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Mega Man: The Power Battle (Arcade) artwork

Mega Man: The Power Battle (Arcade) review

"Adventure after adventure finds the Blue Bomber forced to struggle through a thematic assemblage of booby traps and scatterbrained minions before battling the stage's final Robot Master face-to-face. Questions run through my mind when I ponder this fact, such as: "

Adventure after adventure finds the Blue Bomber forced to struggle through a thematic assemblage of booby traps and scatterbrained minions before battling the stage's final Robot Master face-to-face. Questions run through my mind when I ponder this fact, such as:

* What justification does the Robot Master have for this?
* Is his ego big enough to sustain the bruising our hero is going to give it?
* If not, then why not just forget the façade and get the beating overwith?

If you've ever had the same doubts about traveling through miles worth of enemy-infested territory just to fight a boss with the aggregate strength of wet cardboard, or wondered to yourself, ''Hey, if this little dude that scoots across the floor that's out of my gun's reach is indestructible when I do shoot him, why isn't HE the freakin' boss?'', Mega Man Power Battle will please anyone who's ever wanted to dispense with the pre-Robot Master pleasantries. Combining the intense fury of the best boss battles with pulse-pounding 2D Street Fighter-esque action (an apt comparison - after all, Capcom is responsible for both series), MMPB is sure to fill its belly on a steady diet of your George Washingtons.

Power Battle pits three heroes against approximately 20 of the toughest bosses from Mega Man's first seven outings - 1-6 from the NES, and 7 on the SNES. As the stalwart eponymous hero, his red-clad brother Proto Man (whom the Japanese ironically christen Blues), or the trademark jaded-antihero-who-may-not-be-all-that-he-seems known as Bass, you'll blast through a set of robots of your choosing, facing a group cobbled together from either Mega Men 1 and 2, 3 through 6, or the lone seventh installment. Now here, the game could have chosen to walk the path of the standard fighter, a downtrodden route that would have ended in a miry swamp of forgettable mediocrity. Luckily, Power Battle adds trusty elements from past Mega Man games that make it a unique entry in the realm of 2D fighters.

Chiefest among these is the fact that just like in Mega's platforming adventures, he'll absorb a boss's power once he beats him. Unlike other fighting games where you can beat any challenger given a healthy knowledge and spot-on application of your favorite character's arsenal, this lends an air of strategy to which of the six bosses you fight first. Like the NES Mega Man games of yore, you're also allowed to choose the order in which you tackle the various Robot Masters. A boss that would take the average arcade-goer five dollars worth of quarters to beat using a regular weapon can be easily dominated on a single credit if you use the right tool at the right time. Consider Cut Man, a devilish opponent whose formidable shears will prune a fighter down to a tidy pile of shredded circuits by the hands of an amateur. Employ the services of Wood Man's deadly spinning Leaf Shield, however, and the scissor bearer trembles before your might. By the same token, a hearty dose of Heat Man's Atomic Fire will take down Wood Man, and Heat Man is felled by Ice Man's Ice Slasher weapon, etc. We could run this hamster wheel all day.

Your epic struggle with the six cybernetic aggressors culminates in a final duel with a higher power from the distant past. After the scuffles of Mega Men 1-6, it's the dreaded Yellow Devil you'll have to deal with - that amber clay menace with an evil eye and an expanded array of superpowers, such as the ability to drown you in his goopy, pliable arms, or the eerie way he has of splitting into three horned lesser demons and marauding you like a pack of rabid schnauzers. Participants in the microcosm of Mega Man 7 get to deal with the giant metallic pumpkin from Shade Man's stage, who might not be so scary despite being associated with a typically scary holiday, but is no less focused on the intent of draining your bar of energy and your cup of quarters.

At no time does the game feel long or drawn out. Even spending all the money you have, a typical run-through lasts maybe 15 minutes. However, like all great lovers who bathe in their own masculinity, Power Battle makes up for its lack of length with surprising intensity. Matches are never slow or plodding, and a number of trademark moves and items at each character's disposal (Mega Man's slide, Bass's super-powerful gun charge, Proto Man's shield) up the ante and make the action even more interesting. Battles are won and lost on the well-timed use of a charged shot or the perfect weapon for the situation. The game is not too difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but studying the pattern to take and the cycle of weapons that will easily fell every single boss becomes a must for the thrifty spender.

The game is a banquet for the senses. Remixes of all the most familiar series tunes have been ramped up in speed and tone to give the player a bona fide hormonal overload. Add to the thumping techno loops some evidence of the gradual animézation of the series, which gives it the freshness of a new jar of peanut butter. Style and excess are written all over the game, which is perfectly executed in all aspects - control, graphics, sound, you name it, Capcom got it right. Power Battle starts in on you with its best moves, putting you in its full nelson with alarming speed. Never settling for less than its best, it is a game that provides an unforgettable coin-wasting experience each time you play it. I have only played it three times in my life, the most recent of which was last May, but my mind can remember nearly every detail with astounding accuracy. That is the mark of a great game, one that can leave an indelible impression after only three plays.

Are your saliva glands working double overtime yet? Don't fret if you can't get down to an arcade and taste of Power Battle on my gushing recommendation - it's slated to be included with the Mega Man Anniversary Collection coming to our shores in May, in its first-ever appearance on American consoles. Before long, the action that pits Mega Man, Bass, and Proto Man against the toughest of Wily's minions will no longer cost a quarter per play. It will be in your hands in the ergonomic comfort of a Gamecube or PS2 controller instead of attached to a bulky cabinet that demands all your silver coinage in a Dixie cup. Forget the days of trudging through an entire level just to fight one wimpy bad guy. You'll have instant thumb-taxing 2D fighting right there at your fingertips.

Then you won't have an excuse for not playing it.

snowdragon's avatar
Community review by snowdragon (February 03, 2004)

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