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CONSOLE: Arcade DEVELOPER: Capcom PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1995 GENRE: Fighting
// review by SoyBomb

Battling for everlasting peace!

If Mega Man games of olde were known for one thing, it wasn't necessarily landing on spikes and exploding into a miasma of fluorescent flying goo. It was all about those Robot Master fights at the end of each stage, facing off against each themed villain and figuring out whose weapon worked best against them. It became a staple of the series, even continuing on into the Mega Man X series (and even the ZX series on the DS). In order to get to the Robot Masters, you had to traverse nasty traps, bottomless pits, and countless pre-programmed goons to dodge and defuse.

But what if... what if we could throw away all the proverbial parsley and simply get to the big ol' juicy steak? What if we could avoid all that useless platforming and get right to the main event of blasting our foes to the scrap heap? Capcom must have heard someone mention that because in late 1995, they released Mega Man: The Power Battle, an arcade game focused solely on fighting various Robot Masters from Mega Man 1 through 7.

Once you've put in your tokens, you can choose between three different playable characters: Mega Man (naturally), Proto Man, and Bass. Two players can also fight together, without concern for damaging each other. Next, you choose one of the three storylines, based on certain games: Mega Man 1-2, 3 to 6, or 7 by itself. The storyline selected affects which Robot Masters actually appear, although there will be no more than six during that playthrough. One of the issues quickly rears its head: on the stage select screen, the cursor moves on its own, and you just have to hit a button at the right time to go to the stage you want, making battle selection a game of chance. You may not have the right weapon for whoever you pick next. Also, you don't even see who is in which stage... you have to judge based on the map. Hmmm.


Brawl Man.

Each of the heroes can shoot their Buster with a single button, as well as charge for a larger blast. They also have the standard jump and dash. And, as you beat Robot Masters, you gain their powers for future use, although considering how short the game is overall, you won't keep them for long. Once you've defeated all six Robot Masters, you face off against a mini-boss from that set of games before encountering multiple forms of Dr. Wily.

Everyone has seen a nice graphical upgrade as well to a visual style closer to that of Mega Man 7 on the SNES, and quite frankly, this may have been Mega Man's most colourful outing yet at the time. Looks pretty good. And the game's music is upbeat and pleasant. Luckier still, Capcom had not yet adopted the pattern of having Robot Masters with terrible voice actors taunt you before battle — that honour/disgrace would fall to Mega Man 8, the next game in the series.

Despite its inherent awesomeness, this game wasn't as common in North America as in Japan, making it much harder to locate for Western fans. It was later made available via the Mega Man Anniversary Collection from 2004 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, so that's pretty much the only way to access this, short of firing up MAME and blasting away. It should have been included in the Mega Man Legacy Collection, but for whatever reason, Capcom forgot about it or flat out didn't care. Getting a hold of Power Battle yields a satisfying, if not rather short, one-on-one fighter starring everyone's favourite blue robot with self-directing technology.


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