC version throws straight. And if it hits something, it shatters into pieces that can do damage, but most of the time, these will miss your enemies.

And he can’t even make blocks all the time. I’ve done it in some places, I’ve done it while in the air. And other places… nothing.

He’d have been much better served with a punch, of a double-fisted pound attack similar to GutsMan.EXE’s hammer. With or without the shockwaves. Just so he can hit enemies that are below his waist level.

It’s also funny how weak he turns out to be, for a guy with such emphasis on strength. I found this out the hard way, as it seems in New Style, if there are two blocks of his type stacked up and you remove the bottom one, then the top falls. It wasn’t like that in Old Style.

And it wouldn’t be such a big deal, except the falling block will KILL Guts Man if he happens to be too close. He’s supposed to lift boulders the size of houses with ease, but a second block of his own size shatters him to pieces.

And it’s these same blocks that can do absolutely no damage to an enemy.

That’s right, even the weakest of enemies, if you generate a block above them, will shrug it off like nothing, no matter how many times you do it. The blocks can only be generated where there are no enemies, and sometimes you just don’t have that luxury, putting Guts Man at a SEVERE disadvantage in close-range situations. In fact, I don’t even know how he could beat the Yellow Devil, given the limited room there is to move. More on that later, though.

Incidently, I’ve not reached the second part of Wily’s castle with Fire Man yet. Given that his flame goes out with a squirt of water(reactivated by flame), I really wonder how it’s even possible to beat the game with him.

I hear from Gelg that Time Man’s not the greatest to use, either.

Also, if you hate the lifts from the old Guts Man stage, you’ll REALLY hate the revamp. It has TWO sections like that. The first is alright; hell, I can get through the original in Old Style with no problems. But the second part is god-awful. In Old Style, there was only one part… that, or the second was so easy I just forgot about it.

To compound this and make me question the current dev team, they’ve made it worse by removing the Magnet Beam. At least in Old Style, you have that open-ended option. That was a cool thing about these older games, and even up into the X series’ early entries. It wasn’t uncommon for there to be more than one solution to a problem. Can’t do the lifts? Can’t stand the disappearing blocks(called “Shutsugen Blocks”)? You could get the Magnet Beam to pass the obstacles such as that. In MM2, you could use the Items, like the Jet Sled in Heat Man’s stage. Here, they instead give you another double-sided sword of an obstacle, opting instead to let you nerf the challenge factor rather than think your way past a problem with an alternative. It feels broken. Not impossible, but a few blocks north of wear fun takes a day and frustration fills in.

See, if anything proves too tough for you, you can always go back and choose an Easy Mode to tackle the stage in. You can do this at any point in the game, same for Normal or Hard, before each stage. This will often add special blocks that will make many jumps, obstacles, even spike traps easier to navigate.

However, this is where the problem lies. Say those platforms are the only problem you’re having in the stage. Well, tough. If you dumb them down, then EVERYTHING in the stage is dumbed down. It’s not a unique phenomenon, but is sort of annoying to have to reduce an otherwise trouble-free area just on account of someone’s sadistic side. It’s most noticable in enemies, whose attack patterns change.

Incidently, on Normal, they removed the recoil an enemy will take from the Mega-Buster. Rather annoying. So unless they’re hit with their weakness(or a super-powered blast, unlockable), they have high-damage weapons, annoying recovery time, touch damage, an X8-style “invincible super attack” mode, and can walk right through your attacks like the Terminator in a psychiatric ward. Hardly seems fair. You’d think something like that would carry over into the playable versions.

On a side note, funny how that works. There will be an NPC everyone wants to play as, and when they finally get to, the character is changed from what we wanted to play as. I can understand some things for balance, but still. Zero seems like a good example of this.

Yellow Devil is worse than ever. It feels like there’s less room to fight him, even though there isn’t, and they changed his weakness. Won’t tell you what, though, in case anyone feels like experimenting. Sadly, the select button trick is gone. Yeah, it was a cheat, technically, but given the unbalanced feeling Yellow Devil provides in contrast to the rest, I think it was warranted. I have beaten him without, but not often. Maybe only once. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted to.

