MEGA MAN: POWERED UP / Capcom / Sony PSP

The first Mega Man was the indoctrination for many 80s kids into the world of masochistic Japanese game design; brutally demanding, yet polished and compelling. The two immediate sequels polished up the formula even more and balanced it a little better, and they're the major nostalgic favorites of the series; the first game, though still certainly not bad, really hasn't aged as well on the gameplay front.

So it's a perfect candidate for a remake, right? Well ... just the first MM by itself seems a bit insubstantial for a full-retail-priced game, but it's still not the worst idea in the world. Unless you make two major missteps with it, as Capcom did here - you drench it in saccharine childish cartooniness so that whatever aesthetic of the original was present is completely drowned out, and you also do it on the PSP, one of the systems most singularly unsuited to the demanding pixel-perfect jumping challenges that this game is almost entirely made up of.

Powered Up gives you two options for solo play; there's a "remixed" version designed specifically for this port, and then there's the authentic version of the first game. In both cases, however, you're playing with Capcom's new 3D polygonal art, and with a new tone and schema of design that's like the childishness and cutesiness factor of the old Mega Man cartoon but dialed up to 11ty billion.

The "remixed" version does do some interesting things. It tosses in two new bosses (each with their own new level) to bring the game up to the standard of 8 robot masters set by all the sequels. It also allows you to actually play as any defeated robot master (starting over from the beginning), and if you go that route, Mega Man himself becomes a robot master and gets his own level.



That by itself should make the game a winner, but the relentlessly cutesy and kiddie presentation chips away at you, and then the inadequateness of the PSP inputs finishes the job. In the "remixed" version, a shit ton of (needless) MM8-caliber dialogue has been added, slowing the game down and just generally grating away at your ears. The PS1-era 3D look is also very debatably an "improvement" over simple, clean sprite art. The game also suffers from a bit of the same problem as MM7 did; increasing the sprite size of everything relative to the screen just makes the whole experience feel clunky and "off" for vets of the NES style. They also utterly ruined the soundtrack of the original game, by making every song sound like some lame theme-park version of itself.

The controls are really what dunks it, though. I'm baffled by all the critical reviews claiming the controls are "tight" and giving that aspect an 8 or whatever. The analog nub is just way too loose and imprecise for a game like this, so that's right out. The d-pad, unfortunately, alternates between making Mega Man take ridiculously tiny steps and go into a balls-out run with too much momentum, with no real middle ground equivalent to his normal movement speed in the original. Again, I think this might partially be an artifact of the upsizing of all the sprites in a playfield that's still roughly the same size, but whatever the case may be, it doesn't feel quite like NES Mega Man. Which is a real problem because the levels ARE designed just like NES Mega Man, and even though "remix" mode is ostensibly toned down somewhat from the infuriating difficulty of the original, I actually found it even more challenging on the whole just because of control imprecision.

The game also includes a basic "level editor" which allows you to plonk down different types of terrain in a series of rooms. It's kind of neat, but not a dealmaker by itself. There's also 100 "challenge rooms" that are like mini-puzzles; I didn't find these all that interesting either. The new ideas present in the "remix" mode by themselves should have made the game a winner, but instead it became some vomity carnival nightmare vision of the original game, and I can't give it a recommendation.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video






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