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CONSOLE: PC DEVELOPER: Hi Tech Expressions PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1990 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Jeff

The Brown Bomber.

Anyone who has ever played Mega Man for DOS knows exactly what I'm going to say: this is, without a doubt, one of the worst and most unplayable games I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing. How this made it to market is anyone's guess. How this made it past quality assurance at Capcom to be published is anyone's guess. How someone with a human brain could look at this product and say, "I think this is worth the consumer's time and money", is anyone's guess. But nobody's guessing anything about Mega Man for DOS because nobody wants to remember this garbage heap!

Where do I begin with this cacophony of dog farts? How about the controls that are so buggered up, the game is more awkward to handle than a cookie coated in Vaseline? Someone decided to set the spacebar to shoot, which was somewhat common back in the earlier days of DOS gaming, but also thought the "J" key as the jumping button was appropriate. Just try to use your right hand to control direction with the arrow keys, then use only your left hand to press the "J" and the spacebar in tandem as needed. It's so bloody maladroit that you're basically set up to fail before you even start the game. Who plays a computer game with their left hand hovering over the keyboard, their index finger on a letter and their thumb on the spacebar? If there's a more apt way to do this, you must either have a contortionist hand or you're using another part of the human anatomy to hit that spacebar.

Coupled with these impressively vomitworthy controls is level design so heinous, you'd think a programmer just belched into their floppy drive and a stage just magically appeared on screen. The introductory stage alone is indicative of this: it only consists of a straightforward path toward Wily's lair or whatever cave is at the end, and the only enemy is a robotic wolf that pounces on you incessantly with no sign of leaving you alone. You can't shoot it because the wolf is too fast and the controls are too shoddy. All you can do is run, run, run. Run, Lola—er, I mean, Mega Man—run. And this is the overarching philosophy of the game: run, as in get away from this game. Don't buy it. Don't download it. Don't come within fifty feet of it.

To make matters worse (and they were already as rank as possible), there are only three Robot Masters. You have Sonicman, who is not based on the hedgehog but rather is a distant ugly relative of Bubble Man but with a stainless steel mohawk; Voltman, the lovable scamp with an electric personality; and Dynaman, who both wears a welder's mask and probably sings "Someone's in the kitchen with Dyna" a fair bit. They're fairly original, but it really doesn't matter who they are. They could have included Phlegm Man, Credenza Man, and Alimony Man for all I care — you won't even get to see any of them with these awful controls. But should you either, by some unseen miracle, succeed in defeating this cast of characters, you'll later face off with the evil megacomputer Crorq, and then Dr. Wily himse-e...eh... wait, "Crorq"?


Clumpy Man.

But let's talk about Mega Man himself. I don't know what happens between games exactly, but he must have gone on some sort of binge eating quest. When did Mega Man become so fat and bloated? I mean, the rest of the graphics aren't entirely hideous for their time — okay, they kind of are, especially if you have only a CGA monitor — but how do you fudge up the main sprite so badly? Obviously Capcom didn't just hand it over, and the art designer, if there actually was one, apparently couldn't reproduce a simple sprite like Mega Man's. Instead, he or she redesigned Mega Man to look like the poster child for new Oleo Doritos.

Oh, and do you like the music of Mega Man games? That's a shame because with this game being made for the old DOS-loving computers, you get so music whatsoever. Enjoy the sweet screeches of the ancient PC speaker every time Mega Man takes a hit. And he will.

Don't even think of trying to run this game without slowing down DOSBox to a sedated crawl: Mega Man is a coked-up joker with the adrenaline of a puma if you don't drop the framerate. Even on older machines, this was a problem. Don't try playing it on a 486 PC; you'd have more luck catching a cheetah on the savannah using barbecue tongs than keeping up with this miserable squatting of code. This is what you get when you outsource your development to Hi-Tech Expressions, a company previously known for Sesame Street games, including "Astro-Grover" and "Ernie's Big Splash". Mega Man definitely is a certain kind of splash here.

...a toilet splash, that's what I meant.

You may believe that Capcom has itself caused a blight on the franchise lately, but Hi-Tech Expressions added their two cents long ago. And I say "two cents" not as in the popular English idiom, but rather how much they spent on development. I'm ashamed I actually paid money for this back in 1995. Granted, it was from a discount bin in a now defunct Kmart, but that doesn't excuse my boorish behaviour. It is available through abandonware websites and with good reason: Mega Man for DOS should have been abandoned... BEFORE it was released.


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