Instead, here, you’re again faced with the stage-nerfing Easy Mode. This makes Yellow Devil a TON easier… he doesn’t move. Just blinks and fires.

Incidently, if you ever want to get Mega Man C, who can slide and charge his weapon, you have to beat Normal. It would have been nice to be able to think my way past an obstacle like the old days, but oh well. Beating Easy gets you Mega Man S, btw, who just slides. Beating Hard opens up “Mega,” which is Mega Man sans armor, aka Rock, who uses a close-range kick.

Another change that may irk some people: In the Old Style, when you go through Wily’s Castle, Cut Man and Elec Man would jump you at different points, similar to the Mavericks in Sigma’s fortress in MMX1 and MHX. Then before Wily, you faced the remaining four Robot Masters in a sequenced gauntlet.

And unlike MHX, there is no explanation for their return, except that they’re a different color. Pity.

Not here, though. Remember how this was the ONLY Classic series game without a teleporter room? Not anymore. It’s not a huge gripe in itself, except a lot of people have issues with the fact that you don’t get any energy refills after a boss fight. That, plus no E-Tanks, means you’d better stock up on lives.

Fortunately, you can leave Wily’s area and go build up at ANY time if you need to. A definite plus, same as in Maverick Hunter X. Saving also saves each stages progress, another plus, again like MHX.

So even if you’re not so hot, you can at least build up your lives to 9 to stand a better chance if you need to. Which you just might, as it seems most if not all Robot Masters now take more hits than before from their chosen weakness, some still alive after it’s all gone… a flaw the X team seems to have yet to fully overcome; I think the weapons drain more energy per use as well, but I’m not positive. Makes me and some others worry about the Metal Blade or Crash Bombs in a MM2PU, though.

I like how Red Priest put it:

“You can tell when you’re using the right weapon because it does TWO damage instead of one.”

Incidently, the weaknesses have been mostly changed around. While some make sense, others don’t. Another flaw the X team seems unable to overcome.

One problem related to this is too many instances where Super Arm is the weakness and you can’t use it. Like the return Cut Man match, or another boss that spams the attack…

Old Style has a confusing set of physics. It uses the original physics for the special weapons, but not the Mega Buster. Bomb Man’s bombs don’t explode on impact, for instance. They just bounce through enemies.

So why the Buster can’t shoot through walls is beyond me.

Another note, nothing new to gaming in general. When playing as anyone but Mega Man, including “Mega”/Rock, you will not collect special weapons. Yet, for some reason, Special Weapons Energy units will be dropped. One can only ask, “why?”

For the record, Super Metroid bucked this trend way back in the day by having enemies ONLY drop refills for stuff you not only had, but when you needed it as well. If you don’t get what I mean, it’s like so:

Say you have missiles and are missing some life. You will never get a Power Bomb or Super Missile dropped from an enemy until you’ve actually acquired the item. And only then if you’re missing any. If you’re full, enemies typically don’t drop anything.

And while bringing up Super Metroid, that reminds me of an interesting tidbit, not really a gripe. A curiousity. SM was one of the first games that would show the main character differently depending on which way she faced. She only had one cannon, on her right hand. If she was facing left, the cannon would be away from you. Facing right, towards you.

This carries over to 3-D games more naturally due to the 3-D models used, and was evident in Maverick Hunter X.

However, this is most curious. In MMPU, Mega Man will always use the Buster on the hand further from the player. Even characters with asymetric design, like Proto Man(due to his shield) will do it…

…BUT, if you’re firing and turn, then the Buster remains on the same hand, so it’ll be toward the player, until the firing stops. Then it resumes with the further hand.

A minor gripe, on another note, is the music. I like the remixes, but I like the originals better. Seem less chirpy and cheery. Pity you can only hear that on the Old Style. Incidently, it seems that the talk of putting Oil Man and Time Man into Old Style was just that: talk. A pity in some ways. Also a pity is that Old Style doesn’t have an “original graphics” mode. I always preferred the well-detailed, less-cutesy look it carried in its day, and left the stylings of the characters and story to your imagination. Not that I hate the new graphics, I just like the option.

