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CONSOLE: SNES DEVELOPER: Capcom PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): September 1995 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Jeff

Mega Man undergoes cosmetic pixel surgery and returns for another showdown with Dr. Wily!

They said the story was "to be continued". The droves of fans knew that the original blue bomber would once again return to rid the world of domination by robotic soldiers of evil's bane. They knew Capcom would not let them down. But before the next chapter could unfold, the fanfare behind the new Mega Man X series had to die down first. Of course, considering how X took the franchise to the next level, how could the poorly-aging original series return its former level of pep? So, after perhaps a seemingly eternal length of time and after the X series' popularity started to display a little slowdown, Mega Man 7 was finally unleashed upon the world, this time on the powerful Super Nintendo Entertainment System console! But was it everything the fans had hoped for? To be honest, it all depends on who you ask, really.

After six failed attempts at world domination, Dr. Wily had finally been captured and arrested by police. Sentenced to life in prison, it was assumed by the general public that his days of evil plotting had finally come to an end. Or so they thought. (Yeah, it was bound to happen.) Apparently, after six months of inactivity on the nasty doctor's account, four encapsulated robots would automatically commence operation, seek out the caged Dr. Wily, and break him free. Wily was quite a smart fellow to have planned this out! Upon hearing this, Mega Man rushes out to survey the situation, only to see Dr. Wily fly away in his typical flying saucer. So it looks like Mega Man is going to have to deal with yet another barrage of Robot Masters, even though he's probably sick of doing that. Along the way to those Robot Masters, Mega Man suddenly comes face to face with a new face to face! A mysterious black robot, Bass, and his dark robotic dog, Treble, claim they are also going after Dr. Wily, so Mega Man lets them go off on their own. However, we later find out that Bass and Treble were both built by Dr. Wily! Battles shall ensue later on...

This brings me to a list of new additions or modifications that Mega Man 7 has endured over previous iterations of the series. First is the implementation of new characters into the Blue Bomber's universe. The aforementioned Bass and Treble (named after musical terminology, obviously -- and named Forte and Gospel in Japan) are the most prominent. Not only will you have to fight them later, but in a 1998 SNES game in the Mega Man series, entitled "Rockman & Forte" (later re-released on the Game Boy Advance four years later for the first time in North America, as "Mega Man & Bass"), you will get the option to play through the game as either Mega Man or Bass. So he will indeed become an important entity in the future, serving mainly as a rival character, since Proto Man no longer has that duty. The other new character is Auto (Rightot in Japan), who has a wacky sense of humour and whose primary purpose is to run a shop where you can create new items to take with you on your journey. Beat the bird is also present, but he has to be found and rescued from a metal cage. Once you have obtained his companionship, you can purchase Beat whistles that will automatically be blown when Mega Man falls into a pit; Beat will fly down and pick you up so that you don't lose a life. Unfortunately, he's not the major combattant he once was (which is a shame, considering how vital Beat's attack style would be in the final battle -- I'm DEAD serious, that fight is too hard). Proto Man also makes appearances in hidden locations; find all his hiding spots and you will get the opportunity to fight him and earn the Proto Shield, a nifty item that can block most enemy attacks! Gear!


The Robot Master Lineup: Slash Man, Freeze Man, Spring Man, Burst Man, Cloud Man, Junk Man, Turbo Man, Shade Man

