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RELEASE DATE (NA): March 1994 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

It's like beating a dead 8-bit horse.

By the time that Mega Man 6 was released, the focus of home gamers was no longer on the ailing NES. Instead, Capcom's main efforts were directed to the exciting and more popular (at the time) SNES system, with a new series in tow -- the futuristic Mega Man X! With impressive graphics, a richer rockin' soundtrack and new spunky moves for the next generation of Mega Man, X was clearly a winner amongst the Mega Man universe. So out pops little ol' Mega Man 6. What was it to do? It was so overshadowed by the new X series that Capcom didn't even want to publish it outside Japan. Luckily, Nintendo was kind enough to pick it up and publish it in North America by themselves; however, Europe did not receive the honour of its presence. Barring any comparison to X, Mega Man 6 is... well, just another game in the series, frankly. I've talked before about the series becoming stale, and this one pushes that trend to the extreme.

Storywise, Mega Man 6 takes a hit in terms of predictability. This one is downright silly: a robot design contest is being held by the mysterious Mr. X to determine which are the most powerful robots on Earth. But Mr. X just ends up stealing and corrupting the best eight robots and uses them to try and conquer the world. Gee, I wonder who would pull such a stunt! Thankfully, Mega Man was on the scene, not as a contender but just as an observer to ensure that nothing goes horribly wrong. Of course, it did. Also, the designers didn't even try to disguise Mr. X very well; he looks too much like Dr. Wily for us to be easily fooled. What rigomorole! Of course, once you get past all eight Robot Masters (there are always eight... why not nine?) and whip Mr. X's butt, Dr. Wily reveals himself and admits that his plan has "FAILD" (a legendary Mega Man typo that was unfortunately fixed upon its re-release in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection). However, there is good news: at the end of the game once Dr. Wily is defeated, Mega Man finally does what he should have done about five games earlier: tie up Dr. Wily and hand him over to the police. And so, at the end of Mega Man 6, we are given some closure... until right after the credits, that damn "TO BE CONTINUED" message pops up. The Mega Man saga will never die, says Capcom!

The Robot Master Lineup: Plant Man, Knight Man, Flame Man, Blizzard Man, Wind Man, Tomahawk Man, Centaur Man, Yamato Man

If you're looking for changes that were quite unnecessary, this game is the one to check out. The first thing you'll notice is that the Rush attachments we've all come to love and enjoy have been toyed with immensely. Although Rush still plays a role, and you can still gain adaptors by defeating certain Robot Masters, the Rush adaptors actually become part of your suit of armor! There are two adaptors: you can become Jet Megaman (yes, it's spelled as one word in the game, so I shall honour it... even though it's wrong), with the ability to fly for a short period of time before your flight energy bar runs out, and Power Megaman, which lets you charge up a powerful punch that can break through certain blocks (and enemies, of course). Both are decent, but ultimately they are superfluous. I saw nothing wrong with Rush's abilities in previous iterations; why must we retool the system completely? I suppose Jet Megaman has his moments, but I'd rather stick with the ways of old. Secondly, there are fake Robot Masters. Yes, that's correct, folks: FAKE Robot Masters. There are four Robot Masters that each hide a letter to spell out the word "BEAT" (get all four and acquire your beloved bird buddy Beat again), but in those stages, there are two entrances to boss rooms where you can fight a Robot Master. The real one will give you the letter, the fake one will not. You'll know on the stage selection screen whether or not you received the letter; if you didn't, you'll have to repeat the stage, which is downright unfortunate. At least they made something fun as a secret: if you can find the secret location of Proto Man in the game, he'll give you the Energy Balancer, which allows you to automatically fill up your lowest-charged weapon when you pick up a weapon energy pellet. Finally, no more switching between weapons when you need to recharge several of them! Capcom has finally seen the light!

Eight Robot Masters shall stand between Mega Man and his newest nemesis, the blandly-titled Mr. X, and dear goodness, the ideas were not flowing particularly smoothly this time around. In addition to the standard Robot Master design contest they hold in Japan for each game, there was one held in North America as well. Two winners, one from the United States and one from Canada, had their ideas used in Mega Man 6 (Wind Man and Knight Man respectively -- pretty creative, huh? Yeah, I didn't think so either.) So what types of horrible mechanical brutes shall Mega Man face this time around? He'll have to prepare to butt heads with Centaur Man, prepare to be called a n00b by Flame Man, and head on over to Dairy Queen with Blizzard Man (is that a North American reference only?). (I realize that all of those were lame. Live with it.) I think the worst of the bunch is Yamato Man; "Yamato" apparently refers to Japan itself, so it is actually more along the lines of Japan Man. So why isn't it attacking me with inane Japanese culture? Watch out! Here comes wacky characters with really big shiny eyes and disappearing animated noses! They also made the Canadian creation, Knight Man, surprisingly easy. Do Japanese developers really think that Canadians are THAT wussy? Hmmm. And without fail, there are new weapons for Mega Man to snag from his defeated enemies, none of which appear to be particularly inventive. The Plant Barrier, for example, is just a copy of all of the barrier-style weapons of past games, except with petals: the Leaf Shield (Mega Man 2), the Skull Barrier (Mega Man 4), and the Star Crash (Mega Man 5). And the Centaur Flash? Wasn't that the Flash Stopper from Mega Man 4? Yes. Yes, it was. Um... I guess we haven't had a snow-based attack yet, so the Blizzard Attack could be considered as new.

The overall quality of the game hasn't decreased in any way from Mega Man 5. However, there isn't much to say in terms of improvement either. The graphics are quite similar; of course, there wasn't much farther to go in terms of graphic quality, considering the limited power of the NES system. The same type of commentary can be given for the music and sound effects. The effects are the same, but unfortunately, the music just isn't as catchy in Mega Man's sixth quest. The only saving grace is Flame Man's theme, which is more memorable than the rest of the soundtrack. The only other thing here worth mentioning is the cover art. Since it was Nintendo who published the game here, they also created the North American cover art. At least someone at Nintendo knew NOT to give Mega Man gold plating or a pistol (something even Capcom failed to do a couple of times). Granted, we only get to see Mega Man in his Jet Megaman suit and not in his native stylish blue outfit, but qué sera sera.

The NES was on its way to that console graveyard in the sky around this point -- fewer games were being developed for it, and the last licensed game was released in 1994 -- so this was likely a rushed effort to get the game out to the public. While Mega Man 6 can hardly be classified as a terrible failure (at least from a design standpoint), the sheer wholeheartedness that had infiltrated earlier titles has drained away into the gutter of gaming creativity. It's certainly a good game for those who really enjoyed the first five and clamor for more, but if you seek something unique, drop this title and run. As always, I should mention that the easiest way to get to play this is via the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, but hey, it's your money.

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