Speaking of Time Man, they picked a rather odd voice for him… he sounds like a weird cross between Freeza from Dragon Ball Z, and the crazy old cat lady from The Simpsons. I like most of the other voices, though, save Elec Man’s, and even he’s not bad. Proto Man’s rocks(somewhere between Knuckles and NT Warrior ProtoMan), Mega Man sounds like a boy, Light is like in X8 and MHX… but Scott McNeil will always be the true Dr. Wily to me.

The custom level creator is something else. It’s like the X team got tired of everyone bitching over their level design, and said “think you can do better? Then PROVE it!” And so far, no one’s quite lived up to it.

I’ve noticed the following trends that make up most level designs:

1) Too easy. You’re practically next to the door.

2) Too hard. Usually impossible, due to sloppy construction. And I do mean impossible; I’ve played one that would have you drop down a screen, and you’d have to get back up. Problem being, you CAN’T scroll the screen up just by moving; you have to climb a ladder for that. And there was no ladder in sight.

Then there are the spike-fests and such.

3) Based on another game. Sadly, these are often the best ones… and why wouldn’t they be? They worked in other games, they should work just fine here.

There have been others of strangeness, too. Some that require precision, Ninja Gaiden-esque movement and knowing just what to use where, and some that are long just for lengths sake.

In the end, though, a lot more people need to play their levels before uploading them.

Incidently, here’s a tip: getting rated levels may be the best way to go. Why? Because that means someone actually had to FINISH the level for it to get rated. If you don’t finish it, you can’t rate it, which means a lot of bad designs get off without bad ratings.

Roll is a fun character to use, but she’s sort of like a poor-man’s Zero. No, not because she has a red dress instead of red armor or because she has less hair, but she swings a broom as a melee weapon. She actually has a double-swing instead of Zero’s triple-combo… and unfortunately, I don’t think that the second hit does any damage at all. At least against bosses. The range seems iffy, too, as if the end doesn’t do damage, and it’s too easily cancelled in the air. If you’re jumping and swinging at an enemy who’s standing on the ground, there’s a good chance it won’t connect because Roll will land and put the broom away before it connects. It certainly makes for a challenge to play as.

Finally, one of my biggest gripes is the Challenge mode. Not because it’s too hard… well, not entirely, anyway. But I hate the menus and theatrics behind it. If you die, you get a tone and a big “FAILURE” dropping one letter at a time, on and off the screen, before the option to retry. Gee, thanks for telling me I failed, that agonizing scream of death Mega Man just let out had me thinking he found a female robot he could bang that isn’t his sister. Sheesh.

I’d also rather just have it restart rather than having to tell it as much… it gets really annoying, really quickly, especially if you’ve got a quick-temper as I do. And no difficulty settings here, either. So if you’re quick to anger, do yourself a favor, say “fuck it” to the Challenge mode and just get the download. That’s what I did, given how quickly I got tired of it. I might have stuck with it longer had it not been for the rubbing of it in my face every time I lost. I really don’t need the stress.

I realize a lot of these things will probably be no big deal to a great many people; I’d say the review scores reflect either this, or Capcom’s started writing checks, though I’d bank on the former. Still, if you’re like me, and a lot of little stuff may bother you… you may still love the game, believe it or not. I’m just attacking stuff most reviews can’t or don’t cover. And I ought to mention that for difficulty, I do pretty well in the MMZ series, so it’s not like I can’t handle a challenge. But some of this stuff really pushes it past the point of a “fun challenge.”

And while these games, MMPU and MHX, are very good indeed, I don’t think the X team is at the point where they ought to be making Mega Man X9 yet… these are good, but they’re also remakes, so they had a sturdy foundation to start. I think once they’ve worked through some of the flaws in their system, they might be ready to go for all-new stuff again.

Then again, the new stuff in the Sigma levels of MHX was pretty good by comparison to some of their reworks here…

LBD “Nytetrayn”