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// article by Jeff

Mega Man hacks are an interesting breed, usually trying to make an already difficult video game series even MORE difficult. I checked out Wily's Dream Space a while back, which was an extremely impressive retooling of Mega Man 5 for the NES with all-new stages, graphics, music, and, of course, challenge. Mega Man 3: The Battle of Gamma strives to emulate this success, and to an extent, it succeeds. Basing itself off of Mega Man's third outing, hacker DurfarC has taken the game and revised numerous aspects to make it even more gutwrenchingly challenging than its predecessor. Many parts remain the same: the same order applies to defeating Robot Masters, and the fortress bosses have not been altered (THAT would have been both surprising to me and time-consuming for DurfarC.) This keeps a good level of familiarity afoot. But there have been enough changes to almost consider this an entirely new game.

Every stage has been completely altered, more often than not transporting enemies or obstacles from other stages to co-mingle with the surroundings. The buff enemies that generate annoying spinning tops, which normally appear in Top Man's stage, easily sneak into other regions of Robot Master reign. But more importantly, the layouts of each room have changed completely, and often are even in a different colour scheme! It looks like Dr. Wily may be into redecorating as well! DurfarC has upped the challenge significantly, occasionally to the point of sheer madness but never to the point where you want to throw your arms in the air and completely give up. This is a sign of a well-balanced ordeal, even if a couple of spots are a bit cheap in design, forcing you to kill yourself to start that section over. (Luckily, the extra life counter does go past 9 lives here, so you can really rack up 1-Ups if you try.) The author has also gone so far as to ensure that there are plenty of spots to recharge your life and weapon energy before lengthy excursions. Even new game mechanics come into play. There is a magnet enemy that, when it passes overhead, can pick up Mega Man and carry him around (which is normally a nuisance). Its services are invaluable here, but I had no idea you could move yourself up and down while you are being carried in mid-air by its forces; this skill is definitely required to complete the game.

One other aspect that is of particular note is the music. A few tunes have remained intact, but the majority of the soundtrack has been completely overhauled. A few songs come from Mega Man II for the Game Boy (and you may note them as the most grainy and irritating of the pack); one has been pulled from Mega Man V for Game Boy; another is an unintended remix of Needle Man's stage (played IN Needle Man's stage, no less). The rest are actually unique compositions developed solely for this hack. Now that's dedication! I have to give credit where it is due, and it is due here. Credit!

I'm quite pleased with the result of this hack. Granted, it's far more difficult than Mega Man 3 ever was; if this was an actual NES game, I'd be hard-pressed to finish it with the same ease. But the minute touches shine through on this one, and it's definitely worth a try. Here are plenty of screenshots to show off the artisan work of Mr. DurfarC:


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