Alexander “MixMasterLar” Browning was a freelance writer on the old Rithum.com and Gemubaka sites, and has also done opinion pieces on games and the industry here and there. Today, he brings you his thoughts on Capcom’s latest offering, Street Fighter X Megaman.
A few days ago mega-game developer Capcom released a free PC title called Street Fighter X Megaman on its Capcom-Unity page. The game was made primarily by Capcom fan and indie developer Seow Zong Hui with support from Capcom themselves to celebrate the end of Street Fighter’s 25th anniversary in 2012 and mark the beginning of The Blue Bomber’s 25-year benchmark in 2013. While seeing the title in print would lead one to believe it is another hyper fighter that brings over yet another franchise with the likes of Ryu and Chun-Li, this title makes it clear that it is much more Megaman then anything.
The game plays more or less exactly as classic 8-bit Megaman titles should. Players run, jump, shoot and slide through 10 side-scroller levels in classic platforming fashion. Most any gamer knows the drill, but the catch this time around is all the Robot Masters you’ve come to expect have been replaced with Street Fighter characters in 8-bit form in levels inspired by Street Fighter lore. It’s a very interesting premise, and for free, worth your time in downloading.
The core game is unchanged from the NES titles and the reboots Megaman 9 and Megaman 10: You select from one of eight levels in which you progress through fairly simple platforming segments until you reach the boss of that stage. Power-ups such as health are scattered throughout the level, but the best reward comes from defeating the stage boss, which grants you his/her ability. In this title, you take on one of the Street Fighter characters such as Ryu, Chun-Li, Blanka or C. Viper and, upon defeating them, you gain one of their signature moves (such as Hadouken from Ryu, Lighting Kicks from Chun-Li, etc). The format was amazing back on the NES and it still holds up – I don’t think anyone will argue that. If you have been itching for some classic Megaman lately then you should enjoy yourself.
The graphics and music all hark back to the Nintendo. The stages look pure 8-bit and portray their motifs well: A jungle stage for Blanka, an Aztec stage for Urien and a construction site for Rolento (which, as a huge fan of Final Fight, is one of my favorites in the game in terms of presentation) help round out the locations. The music, which was produced by a fan going by the handle of A_Rival, is mostly chiptune arrangements of the main Street Fighter themes with a little of Megaman’s classic music thrown in. I would have to say the presentation of the entire game is its absolute strongest point. Rather it’s seeing Dan introduce the new weapons as you earn them or catching all the small nods to Street Fighter within the levels themselves, it’s more spot on then miss. Granted, a slums for Chun-li (versus the ancient Chinese motif she ended up with) would have made the game feel alot more like the locations in Street Fighter, but that’s hardly its main fault.
That honor goes to the overall flow of the game and the difficulties of the levels themselves. For most seasoned and hardcore Megaman fans, the levels seem really easy compared to earlier titles. Granted, Megaman is known for being a little too hard at times but at this point it’s kind of required before you can label it as a Megaman game. Yet on the other end, you have the fights with the Street Fighters being much harder then they should be. There isn’t a good beginner level to present to players because every boss is capable of killing you before you have a good chance to grasp what’s going on. While this may seem pretty fun for hardcore fans, it makes it to where anyone who is fairly new to the games can’t pass one stage. Passing the game among friends yesterday, I noticed everyone could learn to pass the stages (even if my less then experienced friends needed a few retries), but only seasoned players could touch the bosses.
What we have is a difficulty curve that is too easy for players who are proficient in platformers, then too hard for newer players whenever the boss is presented. This problem only gets worse as the player earns the moves/weapons from defeating the bosses, making the stages become easier with the proper tools that you acquire while the end stage fights only becoming doable as you go on. In my humble opinion, try and fight Chun-Li and Rolento first as you can pump the shoot button away and defeat them about half the time without the need of another technique. Considering the older titles had great care in planning out a good route for players to experience the game – while still giving freedom in allowing the player to tackle any segment first – it makes me wonder why on Earth Capcom would allow this seemingly blatant flaw in a game that is being promoted and marketed as THE 25th Anniversary of two pretty important game series.
But perhaps that’s being a little too harsh on the game. It is, when you boil it down, a fanmade tribute to two great Capcom franchises. As a small time game, it blows away any of the Megaman hacks you might have played and, while I love the flash version tributes on Newground,s I would easily say Zong Hui has pulled off the Megaman formula the best since Megaman creator Keiji did it. But then you remember Capcom isn’t planning on doing anything else for Megaman this year aside from releasing the NES titles on the 3DS, and if you are like me, you have undoubtedly wondered why they wouldn’t make this a bigger project.
The game is short by platforming standards and just doesn’t have enough to warrant more than one playthrough. Still, I had a blast playing it for some serious nostalgia and you can’t beat free.
Also, a save feature so I didn’t have to beat the game in one swoop would be nice. Even Megaman 2 had a password system …
PS: You can get the game and try it out yourself here: http://www.capcom-unity.com/brelston/blog/2012/12/17/street-fighter-x-mega-man-now-available-for-free
I did when it was released on the 17th and had a fairly good time with it.