Another new feature is the aforementioned shop is also a new addition to the series. Although the shopping system had already been used in two Game Boy Mega Man titles (Mega Man IV and Mega Man V), this is the first time it has appeared on a home console game. After collecting bolts in the various stages of the game, found either randomly laying around or from being dropped by enemies, you can take them to Auto's shop and redeem them for items, adaptors, and more. This leads me to the third new addition to Mega Man 7: adaptors are no longer earned by defeating Robot Masters. Instead, you can either find them in the Robot Master stages (they are all hidden SOMEWHERE) or you can fabricate them in Auto's shop. These include the Rush Jet adaptor, the Rush Search adaptor (which allows you to summon Rush the robot dog to dig in the ground and search for even more good things, like other useful items that might otherwise cost you some serious bolts), and the Hyperbolt, which can be brought to Auto and in return, he will cut the number of bolts you need to pay for items by half. Other useful inclusions are the Energy Balancer, which will automatically fill up your lowest weapon whenever you pick up a weapon energy pellet -- no need to switch like you used to! There is also the Escape Unit, which allows you to exit a stage at any time if you have already finished it. There's something else as well that cannot be bought: the Super Adapter (or is it "Adaptor"? I cn't spel.) In order to snag this invaluable piece of equipment (that ends up resembling and acting just like the Jet Adapter in Mega Man 6), you must collect the letters R-U-S-H in the first four Robot Master stages. Wicked stuff; find the PU Fist to add on a chargeable homing fist weapon for that Super Adapter! This is all sweet stuff, most of which can be bought if you simply cannot find them. One other thing you can purchase is energy tanks: the standard E-Tanks for life energy, W-Tanks for weapon energy, and S-Tanks for both life and weapon refills. Unfortunately, Capcom really screwed us over when we needed the E-Tanks the most: we can only carry 4 E-Tanks, 4 W-Tanks, and one S-Tank at any given time, as opposed to nine E-Tanks in the previous few titles. The final boss requires MORE than four E-Tanks in order to survive, I often say. Thankfully, you can refill your E-Tank supply between EVERY stage, even the fortress ones. That's the only saving grace to this otherwise underwhelming inventory faux pas.

As is typical of the Mega Man titles, you must battle eight Robot Masters after traversing their separate themed domains. This game shuffles things around a bit: after an introductory stage (which had never happened in a classic series Mega Man game prior to this one), you have the option of going after only four of the eight Robot Masters (Cloud Man, Junk Man, Freeze Man, and Burst Man). Once they are all defeated, an extra stage is wedged between them in which Dr. Wily raids the local robot museum and steals a large robot that is obviously Guts Man from the first Mega Man game. (This stage is also neat because many Robot Masters from past games are on display inside! Nice touch, Capcom!) After facing off with an irritating clown mini-boss, you are given access to the other four Robot Master stages, followed by a trip through Dr. Wily's fortress. And like clockwork, you can snag the powers of the Robot Masters and use them to your own advantage! Some may seem like repetitions of old ideas, such as the Junk Shield, although it actually ends up enrapturing your enemy and can be used multiple times in one shot if you're careful. Others are fairly unique in the Mega Man universe of weaponry thus far, such as the Slash Claw (which does exactly what it sounds like it should do) and the Noise Crush, which gives you the power of sound waves to defeat foes... if you ever feel like using it. After you acquire a new weapon, you are transported to Dr. Light's lab and he gives you some information about what the weapon is good for. That's also a nice touch!

But now let's get down to the technical aspects for a moment if we may (and as I always seem to do). The graphics of this game are fairly decent (well, they are certainly an upgrade from the 8-bit menageries of the NES days), but to be honest, even I know that other SNES games of 1995 could do much better. Mega Man games have always been about simplicity, but in the second generation of such games, I feel that a true upgrade would have been worth it. The SNES is capable of many special effects; Mega Man 7 uses very few of them. Granted, the sprites are nice (although Mega Man seems to have grown a bit taller), but it seems as though the Mega Man X games strongly overshadow this one. Heck, Mega Man X2 and X3 both had a special graphics chip for extra effects -- couldn't this one use it as well? Another thing to point out is just how ugly the box art is (as seen below). Okay, it's not as ugly as that of the original Mega Man game's cover, but the palette leaves something to be desired. Audio is also an interesting business here. The music has been heavily upgraded in the pep department: cheerfulness is the name of the game this time around. Some tunes are memorable, others are not, but overall it seems like standard Capcom fare. Sound effects are a different matter; there is definitely more of a metallic element to them, especially with Mega Man's jumping and landing sounds. As a whole though, the sound effects here feel out of place. Even importing sounds from the NES would have been preferable over these weird clinks and boinks...

Mega Man 7 was likely a very enjoyable and much-needed upgrade to many fans of the franchise. It offered numerous upgrades to the series, and characters actually had (somewhat) meaningful conversations for the very first time. That being said, I actually enjoy, and return to play, this game less frequently than those of the NES era. It's not because the game is not well done overall; that would be a lie. However, the fact that the final boss takes quite a while to get to and absolutely mutilates me 99.9% of the time, combined with the lack of the general feel that previous Mega Man games held, makes me less enticed to try my luck at it. Still, I've opted to give it a shot several times and found myself ultimately amused. And you can be too, thanks to the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube, should the urge to try out any of the original eight classic Mega Man games ever encompass you.


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